Inspiring Leadership | 2022-23

Troost ILead Annual Review

Director's Welcome

The Troost ILead of today is stronger than ever. With new programming, and a new team with incredible skills that reinforce our mission, we are poised to change the face of the engineering profession. 

There is tremendous excitement at our Institute as we work to enhance, innovate and reframe leadership education. Our leadership courses are full of enthusiastic students and our co-curricular programming is flourishing — we continue to meet undergraduate and graduate students where they are at, infusing our program in the classroom, with clubs and through online studies. We also continue to bolster our Community of Practice (COP) program, which continues to be the connective tissue, enabling leadership impact in the engineering profession. 

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, I reconnected with our U of T Engineering students and partners at co-curricular and industry relations events this past year, including hosting our first in-person COP conference since 2019. There, we built new partnerships while our researchers shared new insights in engineering education. 

As you read our newest Annual Review, I hope our forward momentum shines through. The stories and achievements you’ll read about — our programmatic growth after the pandemic, the number of award-winning papers and increased engagement with graduate students, to name a few — are a testament to the profound and continued impact of Troost ILead. 

Emily Moore, PhD, PEng, FCAE
Director, Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering 


Stronger Than Ever

Students studying in the atrium of the Myhal Centre

With new team members and improved integrated programming, the Troost ILead team post-pandemic looks and feels different.

During the pandemic, institutions across the globe had to pivot to deliver their course materials online — a monumental upheaval that affected how educators teach, how workplaces function, and how students learn.

For Professor Emily Moore, leading Troost ILead through these unprecedented times was the beginning of a phase of renewal for the institute, as grappling with the changes led to new learnings on improving and delivering engineering leadership education, as well as fostering stronger connections with industry. 

"The programming team became really skilled at facilitating online discussions, figuring out how to use and experiment with Zoom and the best educational technologies," explains Moore. "There was a lot of reinvention and rapid learning."

Post-pandemic, that reinvention has taken shape in different ways for Troost ILead. As with many organizations, Troost ILead is more readily online, but now with greater purpose and a better sense of how to virtually foster community. 

"We had a strong foundation to work with, but as an action-oriented institute, we were excited to build on our success further," adds Moore. "Pre-pandemic, we didn't think we could do meaningful interactions online, whereas now we have demonstrated we can reach so many more people and still have rich discussions using online tools."

One example is how Troost ILead has expanded their digital connections with industry partners through a suite of webinars, allowing partners to connect from across the globe. For example, Community of Practice (COP) partners have joined webinars from across Canada, South Africa, and Peru.

When it comes to courses, Troost ILead always had a strong community of instructors but the pandemic provided a unique opportunity to share online strategies to facilitate more experiential and impactful learning online.

"It has become standard practice now," says Moore. "In every class, there's a period for reflection — this idea of, how are we building reflection into our classrooms? I think that's the other part of the evolution from the pandemic. We are doing a lot of reflection, even with our industrial partners and how we're teaching them."  

Our Year In Numbers

Students Enrolled In Troost ILead Courses
Student Clubs Supported
Troost ILEAD Courses Offered (across 25 sections)
Participants In Course Infusion
Registered Participants In Co-Curricular Opportunities
Participants In Fellowship Program
Student Club Leaders Supported By Workshop-By-Request
Corporate Sponsorships
Participants In CoP Programming
Research Publications
Best Paper Awards/ Awards In Recognition Of Scholarship
Countries That Research Was Presented In

Difference Makers: Accelerating Leadership

Since its inception in 2021, Troost ILead’s Difference Maker Award has celebrated final year U of T Engineering students who demonstrate leadership and commitment to improving the world around them. With a prize of $50,000, the award is a testament to Troost ILead's belief in the calibre of U of T Engineering students and their abilities to lead, dream big, and enable powerful impact.

Here's how the Troost ILead Difference Maker Award has boosted past recipients' careers and leadership capabilities:

DMA Winner 2023 - Adriana Diaz Lozano Patino (EngSci 2T2 + PEY Co-op)


How did Troost ILead have an impact on your academic journey?

