About the GSA

GSA President

GSA President 2017-2018: Babak Soltannia

"The President is the chief executive officer of the GSA and is responsible for the GSA’s overall operations as well as external and university affairs " (GSA Bylaw and Policy, Section D: GSA Officers, GSA Bylaw, Section D.BYL.2.2.a).

E-Mail: gsa.president@ualberta.ca



I am a Canadian permanent resident, originally from Iran. I have the experience of living in five different countries (U.S.A., Canada, Finland, Iran, and USSR), and learned a lot from different cultures, and I love people, and I am dedicated to people. Others found me honest, reliable, humble, straightforward, diligent, unfailingly polite, easy to communicate with, soft-spoken, patient, and always ready and willing to lend a hand to help others in need. In addition to English, I know Russian, and Persian completely, and I have elementary proficiency skills in French. I love collecting stamps and planting in my leisure time.


I joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a Ph.D. student in the Fall 2013 semester. I have subsequently completed my Ph.D. Candidacy Exam in September 2016, achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.9 along the way. My Ph.D. thesis research involves the development of theory and models, and experimental verification, in the area of practical cost-effective smart membranes for water purification and desalination. This work combines aspects of fundamental knowledge and applied hands-on engineering skills. I have already published one journal paper based on this work. I have also visited IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, as a visiting scholar. During this time, I was involved in a project resulting in completing a paper, and tried to strengthen scientific relationships between University of Alberta IBM Center for Advanced Studies, and the IBM Almaden Research Center. 

Prior to joining our department, I completed my second M.Sc. in Civil Engineering at Dalhousie University, achieving a CGPA of 4.0. While there, I carried out research in the area of manufacturing of cost-effective adhesive. During this time, I was given the opportunity to train another student on the project, which solidified my long-term goal to teach and supervise graduate students as a professor. I published three journal papers from this work, and filed a related patent application. 

Through all of my graduate programs to date, I have published 9 journal papers, eleven conference papers and presentations, and five patents. And I have been awarded nearly 20 individual awards, including nine different national, provincial, and U of A scholarships such as NSERC, AITF, President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction, the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship, Doctoral Recruitment Awards, two U of A teaching assistant awards, and a professional development award from the Graduate Students Association. I am also an APEGA E.I.T. 

I have served Mechanical Engineering Department as fire warden. I have particularly excelled in my leadership activities. Most notably, I served as President of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Students Association (MEGSA) during the 2015-2016 academic year. Under my leadership, MEGSA hosted over 30 events, comprising a mixture of academic, professional development, and social activities. I also led a number of initiatives to connect MEGSA with other campus groups, such as the Energy Club, and arranged combined field trips to industrial sites such as the Halkirk Wind Facility and ZCL Composites Manufacturing. 

I was also very successful in securing support and funding from external partners to leverage the support provided by our department. One such partnership allowed MEGSA to host a highly-subsidized course on engineering and code essentials for students, with the support of Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers (CSME). Another was a free four-day boot camp on LabVIEW, a system design and development application and programming language that typically costs participants in excess of $3000. We also hosted workshops on several other software tools and packages commonly used in industry. 

Under my leadership, MEGSA fostered a friendly and collegial atmosphere within the graduate student community in our department, with frequent social events, often specifically involving faculty and administrative staff. I also organized events to engage with the broader community beyond our department, including breast cancer and prostate cancer awareness programs, and charitable giving campaigns to assist the Fort McMurray wild fire relief efforts, and several other communities in need. 

In addition to my MEGSA activities, I have served as a graduate student representative on the 2016 Shell Enhanced Learning Fund selection Committee, as a member of the 2017 Alberta Student Leadership Summit advisory committee, as a member of the 2016 Vargo Teaching Chair selection committee, the Mechanical Engineering Chair Selection Committee, and as a judge in the 2016 Edmonton Regional Science Fair. This is a great pleasure and highest honor for me to represent and serve more than 7000 Graduate Students, the Graduate Students’ Association, and the University of Alberta, to alleviate graduate students’ concerns, and elevate their personal and academic life experiences during their stay at the University of Alberta.