McMaster Engineering’s annual Applause and Accolades event shone bright on June 8.
This year’s gathering marked a special milestone for the Faculty as we celebrated 65 years of innovation within the engineering community.
More than 100 guests made their way to McMaster Innovation Park and The Forge Thursday evening to enjoy a night that included an innovator showcase, networking and an awards ceremony celebrating outstanding faculty and alumni for their leadership, entrepreneurship and service.
The event was made possible by the generous support of valued sponsors. Special thanks go to The DeGroote School of Business at McMaster and Westhill Innovation Inc.
In recognition of the widespread impact members of the Fireball Family have achieved in 65 years, the event’s Lighting the Way campaign featured more than 80 exceptional innovators – from budding startups to established entrepreneurs and revolutionary changemakers. The long list of Ignitors, Illuminators, Torchbearers and Supernovas have made notable contributions in areas such as health and bio-innovation, infrastructure, transportation, climate change and more.
The evening commenced with Dean Heather Sheardown, who took the stage to kick off the award portion of the event and extended a warm welcome to distinguished guests, including alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends.
“At McMaster Engineering, innovation is a way of life. In all that we do, we seek to find creative and fresh solutions for a brighter world,” said Heather Sheardown, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.
“Over the years, our Made by Mac Eng inventions and products have been born out of our classrooms and labs and in industry around the world. We are so proud to have such diverse, exceptional people in our midst. The flame within our community is growing brighter every day.”
Awards were presented by esteemed students, alumni and faculty, who introduced the distinguished honourees.
John Bandler is a Professor Emeritus in the department of electrical and computer engineering. He joined McMaster in 1969 and was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering from 1979 to 1981.
Bandler’s service and support has been a pillar to our community for over 50 years. His innovations have transformed engineering design optimization, especially the design of high-frequency technology that underpins today’s electronic communications.
“We’re here because we believe in something greater than ourselves. Some of us work on our own, some of us flourish in teams. But like tonight we join together to showcase our achievements to celebrate as a group. Colleagues, friends, appreciative audience, whatever your reason, thank you for being here.”
Leyla Soleymani is an associate professor in the department of engineering physics at McMaster. She also holds the titles of associate vice-president, research (commercialization & entrepreneurship), University Scholar and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Miniaturized Biomedical Devices. She is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. She received her MSc from the University of Southern California and her PhD from the University of Toronto.
Tohid Didar is an associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering. He also holds a Canada Research Chair in Nano-Biomaterials. Before joining McMaster University in 2016, Didar was a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. He obtained his PhD degree in 2013 from McGill University.
Combining their areas of expertise, Soleymani and Didar developed a pathogen-repellent wrap called RepelWrap. The invention created right before the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear plastic wrap that has the ability to repel elements like water droplets, bacteria and viruses. RepelWrap is now moving towards scaled-up production through FendX Technologies, Inc.
“It really takes a small army to translate an idea from the research lab to the market, and I want to first acknowledge the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and the undergraduate students whose work really takes an idea and makes it a technology,” says Soleymani.
“There are a lot of elements that are involved to take an idea from a university research lab all to the way to the market. And one of the most important ones is willingness of leadership to foster innovation,” says Didar.
Gina Succi is a professional engineer, a member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and co-founder and chief executive officer of Westhill Innovation.
For over 20 years, Succi has led the development of solar electromobility power solutions. Her career interests include leadership in engineering, product development and technology commercialization in four vastly different market sectors including steelmaking, warehousing/ logistics, mining and construction.
Westhill Innovation is a leading designer and manufacturer of SunShifter™ and SunRunner, solar electromobility power solutions and lightweight composites for commercial and recreational transportation.
“Leadership is about having a vision and inspiring others to enable that vision to become a reality. Leadership isn’t about you, but it begins with you.”
Since founding his engineering firm C.F. Crozier & Associates in 2004, Crozier wanted to disrupt the traditional workplace by creating a unique experience for his employees. With the goal of changing the workplace in a positive, socially responsible and caring way, Crozier has provided employees with a range of innovative human resources offerings.
His passion to do things in a new way earned his firm the recognition as one of Canada’s Top 100 Small & Medium Employers by Mediacorp and The Globe and Mail.
“In 2004, I founded a small consulting engineering practice with the vision to create an exceptional workplace where people’s careers could flourish”
This year’s event brings forth an exciting new award, the Young Alumni Leadership Award. It celebrates exceptional alumni who are driving positive change in their careers and communities and who have distinguished themselves as emerging leaders with a passion for propelling the field of engineering forward.
Gabardo, a distinguished biomedical engineering PhD graduate student from 2016, is the co-founder and CTO of CERT Systems Inc., which is leading the charge in transforming chemical production and driving decarbonization through innovative technology.
Driven by her passion for both medicine and engineering, she is transforming the way the world’s most important chemicals are made.
“Growing up, I went to field trips and then I did my bachelor’s and PhD here, so it’s truly an honour to come home.”
“I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Professor Leyla Soleymani, my PhD supervisor, mentor and nominator for this award. Leyla gave me such an awesome example of what it means to be a great leader.”