Student of the Year Award

Applied Science Co-op Student of the Year Award

Student of the Year 2023 Award Recipient

Fouad Elgamal
Chemical & Biological Engineering

As a result of his achievements in the workplace as a co-op student, commitment to supporting his fellow applied science students, and positive experiences enriching classroom learning with industry learning, we are excited to announce that Fouad Elgamal is the 2023 UBC Applied Science Co-op Student of the Year recipient.

Fouad is an undergraduate student in the Chemical & Biological Engineering program in his fifth year at UBC. Fouad has specialized in battery development, working at both an established employer in the fuel cell field as well as most recently at Form Energy, a burgeoning start-up in renewable energy storage. Here, he designed and performed experiments to characterize new materials and proactively developed new methods that defined how the company performs their material research. From his supervisor, a Senior Battery Engineer: “characterization methods designed by Fouad are used every day by our team… to this day, I am still impressed with Fouad’s care in anticipating the needs of the team.” This led to Fouad delivering a never-before-made high-performance proof-of-concept embodiment, expanding the design space of the team. While on the UBC campus, Fouad may be recognized as a Co-op Peer Advisor or as the Captain of UBC Open Robotics, where he has taken multiple initiatives to support his peers in their own pursuits of valuable work experiences.

“My co-op experience was split between two companies in Canada and the U.S. I was privileged to work at Ballard Power Systems in Burnaby, a pioneer in the fuel cell industry. Working on developing test equipment for proton-exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stacks, I was exposed to a myriad of mechanical and manufacturing principles, which gave me opportunities to expand and diversify my skillset. A significant tangible outcome came from my project which involved optimizing the automated test equipment, this resulted in savings on labor cost and doubling testing throughput for fuel cell stacks. I was able to work in cross-functional team environments, lead projects, and learn to adapt when faced with workplace challenges and deadlines.

The freedom of the co-op program allowed me to pursue opportunities in the U.S, specifically Form Energy, a pioneering long duration energy storage startup with over $1 billion in funding, supported by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. I felt lucky to be given this opportunity in a research & development position on the anode team. During this experience I attended the 243rd Electrochemical Society conference with the company, and worked on a diverse set of projects. One of my projects addressed a major bottleneck, the supply of ideal iron powders. I proved that we could achieve equal performance with higher density material, alleviating this challenge and opening the supply chain to alternative materials for the entire company. I was happy to be the longest active co-op student in 2023, extending my time with the company.

In my capacity as Captain of UBC Open Robotics, I assumed a proactive role in enlightening junior members about the advantages of co-op experiences and guiding them through the intricacies of the job search process. I organized a comprehensive three-part workshop series that covered essential aspects such as crafting impactful resumes, using LinkedIn effectively, and honing interview skills. This involved conducting multiple mock interviews and providing personalized feedback on resumes and cover letters. Drawing from the unique tactics I’ve honed in my own job searches, I share personal experiences and underscore the invaluable nature of the co-op program.

Expanding beyond my in-class learnings, I experienced success, challenges, and opportunities in very different company environments. I not only fostered technical skills in these areas, but also improved on my transferable soft skills. Returning to my education, I am better equipped and educated on the applications of my learnings and can more easily see the connection between classes and industry. As a co-op student, the experience of workplace learning through co-op education has significantly enriched my overall learning.”

Fouad Elgamal
UBC Undergraduate Chemical & Biological Engineering Student

Award Info

Each year, one co-op student from the Applied Science Co-op Program is presented with a Co-op Student of the Year Award to recognize the co-op student’s exceptional contributions to their employer, their achievements in their job performance, contributions to the UBC community and/or their employer, to Co-operative Education, and to the general community.

The award is presented each January and celebrates student achievements from Winter, Summer and Fall terms of the previous calendar year.

The recipient of the Applied Science Co-op Student of the Year Award will have the opportunity to be considered as a nominee for the provincial and national Co-operative Education awards through:

  • The Association for Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning British Columbia/Yukon (ACE-WIL) Student of the Year Award

  • The Co-operative Education and Work Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) Student of the Year Award

Award recipients will:

  • Receive a $1000 prize

  • Be featured and appear with an article about your award and be presented in various University publications

  • Be eligible to be nominated for the ACE-WIL and/or CEWIL Student of the Year Award(s)


  • The candidate must be a current UBC Applied Science Co-op Student (Vancouver or Okanagan) and be a registered full-time student in good standing at the time of receiving the award (January)

  • The candidate must have a minimum cumulative average of 65% at the time of nomination submission

  • The candidate must have completed at least two Co-op work terms by the end of the current nomination year

  • The nominating work term must have taken place within the current nomination year

  • The candidate must not have previously won the award

Award Selection Criteria

Candidates are evaluated based on their impact on the three main stakeholders of co-operative education as well as the quality of the candidate’s resume.

