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Brian Baetz selected as next director of W Booth School of Engineering Practice and TechnologyJuly 22, 2020

Professor emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering, Baetz brings more than 30 years of experience at McMaster, including supervising 28 graduate students at the W Booth School.

Ishwar Puri, dean of McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering, announced today that Brian Baetz has been chosen by the Ad Hoc Selection Committee to succeed Mo Elbestawi as director of the W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology.

Professor emeritus in the Department of Civil Engineering, Baetz brings more than 30 years of experience at McMaster, including supervising 28 graduate students at the W Booth School.

“Brian will suit up again as a starter to play for the #MacEng team. His bench stint is done,” says Puri. “We are delighted to welcome him back in this new position. Brian is deeply committed to our students’ success and he brings a stellar range of skills and experience to the playing field, including teaching, research, community engagement, and administration.”

Puri confirmed that the selection has been recommended to the Senate Committee on Appointments, due to meet in September. Following official approval by the McMaster Senate, the appointment is slated to begin January 1, 2021.

Puri also expressed his profound gratitude to Mo Elbestawi for longstanding service to the Faculty of Engineering as professor, former dean, former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and outgoing director of the W Booth School. 

“It has been an honour to lead the W Booth School,” says Elbestawi, who has also served as McMaster’s vice-president of research and international affairs, and was founding director of the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute. “I congratulate Brian on his upcoming appointment. He is a great choice to take the reins on this innovative school, which blends academic learning with engineering practice to create solutions for society.”

Baetz credits Elbestawi for conceiving of the vision for the school some 15 years ago, so that engineering education could expand beyond traditional siloes and better prepare students for a fast-changing future.

“Mo’s vision was very forward-thinking and almost revolutionary,” says Baetz, who emphasizes the key importance of developing “the full-spectrum individual” with broad knowledge across multiple areas, such as design, communications, business, and public policy. 

Following his arrival at McMaster in 1988, Baetz taught in the Department of Civil Engineering, the Engineering and Society Program, and the Master’s in Engineering and Public Policy Program until his retirement in 2018. Recently, he has led inquiry courses in the Arts & Science Program, including Technology and Society III.

He served as chair of the Department of Civil Engineering for nine years and director of the Engineering and Society Program for ten. His teaching awards include the McMaster Student Union Community Engagement Teaching Award (as a member of the CityLAB Semester in Residence Teaching Team) in 2020, the McMaster Student Union Lifetime Achievement Teaching Award in 2012, and the President’s Teaching Award for Excellence in Instruction in 2008.

“I’m very excited for this opportunity to take the W Booth School to the next level,” says Baetz. “I look forward to working together to make this the prime destination for innovative and broad-thinking students who want to have a real impact on the world through their professional practice.” 

Founded in 2005, the W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology is named after the late Walter G. Booth, BEng ’62, MEng ’65, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who often credited McMaster as the only university willing to take a chance on him.