Alumnus now looking to make new participants benefit from Mitacs experience

The five possible projects for Mitacs internships are still going through a final review by Blackbox management before being submitted to Mitacs for approval, Gedamu says, but will likely be offered fairly soon for interns through the Mitacs Accelerate internship program. A little further down the road, Gedamu says, there may even be a few more internship projects in the field of Electrical engineering, although those plans have yet to be finalized.

Blackbox, which specializes in offering GIS services to the oil and gas sector in Calgary, is a fast-growing company, Gedamu says. “To keep growing, we need to innovate, and in order to innovate, we need to partner with researchers. Mitacs provided me with this kind of opportunity, and now I’d be glad to offer others the same kind of opportunity in a way that would be mutually beneficial,” says Gedamu, who is the Director of product development at Blackbox.

Gedamu familiarized himself with Mitacs projects back in 2004. Back then, after completing his undergraduate studies in Electrical and computer engineering at the University of Calgary, he was pursuing a Master’s in Biomedical engineering at McGill University in Montreal. “While searching on the internet for what kind of funding I could find for research, I found out about Mitacs, who was offering funding through the NSERC IPS program back then,” Gedamu recalls.

Gedamu was involved in a research project involving the use of MRI on persons suffering from multiple sclerosis. The goal was to try to quantify regions of the brain related to the disease to see if its progression could be predicted. Gedamu worked on MRI image processing aspects, looking for ways to control the quality of MRI images to prevent systemic abnormalities like warping and intensity artifacts from affecting the accuracy of brain pathology measurements.

Prior to his graduate studies at McGill University, Gedamu was part of the private-sector, first at Nortel, then at Hewlett-Packard in the US, before returning to his native Calgary.

Gedamu sums up the benefit of participating in Mitacs internships: “It’s nice to have both industry and academia in your background. The academic world is amazing, but it doesn’t always work out as a career path. If you look at current market conditions, there is a certain saturation of qualified candidates for academic jobs.”

The research projects offered by Mitacs in partnership with private partners answer a need in that they “keep the problems to be solved closely bounded with real-world needs and constraints”, Gedamu says, adding that this makes them a good preparation for a career path outside of academia.

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and Alberta Innovates for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from , the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.

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