When I first moved to Canada and started my Engineering degree, I was quickly overwhelmed by the fast-paced environment, new language and setting I found myself in. To say things were a bit challenging in the first few years is a bit of an understatement.

In a way, Troost ILead helped me reconnect with the voice that had pushed me to move out of my country. The voice that was passionate about social injustices, and how technology could be used to bring about equality. The voice that cared about enabling younger students to visualize a career in STEM.

The passion that had become lost in adversity came back when I discovered that people at Troost ILead wanted you to explore your authentic self. To bring into Engineering leadership the matters you care about the most, and use the vast amount of support the institute offers to help you shape that journey.

Tell me about the work you do now.

I am a graduate student at the Water and Energy Research Lab (WERL) at U of T Engineering, under the supervision of the wonderful Professor Amy Bilton (MIE). While I am still in the initial stages of choosing a direction for my research, what I want to do is to design systems or frameworks that improve the adoption of decentralized water systems, such as rainwater harvesting, to increase access to safe water for low-income communities in Mexico.

Mexico, like many densely-populated areas in the world, has a critical water challenge when it comes to providing equal water access to its citizens. The problem is not only one of physical water scarcity, but of poor water governance that disadvantages vulnerable communities. This challenge is observed in multiple countries around the globe, including Canada. Thus, I hope my work will be able to create transferable knowledge to apply to a variety of scenarios while always working towards meeting the needs of the communities I work with.

How did it feel to win the Different Maker Award? And how has that award and ILead made a difference in your career so far?

I remember I was studying for an upcoming midterm when I received an email from Professor Moore. Unavoidably, at first, my heart sank a bit. There was no way I could have won the award. If anyone had just five minutes to talk to any of the other finalists, they would be able to appreciate just how magnificent they are.

What did it feel like? Well, a bit unbelievable. Above all, I wanted to be able to tell my first-year self that all the obstacles she was facing would actually lead her somewhere brighter. This award is not about the recognition of your work, but about a group of people trusting your dreams and passions, and permitting you to go out into the world and work on them.

The Difference Maker Award and the ILead team have enabled me to keep pursuing a career in global development. An area that is very dear to me, as it allows me to help my home country. ILead is an institution that cares deeply about students’ journey. They will check in on you and show you support the whole way through. Something, I will forever appreciate.

DMA Winner 2022 - Khadija Rana (EngSci 2T1 + PEY Co-op)

How did Troost ILead have an impact on your academic journey? 

Troost ILead has helped me continually learn new ways to think about leadership, starting as early as the Summer Fellowship program in 2018, where they encouraged me to bravely rebuild my club's culture by centring the personal growth of our team members. Later on, during my term as President at Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and as the Leadership Development and Training Chair at Orientation, I turned to my mentors at Troost ILead to help facilitate workshops and exercises for growing the collective leadership skills of my teams. 

In addition to the extracurricular context, I have supplemented my training as an engineering leader through courses offered at ISTEP, including The Power of Story with Professor Penny Kinnear in the final year of my program. This course was a very formative one for me, and clarified the heart of my difference-making approach. We used narrative methods and tools to learn about ourselves and others, and to draw on personal goals, experiences and values in our leadership!

Tell me about the work that you do now.

Currently, I am completing my MASc in Chemical Engineering with a specialist in Engineering Education. My project is supervised by professors Emily Moore (Troost ILead) and Emma Master (ChemE). Our goal is to map out the Canadian bioeconomy using systems thinking approaches, with partners in the government, industry and academia. This work will help us build a shared understanding of bottlenecks to sustainable biotechnology innovation. Through this collaborative process, we are also helping engineers develop their socio-technical capabilities. I hope to continue centring people's voices and stories at the heart of this new change-making process.


How did it feel to win the Difference Maker Award? And how has that award, and ILead, made a difference in your career so far?

