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Brazilian Engineering Students Bring World Cup Flavour

By Deborah Hernandez

Brazilian engineering students working as interns at CUE for the summer

From left to right: Larissa Verlaine, Henrique Wulff Al-Alam, Gabriela Bechelli, Daniel Sacomani, Artur Lustre Gonçalves, Anderson Slewinski, Renan Muniz, Laila Ferreira (missing).

This summer will be remembered for the excitement of the FIFA World Cup. While thousands flocked to Brazil for the soccer, eight Brazilian interns came to CUE, bringing with them their love for the beautiful game.  The students are part of the Science Without Borders scholarship program that encourages Brazilian students to study internationally in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

I sat down with two of the Brazilian interns to discuss their research projects and their experience in Canada. Anderson Slewinski is a mechanical engineering student at the Federal Technological University of Paraná, while Artur Lustre Gonçalves is an electrical engineering student at the University of São Paulo.

What have you been working on?

Anderson: I assisted Plug’n Drive with their EV Days in Toronto, Guelph and Hamilton. I talked to people about electric cars and took them on test drives. It was a good experience to see cities outside Toronto. 

Artur: I work with Grid Resources. We are trying to organize all the information we have from the 20 biggest electrical distribution companies in Ontario to help people save money on their bill. I’m also creating an algorithm to optimize parameters for a project so buildings can absorb heat from the sun during the winter and use this energy to heat the inside.

What have you learned?

Anderson: I improved my social and communication skills that are also helpful for engineers because we don’t really work on those at school. There are people that work faster or slower than me. There are people that have a different approach.

Artur: I was in my last year of studies in Brazil. The Centre for Urban Energy is my first time working with other engineers.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Anderson: Working with others. I was able to overcome it by being patient, finding a way to talk to them and make them see my point of view, while understanding their point of view. You have to work together  in a way that benefits both parties. I’m working on my English and trying to learn new words.

Artur: I think in Canada, the language was the first problem. For the first three months, I could not speak with almost anyone. I was just smiling and agreeing with everything! But after some time, I started to understand what people were saying and could respond.

Why is the work being done by iCUE enterprises important?

Anderson:  Other universities do research but don’t aim to develop technology and put it on the market. But CUE has done this; these startup companies are trying to develop their research on their own instead of working for someone else.

Artur: Nowadays, the energy sector is very, very important. CUE gives attention to this sector and I think in the future, more companies and universities will do the same. Here, they have professors, students and industry working together. Students can learn more, professors can work with companies and startups can enter the market.

What do you like most about living in Toronto?

Anderson: I like the culture. I can find anything I want within walking distance. If I want to get Portuguese food or Italian food  I can go to Little Italy or Little Portugal, or find stores where I can buy ingredients for any recipe I want to make.  If I want to go to the theatre, I can find one really easily. It’s the same with comic book stores.

Artur: There is a mix of cultures. You can find many people from every place in the world. You can have many different experiences with them.

What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of your stay here in Canada?

Anderson: I’m excited for the weather and how it changes. When the summer comes, life starts growing. Then comes Fall and all the leaves start falling. Then it’s winter again. Canadians are used to it. They enjoy spring, summer, fall, but not winter. I love being able to make a snowball and throw it in someone’s face – it’s been worth waiting more than 10 years to do it.

Artur: I only have one month until I will finish the internship. I think for the next month, I would like to see more of the city. I haven’t had that opportunity yet mainly because part of the time there was snow everywhere [before my internship began]. I want to enjoy the few weeks of summer I have here. 

"I was in my last year of studies in Brazil. The Centre for Urban Energy is my first time working with other engineers."