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I'm Marquise Kamanke. Welcome to my year.

I am a 2018 graduate of the Chemical Engineering and Management Program at McMaster. The last five years have been filled with wonderful learning experiences in and outside of the classroom. I have learned the principles of chemical engineering design and how to apply them small scale in a lab as well as simulate large-scale operations on industry software.

Over time, I developed a special interest in energy resources and key sustainability and energy issues affecting our world. This blog is a snapshot of my final year at McMaster.

The photo above features the Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning on campus. It is an innovation building for teams, clubs and societies to collaborate, and is a living lab to study integrated energy systems for urban use.

The McMaster Undergraduate Energy Society

In my third year, I founded the McMaster Undergraduate Energy Society. The goal of the organization is to educate and expose McMaster students to the energy industry and energy issues faced in Canada and globally. This is with the aim of developing future energy leaders at McMaster.

Generation Energy

This year, McMaster took part in the Generation Energy initiative started by National Resources Canada in which the real-time input of Canadians will be used to formulate Canada's long-term energy future.

The McMaster Undergraduate Energy Society had the honour of hosting this event in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and other industry partners. We worked to foster discussions between students and industry partners on what Canada's energy future could and should look like. It was great to witness students from various academic programs, ranging from Engineering and Science to Social Sciences and Humanities, engaging in productive discussions about technical and societal ways we can go about reducing our collective carbon emissions.

I was happy to act as both a presenter and a facilitator. In this picture, I am giving the opening keynote speech together with my organizing partner Ethan D'Mello '18, a graduate of the Mechatronics Engineering and Management Program.

The Alberta Energy Challenge

The McMaster Undergraduate Energy Society had the opportunity to participate in the Alberta Energy Challenge for the very first time. It is a case competition focused on the energy sector and hosted by the University of Alberta School of Business. My three teammates (Geremy Miller, Chiso Okoro, and Hanu Choudhary) and I competed against international teams from North America and Europe. We were tasked with researching and developing an innovative solution to a real-time energy challenge in Alberta.

Our case study, given to us by the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Orphan Well Association, was to develop a plan to limit the number of wells left orphaned by bankrupt oil and gas companies during hard economic times. The challenge was a tremendous learning experience as none of us had prior experience in navigating the Alberta legal landscape, despite coming from fairly technical backgrounds.

McMaster Energy Week

The McMaster Institute of Energy Studies is home to an amazing network of academics working on great things in the various fields of energy studies. In an effort to leverage their expertise and showcase the innovative and entrepreneurial minds of our students, the Undergraduate Energy Society organized McMaster Energy Week, Canada's first student-led energy week. It was held in March in collaboration with the McMaster Institute for Energy Studies and the Faculty of Engineering. The week aimed to take the complex and multi-faceted issue of climate change and present solutions towards building Canada's sustainable future. We were inspired by similar efforts in the US, notably the annual energy week held at Duke University.

We organized an awareness campaign with interactive events throughout the week, including a public lecture hosted by the McMaster Centre for Climate Change and a behind-the-scenes tour of the system and microgrid control room at Alectra Utilities - our title sponsor. 

As part of the week, we also held a Smart Energy City Competition. More on this with my next photo.

The McMaster Energy Conference closed McMaster's first energy week. The event combined perspectives from those in industry, academia, government, communities, and students on the theme of building Canada's sustainable energy future. 

The Smart Energy City Competition

During energy week, twelve teams, 50 student participants, had five days to research and develop strategies to help government and industry meet Canada's goal of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The teams focused on the sectors of agriculture, transportation, commercial real estate, residential real estate, electrical grid infrastructure, and waste. At the end of the five days, teams pitched their strategies in eight-minute presentations to a panel of judges. This was an incredible opportunity for students at all levels.

Here I am providing mentorship to a group of first-year students from the Integrated Science (iSci) Program. They ended up placing second in the competition!

Below is a video recap of energy week.  Energy leaders and individuals interested in participating in the 2019 conference, let the McMaster Alumni Office know at  They'll be sure to get you in touch with the 2019 planning team who would be delighted to hear from you.


Academic Club of the Year

Founding the energy club two years ago, I had hopes of its achievements but no clear idea of how we were going to get there. I was fortunate to find incredible people who had a similar vision and were willing to put in the work to turn it into reality. We started with two missions: to educate the McMaster community about energy issues and trends around the world and to expose the community to energy industry professionals for mentoring.

We have been able to host industry events, attend conferences, start an energy news blog and host our own McMaster Energy Week. Over the last two years, we have been able to nurture incredible talent within the club, and I am proud of the achievements of each and every one of them - pictured in this photo. I have no doubt they are moving onto greater things.  They are in order from left to right: Nick Cevallos, Zainab Hussain, Tristan Wedderburn, Me, Anita Bharji, Serad Abdi, Damien Joseph and Chiso Okoro.

This year our club was recognized as Academic Club of the Year by the McMaster Students Union. Beginning in September, the club will now be known as the McMaster Energy Association, as we saw an overwhelming interest from graduate students and other professionals within the McMaster community to be involved.

My Capstone Project

My end of year academic project consisted of investigating the possibilities of solar obtained hydrogen for clean transportation.

Transportation makes up around 24 per cent of Canadian emissions, and even with the rise of battery electric vehicles, range anxiety is still a big barrier. Hydrogen was hailed as a solution to this problem several years ago, but there have been massive hurdles preventing its proliferation.

I was curious about what would make hydrogen feasible here in Canada and what would be its applications. My group and I decided to dive into its solar thermochemical production and made some interesting findings which we wrote extensively about in our capstone paper.

It was a huge achievement for us as it was our final undergraduate project and culminated all we had learned over the last five years. We enjoyed working with each other on this challenging topic, and the promise of more exciting work like this in the workforce motivated us to deliver our best work. I thank each and every one of them, Pirasan Rajagopal, Michael Nwaeri and Thomas Humble, for the hours put into this project.

McMaster has been an amazing experience.

McMaster has allowed me to grow and to explore interests I never knew I had coming in. It has enabled me to hone skills that have prepared me for where I am today. I feel fortunate for every mentor who pushed me, whether it be faculty, staff or my fellow students.

Coming to Mac as an international student, fitting in is never easy, especially due to the culture shock. I was also two years younger than everyone else. I remember the very first days were really daunting. Five years later, I met some really amazing people, and I am proud to now be a McMaster alumna.







Thank you for reading about my year at McMaster University.