Mitacs Globalink students on campus

They're recognized as being some of the sharpest minds in the world. Now, 46 top undergraduate students from India have come to Alberta to apply their skills to complex research projects and interact with industry.

Four of those elite students are being hosted by the University of Lethbridge in the Mathematics and Computer Science and Chemistry and Biochemistry departments.

It's all part of a new program called Mitacs Globalink, which was launched to attract international undergraduate students to the province and promote the benefits of a Canadian education to those pursuing graduate degrees.

"Every year, tens of thousands of future entrepreneurs and scientists from India travel abroad to countries like the U.S. or U.K. for graduate studies," says Arvind Gupta, Scientific Director of Mitacs, a leading national research organization that creates innovation research and training programs for up-and-coming researchers.

"Our message to international students is that Canada has world-class universities that provide superior education and innovative collaborative research opportunities. We also have some great companies interested in working with these students to help commercialize their ideas into the new products of tomorrow."

Mitacs has launched this one-of-a-kind program in the province with the support of the Government of Alberta, which has provided $375,000 towards the program.

"During my stay in Alberta, I have been able to interact with Canadian graduate and undergraduate students which has been very enlightening and informative," says Anupam Srivastava, a student from the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad who is at the University of Lethbridge this summer.

"I would surely recommend the Globalink program to my friends back in India."

The Hon. Greg Weadick, Minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology and MLA, Lethbridge West says that programs such as Globalink help position Alberta as a world-leading research and innovation destination.

"We are thrilled to host these young international leaders in Alberta," says Weadick. "Bringing smart people into our Campus Alberta system is essential to building Alberta's knowledge-based economy, and we want these students to come back to Alberta for future studies, and to implement their skills and knowledge here."

At the University of Lethbridge, the students have jumped right in to their various projects.

"We have been very pleased to host our Globalink students, and are learning from them as much as they are learning from us," says Dr. Jackie Rice, a mathematics and computer science researcher who is working with a student on a project which uses genetic algorithms to try and reduce the size of reversible logic circuits.

Her colleagues Dr. Yllias Chali and Dr. Shahadat Hossain are also supervising students, while another student is working with chemistry and biochemistry researcher Dr. Ute Kothe.

"We hope they will return home with new friends and contacts, and a different perspective on how their future education could include Canada and the U of L," says Rice.

The Globalink program was piloted in 2009 when 17 Indian students spent three months at British Columbia universities.

This year, Mitacs has placed top students from India in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and expanded Globalink programming to students from China and Brazil for the first time.

The Globalink program also goes beyond the classroom, Gupta explains, by providing "a big picture taste for life in Canada.

"As part of the internship, for example, the students spend time working alongside their Canadian counterparts to understand Canadian culture and how easy it is for them to fit in, he says. "Our goal is to have these students interact with Alberta students and form new friendships that will extend well beyond their three months in the province."

"In order to be an international innovation leader, Canada must become an attractor for global talent, ensuring that we can compete effectively with other leading jurisdictions," says Gupta. "Building these types of linkages to India is a key part of that strategy."