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Alumni, researchers, and supporters come together for 10th anniversary expo event

August 20, 2021
Keynote Address featuring (clockwise from top left) Mohamed Lachemi, Praveer Sinha, Steven Liss, Thomas Duever

Keynote address featuring (clockwise from top left) Mohamed Lachemi, Praveer Sinha, Steven Liss and Thomas Duever

On June 8, the Centre for Urban Energy hosted a special virtual edition of its Clean Energy Expo providing its stakeholders – including alumni, sponsors, researchers, students and startups, the opportunity to share their thoughts on the centre’s impact over the past 10 years. Thomas Deuver, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science along with Ryerson University’s President Mohamed Lachemi delivered the opening remarks. “Under Bala’s leadership, the centre has shown the way in developing strong partnerships that are needed to prepare solutions for today’s challenges,” said Lachemi.


Session 1

Praveer Sinha, CEO and managing director at Tata Power gave the keynote address live from Mumbai, India. The expo audience was global this year, drawing 110 attendees from across continents. “I joined with the hope to gain a better understanding of current and emerging technologies in the energy industry towards achieving a net-zero carbon emission,” said David Wondoh, a graduate electrical engineer from the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, Ghana. Wondoh had a keen interest in clean and sustainable energy and saw this event as an opportunity to get to know more about what Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy had to offer. “I'm looking forward to hearing about the latest developments in energy innovation in Canada,” said Peter Polanowski, a water management specialist from Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Session 2

Jessie Ma, an IESO research fellow, led one of the research showcases at the event. Gary Thompson, Supervisor of Engineering, Technical Standards & Energy Solutions at Toronto Hydro joined Ma in reflecting on the progress the Toronto Hydro and Centre for Urban Energy partnership has made. “Where we are today is nothing compared to where we were in 2012. We’ve moved considerably far,” said Thompson.

Session 3

Amr Adel, research fellow at the CUE and the centre's academic director, Bala Venkatesh showcased the research partnership between Hydro One, Opus One and Toronto Community Housing in an enthusiastic session.

There were two Clean Energy Zone (CEZ) panel discussions at the expo.

Session 4

Panel A focused on empowering students, hosting Bolis Ibrahim, CEO of Argentum Electronics, Nima Alibabaei, CEO of BKR Energy Inc. and SWTCH Energy’s director of business development, Thomas Martin, who each gave insight to students in the industry looking to grow their start-up. The session was moderated by Farhan Zia, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Ryerson University.

 “This is a good time to take a risk, and try a hand at it,” said Ibrahim. Martin emphasized the importance of networking. “There’s a lot of focus in certification, but you need a network to find out where you fit in the industry. 50 per cent is skill acquired and 50 per cent is who you know,” said Martin.

Session 5

Panel B, revolved around Entrepreneurship, featuring Holly Dunne, manager of business strategy at Elocity, co-founder of, Michael Petgrave and national team lead of account management at Mitacs, Ivette Vera Perez. The session was moderated by Phil Walsh, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Ryerson University. Dunne and Petgrave spoke about the importance of cross disciplinary participation, reflecting on their own different academic backgrounds. The two raved about the support they received from staff. “Without Professor Bala’s support, there’s no question things could have gone differently,” said Dunne, manager of business strategy at Elocity, a cleantech start-up that got its start at the CEZ. Petgrave, co-founder of, also a CEZ startup, reflected on a last-minute government call for proposals Lalitha Subramanian, the CEZ’s project manager sent to the team in 2020, noting that the notification resulted in his start-up’s momentum one year later. “Without Lalitha, we couldn’t have had the opportunity,” said Petgrave. 

The event concluded with virtual booths for attendees to visit and a networking session.

Event Breakdown

110 Attendees 

7 Countries 