Student transfers into second year of Chemical Engineering, pursues research and professional experience at Canada’s #1 engineering school
Toronto native Jonathan Jarzabek decided to return to his roots to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering at U of T after a year at Queen’s University. (Credit: Erica Rae Chong)
Jonathan Jarzabek (Year 2 ChemE) moved away from home for university — although he came to enjoy the program, he felt he wasn’t thriving to his full potential. At the beginning of his second year, he transferred to U of T Engineering, where he’s now taking advantage of research and experiential learning opportunities. Jarzabek spoke with Erica Rae Chong about his first year, his time at U of T Engineering and forming strong relationships with professors.
You spent your first year at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., studying Engineering Chemistry. What made you consider transferring programs?
One of the reasons I chose Queen’s was because it allowed students to receive a dual degree in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering — I was really looking forward to it, and completed my first year there. But being a Toronto native, I truly did miss the city and my family, and after coming back to Toronto for the summer, I came to realize that I was happiest back at home. When I went back to Queen’s at the beginning of my second year, I decided to look into the transfer process. Given that U of T has an amazing reputation, I thought that it would be worth a shot to apply.
What was the deciding factor that convinced you to transfer to U of T Engineering?
My deciding factor was that I would be able to get a degree from Canada’s #1 engineering school, in the city that I call home, with my family nearby when I needed them.
Can you share your experience with the transfer process?
Before transferring, I was concerned that the year I did at Queen’s would go to waste. I didn’t want to fall too far behind my peers, and the idea of having to do first year again did not appeal to me. But the transfer process was much easier than I thought it would be: all my credits transferred from my first year, which meant that I could go right into the second year. The logistics were very straightforward and any issues or confusion I had were quickly resolved by the staff in the admissions office.
Can you share one U of T Engineering project you’re working on or are especially proud of?
Since coming to U of T Engineering, I have had so many opportunities to improve my academic and professional skills. This past summer, I had the opportunity to work within the Winnik Research group in the Lash Miller Laboratories. I got an NSERC scholarship and had the opportunity to work under a PhD student who was researching bead-based bioassays. This was a great learning experience that exposed me to an area of chemistry that I was previously unfamiliar with, and it was satisfying to see the direct application of what I was doing.
What are some highlights of your experience so far?
The part I enjoy most about U of T Engineering is the community and everyone’s willingness to help one another. Engineering is a challenging program, but everyone is very supportive and tightly knit. We all have each other’s back, which makes the hard times feel a whole lot easier.
The one thing that I think sets U of T Engineering apart is the constant communication I have with my professors. At U of T, the professors seem to really want to know you. They learn your name and will stop and talk to you if they see you outside of class. If I have any questions or concerns, I know that my emails will be replied to within a few minutes, which I think is pretty exceptional.
What’s next for you? Any future goals?
Currently I am in my third year of Chemical Engineering and I am pursing a minor in bioengineering. Next year I am hoping to go on the Professional Experience Year Co-op program (PEY Co-op) to work in industry. I’m looking to diversify my experience — I’ve applied to a broad range of industries, from environmental engineering to research and design. I’m not sure as to what the future holds for me yet, but I am sure that with a degree from U of T Engineering, the opportunities are endless.