“Alumni see potential in us we don’t always see in ourselves”

Impact of Annual Giving 2014

Dave Cameron is emblematic of a new entrepreneurial culture that is taking root at the Faculty of Engineering.

The award-winning architecture student is about to graduate with the best academic training our Faculty can provide, and parallel to this he and colleagues have launched a high-tech start-up that could help to revolutionize the way experiences are recorded and shared.

Cameron is the other half of the donor-student equation that alumna Julia Gersovitz, BArch ’75, refers to elsewhere in this issue in explaining why alumni/ae provide time and resources to help today’s students. If annual giving is an investment in the future, then students like Cameron are proof positive that alumni/ae dollars are being well spent.

6-Main Cameron Photo-July 22-14-9h

Soon-to-be alumnus Dave Cameron is hoping to build a career at the intersection of design, business and architecture. In addition to academic merit, the awards and prizes he received were based on leadership skills and involvement in school or community affairs. (Photo: Owen Egan)

Besides earning a BSc(Arch)’13 and an accelerated MArch’14 (including cross-disciplinary courses in Management), Cameron:

• has won prestigious scholarships and travel grants;

• earned a S•U•R•E (Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering) prize that enabled him to work alongside internationally respected McGill Architecture Professor and U.N. World Habitat Award Winner Avi Friedman, MArch’83;

• interned and worked part-time for more than two years at professor and mentor Julia Gersovitz’s prize-winning FGMDA architecture firm;

• worked at McGill as a Teaching Assistant;

• participated in a range of extracurricular activities, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, an annual contest that brings students together from around the globe to build energy-efficient homes powered by the sun.

• took 1st Place honors in the national FounderProject Start Competition (established by McGill alumnus Ilan Saks, BComm ’11) and received a finalist commendation at the 2014 Dobson Cup Start-Up Competition.

cameron quoteDuring the past three years the Dobson Cup challenge has attracted more than 450 innovators and helped create 70 jobs at 28 start-ups.

Cameron’s ties to McGill’s alumni network are extensive. In family terms, parents Stephen BSc’81, BEng’85, and Karen, MEng’84, as well as uncle Ian Cameron, BEng’79, MEng’82, studied metallurgical engineering, and aunt Heather Cameron, BEng’85, studied electrical engineering.

Digging deeper, we discovered that Ian Cameron leads the iron and steel practice for Hatch Ltd., the Canadian consulting and engineering firm founded by the late Gerald Hatch, BEng’44, DSc’90. Dr. Hatch was a remarkable McGill alumnus and benefactor who, along with his late wife, Sheila Baillie, BArch’46, established an architecture scholarship that freshman Dave Cameron went on to win years later.

“When I look back over my time at McGill, almost everything I’ve done seems to have been touched in some way by McGill’s alumni network,” Cameron says, “initially in terms of academics and professional development, and now, with entrepreneurial guidance and financial backing for our start-up, STORI. The links seem endless.

“In meeting alumni/ae at Faculty events I’ve always been struck by how friendly and supportive they are. They are interested in students as individuals and take pride in offering help.”

The Perth, Ontario, native says students have to work hard to stay motivated, “and alumni/ae often see potential in us that we don’t always see in ourselves. They have a real investment in our dreams, and knowing that helps to get you through those long nights studying. It’s an incredible morale booster.”

Cameron, who hopes to launch a career shaping and improving the urban environment, frequently followed up on-campus social encounters with alumni/ae by arranging to sit down over coffee at their place of work “to get advice about the right career path or how to find a job. Several of those informal conversations later helped me tailor my degree.”

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