The path I envisioned for my career is not a conventional one, given that it brings together concepts from both social and technical disciplines. Connecting with the selection committee at the interview, and sharing my story with them helped me feel more courageous, because they are thought-provoking and encouraging mentors. I came out of the process having gained so much already, that winning the award felt nearly overwhelming.

The award has enabled me to design an interdisciplinary project with my supervisors that connects to my beliefs about using community engagement to lead change movements. And how affirming that is!

Also, I think it's important for us to continually remind ourselves that people are whole beings — with sprawling identities, personal histories, and the agency to make choices for themselves. My time with ILead has affirmed these beliefs, through their mentorship and teaching. I'm now striving to learn how people's stories and experiences can inform and inspire engineers to design spaces, tools and strategies that nourish our collective spirits, health and wellbeing.

The Difference Maker Award has given me the opportunity to expand on these learnings by supporting my graduate education. I am ever grateful and very excited to see all that is to follow in the coming years.

DMA Winner 2021 - Morris Huang (MSE 2T0 + PEY Co-op)

Morris Huang headshot copy

How did Troost ILead have an impact on your academic journey? 

From leadership labs, to joining the first Troost ILead student team, to being a Summer Fellow, Troost ILead provided me with practical opportunities to develop my leadership experiences among peers and faculty members throughout my time at U of T Engineering. The continuous mentorship I received from the ILead team was instrumental in unlocking my confidence in leading my teams, even when I wasn't in a position of power.

Tell me about the work that you do now. 

I'm currently the Founding Product Engineer at Coho, a community learning network focused on empowering people in non-linear career paths. I also recently completed my Master's degree in Engineering and Policy Analysis at TU Delft, Netherlands, and my thesis on Building a Sustainable Future of Education: An Investigation into the Sustainability of Digital Education Technologies in European Higher Education Institutions. 

How did it feel to win the Difference Maker Award? And how has that award, and ILead, made a difference in your career so far? 

The Difference Maker Award opened up many opportunities for me. Specifically, it allowed me to pursue my Master's degree in Engineering and Policy Analysis at TU Delft in the Netherlands, a program that allowed me to dive into the intersection of sustainable development, policy and engineering problem solving.  

I was introduced to many people from various backgrounds and cultures who shared my passion in solving global development issues, specifically in the edtech space, and I had the chance to participate in some international events, such as the UNLEASH Global Innovation Lab in Mysore, India and the C-FLEX Summer School in Trento, Italy.

Leadership Research In Action

Cindy Rottmann is the newest professor at Troost ILead who is mobilizing knowledge into the classroom and industry

For more than a decade, Troost ILead has shaped leadership education at U of T Engineering, carving out methodologies and programming that has redefined what it means to support students’ leadership development as they start their careers.

Cindy Rottmann, who began as a research associate in 2012, has been a cornerstone of ILead’s work — in its engineering leadership research advances, its translation into the U of T Engineering curricula, as well as into industry.

Fast forward 11 years and a myriad of leadership research conducted, Rottmann was appointed an Assistant Professor (ISTEP) in January 2023 and continues to be a key driver of research and knowledge mobilization.

"Cindy has been a crucial figure behind the Troost ILead research agenda for many years and has worked tirelessly to build the engineering leadership academic community through her leadership in the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)," says Emily Moore, Director of Troost ILead. "The international reputation she gained as a senior research associate was recognized when she was appointed an assistant professor."

Over the course of her academic career, Rottmann has focused her work on leadership development within the context of social justice and equity within professions. Looking ahead, Rottman looks to continue to make paradigm-shifting, positive impacts in engineering leadership education.

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Research Publications & Conference Presentations

Awards & Grants

Invited Talks & Workshops

"University of Toronto" sign with greenery around it

Thank-you for supporting our work - see you next year!

We're glad to see you've made it this far. Inspiring Leadership is the annual review produced by the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at the University of Toronto. It covers the period from 2022-2023.

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