For the majority of students, the summer months mean a break from studies and a chance to recuperate from the stress of the previous school year. But for 45 international students, this summer was a chance to turn research projects into economy boosting innovations.

As a part of the Mitacs Globalink program, the group of students from 10 different countries were invited to join various research projects at the University of Manitoba for 12 weeks over the summer, beginning in May. With the help of professors and local researchers, these students developed real-world use projects, while at the same time got to experience life in Canada.

“This is the first time outside my country, so everything is new to me,” said 22-year-old Luis Dominguez, a Mexican student in the Globalink program. “This kind of opportunity we don’t have in Mexico.”

Dominguez studies mechatronic engineering at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, a university in Monterrey, Mexico. During the summer Dominguez has been creating a mobile card game with the Department of Electrical Engineering at the U of M. The game identifies mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which is a common precursor to dementia. Dominguez described the game as a “fun way to warn people they might have dementia.”

“It’s been great for the 12 weeks – to live in Canada,” said Dominguez. “Of course I miss my country but it’s been great here. If I could stay longer I would.”

Among the other students in the program, hidden away in a small lab at the U of M, 21-year-old Maria Arzamendi has been spending the summer creating a healthy snack made entirely of local food store waste and leftovers.

“When I saw the project I was delighted at how we can not only make snacks, but also make the product more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said Arzamendi, who studies bio-technology at Itesm University in Monterrey, Mexico. “I’m privileged to get to work at one of the top universities for food science. I am very excited to be part of it.”

Aledjandro Adem, CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, said in a news release that more than 700 international students have been studying at 45 Canadian universities this summer.

“Implementing initiatives such as Mitacs Globalink is essential to solidifying Canada’s economic health by creating attractive opportunities for global students that they may not otherwise experience on their home turf,” Adem said in a news release.

After successfully completing their internships, both Dominguez and Arzamendi will be heading back to Mexico next week to continue their studies.

By: Danton Unger