Graduating student fulfills her dream of being part of something with the potential to make a real difference in the world

Author: Engineering Alumni Office

Posted on May 31, 2018

Category: Alumni Spotlight

Valini Deonarine (MEng’18) knew that she wanted to pursue a Master’s degree, but would never have considered moving to New Brunswick until the head of her department at the University of the West Indies at Saint Augustine, in Trinidad and Tobago, recommended she speak to a recruiter from Atlantic Canada. Only a few weeks earlier she had been involved in a serious car accident, and while recovering, Valini decided that she wasn’t content to continue following the traditional routine she had fallen into as an undergraduate student. “In that time recovering, I thought ‘I want to do something so much bigger, so much more important, I want to see the world, I want to have a global perspective on the issues, and what I can do to be a part of the solution’. That’s how I ended up here at UNB.”After speaking to the recruiter, Valini decided to go home and research different programs in the region, and ultimately found the Master of Technology Management and Entrepreneurship (MTME) program at the University of New Brunswick.

Through the MTME Program, Valini met UNB postdoctoral fellow Dr. Shabnam Jabari (PhD’15), a researcher in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering who had developed technology that can detect environmental changes using satellite imagery. Together, they are working to commercialize this technology, which has applications in everything from disaster relief to insurance assessments. “I’ve always wanted to be a creator, but I was never sure that I could be. MTME really pushes you, telling you that if you think you can do it, you can. You just have to be willing to work for it.”

Valini explains that through the MTME program she discovered that she was not limited to future employment directly related to her undergraduate degree, in IT. “Right now I’m doing something in geomatics, in a high tech industry, something so specific that I never thought I could be doing.” She credits Dr. David Coleman for helping her familiarize herself with the geomatics field, explaining, “He doesn’t give you any answers, but he asks you questions that make you think. You don’t even realize that you had the information right in front of you and just needed to think about it a little more.” As it can be difficult to balance her time as a student, volunteer, and business founder, Valini thanks MTME professor Dominic Blakely especially for helping her adapt to her new schedule, and new Canadian climate. “It gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. Dom is the type of person you could go to and say ‘I’m having a stressful day,’ and he’ll give you some advice. He’s really what I’d consider a mentor, and that has been one of the most helpful things for me as well.”

Valini and Dr. Jabari, through their company, GeoDetect, are now ready to begin testing their product and begin meeting with potential customers. While the technology has applications in every region, they are looking to specialize in urban environments and are currently seeking an optimal location for initial tests.

Valini says that thanks to the MTME program, she is fulfilling her dream of being part of something with the potential to make a real difference for the environment and the world. She is currently finishing up her master's program. “That’s the big thing about MTME, they surround you with the right people, they give you the right resources, and they tell you that you can do it. You just have to be willing to do it.”

If you'd like more information on the Master of Technology Management & Entrepreneurship program, check out our website or get in touch.