By Dave Weatherall
Professor Hanan Anis receives this award for her contributions and initiatives to educational outreach and innovative research.
Whether it’s with the campus Makerspace, the social entrepreneurship group Difference Makers or the Startup Garage business accelerator, engineering professor Hanan Anis seems to make an impact everywhere she goes. Her outreach work has just earned her the 2017 Engineering Ambassador Award from Partners in Research, which promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) among Canadian students.
“I’ve always felt there’s a disconnect between academia and industry,” says Anis, who teaches electrical and computer engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, where she is also coordinator of entrepreneurship and innovation and NSERC chair in entrepreneurial engineering design. “My interest is in how to actually translate all this research into something that is useful to people.”
Anis is currently targeting biomedical applications, working to bring nonlinear imaging and sensing closer to the bedside through all-fibre, ultrafast, high-sensitivity platforms.
“When I came to the University I made a conscious choice to take my background in photonics and apply it the biomedical field because that’s where I thought I could have the most impact on people’s lives,” she says. “I also thought if I could work with students, then we could multiply the impact on society. After all, our jobs as engineers is to serve the world!”
Anis founded and directs the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED). The centre allows students and community members to access the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace, an invent-build-play space that, in turn, has inspired future projects, such as Maker Mobile, a mobile Makerspace that over its first 14 months has attracted 19,200 youth participants.
To date, Anis has been honoured with the prestigious Nortel Innovation award and an Ontario Early Researcher Award, and has amassed $5 million in research funding and $100 million in venture capital funding.
But her impact doesn’t stop there. She continues to develop new initiatives, such as the uOttawa Women’s Startup Network for women in technology and engineering, providing mentoring and support for woman-led startups.