U of R Engineering Alum to support students and industry with $100,000 gift

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: February 10, 2021 10:00 a.m.

Alum Samit Sharma has donated $100,000 to establish a $10,000 scholarship for engineering graduate students.
Alum Samit Sharma has donated $100,000 to establish a $10,000 scholarship for engineering graduate students. Credit: Samit Sharma

When Samit Sharma M. Eng’98 first came to Regina from India in 1996 to study at the University of Regina, his introduction to cold weather, as he said, was more than offset by the warm welcome he received from the people of Regina and the campus community. Sharma came to Canada, thanks in part, to a scholarship for enrollment as a graduate engineering student, in the Industrial Systems program under Professor S. Bhole.  
“I have many fond memories of my time at the University of Regina and most importantly I remember the generosity of the people who had welcomed me into the community and made my experience much more enjoyable especially coming from a warmer climate to a very cold climate where the avenues to call or reach back to India were few and far between,” Sharma said. “That was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to make connections within the community and basically try to find a home.”
Sharma is set to repay that kindness with some generosity of his own, specifically a $100,000 donation to create a new scholarship for engineering graduate students. Each year for the next 10 years, one $10,000 scholarship will be awarded to a deserving student.
Sharma said the decision to give back to the University came after some reflection of how his life was impacted by the support of a scholarship – a career that includes his founding of Gaia Power Inc, a power development firm that develops renewable power projects; including some that are operating in Saskatchewan.
“I reflected on my experience to see what I learned in the process, how it was helpful to me and how I could show my gratitude and pay it forward – that was an underlying sentiment I have had for a long time,” Sharma said.
“We are proud of Mr. Samit Sharma and his achievements,” said Dr. Esam Hussein, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “His generous donation will enable many others to be as successful as he is. Gaia Power’s Samit Sharma Scholarship for Graduate Engineering and Applied Science will enable many students to pursue research relevant to our industry and society and will help them secure gainful employment after graduation.”
Sharma wanted to create the scholarship with a vision of supporting a graduate engineering student at the University exploring an area or issue relevant to the engineering industry in Saskatchewan. He also hopes it will foster a closer collaboration between industry and academia and increase the potential for employment in the student’s field of study.
“Personally, my hope is that it helps a student to research in an area where there are benefits to the industry and benefits to society because there is a collaboration between industry and academia,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what areas the students choose to work in and how the program unfolds in the years to come.”
While the scholarship will provide an enormous benefit to both students and the industry, it also helps Sharma maintain that personal connection to the University.
“I remember when I first arrived; I couldn’t understand why at the time, everyone I would meet would question my decision to choose Regina. Today, I’m glad I did because it helped me experience the community firsthand” Sharma said. “Everything I love about Canada, the Saskatchewan people are first and foremost.”