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Carm Vespi honoured with President’s Award for Outstanding Service – Lifetime Achievement AwardApril 21, 2021

Carm Vespi, Manager of Alumni Relations and Youth Programs, Faculty of Engineering has been recognized for her 45-year career connecting students, alumni and youth.

Vespi, who oversees alumni and youth outreach programs at the Faculty, is one of 167 nominees and recipients of the President’s Awards for Outstanding Service in 2020. 

These employees were nominated by members of the McMaster community for having made an outstanding contribution to the mission of the University.

“It is an absolute honour to receive this award and to be nominated by my McMaster Engineering colleagues,” says Vespi.

“I feel privileged to be able form connections with alumni, students and youth every day and see our Fireball Family community grow and evolve over the years.” 

As the Manager of Alumni Relations and Youth Programs, Vespi engages with McMaster Engineering alumni to enable them to revisit, relive and connect with the Faculty after they graduate.  

She is also a champion for current students by fostering engagement with industry, employer partners and alumni and is an advocate for youth outreach and for engaging the next generation of engineers in interactive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programming through McMaster Engineering’s Venture Academy

“Carm exemplifies so many positive facets of leadership, innovation and impact throughout her over 45 years of dedicated service to the Faculty,” says Arlene Fajutrao Dosen, Director, Outreach and Engagement, Faculty of Engineering.

“She is motivated by a strong commitment to connect the next generation of engineering innovators and leaders with alumni and friends of McMaster Engineering.

Vespi established what would become the Venture Academy summer camps in 1991. Over 30 years, she helped build the camp from 120 attendees to over 2,000 and also guided the expansion of the program into the community, where it delivered more than 23,000 workshops in 2019. In 2020 she shepherded the transition of the summer camp into online delivery where it engaged more than 1,100 children.

“Carm is a rare person in an academic setting: someone who just gets things done,” adds Kim Jones, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Chair, Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE).

“Whether it was creating an alumni magazine from scratch (still going strong decades later), getting a summer camp up and running, creating outreach events or alumni events, Carm has done it all – and we all know, she is the one to ask!”

Vespi launched MacEngineer magazine in 1985 and organized some of the first girls-only engineering outreach events in the province.

ONWiE’s flagship program, GoENGGirl was modelled on her early events. She helped bring together Outreach coordinators at other Ontario universities to work together to inspire young women to consider engineering careers.

In November 2019, she managed the team that coordinated the third ONWiE Network Summit after advocating for McMaster to host the ONWiE Chair from 2018 to 2023.

“Carm’s entrepreneurial vision, desire to innovate, and consummate ability to connect groups and build long-lasting affinities is to be commended,” says Ishwar K. Puri, Dean of Engineering.

“She is a remarkable individual whose dedication and valuable service to McMaster University is most worthy of recognition with this award.” 

Vespi has built strong partnerships with the STEM outreach organization Actua, the YWCA’s Beyond the Bell program and Girl Guides Canada.

She was also instrumental in the development and implementation of inspirational programs like Go CODE Girl and the Girl Guides and Pathfinders Badge Day programming at McMaster.

In addition, Vespi has served on the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair Planning Committee and McMaster’s 125th Anniversary Committee, has earned the Dean’s Excellence Award and three different Actua awards: the Experience Award for Indigenous Outreach, the Excellence Award and the Mentorship Award.

The Lifetime Achievement award is especially meaningful to Vespi as she anticipates her retirement from McMaster in March 2022.

“This achievement is a wonderful way to end my career at McMaster,” she adds. “I’m so incredibly grateful to be recognized for doing a job that I love.”

Carm Vespi with McMaster Engineering staff at the Big Ideas Applause and Accolades event.

Share a congratulatory message with Carm and join in celebrating the accomplishments of all nominees and recipients at a video celebration on June 11 at 10 am.

The celebration will feature congratulatory messages from President David Farrar and Human Resources Services, along with highlights from each recipient’s nomination.  

A link to access the video celebration will be available on the President’s Awards website before the event takes place.