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Mac Eng forges ahead with fire at Applause and Accolades June 16, 2022

Applause and Accolades returned for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Faculty of Engineering toasting and presenting awards to some of the brightest flames in our community.

Among the tables dotted with white florals and engineering projects on display, community members and friends of McMaster Engineering came together to celebrate accomplishments. 

It was perfect June weather by the shore of Lake Ontario, as velvet notes from cellists – and Fireball Family members --  Versacello danced through in the air. The energy was bright with faculty, staff, students, alumni and sponsor organizations who attended the award ceremony. 

“How wonderful it is to have everyone come together for the first Applause and Accolades in nearly three years,” said Acting Dean Heather Sheardown from the main stage. “The delay means there is so much in our community we need to celebrate.” 

The event at LaSalle Banquet Centre in Burlington, Ont., was made possible by top sponsor and anchor of the Hamilton community, ArcelorMittal Dofasco. ArcelorMittal Dofasco is envisioning a smarter future, focused on growth, sustainability and innovation.  

The Faculty of Engineering also thanks sponsor Lakeside Process Controls, an industrial engineering company currently employing many McMaster co-op students and full-time alumni grads.   

The awards night was also sponsored by global engineering consulting firm Hatch ahead of the five-year anniversary of the Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning.  

The festivities involved an extra treat of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers Rising Star Showcase. The showcase featured initiatives like the McMaster Mars Rover Team and the Mac Solar Car Project, the Venture Academy, as well as capstone projects from some graduating students: a reflection of innovative thinking and hands-on learning opportunities at McMaster.  

At the ceremony, trailblazing students introduced the honorees, who were recognized for their service, leadership commitment and impact. 

“The Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University is home to some of the world’s brightest minds,” said McMaster University President David Farrar.   

“Looking back at recent years of resilience and moving forward as a community, we are forging ahead with fire, creating solutions and pushing boundaries for a sustainable, healthy world.”    

Award Recipients 

McMaster University Faculty of Engineering Exceptional Service Award 

David Wilkinson 

David Wilkinson’s journey with McMaster started in 1979 with a position as an assistant professor. His service continued for decades, including acting as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering (2008 - 2012) before fulfilling the role of Provost and Vice-President (Academic.) 

The aspect he remembers fondly about being dean is the fun he had connecting with students in the role. His work with McMaster, he said, has been a guiding light during the uncertain circumstances of the pandemic. 

“Through all of this, my work at the university has really been an anchor. It’s been a foundation that I can hang on to, and focusing on my time with the students, focusing on my research, has really helped me through this difficult time,” Wilkinson said of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Having foundational things that are deeply meaningful to you in terms of your career and your relationships with other people is something that can help you get through very difficult, personal situations, whatever they might be.” 

Wilkinson has been recognized with numerous awards, including being named a Distinguished University Professor, and with fellowships, like the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.   

He is the author of over 280 scientific publications, specializing in the mechanical behaviour of metals and ceramics.  

In accepting the Exceptional Service Award, Wilkinson honoured his late wife, Linda, recalling how they used to head out and meet hundreds of friends at events like this one. 

“She was always a great supporter of this university and this institution,” he said. “She taught me so much about how to care for people, how to look out for the interests of other people, how to be selfless and giving. That’s really such a key to leadership – and so both for her love of the university, and for her support of me through my career, I think she is deeply deserving of the recognition this award represents in addition to myself.”  

Engineering Leadership Award 

Saud Adi 

Saud Adi is the co-chief executive officer at Adi Development Group, where he takes a specialized focus in engineering and construction operations.   

Adi, a Dean’s Advisory Board member, brings a wealth of knowledge to the company as he oversees all construction functions: building science and design, value engineering, bid procurement, and more.  

“A lot things I do at work today, I’ve learned at McMaster. Teamwork, insisting on excellence, delivering results: a lot of these have turned into our core values and ideologies at Adi,” he said.  

One of the 2019 recipients of Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Adi recalled his wife paying for the hydro bill in the tougher times when he and his brother could not. 

“Resilience is never giving up. There’s many challenges along the road, and we at Adi pride ourselves in facing these challenges, problem-solving them and overcoming them.  

The alumnus of the bachelor of technology civil engineering infrastructure technology program is also involved in the Hamilton Halton Homebuilders Association, having served two consecutive terms on the board and continuing to support their community impact. 

The Engineering Leadership Award, Adi said, stands out from his accolades – he stressed how meaningful it was to receive recognition from the Faculty that is close to his heart. 

L.W. Shemilt Distinguished Alumni Award 

Duncan Hannay 

Duncan Hannay, ’85, has McMaster University in his blood; both his parents graduated from the university, as did his wife (Kathy) and sister (Lynn). 

Duncan is currently the president and CEO of The Ontario  Lottery & Gaming Corp. (OLG), and has served in senior executive roles at Street Capital Bank of Canada, Finastra, Scotiabank and E*TRADE Financial, where he developed deep experience building and growing businesses in the gaming, financial services and technology sectors. 

“I would say my parents instilled in me a strong work ethic and a real passion for learning, and that’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my career,” he said. “My McMaster experience was really quite formative in getting my career started, and Mac is where I met my wife Kathy.” 

The graduate of McMaster University’s mechanical engineering program was inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery in 2010.  

“The L.W. Shemilt award is special because it comes from a place and a group of people who I immensely respect and admire. I’m really humbled by receiving the award and I truly appreciate the recognition.” 

Fireball Shoutouts 

Co-op Students of the Year 

The evening also included two special Fireball Shoutouts to recognize some of the spectacular members of the Fireball Family and their accomplishments. 

This academic year, Engineering Co-Op and Career Services achieved record-breaking numbers.   

At the graduate level, there were a ground-breaking 173 registered work-terms, which was a jump of 114 per cent from last year.    
The undergraduate level was also unprecedented. There were over 4,000 registered work terms: a wave of students applying knowledge outside the classroom and gaining valuable work experience.    

Applause rang out for the three McMaster Engineering Co-op Student of the Year Award winners:   

  • Aurora Selim, BTech biotechnology student at ThermoFisher Scientific.  
  • Daniel Wise, mechatronics student at ATG Pharma Inc.
  • Sahar Asgari, mechanical engineering student at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Learn more about our co-op students 

YWCA Women of Distinction 

The other Fireball Shoutout was dedicated to women celebrated at this year’s YWCA Women of Distinction awards. This year, McMaster Engineering had its highest representation ever among the nominees and award-recipients. 

Nominees included Sarah Gonder – an undergraduate researcher in material science engineering and president of the McMaster MSE society – and Susan Kilburn – an engineering physics and management alumna and chief operating officer at LightPoint Financial Technology.   

Award recipients included young trailblazer and founder of ImaginAble Solutions Lianna Genovese (biomedical and mechanical engineering student), faculty lead for engineering design projects and community leader Zobia Jawed, and changemaker Navita Dyal: an alumna of the W Booth School’s Master of Engineering Design program who founded GLITR, a non-profit that provides access to healthcare to vulnerable populations.    

Read more about YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 

“We are so proud to have such diverse, exceptional people in our midst. The flame within our community is growing brighter with each passing day,” said Sheardown.