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Rob MacIsaac Fellowship

Put your love of transportation to work at Metrolinx as a Rob MacIsaac Fellow! The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship program will begin accepting applications August 14, 2017 for the 2018 program (beginning in January 2018). Stay tuned.

“I am proud to be associated with these highly talented students through this fellowship program. The recipients will make a great contribution to broadening the horizons of knowledge in the field of public transportation,”
                                                                                           - Rob MacIsaac

About the Program

The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship program was introduced in 2011 to inspire innovation in the field of transportation, in honour of Metrolinx’s first Chair, Mr. Rob MacIsaac. The Fellowship Program offers a unique study and work opportunity for students enrolled in a university or college program, or undertaking their PhD, in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Through the program Fellows get to explore their area of interest, as it relates to Metrolinx’s mandate, under the guidance of a senior Metrolinx staff and then gain work experience through a paid internship at Metrolinx.

Metrolinx’s mission is to champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system for our region that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life. Given the breadth of our organization, students with interests in any of the areas listed below are encouraged to apply:

  • Human Resources
  • Transportation and Land Use Planning and Policy
  • Safety and security
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Legal Services
  • Infrastructure
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • Customer Experience and Marketing
  • Information and Information Technology

The program is broken into two parts.

1) The Fellows conducts research on an innovative transportation related topic of their choosing during a research term (from January through April 2018) based on their proposal.

2) The Fellow(s) then embark on a work term at Metrolinx in a relevant division, through a paid internship, during the summer months (from May to August 2018).

What We Look For

We welcome fresh, creative and innovative research proposals grounded in any field of study (including but not limited to: urban planning, engineering, information technology, public or business administration, marketing, law, communications, environmental studies). All applications must describe the relevance of the proposed research to an organization like Metrolinx and how it is innovative.

Other conditions:

  • The applicant must be enrolled in an Ontario university or college at the time of application (fall 2017) in a graduate or undergraduate program; and
  • The applicant must be able to undertake their project at their current academic institution, under the guidance of an academic advisor, on a topic that contributes to the requirements of their degree.

How to Apply

When the application period is open (beginning August 14, 2017), you will be able to apply for the 2018 program through the Metrolinx Career page here. Please provide a cover letter, resume and a clear, concise project proposal (maximum 500 words) that describes:

  • The proposed topic, and how the project is innovative and relevant to Metrolinx;
  • How the research can further Metrolinx’s mission and where it could potentially fit in the Metrolinx organization;
  • Any specific requirements of Metrolinx you need in order to complete your proposed project (e.g. access to data); and
  • The name of your academic advisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Tell me more about Metrolinx.
A: Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario and was formed in 2006 with a mandate to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The organization’s mission is to champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system for our region that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life.

As an organization we strive to form strong and meaningful partnerships with academic institutions across the region. The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship Program was introduced in 2011 to inspire innovation in the field of transportation, in honour of Metrolinx’s first Chair, Rob MacIsaac, and foster the creation of partnerships with academic institutions.

Metrolinx is a recognized “top employer” in the GTHA. Interested students should refer to our web site to learn more about our organization and see the full spectrum of regional transportation projects that are currently underway

Q: When does the program start and end?
A: The program begins in January 2018 and ends in August 2018.

Q: How does the program accommodate for the Fellow’s academic commitments?
A: The research term will begin in January 2018 and run through to April 2018. During the research term the Fellow works independently to produce a research paper with guidance from their Metrolinx supervisor and academic supervisor, typically off-site. This allows the Fellow to attend classes and balance other academic responsibilities as required.

The work term, will run from May 2018 to August 2018. This term runs during the summer months when the Fellow does not typically have classes to attend. During this term the Fellow works at the Metrolinx office as an intern in their area of interest.

Q: Will there be compensation?
A: The Fellow will receive two grants - one grant for completing their research term and the other for completing their work term. During the work term, the Fellow will also be compensated with an hourly wage.

Q: Who is eligible to apply?
A: The Fellowship is ideal for graduate or undergraduate students in all areas of study with a keen interest in transportation and who are self-motivated. Specifically, the applicant must be enrolled in an Ontario university or college at the time of application (fall 2017) in a graduate or undergraduate program.

The applicant must be able to undertake their project at their current academic institution, under the guidance of an academic advisor, on a topic that contributes to the requirements of their degree.

Q: What types of research ideas are accepted?
A: Through this program, Metrolinx seeks to support top-caliber transportation research that is both innovative and helps us fulfill our mission and mandate. In the past, student work has included such diverse fields as universal design for accessibility, dynamic transit models using new technologies, the new Cap and Trade Legislation, active transportation for students, travel activity modelling, and more.

