Five computer science and software engineering students named 2020 Schulich Leaders

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

More than doubling last year’s recipient pool, incoming Waterloo students are recognized with $80,000 and $100,000 Schulich Scholarships

A group of exceptionally talented incoming students are making their way to Waterloo with a prestigious scholarship in tow.

Thanks to a $100+ million investment by entrepreneur and philanthropist Seymour Schulich, Waterloo has more than doubled its recipient pool from previous years, allowing selected students pursuing STEM programs to begin their post-secondary careers with an extra $80,000 or $100,000.

Out of more than 300,000 potential candidates across Canada, 1,500 high school students are nominated annually, of which 100 received this celebrated award. Read more about the computer science and software engineering recipients below.

Anish Aggarwal • Computer Science • $80,000

photo of Anish AggarwalAnish Aggarwal was at home checking his email minutes before his online physics class when he received the notification of his Schulich win.

In the midst of sharing the exciting news with his parents, Anish almost forgot about checking into his online class — arriving 15-minutes late, something out of the ordinary for the straight-A student.

“The scholarship gave me a great feeling,” Anish says. “The news came the day before my birthday, so I felt it to be an early birthday present.”

For Anish, the decision to attend the University of Waterloo was an easy one. His interest in artificial intelligence and augmented reality led him to connect with Waterloo alumni to hear about their student experiences. He quickly learned that Waterloo would be able to expose students to the latest technological processes.

“I am looking forward to being able to work with alumni such as Chris Eliasmith (BASc ’94, MA ’95) to further advance AI and virtual reality,” Anish says. “I would also like to take advantage of the startup incubators — such as Velocity — to focus on group projects where I will be able to collaborate with my peers and develop both my interpersonal skills and lasting relationships.”

His passion for AI and AR stem from his high school experience where he became fluent in computer programming and development. Anish has taken part in many hackathons, including Hack the North and The Reality Virtually Hackathon hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Despite being the youngest team in MIT’s Reality Virtually, Anish and his team won the Best Use of Vive Headset API award, for using an app that fosters augmented reality to help customize exercise plans for the elderly.

These experiences fuelled his passion to develop programs and enrol in the computer science program. Anish hopes that his experience from the co-operative program will prepare him for a future pathway in an innovative and entrepreneurial career.

Jacob Mausberg • Computer Science • $80,000

photo of Jacob MausbergOne of Jacob Mausberg’s biggest accomplishments is graduating high school with a more than 99 per cent average. Juggling 10 courses with a second language, Jacob balanced high academics alongside a busy soccer schedule, playing competitively four times a week and representing a U16 Canadian soccer team in one of the world’s largest international competitions.

Jacob is joining the Faculty of Mathematics as a computer science student. His love for mathematics began in elementary school, where he discovered the beauty and creativity of math and has been mesmerized by it ever since.

“One of my favourite quotes is by Galileo: ‘mathematics is the language of the universe.’ For me, math and computer science are one of the most exciting entry points for learning about the world and for thinking about ways to innovate and make positive change.”

Looking forward to his first day at Waterloo, Jacob is excited to “explore math, physics and computer science in more depth and rigour.” He’s already looking ahead to grad school, with the possibility of a PhD in his future to fuel his love of learning, while also looking forward to being part of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture.

To maintain a work-life-balance as he continues his studies remotely, Jacob will continue to embrace his love of soccer, a sport he started playing competitively at the age of eight.

“The training, playing and staying in top physical form takes up a significant chunk of time. But I love every minute of it, and it mentally helps to balance my very rigorous school year,” Jacob says. “The key this year for me will come down to structuring my time in a productive way that is disciplined and based on routine. Good sleep habits and waking up the same time every morning and putting in a full workday will be critical to staying on top of things.”

Jason Xiong • Computer Science • $80,000

photo of Jason XiongJason Xiong was in the middle of online classes when he received the email about his Schulich win. Calling out in excitement, he immediately shared the good news with his family just across the hall.

As a Schulich Leader, Jason strives to solve real-world challenges using technology and innovation. This year, he was a winner of the LTS Analytics Talent Award in the Big Data Challenge, with his research to be published in the STEM Fellowship Journal. Along with his team, Jason harnessed extensive datasets in creating a machine learning model that predicts hurricane frequency and intensity to aid in disaster relief.

