Who Am I?
Hello, nice to e-meet you! I’m Sasha. I am an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Engineering Communication Program (ECP) Office at the University of Toronto (U of T). Alongside this course, MIE243 Mechanical Engineering Design, I work in another eleven courses as part of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Design Spine and first-year Engineering Mathematics.
I entered my first year of engineering at the University of Western Ontario as a mature student. When I was in high school I wanted to be a professional runner; I followed my then coach to the University of Toronto and enrolled in Commerce because I thought I would end up in a banking job to make money. Commerce was not for me and eventually I found my way into an engineering program that fit my needs and wants. Funny looking back as the kid that never wanted a degree now that I have a PhD in Engineering Education of all things.
I was working at the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) when I started my Masters of Engineering; I started because I was bored at my job and needed something to pique my curiosity! I continued to be active throughout this tenure, using running and cycling as ‘think time’ to problem solve and critically reflect on professional and personal challenges – I have a mean air-finger math!
In 2014 my boss told me I either had to quit or he was firing me. Sounds harsh, but Ben only wanted the best for me. At the time I’d seen great improvement in my running and was part of the leaders of the nation in middle distance running. I started my PhD to help support my running, financially and mentally. Again, my same coach was at U of T so it was a natural fit. I used what I learned as an athlete (and as a coach, which I’ll share more on later) and a professional engineer to find a niche project in Engineering Education.
Starting the 2020-21 Academic year I’m nervous. The remote guarantee and missing out on the interactions with students worries me. I’m not sure that this will really let me get a ‘taste’ for teaching and if it’s my future career. I know I want to find ways to combine my lessons from coaching and athletics, as well as professional practice, into the classroom and in research studies. I do promise to always try to do my best and to wake up each day expecting more from myself.
Every day I wake up and I want to ‘be better.’ Through resilience, hard work, and dedication, plus a side of self-compassion and kindness I work towards this goal to ‘be better.’
One of the lessons I learnt as an engineer is to learn through iteration. Much like engineering design, I put a design cycle lens on my life. Where am I now (my starting point) and where do I want to go (the finished product). Of course, once I reach that place, it’s time iterate to be even better, again. Stepping back, design is a process it’s not a destination, design is collaborative it’s not a solo effort, design is a lens to live my life professionally and personally not just a tool in my engineering toolkit.
Engineering, engineering design, design, etc. do not happen in a vacuum, these activities do not happen alone, these activities get better because of the work of the team. I feel fortunate to work with some incredible people as part of a holistic teaching team in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department at U of T. I know my individual contributions help these MIE courses and help the teaching team. The feedback I receive from the teaching team and students helps me to be better. Overall this team dynamic improves the curriculum delivered to students.
Meet My Little Brother – Mr Saturday
Proud sister moment, my brother is an emerging fashion design according to Vogue. Joey Gollish’s (Mr Saturday’s) recent designs virtually showcased at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) “poetically stitch America’s past into streetwear that signals a current call to action” (Vogue Runway, 2020). The same week Mr Saturday ‘marched’ down the runway in NYFW he also opened a flagship store in Toronto.
My family and I went to see my brother’s store opening on Saturday, September 19th. We saw his innovations and his iterations come to life, from his first t-shirts he made in our parent’s basements to runway-ready clothing - you can see how proud I am trying on this jacket!
His designs come to life because of his dedication and passion for combining sustainability and progressive clothing. He credits his design work and success to the team around him. From Bobby, his production manager, to his models that give him feedback on fit, to Bella who helps manage the flagship store, Mr Saturday empowers his team to help him be his individual best.