UW travels to the UK for outreach initiatives May 10 marked the beginning of trip for UW staff


Last month, UW staff traveled to the United Kingdom to engage in outreach initiatives. Administration members present on the trip included UW president Vivek Goel, as well as staff members from the offices of Advancement and Research, and Waterloo International.

In a statement to Imprint, Goel spoke about the aim of the trip. “My recent trip to the United Kingdom provided opportunities to learn, share and connect with partners across a number of our priority areas. [We] met university peers, governmental representatives, business leaders and Waterloo alumni.”

Some of these partners included Innovate UK and Digital Catapult, with whom the university met to discuss potential future collaborations.

University representatives, including Goel, also traveled to Canada House in London to meet with Hon. Ralph Goodale, High Commissioner of Canada in the UK.

A tour of King’s College London was also included in the trip’s itinerary, where faculty members from both institutions discussed the potential for collaborations. A focus of the trip was to ensure that UW students continue to have opportunities for completing co-op programs and exchanges with Waterloo’s partners in the UK such as King’s College.

“With greater awareness of the breadth and depth of our activities, we will continue to grow opportunities for all of our students, staff and faculty,” Goel said.

Goel was also able to engage with UW students who are currently working or studying in the UK. “Health tech and innovation were two areas that came up again and again across our discussions,” he said.

In addition to the conferences and meetings in England, staff members from UW also traveled to Scotland. The trip continued with visits to the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

Catherine Burns, professor in systems design engineering, was present on the trip and spoke to Imprint about her experiences. “For me the trip involved visiting several universities in the UK who are demonstrating innovative research programs in health and biomedical engineering. Our goal is to build partnerships and opportunities for Waterloo students and researchers,” she said. 

Also on the agenda was a networking event hosted by the London chapter of UW alumni. The event aimed to provide an opportunity for the president and UW stakeholders to network and connect with alumni, students, and co-op employers.

“It was great to connect with Waterloo grads in the UK and learn about their journeys since graduation. Several of them I had taught so this was a very special chance to catch up for me,” Burns said of the alumni event.

After conducting many virtual meetings over the past few years, the university has been re-evaluating how often it is necessary to travel in person. “With air transport a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, each flight is a reminder that travel comes at a cost to our planet,” Goel said. 

“We are selective about which engagements require travel, and strategically cluster meetings, visits and other university business on the same trip. We aim to find an appropriate balance between our responsibility to the university and our planet,” he said.

For Goel, the trip was important in a number of ways. “The challenges facing humanity are increasingly global in scale and require a more interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to uncovering solutions. This is why we work hard to build and develop international collaborations with institutions around the world.”