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