  • Impact on Student (self)

  • Impact on Employer

  • Impact on Institution

  • Candidate Resume

Nomination Package Checklist

Either the co-op student or the student’s employer may initiate the nomination process. In either case, the student and employer are responsible for submitting their respective information required for the nomination package. Please check your nomination document to ensure all required materials are included.

1.   Student Self-Nomination Information

  • Completion of all information requested in the form

  • Upload of 1 PDF document containing the following items in the following prescribed order:

    • Student Personal Letter

    • Resume

2.   Employer Nomination Information

  • Completion of the information requested in the form

Student nomination form:

Employer nomination form:

Once the online form is submitted, responses cannot be revised.

Nomination Deadline

The deadline for the current nomination year is 11:59 pm Sunday, November 5, 2023. Eligible students will be notified when the application period opens. Only complete packages that meet the guidelines will be forwarded to the Applied Science Co-op Awards Committee.



Student of the Year 2022 Award Recipient

Katya Zaraska
Biomedical Engineering ’24

With positive experiences throughout her co-op career thus far, her dedication to progressing the engineering profession, and her contributions to the biomedical industry, we are excited to announce that Katya (Kat) Zaraska is our UBC Applied Science Co-op Student of the Year 2022 Award Recipient.

Kat is an undergraduate student in the Biomedical Engineering program in her fifth-year at UBC, specializing in Biomechanics and Biomaterials.  Kat has completed 20 consecutive months of co-op work experience, working in biomedical device development and clinical engineering.  Most recently, Kat finished a co-op work term with Vancouver General Hospital/UBC Department of Surgery in the Prisman Lab where she was working on a surgical tool design/development for use in head and neck surgeries.  She is currently working on publishing research studies related to patient-specific surgical planning and biomechanics related to mandibular reconstructions.  Kat is passionate about applications of engineering in medicine and her career goals revolve around improving patient care and surgical outcomes.  Kat is also entering her 4th season as an athlete on the UBC competitive cheerleading team. When she isn’t at the lab or at cheer practice, Kat is probably skiing or coaching gymnastics.

Read about how Kat has engaged positively with Co-operative Education and how her experiences have enhanced her professional, educational, and personal areas of life!

“In my second year of engineering, I realized how vast and daunting the biomedical industry can seem as a new graduate with minimal to no work experience. Having only been exposed to some introductory concepts, I felt I couldn’t possibly learn enough to make an informed career decision by the time I graduated. On top of this, when Covid swept across Canada and virtual learning shut down labs and hands-on learning, I knew I would be missing out on many of the practical skills I’d need as an engineer. For these reasons, I was drawn to the idea of the co-op program, knowing that I would gain valuable industry knowledge, learn how to physically design/build things and engage with practicing engineers with huge amounts of experience to share. Additionally, knowing my naturally indecisive nature and anxiety surrounding my future, I knew I had to take control and learn more about my career options.

During my co-op education thus far, I have had the opportunity to work in two very different sectors of the biomedical engineering industry. Having the opportunity to explore various avenues and apply different technical skills has yielded positive impacts on clarifying my career directions for post-graduation.

The diversity of skills that I acquired range from foundations in engineering physics, biomedical imaging, mechanics, machining and CAD. My first placement gave me a new depth of knowledge in mechanical design and hand-on testing, however it also taught me that medical device development is a lengthy and rigorous process. In contrast, my second placement was clinical and I was given more freedom to explore areas I was interested in. Coordinating research studies interfaced engineering and medicine in ways I didn’t think possible before. My biggest takeaway from this role was the realization that working alongside doctors to help with patient care is what I want to continue doing throughout my career.

On 2022, I had the opportunity to present a co-op related research project at an undergraduate student conference. Students of varying experiences approached me to learn more about my work. I was able to demonstrate to my peers that research engineering is a diverse and rewarding field where amazing innovation in medicine can occur. I emphasized that I wouldn’t have been involved in my research placement if it weren’t for the co-op job board. I had never realized that research and clinical engineering was where I felt most empowered until I took on a co-op research role, and this conference gave me the perfect platform to share this tip with younger undergraduate students. Following the conference, I even had a first-year student reach out, saying they were so inspired by my work that they decided to transfer from science into biomedical engineering and were hoping to also pursue co-op research.

In summary, I am extremely grateful to the co-op program for providing me with an outlet for my creativity, allowing me to foster my interests in hands-on work and helping me realize that I hope to use my engineering knowledge for improving patient care in a clinical setting.”

Katya Zaraska
UBC Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Student