City Born, Country Raised

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 I was born during the summer months in Toronto, Ontario where I lived for the first 4 years of my life. To my memory, I spent most of this time climbing on things, exhausting my parents, tormenting my siblings or playing with my toy batmobile. A year after my younger sister was born, we packed up our things and moved to Stirling, a wonderfully quaint little town of ~5000 and home of the World’s 2nd Largest Tractor Parade (goddamn you Dresden). 

1993

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Frolicked In The Outdoors

 I spent my childhood doing all the cliche small-town things that one might expect; playing community hockey and soccer, attending cub-scout meetings, building floats for the Santa Clause parade, loitering at the covered bridge, designing science-fair projects, singing in the sunday-school and community choirs, acting in the local musical, and working my paper route. I tended to spent the majority of my winters juggling my time between my hockey and ski-racing teams, and was at a different mountain each weekend for a race. I spent a month of each summer starting at 6 years old at John Island Camp on north channel of Huron. In 2008 I paddled the Missinaibi River over 30 days from Huron to James Bay before transitioning to a councillor and trip-lead. This affinity for the outdoors has continued into my adulthood as I’ve since climbed a mountain in Nepal, hiked the West-Coast Trail, and spent 5 summers in Northern Ontario planting trees. 

2000

Science-Minded, Curiosity-Driven

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 After spending a couple years in Elementary School I transitioned to French Immersion for 3 years before heading to a Pre-IB program at a Highschool in Belleville for Grades 7/8. By this time my appreciation for science and academics had grown considerably, I began participating in speech competitions, science clubs and even headed to the Canada-Wide science fair in 2006. I wanted to go to Centennial Secondary due to their reputable teaching team, so I joined their Drama program as a reason to not be in my ‘regional’ school.  By my final year in Highschool, I was student council president, interested in science and mathematics, and utterly unsure of what to do next. 

2005

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Travelled Out On My Own

Enamoured by the idea of adventure, I deferred my acceptance to the Mathematics program at UoG by one year, to explore Europe with my friends, only to find out later than many of them had to take a summer job or return for a course to increase their averages. After some severe and necessary prodding from my parents, I decided to go ahead with the plans on my own - backpack around Europe for a few months on a budget using a euro-rail pass, and be back by Christmas. This plan got quickly foiled after two months and 14 countries when my bank account began to deplete. Thankfully, the couple of friends I had met along the way and I weren’t half bad at music, and started to work as buskers in the streets of Athens. Soon, we were part of the busking community, and were invited to stay in a squat near Exarcheia square. The date for my return flight came and went, and instead of spending Christmas in Canada with my family, I was playing music at the Athens Street Music Festival. For the next 6 months, me and various travel companions were able to get-by, thanks to our mediocre music, odd jobs and the goodwill of people. We hitchhiked and train-hopped our way through Turkey, India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam - climbing some mountains, working in some bars/hostels, and fulling our days with experiences along the way. By the following summer I had made it back to Canada, and was working a landscaping job in Calgary saving up some money for school. I wholeheartedly believe, and am certainly un-biased in saying (/s) that without the experiences and insight I got from this trip, I’d be at least 3.1 times more lame.

A more detailed (and raw) account of the trip can be found on my Old Travel Blog

2011

Started My Undergraduate Degree

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 At the end of High-school, I applied and got accepted to a number of Mathematics and Engineering programs at various Universities, and though Guelph, I will admit, was one of my last choices, after visiting all the schools, it seemed to be the right fit for me (spoiler: it was). The summer before my start date, I was working in Calgary but was able to hitch-hike back to Guelph for the first day of my Undergraduate Orientation. I started my degree in Mathematics with a minor in Music, but had a rough start to the school year, after contracting an infection that left me in an out of the hospital for months. What I did learn from my first year, is that I love CIS*1500, an intro to computer programming. I had never touched a programming language before, but it provided all the logic and mathematics that interested me as well as the applicable, tangible outcomes that engaged me. I was hooked, and by 2nd-year I was a Computer-Science student with a minor in Economics and Certification in Business Administration.

2012

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Fell In Love

On the first night of moving into South Residence at the University of Guelph, we had a "tower-party" (like a floor party, but in South we have towers), where I met Emma Henry, a beautifully brown-eyed International Development student who lived the floor above me in my tower. It took no time at all for Emma and I to become almost inseperable. Every moment we had to spare, we were together. Actually, even moments that weren't to spare (like some class-time for example) were spent gallavanting through the Arboretum, eating crepes at our residence cafeteria, or stealing canoes and paddling down the Speed River with sticks. Just like my time, soon my heart belonged to her as well (yeah its corny, you clicked the "Fell In Love" section, what do you expect?!) and after a couple short weeks of escaping the friend-zone, we became a couple. We've since finished our degrees, planted over 800,000 trees as a couple, hiked the West-Coast Trail, built a tiny-home, travelled around Canada, worked as ski-bums on Vancouver Island, bought a home, parented chickens and a dog, and gotten engaged. Lifes better now that its shared with someone.

