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Award Winner Interview: Andre Bezanson

Below is an exclusive interview with Mitacs Accelerate intern Andre Bezanson who won the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation – PhD at the 3rd annual Mitacs Awards Reception on November 19th in Ottawa. Under the supervision of Dr. Jeremy Brown in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Dalhousie University, Andre undertook a Mitacs Accelerate internship in collaboration with Daxsonics Ultrasound.

Can you tell us a bit about the research you did through Mitacs Accelerate that led to you winning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation – PhD award?

During my internship with Daxsonics Ultrasound I worked on developing a high resolution ultrasound system.  The primary focus of my internship was investigating techniques that would allow for significant cost reductions. To this end I was able to develop a technique that allowed the replacement of expensive electromagnetic motors costing several thousands of dollars with a simple part costing around $20. I was able to take the technology from the lab bench to a finished and commercially viable system. 

What is the greatest advantage you feel you gained through your Mitacs Accelerate internship? What does it bring to your research or professional career?

I think that the greatest advantage I’ve gained through my internship with Daxsonics Ultrasound is a degree of competitiveness and competency, through practical work experience, that I’ll need as I transition into industry at the end of my Ph.D. program.  The metrics by which academia judges the success of a project is very different from the metrics used by industry.  As such, the Mitacs Accelerate internship provided a fantastic opportunity to grow as an engineer in training and to become familiar with the challenges faced in realizing the commercial potential of my research.

What advice would you give other PhD students currently considering a Mitacs Accelerate internship?

I’d highly recommend that students considering an internship take the time to get to know the people with whom they’ll be working and to familiarize themselves with the projects as much as they can before entering the internship.  Once the term begins things can move at a fairly fast pace so it’s worth taking care of some of the initial ‘ice-breaking’ beforehand so that you can hit the ground running.  Also, try contacting several companies and groups so you have the option of selecting the project that interests you the most.  If you are not excited about your project it will be much harder to do a good job.

What was the highlight of your Mitacs Accelerate internship?

The highlight of my internship was having the opportunity to work on a project where I was able to be involved in nearly every aspect of the design and where I was able to take the project from the early ideation through to completion.

What are your future plans?  Where do you see yourself in five years?

In the next five years I’d like to see myself in the final stages of the commercialization of ‘something big’.  I’m not sure what that will be, but I look forward to doing it with a great team of people, either as part of a start-up or in an established company.