By Jennifer Buchalter
Dr. Setareh Janbakhsh loves to move air. With unbridled enthusiasm for sustainable design, renewable energy and "very hard work," she has built, modified, evaluated and improved air distribution systems and ventilation performance in structures around the globe. She has identified and designed new opportunities for energy efficiency to achieve sustainable building design while providing acceptable thermal comfort in workplaces and residences.
This passion for designing and building sustainable energy models has led to an extraordinary journey. More importantly, it sparked an exceptional career that has guided Dr. Janbakhsh to Canada and Humber College where, as she has put it, "I get to teach in this beautiful country and mentor the next generation of engineers."
From growing up in Iran to studying & working in Sweden before immigrating to Canada, Dr. Janbakhsh has had a fulfilling career in energy & sustainability management and built environment.
Today, she is a professor in the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology at Humber College where she develops course materials for engineering degrees and teaches the next generation of engineers for careers in sustainable energy and building technology, architectural technology and mechanical engineering technology.
"It's an amazing feeling when you can share your industry and real-world experiences with enthusiastic students who are eager to change the world," says Dr. Janbakhsh. "I am so proud that I have chosen an academic position as a researcher and professor at Humber College and every day, I have the unique opportunity to nourish these young minds."
Dr. Janbakhsh's journey began in her homeland of Iran where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering/Applied Physics from a university in Tehran, Iran. Her studies continued in Sweden where she earned a Ph.D. in Built Environment/Energy Systems from the Linköping University and a Masters of Science in Mechanical Energy Technology from the University of Gävle.
She began her career as an energy analyst in Iran before moving to Sweden where she learned how this country approaches energy and sustainability as a commitment to providing comfort for its citizens while saving energy and protecting the planet. Some of her proudest achievements were accomplished during her ten years in this Nordic region where she designed and introduced new air supply devices and optimized the design of existing diffusers.
After marrying her university co-researcher colleague and raising a family in Sweden, they travelled to Canada to visit her brother and once again, a new country was calling for her to make an impact on the global engineering stage. "We experienced Canada's stunning natural beauty and multi-cultural landscape and learned how the country welcomes immigration," says Dr. Janbakhsh. “From hiking and camping to meeting new people from different backgrounds, we fell in love with Canada," she adds. They returned to Sweden and decided to move their family to the land of new opportunities.
Upon their arrival in 2015, Dr. Janbakhsh immersed herself in networking and coffee dates. She secured a position as a Building Energy Specialist and taught part-time at local colleges. Determined to secure an academic position at a local university, she continued to build her academic network until a coffee date with a graduate from the Humber FAST program changed her perspective.
"When I learned about Humber College's state-of-the-art learning labs and that there was a full-time position available, I realized I was passionate to join the faculty with a commitment to teaching higher education," says Dr. Janbakhsh.
Since joining the Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology at Humber College, Dr. Janbakhsh has participated in Humber's Teaching Excellence Program and mentored hundreds of engineering students.
"What excites me about teaching at Humber are the high-impact learning experiences and the integration of project-based learning. I like to challenge my students with group projects and research where I teach them how to solve one piece at a time and then compile the pieces to create the solution to the problem," says Dr. Janbakhsh. "This approach encourages students to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills."
For Dr. Janbakhsh, juggling being a full-time wife, mom, college professor, researcher and all of her extracurricular roles is challenging and rewarding.
"My family, friends, colleagues and students, continue to inspire me and fuel my passion as a professor and researcher," says Dr. Janbakhsh. "I always want to teach my students to be active and dynamic. Whether they are solving a complex problem or exploring a concept - be dynamic!"
Her own dynamic career sets an example for other female engineers. "I don't see myself as a female engineer or researcher or professor. I just see myself as a professional who couldn't be more proud to help foster and mentor the next generation," adds Dr. Janbakhsh.