Solomon Thiessen (BASc, Electrical ’23) is the recipient of the 2023 EGBC Certificate in Engineering presented to the graduating student with the highest standing in the School of Engineering and was awarded a Governor-General’s Silver Medal. The medal is awarded to the undergraduate who achieves the highest academic standing upon graduation from a bachelor degree program. Thiessen, achieved a grade of 100% in a quarter of his courses.
Describe your time at the School of Engineering?
If I had to use one word, it would be “layered”. My degree felt almost episodic; in the first couple of years, I felt pretty overwhelmed. I think that period of my life was important for my development as a person. Through my early academic success and being exposed to so many new and friendly people, I gained a lot of confidence in myself and grew more independent. Over the next couple of years, I felt a lot more centered. I was comfortable with my course load and my relationships with faculty members and my peers, which allowed me to buckle down and focus intently on my studies. Overall, I’m grateful for the perspective I gained while attending school.
What motivates you when it comes to your studies?
I’m sure anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m a very competitive guy. Before I found out that I’d won the Governor General’s Medal, I wasn’t aware that there was any formal recognition for the student with the best academic standing. I was just doing my utmost to outscore my friends in the program and earn some bragging rights. I’d like to thank my stiffest competition, Mr. Ben Ellis, for giving me a run for my money and keeping things interesting on those late Friday nights.
What are some of your fondest memories?
While there have certainly been many academic triumphs throughout my time in the program, my favourite has to be the first 100% I earned in a course, which was Calc II in first year (shoutout to Dr. Dean Richert!).
Honestly, the academic highlights don’t hold that much appeal to me now that I’m on the other side. When I think of my time in school, I think of the funny moments in lectures with my favourite professors, or the conversations I had with friends during long study sessions in the middle of exam season.
One memory that stands out is the impromptu powerlifting competition that a group of friends and I put on in first year. The training leading up to it, and the competition itself helped to form a tight-knit group of friends.
I was also lucky to meet people who fostered my interest in activities that I can take with me anywhere I go, like rock-climbing and ballroom dancing.
What was it about electrical engineering that drew you to that program?
Initially, I wanted to study computer engineering, which is why I minored in computer science. I think pairing the knowledge of fundamental physical principles offered in the electrical engineering program with the higher-level programming/software perspective offered by the computer science minor will allow me to solve a wide array of problems in industry. Upon exiting the program, I would say the teaching staff are a huge asset to the program and the level of instruction offered has left me confident in my ability to contribute to the field.
What’s next for you? What are your future aspirations?
I’ve been accepted to the Computer Science MSc program at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, so I plan to live overseas for the next two years while I complete that program. Following my Masters, I’m considering completing a Ph.D. in AI or working in industry. In the meantime, I have a few software projects to tinker with.