Alumni are a vital part of every university community. The strength of our entire community is made stronger by the involvement and engagement of our alumni. The time donated to mentor students, donations made to fund scholarships and club funds, and continually propelling innovation in the industry. The impact of our alumni is felt in everything we do.
The Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) Awards is one way we recognize and celebrate our alumni for their outstanding achievements. This year’s outstanding winners showcase the range of the engineering field and how we can have a true impact on the world.
As we celebrate 150 years of driving engineering innovation, we look to the past but also forward at all the great things this community has yet to achieve. We celebrate past recipients & leadership volunteers whose successes and achievements have given us so much to be proud of as a Faculty, and we look forward to another 150 years of discovery.
2023 EAN Award Winners
Click each photo to learn more about the award recipient!
The Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) sustains and enhances the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering's academic mission, leadership and worldwide impact by engaging alumni, students and private sector constituents meaningfully building mutually beneficial relationships of increasing value and satisfaction.
EAN Board Members (make button link to: https://alumni.engineering.utoronto.ca/engineering-alumni-network/
The EAN wishes to express appreciation to members of the 2023 awards committee.
This committee is comprised of past EAN recipients and Engineering alumni. We thank them for their time and commitment to the award selection process.
- Caprice Boisvert, MIE 9T3
- Paul Cadario, CivE 7T3,
- Andrew Forde, MSE 1T1
- Deborah Goodings, CivE 7T5
- Dana Kokoska, ElecE 2T0+PEY
- Alvin Mok, EngSci 0T3
- Shawn Qu, MSE PhD 9T5
- Larry Seeley, ChemE 6T6, MASc 6T8, PhD 7T2
U of T Engineering prepares the next generation of engineering leaders and change makers to unlock the future's boundless potential. With ever-changing global challenges, support from our community is more important than ever.
The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering is grateful to the members of the Skule™ Society for their generous and ongoing support. Their annual gifts of $1,000 to $24,999 (or of $250 and above for current students and young alumni who have graduated in the last decade) enhance the experiences of our students, contribute to Faculty excellence, and improve our labs and classrooms.
See a full list of our donors https://alumni.engineering.utoronto.ca/contribute/donor-recognition/
2023 Engineering Alumni Network Awards Recipients
Engineering Alumni Medal
First awarded in 1939, the Engineering Alumni Medal is the highest honour awarded by the Engineering Alumni Association. High achievement is the common thread that links past recipients of this medal. In their diverse careers, these individuals have demonstrated superior accomplishments and have responded with flair and excellence to the challenges they have faced. They are outstanding role models for Engineering students.
The career of Professor Emerita Jane Phillips (ChemE 5T3) broke important ground for women in engineering. After earning her engineering degree from U of T in 1953, Phillips completed her MASc at Bryn Mawr, and her PhD at Johns Hopkins. In 1964, she returned to U of T as a lecturer and was one of the first women Faculty members in Engineering.
Phillips went on to join the PEO Council in the mid-80s as a Lieutenant Governor’s appointee, co-founded the Canadian Catalysis Foundation in the late 80s, and was elected PEO President in 1992. She also led the development of U of T’s Ethics in Engineering course and was involved in early EDI and Women in Engineering committees.
“Jane faced many challenges, particularly in her early years as a faculty member,” says Professor Graeme Norval, who was one of Phillips’ graduate students. “But she was always positive, and an outstanding role model for our students.”
Engineering Alumni Hall of Distinction Award
The Hall of Distinction is an assembly of extraordinary alumni, selected for membership by their peers for their lifelong accomplishments. These are graduates whose performances have ultimately defined what is most exemplary in our graduates and in our profession. The careers of the members stand as examples and add a sense of reality to the aspirations of successive generations of Engineering students. Located in the Sandford Fleming Building, the Hall of Distinction is a familiar daily presence in the lives of students and is often visited by alumni and their families.
Professor Mark Kortschot (EngSci 8T4, ChemE MASc 8T5) has held numerous leadership roles in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering including eight years as an Associate Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, five and a half years as the Chair of Engineering Science, and half a year as the Acting Chair of First Year.
He played a significant role in the Faculty’s efforts to incorporate entrepreneurship and design into the curriculum and helped to launch both the Hatchery Program and the first-year design course, ‘Engineering Strategies and Practice’. His expertise in these areas was developed through his own entrepreneurial work as the inventor of the Sole Skate, one of TIME’s top ten toys of 2010, and as the co-founder of Légère Reeds Ltd., which produces synthetic woodwind reeds used by top musicians around the world.
In 2013, Kortschot was recognized with a fellowship in the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and in 2022, earned the Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award within the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. He also received the prestigious 2007 Allen Blizzard award for co-leading the development of Engineering Strategies and Practice, and he co-authored the text used in this course, ‘Designing Engineers’.
