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Summer 2022

Summer Diaries: Mitacs GRI

September 12, 2022
- Tanmay Agrawal


The application process for Mitacs GRI is fairly easy, and one of the most sorted in my opinion. Other programs require you to contact professors and make one agree to accept you as an intern. In Mitacs, however, all you need to do is create your profile on the portal and scroll through available projects.

The manner in which Mitacs works is that first, it asks professors across Canada to submit their applications for available projects along with the relevant skills required from student(s). After Mitacs reviews all these applications, it will come up with a final list of available projects. All these projects are shown as a list to you on the Mitacs portal.

After filling in your basic details, you go through all the projects, list out 3-7 projects, and rank them in the order of preference until the deadline. Post the deadline, Mitacs would filter out the candidates based on incomplete applications, minimum GPA, and a few other criterias. This is then followed by professors receiving applications from the students who applied for their particular project. When this happens, students (may) receive emails from professors where they need to conduct an interview just to know details that aren’t reflected so well in the resume. Some professors may also ask students to fill out a questionnaire of sorts, which may revolve around understanding the interests of candidates. After the deadline to conduct interviews/questionnaires, professors also rank the students whose applications they had received and send them over to Mitacs. Mitacs then matches a candidate with a professor based on rankings provided by both parties involved. The process may get a bit to an individual seeing the number of deadlines that exist, but once the email is received regarding the final matching, all the waiting seems worth it.


I have been one of those who knew from my second year that my interests are aligned in the field of research, and so I knew that I had to get one of the research internship programs. Not having a GPA that could get me one of the programs that would solely focus on the grade point, I decided to go all in when the application for Mitacs GRI opened. I knew I wanted to look for something in core Mechanical Engineering(my major) but was unsure as to which specific field to work in. I would spend time looking at the ‘Student Requirements’ section of each project and ask myself, ‘is this something that may interest me?’ This very question helped me to narrow down my project options for Mitacs GRI.



I worked at the Building, Civil, and Environmental Engineering Department at Concordia University, Montreal. My work primarily focused on Building Performance Optimisation with some emphasis on occupant-centric building controls. I employed Python and Matlab as my primary tools to carry out my work and developed various grey-box modelling approaches. A large part of my work involved going through existing literature, which I had begun to do before the start of my internship. I also worked with other Bachelors’ and PhD students under my professor, who not only were my work colleagues but also had become one of the closest friends I had made while in Canada.


My life in Montreal was nothing less than a rollercoaster(and I am not being charitable to the city). Montreal is a city that is always so lively and filled with excitement that one needs specific days in the middle of the week to catch a breath. With a concoction of students belonging to different ethnicities, the odds of finding someone from the same ethnic group whilst walking on the street were close to zero( while if you visit Toronto, you know what ethnic group you would constantly find around you:P).

I lived in an off-campus student dorm where I had an apartment shared with three other people. All the four of us hadn’t known each other and were from different parts of the world. The building (student dorm) was filled with a bunch of exuberant students who would live by the phrase ‘work hard, party harder.’

Being in Quebec, you may encounter some language issues, but mind you, Quebecois people are one of the most accommodating people I have ever met. If you tell them you don’t know French, they will switch to English for you and always have a smile on their face. The French culture is embedded in the city, but isn’t that what makes it so special? I managed to learn a bit of French, where I called those sentences “Survival Sentences”. So the first sentence I learnt in French meant ‘I don’t speak French, can you please speak English?’

In addition, there were a few trips I made to nearby places in Quebec. If you happen to be in Montreal, you have to visit Quebec City, especially the Jacques-Cartier National Park. Coming from a person who would never willingly hike, the view you get from many of its trails will make you appreciate nature. The heavy European influence is evident when you visit Quebec City, with every inch of the city making you appreciate the French culture even more.

Overall, if given the opportunity to visit Montreal again, I wouldn’t even give it a second thought and get on the flight to relive my time spent there. From the amazing concerts the city would host, to the amazing foodfests(even drinkfests), to the amazing nightlife, Montreal will forever be a city that will live in your heart.