National Youth Award for Gates Cambridge Scholar
My parents instilled in me a deep sense of grit, resilience and a hard-working ethos, which has helped me persevere.
Gates Cambridge Scholar Krittika D'Silva has been selected for the Youth Award at this year's Royal Bank of Canada Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.
The award recognises the contributions of an outstanding young Canadian immigrant aged between 16 and 29 and was presented at a ceremony in Vancouver on 4th July. The awards programme is presented by Canadian Immigrant, a national multimedia platform to help immigrants settle and succeed in Canada, and has been supported by founding and title sponsor RBC Royal Bank since 2009. Individuals are nominated for the awards and a panel of judges made up of past winners reviews all nominees and picks a shortlist which all Canadians can vote on. Winners receive a commemorative plaque and $500 toward a charity of their choice.
Krittika  was born in India and came to Canada in 2004 when she was just eight years old.
The award citation mentions her work in three research labs as a bioengineering and computer engineering student at the University of Washington. During that time she designed devices to improve prosthetic sockets for individuals with lower limb amputations, built software for low-resource settings and examined ways to use DNA molecules for long-term data storage. It also mentions her selection as a Gates Cambridge scholar and her PhD research which focuses on using spatio-temporal urban mobility modelling to predict changes in cities over time.
“My parents instilled in me a deep sense of grit, resilience and a hard-working ethos, which has helped me persevere,” Krittika [pictured centre] told RBC. She says she struggled with balancing her Canadian and Indian identities while growing up. “As I grew older, I learned that these don’t conflict with each other and that identity is something that evolves with time,” she added.
In addition to her academic research, the citation mentions Krittika's work in India for Microsoft Research where she built a mobile application for citizen journalists. She has also completed two internships at Google, where she learned about scalable digital platforms. More recently, she worked for the United Nations in Indonesia, where she used technology to support policy efforts.
She hopes in the future to work in public policy to help Canada govern the use and growth of Artificial Intelligence.
*Photo credit: RBC