Dr. Peter Gogolek
BMath 1982, MPHIL 1986
“The label of having a University of Waterloo Math degree certainly got me in the door at the beginning. Waterloo had an excellent reputation for its Mathematics,“ says Dr. Peter Gogolek. Dr. Gogolek completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Math here at the University of Waterloo. His Bachelor’s degree is in Applied Math with an option in Engineering. His MPhil was also in Applied Math. After these two degrees, he was offered a research position at Queen’s University which eventually led to the completion of his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1998.
Currently, Dr. Gogolek works as a Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada's CanmetENERGY, Canada’s lead research centre on clean energy technologies. Much of his work on combustion related issues, industrial energy efficiency, reducing pollutants, and waste fuels. He came to this position through serendipity and as a student, he had always thought a government position would be “socially influential”. Before coming to CanmetENERGY in 1998, he was a visiting professor at the Technical University of Vienna. He finds working for the government rewarding because he “gets to do good things for the country and citizens and make the world a better place”.
Dr. Gogolek has a strong reputation in the area of gas flaring, and hopes to soon receive a similar reputation in the area of the combustion of non-conventional gases. “Mathematical modeling got me into the research side of things”, says Dr. Gogolek, “Mathematical rigor gives you the mental discipline for constructing models effectively.” Math students looking for success must have the passion to be successful and a “lively interest in the problems that they will be addressing”.
During his undergrad, Dr. Gogolek took both math and engineering courses. He says it helped him “bridge the gap between the faculties” by getting the opportunity to understand the problems of engineers and their thinking. He also thinks that co-op “should be compulsory to every technical education because students get to see the actual application of the mathematics”.
He was also involved in chess club, house league volleyball, and house league softball. He cannot place enough of an emphasis on the importance of making connections and developing a breadth of knowledge from all different disciplines. As he says, “The students at Waterloo are exceptional. Go out there and interact with people in different areas…University is the best time to develop an active intellectual life. Go sit in on some philosophy lectures, go attend something in fine arts, date an economist!”