Volume 95, Issue 62
Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Bigwigs celebrate innovation
Another chair for UWO, table shortage now feared
By Jeff Hignett
The department of engineering at Western received a boost yesterday when it received a prestigious Canada Chair in Engineering Design and Innovation.
The position is only one element of a new, holistic program to be gradually introduced to engineering students.
The chair will help to develop the new curriculum, as well as help the faculty recruit new professors and graduate students.
"This is a very happy event," said Western president Paul Davenport.
"[It is] is important to the city and the university," he said, noting the investment comes in an area of established strength for Western.
"This chair is just a vehicle recognizing 10 years of effort," said Brian E. Thompson, a professor in the department of mechanical and material engineering, who will be assuming the chair.
"There is a need in Canada to develop innovative engineers," Thompson said, noting Western students must be competitive on a worldwide scale.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council is contributing $1 million over five years for the position, while General Motors of Canada will chip in $250,000. An additional $414,000 is being provided by Easnet Corporation, Rupprecht & Patashnick, Materials and Manufacturing Ontario and the City of London.
"The federal government is committed to design and wants these skills developed in Canada, by Canadians," said Joe Fontana, Liberal MP-London North Centre, who spoke on behalf of Industry Minister Allan Rock.
"London is one of the most connected cities in Canada and Western is the engine behind that," said London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco.
Barbara Muir, an NSERC representative at yesterday's presentation, said expertise, capacity, and infrastructure are key to Canada's future.
"[The overall purpose] is to teach students how to engineer innovation," she said, adding that NSERC feels this can be done through strategic investment in students.
Franco Berutti, the dean of Western's faculty of engineering said he was pleased with the announcement.
"This is the realization of a dream and a vision for the people who have worked on this proposal since the beginning," he said.
Western's faculty of engineering is already an area of strength, however, this chair will "build even further on these strengths," he added.
John Wood, a GM representative said his company is "enthusiastic" about their involvement with Western.
He noted the program aids engineers while still in school, not just those who have already been in the workforce for a number of years.
Copyright © The Gazette 2001