Anxhelo Mecollari, Mechanical Engineering Technologist
Humber Student to Research Assistant at the Barrett CTI
As a global leader in polytechnic education, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning has clearly defined Pillar #1: Career-Ready Citizens as a priority in developing 21st-century skills in the Strategic Plan 2018-2023. The institution’s learning outcomes outlined in the HLO Framework incorporate these essential skills and guide curriculum development that builds the very competencies required for our students to succeed in the real world.
At Humber’s Office of Research and Innovation (ORI), we are committed to supporting and working closely with our faculty and researchers as they strive to impart knowledge through experiential learning opportunities and immerse students in discovering and refining their skillsets. We reached out to a few Humber students, recent graduates and research assistants working alongside faculty on mutually beneficial projects to the institution, faculty and students alike, and our industry and community partners. Today, we highlight the success of one such student turned Humber employee (research assistant) who shares his experience.
A dream for many international students who come to Humber College is to graduate with Honours and begin walking the path of career development. They are looking to build something new, a new home, and a new life.
Anxhelo Mecollari is that international student! He made his way here, from Albania to Humber College in 2017. You can say he was already a researcher, even though he might not have known it then. His search for the perfect fit, the perfect academic institution to suit his needs, led him to Humber College. He soon found himself in conversation with Professor Dhimitri Gusho and former Professor Arjan Ziu. Anxhelo acknowledges that his academic and research success journey began with Dhimitri, who convinced Anxhelo to join Humber, and it was Dhimitri who gave Anxhelo his very first taste of ‘research.’
His relentless energy and desire to participate in learning opportunities got Anxhelo noticed in his first semester. It was not long until Anxhelo joined Dhimitri as a research assistant to innovate and develop a MICROSA Water Purification Project with industry partner Mikroen Solutions. He excitingly shared that he learnt a great deal during this phase, especially from Professor Dhimitri and Professor Hassan Hassan and the other research participants who were third-year engineering students.
“This applied research project gave me hands-on experience and helped me learn more about the importance of developing sustainable tools. My hunger to get involved in further projects began here. I continue to stay motivated to participate in as many projects as I possibly can. Research has taught me so much because of the experiential learning opportunities. I have learnt a lot about myself too. I have realized that I not only enjoy participating in research but that I would love to lead my own research project someday. I owe a lot of my success to inspiring faculty members, and, like them, I would love to teach someday and give back to students.”—Anxhelo Mecollari
In 2017, Anxhelo also had the opportunity to work with ORI (then-ARI) for a short interval. During this span, he approached the Director of Barrett CTI, Neal Mohammed, to work with him, and his journey with Barrett CTI began. Since 2017, Anxhelo worked with the Barrett CTI team to develop service room layouts and designs, analyze specifications of heavy-duty machines and assist with mechanical services with Barrett CTI’s Advanced Manufacturing Skills Consortium partners such as SEW-EURODRIVE (The Brick AGV (Automated Guided Vehicles), SEW Live lab), Festo Didactic Inc., KUKA Canada Inc., etc.
Currently, Anxhelo is a research assistant in the Barrett CTI providing expertise in mechanical and machining services in the Product Prototyping Facility located inside the building (CTI 110). He oversees the day-to-day operations, maintenance and demonstration of the prototyping shop, which includes maintaining the milling, CNC machine and other equipment. He collaborates with faculty members, and trains/teaches students how to use the machines, providing hands-on student learning. He also provides additive manufacturing expertise and support for applied research, capstone projects and industry events. A project Anxhelo is currently working on involves designing a new platform for a research project, “Power Supply Design-Phase 2”–to fabricate the platform using a milling machine and other equipment in the prototyping shop.
During the earlier phase of the pandemic and despite challenges faced due to Covid-19, Anxhelo continued to stay motivated. He collaborated on a crucial project at Humber with another Advanced Manufacturing Skills Consortium partner Javelin Technologies Inc. to produce protective face-shields for Humber faculty and staff.
In addition to his full-time role at Humber’s Barrett CTI, Anxhelo’s exemplary work ethic has led him to hold two other part-time positions—yes, indeed, an over-achiever, and we are thankful to have Anxhelo on board! He works as a Mechanical Engineering Technologist at AZMECH & Services and as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Quadrant Industries Inc.
We asked if Anxhelo enjoys working alongside students:
“I recently had the opportunity to supervise students from the second year of the mechanical engineering program during their capstone project, and I was given the opportunity to assist a faculty member. The students’ task was to build a robotic arm that could be motorized involving pneumatics and hydraulics. I found that I really enjoyed teaching. So that’s actually one of my goals in the future. I want to become a teacher. I’ve learnt that if I can teach it, then I must really know it. Alternatively, I’ve observed that I learn so much more from these students in return, and it is extremely gratifying.”—Anxhelo Mecollari
An example Anxhelo shares is when a student suggested working with a PVC pipe (on the robotic arm project) instead of metal, plastic or wood. “I would have never thought of it,” Anxhelo humbly states. In fact, there was a time when he shared that he did not want to get involved in a project, and it turned out that he ended up being a project lead. Anxhelo has learnt that with teamwork and collaboration, everything is possible!
What is Research?
“Research, in my mind, is like painting on a blank canvas from memory. Every time I think of research, I paint a process map in my mind before I get to work on it. Research is also about not knowing where the painting may lead and what the result will look like. There are many learning opportunities along the way. In addition, research many times allows you to learn about facts and topics that you did not initially think about.”—Anxhelo Mecollari
Anxhelo confidently states that someday he would want to lead an applied research project of his own, and we are happy that he further shares Humber would, without a doubt, be his academic institution of choice to partner with!
Anxhelo wishes to express his thanks and appreciation to Neal Mohammed, Director Barrett CTI, Nelia Louro, Program Liaison, Education & Training Solutions, Professor Dhimitri Gusho, former Professor Arjan Ziu and Professor Hassan Hassan. They were the first to believe in him and gave him the opportunity to learn, grow and participate in research and innovation.
Developing Soft Skills
While working closely with many representatives of industry partners at Barrett CTI, Anxhelo has learned that time management is crucial to success. “Industry partners do not have the luxury of time, and we have to work on our own to seek answers. Also, we may present our observations or a prototype, and they may not like it, which means we have to go back to the board and repurpose what we’ve initially created,” says Anxhelo.
Soft skills like communication skills, time management, problem-solving and a design thinking methodology can be the most practical competencies a student can build while working on applied research or capstone projects. These skills and competencies are in high demand and amplify employability opportunities in the real world.
Learning to adapt and work with unexpected situations has taught Anxhelo to multi-task and transfer his skills and competencies across various projects and applications. He was quick to acknowledge that the skills and competencies he developed at Humber greatly assisted him in transitioning to a professional workplace environment. We wish Anxhelo the very best in his current and future endeavours.
5 Things you didn’t know about Anxhelo:
- When he is not at work, he is: Spending time with family and friends.
- Favourite Book: ‘12 Rules for Life: ‘An Antidote to Chaos’ by Jordan B. Peterson
- Favourite websites/social media platforms: YouTube
- Favourite movie/shows: Two and a Half Men
- In one short line: “Research is what decides our future.”
We want to hear from you, dear students. How has a project, research, or investigation propelled and prompted you to develop your technical and soft skills and competencies, including communications, critical thinking, and problem-solving? You are a researcher and an innovator, and we want you to share your story with us. Reach out to us via firstname.lastname@example.org, and please state EVERYDAY INNOVATORS in the subject line.