All About Alumni / Autumn 2016
Anything’s Possible When Someone Believes in You

A tough-but-fair professor allowed this alumna to thrive in engineering

Headshot photo of Jeewika Ranaweera with pink flowers in the background

Photo: Courtesy of Jeewika Ranaweera

“When I started my master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at U of T, I was a part-time student, because I couldn’t afford to attend full time. That changed when I met Prof. Andre Salama. He and I really clicked, partly because he had done some work at the same university in Cuba where I had just completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science, so he knew where I was coming from. He was doing research on an area of interest to me – flash EEPROM cells, then a relatively new type of computer memory storage – and he offered me a research assistantship. That extra income was a big relief: I could stop worrying about my finances and pursue my studies full time. The position included my own cubicle, computer and access to the research labs, so I had more opportunities to learn and explore.”

“Prof. Salama (who is now a professor emeritus) was my adviser for my master’s thesis and, later, for my PhD dissertation. English wasn’t my first language (I’m originally from Sri Lanka), and he helped me improve my writing. He was tough – sometimes I had to rewrite my work several times. But it helped me develop strong writing skills, which has benefited my career. As a hardware engineer at Oracle, I prepare many reports and presentations – everyone always remarks on how well written they are. I received the same feedback about My Three Journeys, an ebook I recently wrote about my engineering experiences. What I learned from Prof. Salama and his way of teaching helped make these achievements possible. He recognized my talent, and always encouraged me to do my best.”

Jeewika Ranaweera (MASc 1995, PhD 1999), as told to Sharon Aschaiek.

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