From bench to boardroom

From bench to boardroom

September 30, 2009

Making the leap from graduate studies to employment can be a frustrating journey. But not for everyone.

Meet Hussameldin Ibrahim. After getting his BSc at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, he moved to Canada, where he earned his master’s at the University of Regina in 2002. He finished his PhD thesis in 2008 on using fossil fuels to generate environmentally sustainable electricity at the university’s International Test Centre for CO2 Capture (ITC).

That’s when HTC Purenergy, a Regina-based energy-technology company involved with the university’s carbon-capture research programs, hired him to study hydrogen production and purification. Today, Ibrahim is a senior project engineer at HTC, but remains connected to his alma mater.

“One of my responsibilities now is technical lead in the design, construction and operation of a hydrogen demonstration plant that is going to be built in the ITC,” he says. HTC Purenergy is partnering with business and government on a $6.9 million plant that will help decrease the cost of ethanol and biodiesel production.

“This is directly related to my PhD research work,” says Ibrahim, who also earned a Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal for outstanding scholastic achievement earlier this year. “I am taking what I applied and learned in the ITC from the bench, or lab scale, to the pilot plant and commercial scale.”

Malcolm Wilson, director of the university’s Office of Energy and Environment, which spearheads the carbon-capture-and-storage research programs at the ITC and liaises with industry, says Ibrahim is one of several students moving from advanced studies directly into related industries. And CFI funding, he notes, including $4.5 million for equipment, has been key to engaging industry in the university’s efforts.
“The capital side of the ITC has been largely provided by government, with the CFI as a major contributor,” says Wilson. “Without that capacity, I would not have been able to raise the industry money to support the operations of the ITC.”

Training graduates to find jobs locally is also important, says Wilson, especially as the industry expands. “This is part of our community-development role.”