Syed Fasih had little knowledge of mining when he arrived in Edmonton three years ago to attend the University of Alberta. An international student from Pakistan, he says luck intervened when his application to the university’s computer science program was turned down and he was accepted into the mining engineering program instead. Now going into his final year of studies, he says he’s happy it turned out that way. “I see the mining sector as the place that can use technology the most,” Fasih explains.
Mining engineering students usually take up field internships during the summer, but COVID-19 put a crimp in Fasih’s plans. Luckily, the Mining Innovation Advisory Council at the Alberta Chamber of Resources, which helps mining students find work terms and career positions, found him a role at COSIA.
Fasih joined the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) priority area team (remotely) where he helped to sort a vast database of GHG technology projects into useful categories, making the information easier to search. “I got to see the future,” Fasih says. “Looking at all these different technologies I could see the solutions being proposed for real world problems that industry is trying to address. That was the best part for me.”
COSIA members are progressing ways to reduce energy use and associated GHG emissions for oil sands in situ (in place) and mining operations through a variety of innovative technologies. These efforts include improving energy efficiency in all aspects of oil sands operations and designing best practices to improve environmental performance.
“Syed is starting his career on the ground floor of a new paradigm of mining technology,” says Matt McCulloch, COSIA’s GHG Director. “He and his generation are seeing firsthand technologies move from being researched to tested and adopted by industry. Now they can help set the direction and pace of implementation for a more sustainable future.”
Fasih’s personal interest is computational design and its potential application to mining. An emerging field, it combines 3D modelling with visualization tools, big data and machine logic to simulate and predict mining scenarios. “It’s incredible and I feel it has a lot of potential going forward because it maps out mine scenarios that are really hard to comprehend otherwise,” Fasih explains.
An entrepreneur by nature, Fasih was already on his third start-up company when he arrived in Canada. He’s put it on hold temporarily while he finishes the degree. He did find time though to become involved in student organizations and ran for a position on the student council. “I was shy when I first arrived and it gave me a lot of confidence,” he says.
As for what’s next, Fasih says he’s open to all possibilities. If he has a vision for his future, it is to help spread awareness about the mining sector. “People don’t realize it’s come a long way in addressing greenhouse gas emissions,” he says. “Through new technologies and innovation, mining can be clean and green.”
Innovators, check out COSIA’s Greenhouse Gases Innovation Opportunity in Natural Gas Decarbonization.