Top Indian undergrads boost BC economy and Vancouver university research labs this summer with Globalink Program

Sinal Nayak, a Mitacs Globalink Intern from India, is spending his summer working to improve the quality of virtual reality environments at SFU Surrey’s iSpaceLab.

THIS summer Lower Mainland universities are hosting some of the brightest undergraduate students in the world.  Here for 12 weeks on Mitacs Globalink internships, 34 of India’s smartest, young talent are assisting professors at the three Simon Fraser University campuses and the University of British Columbia, to solve complex challenges found in their various research departments.

Students like Sunil Nayak, a chemisty major at the National Institute of Technology – Karnataka in India.  He is working with Professor Bernard Riecke at the iSpacelab at SFU Surrey’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.  He is researching how to improve virtual reality environments to make the experience more realistic.

“I’ve always been intrigued by how computers do the things they do,” said Sunil. “In today’s world, this is a large number of things.  I am a fan of science fiction movies and watching those ‘supposedly’ fictional things fills me with wonder. That’s exactly why I chose this project and I haven’t been disappointed.”

Sunil, along with his teammates, has created a Harry Potter world for their experiment.  He has been very involved with the programming and the concept behind the project.  He says his experience here has been nothing short of amazing.

Drawing interns from nine Globalink partnering countries: Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam, there are 92 international students in the Lower Mainland, 134 across the province and 750 nationally at 45 universities across Canada this summer.  Since its inception in 2009, the program continues to be very successful, with a 58% increase in the number of students participating this year over last.

“The Mitacs Globalink program was developed to build the awareness of the depth and breadth of Canadian research and innovation within the circles of global academia, governments and business,” says Alejandro Adem, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs.

Previous to the creation of Mitacs Globalink program in 2009 Canada’s reputation for being a destination for high quality academic learning opportunities was very low.  Currently it sits seventh overall as a destination for international students, bringing a solid economic boost with it.

“Canada benefits when international students see our facilities, engage in our research, share their cultural perspectives, and ultimately continue their participation here and facilitate future collaborations,” says Adem. “International students in Canada spent in excess of $7.7 billion on tuition, accommodation and discretionary spending in 2012, generated more than $445 million in government revenue.”

The Mitacs Globalink program is reciprocal, providing Canadian undergraduates the opportunity to participate in research collaborations all year round within the Globalink partner countries.  While away the interns gain the knowledge and cultural experience of participating in innovative research abroad, while acting as ambassadors for the Globalink program, promoting the opportunities here in Canada for international research students.

“I want to try applying for a Master of Science and I’m considering doing it in Canada,” states Sunil.  “My ultimate goal with my studies is to be a part of a team that develops something that helps a lot of people. I think research is one way to get to that goal.”

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit research and training organization dedicated to advancing collaborations between industry, academia and government in Canada, and to fostering international research networks between Canadian universities and the world.  Over the past 15 years, it has supported more than 10,000 research internships, trained more than 19,000 student and postdoc career-skills participants, and supported more than 1,300 international research collaborations.  For more information on Mitacs visit www.mitacs.ca/en/newsroom