Western Engineering alumni inspire students through a new scholarship

Success drives inspiration – That’s exactly what the team at VanBoxmeer & Stranges Engineering Ltd. want to accomplish by supporting students through a new Civil Engineering scholarship. They hope to use their success to inspire and help the next generation.

VanBoxmeer and Stranges Engineering Ltd. is a London-based structural consulting firm, with a close relationship with Western University – Not only does their team consist of several generations of Western Engineering alumni – they have built several of the buildings on Western’s campus.

In 1994, founding partners Gary VanBoxmeer (BESc’84) and Rick Stranges (BESc’87) started VanBoxmeer and Stranges Engineering Ltd. with a shared vision to give back and improve the Western community. Stranges stated one of their early goals was to “have the opportunity to design a building at Western and maybe even a building for the engineering department”. Now, having completed projects to expand the campus skyline and further inspire students by establishing this new scholarship award, it is clear they have come full circle and accomplished the goal they set out many years ago.  

Stranges added, “All engineers have a university education of some sort. We've all lived through both the academic and financial hardships that go along with an engineering education. We hope that by receiving an award it will take some of the stress, even if temporarily, off of a student's shoulders”. 

L-R - Lijun Guo (Senior Engineering), Gary VanBoxmeer (Founding Partner), Rick Stranges (President), Phil Rizzo (Partner), Brad Stott (Partner)

The VanBoxmeer & Stranges Engineering Ltd. Award will be offered annually to a student who is in their fourth year of Civil Engineering in the Structural Engineering option and actively involved in extra-curricular activities on campus or in the community.

Having created lifelong friendships through many memorable moments at Western, VanBoxmeer hopes the legacy of the new award will give the student a sense of belonging. “We want them to feel like someone cares about them; like they are part of an engineering family”.

The inaugural recipient of the VanBoxmeer & Stranges Engineering Ltd. Award is Civil Engineering student Noor El-Kassem. Being involved in numerous Clubs and Teams on campus, she said “the generosity has really inspired me to help others and give back to the community. It is with the support of donors like VanBoxmeer & Stranges that push future engineers to excel in their studies and create change in the industry”.

Accelerating change and innovation is one of VanBoxmeer and Stranges many accomplishments. Together they have worked on dozens of projects over the past 27 years including the design of Western’s Claudette Mackay-Lassonde Engineering Pavillion - which achieved LEED Gold status - and the Amit Chakma Engineering Building. With the help of Western Civil Engineering graduates, they are currently working on several expansion projects that are under construction, like the Thames Hall Renovation, the Western Entrepreneurial & Innovation Centre and the Western Biomedical Research Facility.

Stranges added that they hire Western Engineering grads who “have a high skill level and that are personable - We find Western Civil (Structural) grads are at the top end of the list in having the highest knowledge bases of all graduates we interview”. Rick further noted “the Western Civil Department is ranked one of the top Civil Departments in Canada and the world!”

Reminiscing, Stranges recounts many memorable moments including working with world-renowned professors at Western Engineering who reinforced his inspiration of becoming a structural engineer. “I would be awe-struck listening to the different projects they consulted on throughout the world”. Now as a professional engineer, he has a keen eye for structural engineering. Stranges further joked “some people see things in their mind's eye in colour or music, I see the forces and arrows applied to buildings and how the forces/arrows work their way down to foundations. Sounds odd? Not if you are a structural engineer”.

It’s with this success and inspiration that both VanBoxmeer and Stranges feel that supporting a student award is an important aspect of giving back to foster the growth of the engineering profession – and the next generation of engineers.