Sept. 27, 2022

Opportunities abound for students and postdocs seeking experiential learning internships

Collaboration between UCalgary, provincial government and Mitacs skyrockets institution’s ranking to No. 2 across country
Ahmad Cheema, Chidinma Ayadiuno, Zoe Vogeli, Soheil Ghazizadeh, Hon. Demetrios Nicolaides, John Hebpurn, Sourabh Kumar and André Buret
Interns and former interns tour the LSIH lab along with Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education, Mitacs CEO and UCalgary AVP (Research). Rand Al-Hashmy, University of Calgary

Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education, and Mitacs CEO and scientific director John Hepburn stopped by the University of Calgary last week for a special tour of the Life Sciences Innovation Hub (LSIH) at the University’s Innovation Quarter.

The tour highlighted benefits of internships completed through Mitacs, a national, not-for-profit organization that offers funds to support internships for full-time students and postdoctoral researchers.

  • Pictured above, from left: Ahmad Cheema, Chidinma Ayadiuno, Zoe Vogeli, Soheil Ghazizadeh, Demetrios Nicolaides, John Hepburn, Sourabh Kumar and André Buret.
Nima Najand, PhD (Director, LSIH) discusses lab equipment at LSIH with Hon. Demetrios Nicolaides and vice-president (research) André Buret

Nima Najand, PhD (director, LSIH), discusses lab equipment at LSIH with Demetrios Nicolaides and André Buret, associate vice-president (research).

Rand Al-Hashmy, University of Calgary

The purpose behind the visit? A victory lap to celebrate the tremendous success of the collaborative partnership between Mitacs, the Government of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

In 2020, the Government of Alberta announced $15 million of funding over three years to create more than 3,800 new internships with Mitacs. The following year, the University of Calgary’s Mitacs funding ranking leapt to second place across the country out of 81 partner institutions; demonstrating a 288 per cent growth from the previous year.

These work-integrated learning opportunities are crucial to the success of our students as they learn the job-ready skills they need to succeed in their careers,” says Nicolaides.

“Mitacs has proven to be an incredible partner and I look forward to the continued success of their programming as we equip Albertans with the needed skills to secure Alberta’s future.”

During the visit, the delegation met with representatives from Fluid Biotech and Deep Surface AI, two cutting-edge companies based in the biotechnology sector.

Deep Surface AI: Deep Surface AI, a health-care software as a service (SaaS) company, specializes in medical applications of 3D facial surface imaging. They are leveraging high-resolution artificial intelligence models to automate and improve the morphing process in cosmetic surgery.

At its core, the software has an understanding of how the features of common cosmetic surgery targets, such as a nose, typically vary with one another and with other features of the face.

Fluid Biomed: Focused on revolutionizing the treatment of vascular disease, Fluid Biomed is a medical device company founded in 2012 by University of Calgary research partners Dr. John Wong and Dr. Alim Mitha. Unlike traditional metal stents, which are permanently implanted into the body, Fluid Biomed has developed the world’s first hybrid polymer-metal, flow-diverting stent, made almost entirely out of a material that will naturally absorb into the body once healing is complete. The company is currently in pre-clinical evaluation of the stent.

“Mitacs is a proud partner of the University of Calgary — we have had great success working together," says Hepburn.

"The visit offered a shared opportunity to engage with Minister Nicolaides how Mitacs internships create success in innovation for everyone. Interns at UCalgary are doing so much interesting work in important sectors, including AI and biomedical technology.”

How Mitacs works

Ahmad Cheema shares his experience as a Mitacs intern at Fluid Biomed during the LSIH visit.

Ahmad Cheema shares his experience as a Mitacs intern at Fluid Biomed during the LSIH visit

Rand Al-Hashmy, University of Calgary

Mitacs supports collaborative research and innovation projects between industry partners and post-secondary institutions. Eligible industry partners for Mitacs projects can include for-profit companies of all sizes (including startups), non-profit organizations, hospitals and municipalities.

This support helps business and community partners to succeed, improves students’ on-the-job skills development, and strengthens Canada’s world-class innovation ecosystem.

Our partnership with Mitacs empowers students and postdocs with opportunities and skills needed to thrive in the global economy,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research).

“I am thrilled with the remarkable success of the program, as it demonstrates a strong appetite for experiential learning, and engages students and postdocs in the innovation ecosystem.”

Experiential learning opportunities pave way to real-world job market

Zoe Vogeli, product marketing manager, Deep Surface AI, had the opportunity to share her Mitacs experience with the minister and special guests during the visit at the LSIH.

“During my Mitacs internship, I was able to apply what I learned throughout my academic career to work on real-world projects that have impact,” says Vogeli. “The experience helped immensely with the transition between academia and industry, and gave me an opportunity to build confidence in my skills.”

Mitacs at UCalgary

Mitacs operates several different programs for students and postdocs, and offers support for paid internships across all industries and all disciplines. To learn more, visit the Mitacs at UCalgary website. Connect directly with a Mitacs representative by contacting