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Tibor Turi, BEng '89, MEng '91

A time for partnerships and leadership

In the innovation world, the valley of death is the chasm between great ideas and marketable products.

Over the last third of his career, Tibor Turi has worked as bridge over that gap, facilitating partnerships between researchers, academia, industry and government.

“It isn’t enough to just develop something technically – you also have to develop the market,” he says. “When you do innovation, it’s easy to forget about all the work you have to do to bring it to reality.”

As executive director of the R&D advanced computing consortium SOSCIP (Smart Computing for Innovation), Turi now helps industrial partners collaborate with academic researchers to gain access to the latest computing technologies and expertise.

He has watched a growing national eagerness for collaboration produce amazing results, including a spike in start-ups, new investors and the development of many technologies, such as those that have led the country to its role as a global leader in artificial intelligence.

“There’s been a tremendous growth and maturation over the last ten plus years, in terms of the innovation ecosystem in Canada,” he says.

He sees his role in that growth as a natural continuation of a career that was launched on the basis of fundamental research work, and included more than a decade working in the private sector.

A graduate of McMaster’s first Materials Engineering class in 1989, Turi went on to add a master’s degree and a PhD, eventually focusing his research on nanotechnology.

“I was designing with atoms and that causes you to think in a completely different way,” muses Turi, who brought that technology to the steel industry, eventually moving into a global role assisting with the development of products, markets and partnerships, before shifting into the role of an innovation facilitator.

Several years ago he brought his leadership skills to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), joining several committees and then eventually moving on to the board. In May 2019, he assumed the role of president.

It’s a role that allows him to exercise his passion for inspiring the next generation of engineers.

“Engineering solves global problems,” he says. “It’s the most underappreciated part of our profession – we are literally changing the world.”