Ukrainian stu­dents join Cana­dian Mi­tacs in­tern­ship pro­gram for first time in 2018

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY OLENA GONCHAROVA [email protected]

ED­MON­TON, Canada — It’s an un­usual summer for Kseniia Hlad­kikh, a stu­dent of Taras Shevchenko Na­tional Uni­ver­sity. While her school year is over, Hlad­kikh is busy de­vel­op­ing her re­search at McMaster Uni­ver­sity in Hamil­ton, On­tario. She is study­ing the re­set­tle­ment of Ukraine’s in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple.

She is one of 51 Ukrainian stu­dents who were se­lected to join the Mi­tacs Glob­alink Re­search In­tern­ship pro­gram, which opened its doors to Ukraine in 2018 for the first time.

Her first time proved to be the charm: She found out about the pro­gram through a Face­book post and de­cided to try her luck.

“The se­lec­tion process was prob­a­bly even eas­ier than of sim­i­lar pro­grams, and I also had a lan­guage cer­tifi­cate, which was a bonus,” Hlad­kikh ex­plains. “The eval­u­a­tion part took me a lot of nerve though. Even though the pro­gram just opened for Ukraine this year, al­most 500 stu­dents had ap­plied.”

Soon she had to pack her suit­case. Hlad­kikh started her in­tern­ship on May 30. She will be work­ing un­til fall on her project in Canada, but hopes to con­tinue her re­search back at home.

Kick­start

Mi­tacs, a Cana­dian non-profit re­search and train­ing group, started in 1999 and launched its re­search in­tern­ship pro­gram in 2003. The aim was to foster in­ter­na­tional while boost­ing the na­tional econ­omy. (The Mi­tacs name orig­i­nally stood for "The Math­e­mat­ics of In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy and Com­plex Sys­tems").

Thanks to Ukrainian di­as­pora. young Ukrainian schol­ars were able to this year join in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from Aus­tralia, Brazil, China, France, In­dia, Ger­many, Mex­ico, Saudi Ara­bia and Tu­nisia on the 12-week re­search in­tern­ships at Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties.

There are around 60 par­tic­i­pat­ing uni­ver­si­ties this year.

In 2018, a to­tal of 700 stu­dents were se­lected to work un­der the di­rec­tion of Cana­dian pro­fes­sors and in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal re­searchers to solve var­i­ous prob­lems fac­ing busi­nesses in in­dus­tries such as health­care, ro­bot­ics, avi­a­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ap­pli­cants have to se­lect three to seven top­ics from the list of pro­posed projects avail­able on the Mi­tacs web­site. The pro­fes­sors then in­ter­view the stu­dents over Skype and send their list of short­listed stu­dents to Mi­tacs which, in turn, al­lots pro­fes­sors to suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants in the end of se­lec­tion process.

Strong aca­demic per­for­mance, re­search ex­pe­ri­ence and the stu­dent’s con­fi­dence dur­ing the in­ter­view are the key fac­tors for the ap­pli­cants.

The pro­gram is free for stu­dents as Mi­tacs cov­ers flight, visa, and hous­ing costs, and in­terns get an ad­di­tional stipend. The pro­gram cost per stu­dent is about $12,000 and Canada’s fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments cover 50 per­cent of in­tern­ship cost. The re­main­ing is typ­i­cally funded by gov­ern­ments of the part­ner coun­tries, ex­plains Olek­sandr Ro­manko, a pro­gram men­tor who is a se­nior re­search an­a­lyst with Watson Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and IBM Canada.

In 2018, My­hal Fam­ily Foun­da­tion and Western NIS En­ter­prise Fund helped to co-fund Ukrainian stu­dents. Nei­ther the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment nor Ukrainian foun­da­tions have yet stepped in to help fund the pro­gram.

“The big­gest chal­lenge is that the pro­gram has grown to three-quar­ters-of-a-mil­lion dol­lar project, but we are still man­ag­ing it pretty much as vol­un­teers,” Ro­manko ex­plains. “For me per­son­ally, it’s a third job in ad­di­tion to full-time work at IBM and uni­ver­sity teach­ing.”

