Meet the 2021 recipients of the Engineers Canada - Manulife Scholarship

The Manulife Scholarship program offers three scholarships of $12,500 each annually to provide financial assistance to engineers returning to university for further study or research in an engineering field. Explore the various ways engineers are strengthening their knowledge in the field.


Portrait photo of 2021 scholarship recipient Sheida Stephens

Sheida Stephens, P.Eng.

Professional Engineers Ontario
PhD in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry  
University of Toronto  

“Some of the best sources of inspiration exist right in front of us: The places we visit, the different people we meet, and the world around us.”

Sheida Stephens is embarking on a journey to demonstrate that what’s old can be new again, particularly with solar energy.  Her research is centered on the transformation of waste into high-value biochemical products using photosynthetic bacteria — the oldest solar energy harvesters on Earth. Microbial cells naturally produce biochemicals but, when engineered, they can make compounds they could not usually produce, such as the chemicals we use in our daily lives. The cells end up acting like miniature chemical factories powered by the sun in a completely renewable process. Sheida is driven by her goal to contribute to the vision of what a modern circular economy can look like. In addition to her research aspirations, Sheida wants to embolden young women to become engineers and help foster a culture where their viewpoints are indispensable in every aspect of the profession.

Portrait photo of 2021 scholarship recipient Tia Shapka Fels

Tia Shapka-Fels, P.Eng.

Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia
Master of Applied Science in Mining Engineering  
University of British Columbia

“The engineering profession is so vast in opportunity, and those that possess qualities of versatility, perseverance, and resilience are bound to go far.”

Tia Shapka’s professional background in geotechnical engineering piqued her interest in pursuing a Master of Applied Science in Mining Engineering. Through her research, she aims to  analyze numerical models to understand potential geotechnical failure mechanisms in the transition between open pit and block cave mining. With increased academic and technical skills, Tia’s studies will help to further her career in mining rock mechanics and become a more responsible and informed engineer. Her long-term goal is to impact mining operations by promoting sustainable and safe designs. Through mentoring young women, advocating for junior professionals, and supporting inclusive workplace practices, she also hopes to encourage growth and opportunities for women in the industry.

Portrait photo of 2021 scholarship recipient Colin Dreger

Colin Dreger, M.Eng., P.Eng.

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Alberta

“Observing the theory and complexities of your field at the full-scale will form a holistic understanding of your work and augment your technical knowledge.”

By coupling academia and practical experience, Colin Dreger is working to reduce the risk and uncertainty in the geotechnical design of soil structures. With an extensive background in geotechnical engineering, his PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering will help him narrow the focus on more complex knowledge gaps in industry methods and practices. His research efforts will also enable him to delve deeper into challenges in the field by revealing current needs and addressing important questions through research and application. He strives to bridge the gap between academia and practical experience, two aspects he feels are instrumental to progress and evolve in the field.