We are a diverse organization and candidates with interests in the following areas are encouraged to apply:

  • Human Resources
  • Transportation and Land Use Planning and Policy
  • Safety and security
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Infrastructure
  • Strategic Communications (Brand Management, Marketing, etc.)
  • Customer Experience, Information and Analytics
  • Information and Information Technology

Q: What does the application process involve?
A: The application process will open August 14, 2017 through the Metrolinx Career site. We will be asking that serious applicants provide a:
1. Cover letter
2. Resume
3. A short letter (500-word maximum) clearly describing:

  • the proposed research topic;
  • how the research is innovative;
  • how the research can help further Metrolinx’ mission and objectives (see www.metrolinx.com) and where it could fit in the Metrolinx organization;
  • any specific requirements for your proposed research (e.g. access to data); and
  • The name of your academic advisor.

Additional requirements

  • The applicant must be enrolled in an Ontario university or college at the time of application (fall 2017) in a graduate or undergraduate program; and
  • The applicant must be able to undertake their project at their current academic institution, under the guidance of an academic advisor, on a topic that contributes to the requirements of their degree.

All applications will be due in October 2017.

Meet the 2016 Fellows

Abena Addo is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto’s Masters of Engineering Program. Her research explored the effect of alternative fuels on GHG emissions on select GO bus corridors.

Jennifer Evola is a 3rd year student in York University’s Juris Doctor and Master's of Environmental Studies (JD/MES) program. Her research focused on how the new Cap and Trade Legislation will impact Metrolinx as a sustainability leader.

Andrew Johnson is a graduate of the Urban and Regional Planning program at Ryerson University and is currently studying Transportation Engineering Technology at Mohawk College. His research for Metrolinx looked at developing an integrated route identification and wayfinding strategy for the GTHA.

Patricia Kierans received her BSc. in Psychology at the University of Toronto and is currently completing a Master's in critical Disability Studies at York University. Her research is a map of accessible transit and rail stops in the GTHA.

Teddy Lin is completing his Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. His research at Metrolinx looked at transit user mode choice in the face of service disruptions.

Examples of Previous Fellow Research Topics

In the past, fellows have explored the following topics:

  • the use of public-private partnership incentive structures to impact the formation of mobility hubs
  • the profitability of UP Express non-fare revenue partnerships to provide an unparalleled customer experience
  • how to encourage sustainable travel behavior and development to and around a mobility hub in a mid-sized GTHA city

What do they have to say?

Rob MacIsaac Fellows have gone on to further studies and work in diverse areas! Here’s what they said about the program and how it has benefited their career development.

"The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship provides an invaluable experience to conduct meaningful research that will help shape the region. It is a truly unique chance to define the scope of your work and tailor it to your research interests. The level of support and guidance I received from the Sustainability Team from beginning to end and beyond was second-to-none. As you are a full member of your Metrolinx team, you will contribute to the ongoing projects in addition to your research project. The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship has really helped jump start my career..."

- Jennifer Evola, 2016 Fellow

"The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship was a great opportunity to see how my academic research can be applied to tackle real-world problems regarding transit service disruptions. It was a great learning experience and I had the privilege to learn from the talented and experienced staff. This program is really amazing because Metrolinx gives you the opportunity to propose your own research topic while helping you find a team that can best support you."

- Teddy Lin, 2016 Fellow

"The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship was an excellent experience. My research was multidisciplinary joining operational, environmental and economic impacts of the GO bus fleet. Metrolinx helped tremendously by providing resources needed to help materialize my ideas. I was welcomed by several groups and was able to establish great working relationships with experienced staff. Overall the Fellowship provided a one in a life time opportunity to apply my academic research in to the real world. The work internship component opened my eyes to the endless career opportunities in transportation planning.”

- Abena Addo, 2016 Fellow

"The Rob MacIsaac Fellowship was a great experience. I was thrilled to be placed with the Smart Commute team to continue my research on active and sustainable school transportation. I enjoyed the research term that allowed me to expand on my cycling in secondary schools project, and loved the work term that followed where I became more integrated with Smart Commute and got to assist with broader initiatives. The Policy and Planning Division was wonderfully welcoming, and I learned a great deal about the work of other teams in Metrolinx. I feel very fortunate to have participated in the Fellowship program and I’d recommend it to everyone."

- Katie Wittmann, 2014 Fellow, an Exploration of School Travel Patterns in the GTHA

"Are you looking to build your career in transportation planning? This is the right program for you. The research fellowship provided me with an incredible opportunity to bring my interests and research in to the real world. Experienced Metrolinx staff provided guidance and motivation which helped me develop my ideas and turn them into reality."

- Matthew Canaran, 2014 Fellow, Dynamic Transit