An Afternoon Of Innovation, Pride and Generosity

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An Afternoon of Engineering Innovation from U of T Engineering on Vimeo.

On September 15, U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering kicked off its $200-million campaign with an ‘Afternoon of Engineering Innovation.’  The event, attended by nearly 600 alumni, faculty, staff, donors and friends showcased innovative, visionary and entrepreneurial ideas from students and faculty. It featured lectures, industry panels with alumni, and student exhibits at Convocation Hall and the Bahen Centre. And, music was provided by the Skule Jazz Combo, the University of Toronto Faculty of Music and the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad [sic].

After the soaring Boundless Fanfare – written by a Faculty of Music student for the University’s campaign launch last November – rang through the hall, Dean Cristina Amon announced the success to date of the Faculty’s campaign, which has already secured more than $80 million towards its $200-million goal, the largest-ever fundraising initiative for an engineering school in Canada.

“U of T Engineering is Canada’s best engineering Faculty. Our goal is to build on our reputation for excellence, and establish ourselves into the very top ranks of the world’s leading institutions for engineering education, research and innovation,” said Amon.

The Five Foci

“This campaign will engage our global network of alumni and friends to build a preeminent Faculty that will nurture the U of T world-class engineer of tomorrow.” In her address, Amon outlined the campaign’s five areas of focus:

  • developing global engineering leaders;
  • nurturing engineering innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • revolutionizing biomedical engineering and human health;
  • advancing information communications technology (ICT); and,
  • reshaping the future of energy, the environment and sustainability.

A core priority of the campaign is raising funds to build the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Located on St. George Street, beside Simcoe Hall and Convocation Hall, the centre will be a landmark building at the University of Toronto. It will feature dynamic, flexible environments that foster collaboration, encourage active learning and accelerate innovation.

Donors Honoured

Major donors were also recognized, including George Myhal (IndE 7T8), Chief Operating Officer and Senior Managing Partner of Brookfield Asset Management. Myhal, who is serving as the Engineering Campaign Chair, has given a $5-million gift to the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “I received an outstanding education from U of T that I am thankful for,” said Myhal.

Dean Amon acknowledged Walter Curlook (MMS 5T0, MASc 5T1, PhD 5T3), who provided a $1-million gift toward much-needed renovations for two materials processing and characterization labs. She also recognized several other alumni who’ve generously donated to the new building: Peter Allen (CivE 6T2), Paul Cadario (CivE 7T3), as well as Bill (ChemE 6T7) Kathleen Troost.

Many other donors attended the event as well. “My wife and I have several scholarships that we support,” said Professor Emeritus Kenneth Carless (K.C.) Smith (EngPhys 5T4, ElecE MASc 5T6), the 2011 recipient of the Engineering Alumni Medal.  “It’s very important to us to provide talented students with the funds they need to succeed.”

The afternoon’s faculty and student presentations kicked off with a panel discussion led by Professor Grant Allen (ChemE 8T1, MASc 8T3), Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, and four undergraduate engineering students: Freddy Chen (ECE), Albert Huynh (ChemE), Ana Klimovic (EngSci) and Lorne Mlotek (CivE).  The crowd was then escorted to the Bahen Centre to the boisterous song stylings of the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad [sic].

Inside Bahen, alumni and faculty panels on energy, entrepreneurship, human health, sustainability, genetics and ICT caught the imagination of the hundreds of attendees who milled through the hall to sample the presentations.

And, dozens of students, undergraduate and graduate, offered guests poster sessions on topics ranging from antibacterial tooth fillings to creating a mechanical dragonfly.

Addressing the crowd in the Bahen Centre at the concluding reception, U of T’s Vice-President of Advancement David Palmer said,“Today’s campaign launch was a window on the kind of limitless innovation and creativity that takes place every day at U of T Engineering,”

“After today, I feel so proud. I feel pride in seeing those who graduated playing such a global role. It’s just so inspiring,” said Narges Balouchestani-Asli (MechE 1T4), who hopes to one day become an engineering professor in the field of robotics.

For Doug Turney (EngBus 5T8), his return visit to the campus for the event was a walk down memory lane, and a chance to share his alma mater, and his passion, with his 12-year-old grandson. “I asked him if he wanted to leave after the Energy panel discussion,” said Turney, “And he said ‘no, no.’ He is really enjoying himself, and I’m really enjoying being here with him.”