Undergraduate Research Explorer
U of T logo
Photo of Robert Firsov

Robert Firsov

Robert is a second-year electrical engineering student. He received the Dean’s Undergraduate Student Summer Research Pivot Fellowship from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, where he had the opportunity to work in the ATOMS Lab with Professor Cristina Amon, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. 

During his time in the ATOMS Lab, Robert studied the specifics of pouch battery cell logistics within the context of electric vehicles (EV) and led the start-up of state-of-the-art battery cycling and thermal equipment, with a focus on early efforts to characterize heat generation rates and thermophysical properties of pouch cells. Through the non-invasive and highly sensitive Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy testing procedure, Robert developed a case study to present at the Undergraduate Engineering Research Day (UnERD) where he emphasized how, through the large variance in internal impedance between the lesser known pouch cells and current 18650 and 21700 cylindrical cells that are used in EV applications, we can expect less heating in pouch cell technologies. Ultimately, this indicates better performance within fast-charging, longevity, and lesser thermal management.

One of the great things for Robert about working in the ATOMS Lab, was being surrounded by other summer students as well as graduate students. As he explained, it helped to create a supported learning environment:

“I was always surrounded by a wealth of knowledge that I could ask to help with anything, whether it was understanding a paper I was reading, or by giving input on a certain experimental setup. Having these resources available to me was hugely advantageous in the testing I got to explore and understand, and I am incredibly grateful for the support it provided me.”

Through the lab, Robert had the opportunity to work with battery cells produced by various North American companies, allowing him to gain insights and firsthand experience with the EV industry. For Robert, the exposure to cutting-edge research and discovery was exciting! “This environment helped me understand how exciting being at the forefront of innovation and development of a particular field is, especially one as exciting and fast-moving as electric vehicle batteries.” Indeed, Robert quickly realized in this space things change quickly, and he had to adapt with the research:

“Being able to quickly adapt was a skill that I had quickly realized was necessary in the research field, since timelines, projects, and circumstances can change quickly, so always be ready to take on new and fascinating challenges. Successfully being able to do so will no doubt provide for a very meaningful result, and remember, if something unexpected or unpredictable happens, that’s where the true discoveries and revelations occur!”

Robert plans to explore further summer research opportunities as he continues his undergraduate studies, as he is interested in approaching heat and thermal generation analysis of electric vehicle batteries from an electrical engineering perspective. In the future, Robert hopes to pursue a master’s degree at U of T to continue his research journey.

Research Type(s): Research Fellowships / Studentships, Summer Research Programs