2012

Planted A Lot Of Trees

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I always romanticized the idea of funding my academics through hard-labour. Don't ask me why, but I always valued the practical man over the intellectual one. I was looking for work on the Oil-Rigs like my father had before me, but turns out they don't hire students like they used to. Emma had found work planting-trees way up in Northern Ontario, so I applied the week before and came along. The work was not only incredibly gruleing and repetative, but also required dilligence, spatial awareness, and time-management skills. Over the next 2 seasons I became one of the top planters in the company, planting over 300,000 trees. For the next 3 seasons I worked as a Foreman, leading a team of 15 by bus to each clear-cut where we planted up to 50 acres daily. I won't be quickly forgetting the summer I spent up there going "bush-crazy" or the ones that went crazy with me.

2013

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Won Some Hack-a-thons

By late second-year, I was starting to grow weary of the constant regurgitative nature of most of my classes, and was starting to attend classes less and less and rely on textbooks and my own research. I had a single class that involved building software for community-members that I was incredibly involved in, and the professor Dan Gillis urged me and other students to take part in a Hackathon that he was helping to organize which focussed on challenging multidisciplinary students to address the growing crisis of wasted food. We designed a Smart Compost-Bin that ended up winning us first. Still glowing from the win, our team signed up for another Hack-a-thon a couple months later, and to our suprise, again, we won! This squashed any imposter syndrome or self-doubt I was feeling, inspired me to motive and engage others as Dan had done for me and ultimately set me on my path to Graduate School and the research that I am now engrossed in.

2014

Built A Tiny-Home

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 After spending 4 summers riding, driving and fixing school busses at Treeplanting, I started to get quite familiar with their ins-and-outs. One summer I was up early enough as a management member to witness the company owner buying some busses from an auction where he was receiving them for less than $3000. Astonished by the price for such a resilient machine, my partner and I decided it would silly to not buy one and built a mobile home in it. After getting our degrees and finishing up another planting season, we pooled together our Treeplanting cheques and bought a 1991 International School Bus. We fulling gutted it, fixed up its mechanics, filled it with sprayfoam, named her Forest Wilderness (a.k.a WildyBus) and got building. We started with a full roof deck, fit with a 1200 Watt Solar Array connected to a fully custom Electrical system, with a 2000 Amp Hour Battery-Bank, 100A DC breaker box, 60Amp AC Panel, 3000W Converter. On the inside we installed a wood-burning stove, pull out couch, loveseat, far, full kitchen counter with overhead storage, bedroom with double bed, closet, washroom and back garage. It sports a propane system with a 2-burner stove, hot-water tank, and propane heater attached to a thermostat, and a plumbing system with a kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and shower. For amenities it has a TV, full-fridge, convection oven and composting toilet. It was a blast to build and an incredibly enlighting learning process. It took us 4 months of work every-day until it was finally ready. In early 2017 we drove her around Canada, ending up on Vancouver Island were we worked as liftees at Mt. Washington and parked her a stones throw away from the chairlift. We're hoping to get Wildy into our backyard soon to use as an AirBnB, but if anyone is interested in putting in an offer, let me know - I think she's starting to miss the road life.

2016

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Started My Masters Degree

The closer I got to graduating my undergraduate degree, the more engaged I got in my education and in the school, so getting my Masters degree was certainly already on my mind (not to mention Dan's consistent hinting). But as a rule, I don't like to get glued to one thing for too long, so off Emma and I went on our cross-Canada Adventure. It was throughout that trip that I realized, while I loved the adventerous lifestyle, I also missed the academic one. And, so in September of 2017 I happily returned to do my Masters Degree in Human Computer Interaction - Computer Science at the University of Guelph. A huge pull to come back to Guelph, was the eNuk & RightMesh projects, which I was incredibly interested in. Upon returning I got to be an incredibly involved member of both teams, and spent my time travelling between UoG, the RightMesh offices in Maple Ridge, BC and the community of Rigolet in Labrador overseeing research in each domain.

2017

Recieved Guelphs Young Innovator Award

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On June 28, 2018 the Guelph Chamber of Commerce joined leaders in business, government and community to celebrate the achievements of outstanding local organizations and individuals at the Awards of Excellence Gala. This year I was presented the first Young Innovator Award, presented by CEPS Dean, Mary Wells, which "recognizes an individual under the age of 25 who has demonstrated innovative leadership in their chosen field of profession or study" and who "is dedicated to solving an important and current challenge". I received the award for my contributions to the University and Community both through my research and service, namely my involvement in ComputerScience outreach events, Teaching and the eNuk & RightMesh projects.

2018

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Got A (Stationary) Home

 Unfortunately, while the police and public loved ol' WildyBus, the bylaw officers in Guelph weren't big fans. We spent a couple months trying to live in friend's backyard and public areas to no avail, so back to renting it was. I crunched some numbers with my father and realized just how much money I lost in renting throughout my Undergrad. We did some math, did some hunting and went 50/50 on a deal for a home to flip after a few years here in Guelph. We closed the deal on April 1st of 2018 :).

2018

Got Married

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On August 24th, 2019 I'm excited to announce I'll be officially married to the love of my life :). We'll be exchanging our vows surrounded by lots of friends and family in the backyard of my parents in Belleville, ON.

2019

Support Systems

LA Mockup

My Anchors

Emma Henry & Dusty

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Family

Jeff Durish, Anne Pohlman, Chris Durish, Christianne Laliberte & Avery Durish

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Friends

Theres too many to name, but I love you all <3

LA Mockup

Advisors

Dan Gillis, Jason Ernst, Sherilee Harper, Ashlee Cunsollo