“Mark is a superb citizen-colleague, and a well-respected instructor” says Professor D. Grant Allen, the Frank Dottori Chair in Pulp and Paper Engineering.
Michael Kropp (ElecE 8T6) is co-founder, President, and CEO of PEER Group, a leading global supplier of factory automation software for the semiconductor industry. Mike launched PEER Group in 1992 with fellow University of Toronto grad, Bob Harris (IndE 7T5).
With a focus on technical proficiency, Kropp executes a business strategy by applying engineering principles to the software development life cycle, resulting in several key innovations in semiconductor factory and tool automation. Under his leadership, PEER Group matured into a 250-person, product-focused software company with offices in Kitchener, Toronto, and Dresden, Germany. In 2023, Kropp became the first Canadian member of the SEMI North American Advisory Board.
Beyond his professional achievements, Kropp supports STEM-focused youth programs and implemented a comprehensive student co-op program at PEER Group to help inspire and nurture the next generation of engineers. He also drives corporate fundraising efforts for charities dedicated to improving the health, well-being, and opportunities for disadvantaged families, youth, and pets in the Region of Waterloo. These initiatives have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, with a significant and lasting positive impact on the lives of local residents.
As a life-long champion of mentorship, Nick Stark (MechE 7T8) garnered many awards over the course of his 45-year career at HH Angus and Associates Ltd., including the 2017 PEO/OSPE Medal for Engineering Excellence.
Stark’s contributions include actively guiding young engineers while ensuring that the profession stays future-focused overall. Examples include his membership on the CSA Technical Committee on Health Care Facilities; the role of vice-chair of Z8000, Health Care Facilities; and two decades of chairing the CSA Subcommittee on Special Requirements for HVAC Systems in Health Care Facilities.
“He has an innate ability to bring out the best in others,” says Marianne Lee, HH Angus’ Health Division Principal and Associate Director. “Nick encourages and motivates them to be innovative thinkers and problem solvers and inspires the team to deliver the best-possible solutions to our clients.”
Michael Zahra, ElecE 8T8
Michael Zahra (ElecE 8T8) is a seasoned business executive, most recently as President and CEO of Drone Delivery Canada. Under his leadership, the company was recognized with the 2021 Ontario Innovation Award, and the Top Small/Medium Employer award. He held prior leadership positions with Staples Professional, Yahoo, Schlumberger, Alcatel & Motorola.
Over the course of his career, Zahra has become known as a business turnaround and growth expert. He has shared his insights with U of T Engineering as a speaker, startup mentor for the Hatchery Entrepreneurship Program, mentor in the Skule™ Mentorship Program, and as a judge in the University of Toronto Engineering Kompetition (UTEK). Zahra also serves on multiple boards that include the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), GrandBridge Energy, North York General Hospital, Junior Achievement, and Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust. He also consults in emerging technologies.
“Michael has been a strong advocate for the University of Toronto and has given back throughout his career,” says Chris Yip, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “The Faculty is proud to have such an engaged alumnus.”
2T5 Mid-Career Achievement Award
The Class of 2T5 was the first class in Canada to receive iron rings at The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer. Since 1975, the Class of 2T5 annually presents the 2T5 Mid-career Achievement Award. This award recognizes a graduate (11 to 25 years from undergraduate graduation) who has earned respect within the profession as well as the broader Canadian community.
Professor Alison McGuigan (ChemE PhD 0T5) is a leader in regenerative medicine, creating lab-grown tissues through her TRACER platform to explore metabolic reprogramming of tumour cells.
McGuigan earned her undergraduate degree in Material Science and Engineering at University of Oxford, followed by a PhD in Chemical Engineering at U of T alongside BME Professor Michael Sefton, a pioneer in the field of tissue engineering.
She completed post-doctoral research in microfluidics and microfabrication at Harvard University, with Professor George Whitesides, a pioneer in applying microfluidics for biological applications, and then completed a second post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University in developmental patterning and morphogenesis.
“She has made exceptional contributions to tissue engineering and disease modelling,” says David J. Mooney, Harvard University’s Robert P. Pinkas Family Professor of Bioengineering. “Alison is a recognized leader in our field and her most recent focus on scaling models and integrating primary patient material sets her on a path for huge impact in the future.”
7T6 Early Career Award
The Class of 7T6 annually presents the 7T6 Early Career Award to engineering graduates who have attained significant achievement early in their career and shows promise of further contributions. The award is presented to an individual who is distinguished early in their profession, community, university and other related fields.