How­ever, it’s chal­lenge.

“The big­gest re­ward is to see that Ukrainian in­terns get valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence in R&D work­ing on prac­ti­cal re­search projects that can be com­mer­cial­ized and drive in­no­va­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in both Canada and Ukraine,” Ro­manko said.

He also hopes that the pro­gram can be ex­panded to re­search in­tern­ships at Cana­dian com­pa­nies and in the fu­ture will al­low Cana­dian stu­dents to do re­search in­tern­ships in Ukraine. a re­ward­ing

Brain drain

While uni­ver­si­ties and busi­nesses ben­e­fit from the knowl­edge shared by Mi­tacs alumni in the work­place, it has raised con­cern in Ukraine about the po­ten­tial brain drain.

How­ever, Ro­manko be­lieves that Ukraine can suc­cess­fully use mo­ti­vated tal­ent af­ter the in­tern­ship is over.

“When Ukraine joined Canada's Mi­tacs Glob­alink Re­search In­tern­ship Pro­gram, one of the se­nior Ukrainian diplo­mats told me that ‘they un­der­stand that stu­dents will come back to Ukraine af­ter their re­search in­tern­ships in Canada, but they al­ready saw life in Canada, and will leave Ukraine later with higher prob­a­bil­ity than be­fore the in­tern­ship’,” Ro­manko re­calls. “That is a wrong idea in my opinion, as Ukraine should not be cre­at­ing a new ‘iron cur­tain’ and pro­hibit­ing young Ukraini­ans to see the world and get new ideas. In­stead, Ukraine should start cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple to have in­ter­est­ing and well-paid jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties to start their own busi­ness or a startup in Ukraine.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to the Mi­tacs web­site: http://www.mi­tacs.ca/en About Mi­tacs, from its web­site: Mi­tacs is a na­tional, not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that has de­signed and de­liv­ered re­search and train­ing pro­grams in Canada for 18 years. Work­ing with 60 uni­ver­si­ties, thou­sands of com­pa­nies, and both fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, we build part­ner­ships that sup­port in­dus­trial and so­cial in­no­va­tion in Canada.

Mi­tacs was founded in 1999 as a Cana­dian Net­work of Cen­tres of Ex­cel­lence, ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing ap­plied and in­dus­trial re­search in math­e­mat­i­cal sciences and as­so­ci­ated dis­ci­plines.

In 2003, it launched a re­search in­tern­ship pro­gram de­signed to in­crease de­ploy­ment of highly ed­u­cated grad­u­ates into the pri­vate sec­tor.

Open to all dis­ci­plines since 2007, Mi­tacs has ex­panded in re­sponse to in­dus­trial and uni­ver­sity needs, in­clud­ing pro­grams in R&D man­age­ment, pro­fes­sional skills de­vel­op­ment, and in­ter­na­tional re­search train­ing.

Fully in­de­pen­dent since 2011, Mi­tacs re­mains com­mit­ted to its core vi­sion of sup­port­ing re­search-based in­no­va­tion and con­tin­ues to work closely with its part­ners in in­dus­try, academia, and gov­ern­ment.

From aerospace sys­tems to child­hood lit­er­acy rates, Mi­tacs-funded re­search helps to strengthen con­nec­tions, im­prove eco­nomic per­for­mance, and cre­ate jobs.

Over the past 18 years, Mi­tac 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.

Mi­tacs has 25 of­fices across Canada, a ro­bust lead­er­ship team, and a coast-to-coast busi­ness de­vel­op­ment team ded­i­cated to build­ing and sup­port­ing new part­ner­ships.

Ukrainian stu­dents se­lected for the Cana­dian-based Mi­tacs Glob­alink Re­search In­tern­ship pro­gram pose with the pro­gram's men­tor, Olek­sandr Ro­manko (C). (Vik­to­ria Mevsha)

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