Dean's Message - January 2013

Western Engineering Dean Andrew Hrymak

Hello Western Engineering alumni and friends,

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed a safe and happy holiday season with all of your friends and family.

Looking back on 2012, I am proud to say Western Engineering’s faculty, staff and students achieved great success in many areas.

We exceeded our target of 400 students in our first-year class. The Class of 2016 is filled with 410 bright, young, energetic future engineers.

These future leaders join a family of 1,440 full-time undergraduate students who are proving to be leaders in the classroom and beyond.

One example is the launch of a new endowment fund, initiated by the students, called the Western Engineering Student Endowment Laboratory (WESEL) Fund, in response to a need to revitalize and update our undergraduate labs and facilities.

Following a model established at Engineering schools across Canada, in September 2012 a $50 voluntary fee was added to our students’ tuition to invest in this fund. The interest on the fund will be available for disbursement by the Board of Directors as per Western University guidelines.

The WESEL fund will support initiatives to purchase and/or maintain equipment and facilities in undergraduate engineering laboratories. Facilities can include purchases such as computer resources for labs, including hardware and software; reference materials, lab supplies as well as physical upgrades to undergraduate labs and facilities.

This is a fantastic opportunity for students to shape the future of Western Engineering. Faculty, staff, alumni and friends also have the opportunity to contribute to this endowment thus giving back directly to our undergraduate students.

If you are interested in contributing, please contact Lesley Mounteer at 519.661.3429 or

Our research is also heading into new territory. On Nov. 5, 2012 we officially opened the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research at Western. The launch of this facility represents an unprecedented partnership bringing together a Canadian university, a German industry partner and three levels of Canadian government.

Located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park, just north of Highway 401 at the corner of Veteran Memorial Parkway and Bradley Avenue, the FPC @ Western will focus on developing lightweight composites at this testing-ground facility through full industrial-scale trials.

The Centre will provide platform technology for real-time, industrial part development using – as well as developing – composite materials and manufacturing processes. The focus of the FPC @ Western is advanced manufacturing, which means highly precise in-line quality controlled manufacturing of high-performance composites in a suitable scale.

The FPC @ Western will allow us to grow our established strengths in the area of lightweight materials research. Our researchers will advance their knowledge to advance composite innovations, providing solutions for transportation, construction and renewable industries.  Our students will also benefit from working with Fraunhofer experts in this state-of-the-art facility.

Shortly after the grand opening of the FPC @ Western I was honoured to join over 120 alumni and friends in Toronto at the Royal Ontario Museum for the Third Annual Western Engineering Leader’s Reception and 2012 L.S. Lauchland Engineering Alumni Medal presentation on Nov. 7, 2012.

At the event, Western University President, Amit Chakma, presented the prestigious L.S. Lauchland Engineering Alumni Medal to longtime engineering supporter and advocate, James Douglas (J.D.) Hole, BESc’67.

J.D. served as past president and CEO of Edmonton-based Lockerbie & Hole, one of Canada’s largest construction firms, from 1994-2005. After graduation from Western Engineering, he joined Lockerbie & Hole as project manager in 1969. During his tenure he held many positions and led the company into new territories and markets, while playing an integral part in the company’s growth and prosperity.

After retiring in 2005, J.D. remained chair of the board until 2009 when Lockerbie & Hole was acquired by Aecon. He remains active as a board member with Aecon.

We are honoured to add James Douglas Hole’s name to our list of distinguished engineering alumni.

We also had the opportunity to welcome a number of new faculty members to the Western Engineering family, including:

  • Girma Bitsuamlak (January 1, 2012; CEE, Wind Engineering) - CRC Tier 2, Associate Professor
  • Takashi Kuboki (July 1, 2012; MME Polymer Composites) – Assistant Professor
  • Louis Ferreira (August 1, 2012; MME and Surgery, Biomedical Robotics and Mechatronics) –  Assistant Professor
  • Ana LuisaTrejos (January 1, 2013; ECE Biomedical Robotics and Mechatronics) –  Assistant Professor
  • Andrew Binns (January 1, 2013; CEE Water Hydraulics) – Assistant Professor (Limited Term)
  • Aleksander Essex (July 1, 2013; ECE Software Engineering) - Assistant Professor

Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, I see a bright and prosperous future for Western Engineering.

Construction of the WindEEE Research Institute is nearing completion.

The Dome will be the world’s first hexagonal wind tunnel, with the capability of physically simulating high intensity wind systems – including tornadoes, downbursts, gust fronts or low-level nocturnal currents – that cannot be created in any of the existing wind tunnels.

Our students will also be busy hosting a number of nation-wide events in our city with the 2014 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR) taking place in London, ON at Boler Mountain and the 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition taking place on Western’s campus.

We hope you can join us to celebrate these milestone events. More information will follow.

As always, I enjoy hearing from all of you about your recent accomplishments and newest endeavours - please send me an email at

Best regards,

Andrew N. Hrymak

Dean, Western Engineering