Oct. 25, 2021

Schulich professor humbled to be named TECTERRA’s Woman of Impact

Xin Wang hopes to be an example for future generations
Xin Wang has been named Tecterra's Woman of Impact. Tecterra

Sept. 23, 2021 started like any other day for Dr. Xin Wang, PhD. A professor in the Department of Geomatics Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, Wang spent the morning in front of a classroom.

After the students were dismissed, she began sifting through her new emails to find one from her department head, Dr. Emmanuel Stefanakis, PhD. Wang sat in disbelief as the email wasn’t an update on the COVID-19 pandemic or about university business.

It was a message of congratulations for winning the Woman of Impact Award from TECTERRA, a geospatial technology innovation support centre.

“I was very happy,” Wang says. “I was also a bit surprised to receive the award as it has typically gone to women working in the geomatics industry, not in academics.”

Making an impact

Wang is no stranger to being recognized for her work, having won the Graduate Educator Award at Schulich in 2017 and the Research Achievement Award in 2018.

She is humbled by the latest acknowledgement.

To me, this award acknowledges my efforts and contributions to geospatial research and development. In the bigger picture, it recognizes women for making great contributions to the geomatics industry.

She looks to other women like former Schulich dean and UCalgary President Emerita Elizabeth Cannon for inspiration.

“They are being leaders, conducting amazing research, mentoring the younger generations, making positive changes to our society, and doing other exciting things,” Wang says. “I would like to become one of these amazing women.”

Accolades from colleagues

According to the two people who nominated her, Wang is an innovator who is inspiring those around her.

“Xin is a passionate researcher and dedicated educator who has done so much for the Schulich School of Engineering and the entire community,” Stefanakis says. “We also appreciate how involved she is in promoting geomatics and artificial intelligence to women and youth.”

Dr. Yang Gao, PhD, is a fellow geomatics professor and says Wang has made an immense impact in the transportation, health care, environment, and energy sectors.

“Her work in spatio-temporal data mining, geospatial AI and location has impacted the Canadian geospatial community, including training of more than 60 highly qualified personnel — most of whom now work in industry,” Gao says. “Her efforts have advanced access to cutting-edge geospatial AI research for Canadian geomatics companies and government agencies.”

Setting an example

Aside from winning awards and teaching her third-year geomatics course, Wang is keeping busy with her own research projects.

She is working with fellow researchers and students on National Research Council Canada projects, including some with cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology.

Her hope is to set an example for young women interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

I think the most important thing for young girls is to have confidence and believe that you have the ability to succeed. Confidence is the core to make yourself achieve what you want to achieve and be who you want to be.