Jason was also a competitor at the International Young Physicists Tournament, where he developed invaluable skills in academic research and helped Canada receive its highest placement to date. Through these experiences, Jason has come to share his love of technology with others as a speaker at his school’s Girls in Tech Conference and as an executive of his school’s coding club, physics team and DECA chapter.

The 18-year-old says that the University of Waterloo has always stood out to him as a centre for innovation with a talented and driven community of student leaders.

“Many of the mentors and friends that have changed my life now attend the University of Waterloo — helping to build its internationally renowned reputation in STEM and computer science,” Jason says. “I have already had the chance to meet some of Waterloo’s current Schulich Leaders, and it has been an incredibly welcoming experience that has me excited to see what lies ahead.”

Jason will soon be joining the computer science program, where he looks forward to using his co-op placements to explore new cities and careers. “I’m currently planning on pursuing my interest in the intersection between business and data science. With the help of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial resources, I’m excited to start solving new challenges alongside my peers.”

Peter Zhu • Software Engineering • $100,000

photo of Peter ZhuPeter Zhu says he started writing code since the beginning of his high school career. He believes that programming is the most accessible way for kids to create something “cool” out of technology.

“I think it was appealing to me not only because it allowed me to explore the art of engineering, but also because it let me realize my ideas through apps and scripts,” Peter says. “Programming isn’t merely about creating software — it’s about creating ideas.”

Driven by his entrepreneurial mindset, Peter is mostly proud of the awards he has received from presenting his projects at science fairs where a few awards were at an international level. In addition to his accolades, he was an active student participating in all kinds of extracurricular activities such as different sports teams and student-run clubs.

Peter recognizes his growth in leadership to the list of innovative projects and research he has completed in high school that aims to solve current issues in our world. However, the 18-year-old believes that a student doesn’t need to win a big award or have a long list of achievements on their resume to be considered as a Schulich Leader.

“Accomplishments are often times just representative of the valuable traits a person may have,” Peter says. “It’s a person’s diligence, resilience, confidence, humility, empathy and an effective mindset — I think these things are what’s really important.”

In light of the remote learning efforts happening all over the world, Peter offers four pieces of advice for his fellow classmates — focus on one big task or goal, get a good night’s sleep, remove any distractions from your work area, and if you have an important deadline to meet set an earlier 24-hour deadline within your calendar to ensure you complete and submit your essay, exam or even a school application ahead of time.

“I definitely look forward to meeting people at Waterloo. I also anticipate challenging myself academically — my brain really needs a restart from this quarantine.”

Yashvardhan Mulki • Software Engineering • $100,000

photo of Yashvardhan MulkiFor the past four years, Yashvardhan Mulki has been selected by Apple as one of 350 global World Wide Developers Conference scholars, a program that brings together the world’s top student developers from high schools and universities. It’s this accomplishment alongside Yashvardhan’s long list of other accolades — high school president of his DECA chapter, co-president of their programming club, and vice-president of the debate team — that made him a well-rounded recipient of a Schulich Leader scholarship.

Studying software engineering this fall, Yashvardhan says he chose the University of Waterloo because of its world-class co-op program where he’s keen to expand on his real-world skill set and explore his interests further.

“As software continues to transform the world, my intrinsic interest in the field as well as the ability to build software used by millions of people motivated my decision to pursue software engineering.”

Interested in pursuing the field of Brain-Computer Interfacing as a future career, Yashvardhan looks forward to witnessing how melding humans with AI–powered computers to amplify human abilities will fundamentally transform society. He’s also interested in quantum computing and quantitative finance. To get there, Mulki has already started thinking about how he’ll best manage his time as a remote student.

“With distance learning, it’s often harder to stay focused on work and ensure you’re keeping up with lectures, assignments and tests, so I think finding an organizational system that helps you stay on top of things is key. I’ve set up a workflow within my calendar and to-do list to keep track of everything, as well as a digital note-taking system to help me succeed academically.”

In his free time, Yashvardhan enjoys strumming the guitar to pop music from the ’60s and ’70s or reading books on history, politics and economics.

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