Atul Patidar (ECE MEng 1T5) is the founder of Farmkart Online, rent4farm, and the non-profit The Next Impact. Launched in 2015, Farmkart is an agricultural supplies store for farmers in India and can deliver orders to remote places within 24-36 hours, allowing rural farmers to purchase fertilizers, pesticides, and seeds, regardless of location. In 2021, Patidar launched his second venture, rent4farm, offering greater accessibility to machinery rentals for over 1,000,000 farmers.
Patidar subsequently founded a non-profit, The Next Impact, offering financial support to more than 100 Indian children for their education. During the pandemic, The Next Impact also launched an online self-assessment tool to track the spread of Covid-19 that helped authorities understand the spread in Central India.
“Atul embodies qualities we seek in our students and hope to see in our alumni,” says Deepa Kundur, Professor & Chair of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. “This includes the ability to apply his U of T Engineering education to benefit people around the world.”
Malcolm F. McGrath Alumni Achievement Award
Named in honour of Malcolm McGrath on his retirement as assistant dean — alumni liaison, this award recognizes contributions of personal service to the Faculty, the University or to the community. McGrath was the first assistant dean responsible for alumni affairs and development in the Faculty. Among his many accomplishments are the growth of the Annual Fund, the Engineering Open House, the introduction of the Skule™ Stage Band, and the establishment of the Graditude Campaign.
As Class Leader, Electrical & Computer Engineering Ambassador; a founding member of the Skule™ Society Executive Committee; and Chair of the Skule™ Lunch & Learn Speaker Series, Lauri Hiivala (ElecE 6T5) has attracted volunteers and donors from around the world. And as an ECE Alumni Awards Committee member since 2019, Hiivala has championed other volunteers, but now it’s his turn to be recognized.
Over ten years of chairing the Skule™ Lunch & Learn, Hiivala transformed it into a global gathering for alumni of all career stages. He has also spearheaded class gifts, encouraged classmates to identify potential awardrecipients, and made strong friendships with alumni of all ages. Hiivala also cofounded the Class of 6T5 Electrical Engineering Award, and in 2017, he and his wife, Jean, established the Jean & Lauri Hiivala ECE Undergraduate Award, and the Jean & Lauri Hiivala Research Fund for Heart Health.
“Lauri builds bridges,” says Deepa Kundur, Professor & Chair of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. “His sustained volunteerism with the University and with his professional community embodies the very spirit of this award.”
L.E. (Ted) Jones Award of Distinction
This award was established to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Emeritus L.E. (Ted) Jones and is in recognition of the contributions over his long and distinguished career to students, alumni and the Faculty. It also pays tribute to his continuing support and dedication to the Engineering Society and the Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) of the University of Toronto. The award endorses Jones’ great appreciation of the arts and his love of music.
Wing Yan Chan (IndE 2T2 + PEY) graduated this year. Her impact on the community around her has nevertheless been remarkable. When Chan was in first year, she joined the Skule™ Choir ensemble. With an Engineering Music Performance minor alongside her Industrial Engineering studies, she soon became the group’s primary collaborative pianist, and ultimately its manager.
From 2020 to 2022, Chan also led Musicians at Your Door, a U of T-wide group performing at GTA retirement homes, care homes, and hospitals. When the pandemic hit, Chan transitioned the group to online delivery, working with the institutions to bring music to the residents.
With her own YouTube channel and ongoing community activities, Chan has built a reputation as a talented musician and a leader who lifts others up.
“Her impact cannot be overstated,” says Imogen den Otter-Moore, a member of Musicians at Your Door. “Residents were isolated during the lockdown. Wing brought the musicians to perform for them and chat with them after, enhancing the music’s therapeutic and connection-building effects.”
Engineering Alumni Network Scholarship
Presented to a part-time or full-time student in good standing, proceeding to 2nd, 3rd or 4th year in any program in the Faculty. Recipients are selected based on the demonstration of a passion for engineering-related design, creativity and innovation as exhibited by involvement in the Skule™ community through design-related extra-curricular activities, co-curricular involvement and/or entrepreneurial pursuits.
Kai Hashimoto (ChemE 2T5) is a third-year Chemical Engineering student at the University of Toronto and the incoming Project Manager of the Blue Sky Solar Racing design team for the 2024-2025 design cycle.
In 2022, Hashimoto joined the team as an aerodynamics member with an interest in computational fluid dynamics. From soldering solar arrays, orchestrating road testing of the team’s 11th generation car in Western Ontario, to studying dynamic vehicle behaviour under crosswind, Hashimoto’s passion for the project helped motivate his teammates while attracting new members, and fostering a multidisciplinary community among undergraduate engineering students, alumni, and faculty.
Hashimoto is proud to be part of the team, and furthering its missions of innovation, sustainability, and education. His role as Project Manager role will begin after the team returns from the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October.