Dr. Harmeet Chhina: An Innovator within the STEM Field

Dr. Harmeet Chhina is at the forefront of the STEM field with her work with nanomaterials. The STEM field brings together four specific disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary, innovative, and applied manner.

By Gary Thandi

Dr. Harmeet Chhina is at the forefront of the STEM field with her work with nanomaterials. The STEM field brings together four specific disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary, innovative, and applied manner. Harmeet has her Master’s Degree from the Department of Materials Engineering at University of British Columbia and her Doctorate from the University of Toronto from the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. She also has obtained her PMP (Project Management Professional) with the designation as Project Manager. She is a member of the Electrochemical Society and the Project Management Institute.

For over seventeen years, Harmeet has applied her extensive knowledge and skills in industrial research, product development, supplier engagement, and leadership within the hydrogen fuel cells at Ballard Power Systems and AFCC-Daimler AG and Ford Motor Company joint venture. She is currently the Research Manager with Nano One Materials Corp—a public company (TSX-V: NNO) based in Vancouver that has developed patented technology for the low-cost production of high-performance lithium-ion battery cathode materials used in electric vehicles, energy storage, and consumer electronics. Harmeet states, “I am excited to be working with a company that has growth potential. I get to apply my STEM background on the cutting edge of the lithium-ion battery material.”

Harmeet was born and raised in India and moved to Canada when she was in grade 9. “Growing up, I used to imagine flying cars and always thinking of solving problems,” she recalls. “Whenever I encounter a problem, I immediately think of how to solve it.” This desire to solve problems is why she naturally gravitated to the STEM field. “This world needs alternative fuels; it needs different ways of thinking about energy,” she notes. Her inquisitive nature remains to this day. “Whenever I’m in a meeting, I am always thinking ‘what is not being covered?’ What are we doing to move forward?”

The cathode materials developed by Nano One produce a stable, low cost, and energy-dense cathodes that are ideal for electric vehicles, e-buses and other applications. Global sales of cathode materials are projected to reach $25B in 2025. Nano One has 14 patents granted and 30 pending with protections so far in China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the United States, and Canada. Nano One has collaboration with world leaders, including Volkswagen, Pulead Technology, and Saint-Gobain and enjoys financial and strategic support from the Government of Canada. Harmeet manages the team of Scientists and Engineers within Research and does program management overlooking many projects being conducted at Nano One.

Problem-solving, diligence, ambition, persistence, resilience, ethics, as well as the ability to communicate and engage with others, are qualities Harmeet sees as integral for anyone considering a career within the STEM field. She also shares, “expose yourself to as many opportunities to try different things that interest you.”

“I find that many scientists and engineers are trying to make a difference in the world, I feel like I am just one of those,” Harmeet declares. When asked if she has any words of advice for those considering a career in the STEM field, she advises, “Have goals in life with monthly and yearly milestones.  Continue to be persistent in achieving your vision and stay inquisitive.  Find people that support you with your goals, in life and work.  Immerse yourself in the most positive experiences.  Master the skill of pulling your mind to a positive space and think of what is possible.”

“When studying for my undergraduate degree, my study room was in the basement,” Harmeet recalls. “My father would sometimes come downstairs in the middle of the night to have a chat with me, and bring a fruit platter for both of us allowing an opportunity to catch up and empower me at the same time. He would also occasionally pick me up from the university and provide whatever support I needed. When I was doing my master’s and Ph.D., my husband was there to support me. He helped and encouraged me in whichever way I needed. The support of my entire family was significant and important to me.”

Harmeet strives to live a balanced life. “We are blessed with three kids and always try to enjoy many experiences together like bike-riding, hiking, traveling or playing board games. My daughters have been part of my journey through fuel cells and batteries and they enjoyed riding the fuel cell car when I used to bring it home, they have shared at first-hand “mom working on fuel cells and batteries is so cool!”  My son is 3 years old now and I hope that the three of them follow a career path based on their strengths and interest.  I hope that other girls get inspired from scientists and engineers in their lives and take up STEM as their career path!”

Nano One has grown steadily since its inception in 2011 and employs an ethnically diverse group of men and women with a wide range of scientific, engineering, business, and financial backgrounds. Nano One has an office in Vancouver, as well as a head office in Burnaby at 101B-8575 Government Street • Phone: 604-420-2041 • Email: harmeet.chhina@nanoone.ca • Website: nanoone.ca