ChemE Future Leaders: John Zhang (ChemE 1T9+PEY)

The boundless opportunities at Canada’s biggest research university are what drew John Zhang to the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto. After a year spent at another university, John was looking for a broader range of courses than what he was being offered and decided to explore other options. Now in his 4th year in ChemE, John has found his true passion after testing out the waters with the extensive courses offered by U of T Engineering.

What made you decide to transfer to U of T Engineering?

“I spent my first year studying general engineering at the University of Calgary. However, I felt that the University of Toronto presented superior career opportunities, mainly because it offered a wider range of course topics within the chemical engineering field. Another major factor in deciding to attend U of T was the location. The St. George campus would allow me to live in downtown Toronto, at the heart of research and diverse job opportunities, not to mention the entertainment. To me, U of T is one of the most exciting university campuses in the country. Living and studying at the center of a dynamic city like Toronto has been incredible.”

Can you share your experience with the transfer process?

When I initially started considering transferring to U of T, I didn’t really know much about the process. I wasn’t sure if the credits I had already earned in my year at the University of Calgary could be transferred, or if I would have to start first year all over. The move felt a little risky at first, but after having the chance to discuss things with U of T’s fantastic academic advisors my transfer experience actually turned out to be very seamless and stress free. In the end, I was able to move directly into second year, and I felt very well-supported throughout the process.

What is a project you’re working on or especially proud of?

I am currently working on my Plant Design project; the goal is to design and implement an industrial processing plant. I can’t wait to be able to apply all the knowledge and work experiences I’ve gained during the first three years of my undergrad into this final project. I feel that U of T has prepared me well for hands-on application and execution of my chemical engineering education.

What are some highlights of your experience at U of T so far?

The Unit Operations Lab was a very rewarding course. Operating large industrial equipment was a valuable experience in developing my understanding of theory and applying it into practice. While working closely with my lab members, we developed great chemistry that proved important towards our teamwork.

What’s next?

John completed his PEY Co-op placement at Isowater, in Collingwood, ON where he worked as a Procurement and Engineering Team Member. There, he was involved in the design, construction, and operation of heavy water and deuterium gas systems. “I was able to apply my theoretical chemical engineering knowledge in designing real processes. Having an opportunity to complete a project from the initiation to its final implementation phase was very rewarding.” After that, John completed a summer internship at CNOOC International North America in Calgary, AB where he was a Process Engineering Summer Student responsible for performance evaluating pumps and De-Oiling equipment for oil sands SAGD surface operations. “I really enjoyed working in oil and gas, I hope to have an opportunity to work in this industry in the future.” John is also interested in exploring opportunities in sustainable energy, or continuing his studies with a graduate degree.


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