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Andrea Vickers

"It feels like you're a colleague of your professor's instead of only their student."


Name: Andrea Vickers

Age: 23

Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

Program: Master of Building Science

Undergraduate degree: Architecture, McGill University


Why did you choose Ryerson for your Master’s education?

It’s a unique program in Canada. This one really was exactly what I was looking for; heavy on technical stuff but also reflective of my background in architecture.

What is the focus of your current research?

I’m looking at the passive thermal benefit of having a rooftop greenhouse on a mid-rise office building in an urban context. Essentially how having a greenhouse on the roof of an office building will affect the energy bill of the office building, and whether it will help with the indoor climate or the energy bill in the greenhouse. It’s like a mash-up of urban agriculture and building science.

Why does this research appeal to you?

Agriculture has become this thing that fascinates me. I worked on a farm just before coming to Ryerson; then I took an ecology course, and I really enjoyed all of it. But I love the city, and I love to live in the city, so urban agriculture is a good next step for me. And issues with food security are becoming pressing today. Plus, in the city, we may not have as much land space, but we have a lot of under-utilized rooftop space, so that’s something that all came together into a project about rooftop greenhouses.

Can you give an example of a memorable research experience?

It’s any time something goes right! The first time I got a positive result out of the energy modelling software, I couldn’t work for the rest of the afternoon – I was just so excited. Seeing the fruits of your labour – that’s nice.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully by then I’ll be done with school. I hope to be in an environment where I’ll be getting my hands dirty. I’d like to really see how all of these concepts and equations and all the stuff we’ve learned gets applied in the real world.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a graduate student at Ryerson?

Ryerson brings in people from the industry a lot. I’ve met people who have the jobs I want to have, and I know of more job opportunities out there that interest me. That’s half the reason I did this program – because I wanted to learn what was out there and what I could do to make my future career more exciting.

What do you think of Ryerson’s graduate student life?

You get to take books out longer from the library. That’s awesome. The course-based program specifically was similar to an undergrad program but there was more discussion. It feels like you’re a colleague of your professor’s instead of only their student.

If you could describe your experience so far as a Ryerson graduate student in one word, what would it be?

Hard work, rr enriching, but a lot of hard work. It broadened my view on what’s out there and what’s possible, but not without a few late nights.

Why should students come to Ryerson?

The diversity of the faculty is really great. We have engineers and architects – people who have worked in the industry, and who have been responsible for informing laws and those sorts of things in Toronto that make our built environment better. Ryerson’s a great school for that.

Compiled by Yasmin Jaswal.