Building momentum

Western Engineering Dean Andrew Hrymak

On a bright day in July 2009, I walked up the path to the Spencer Engineering building to begin my role as dean of our amazing faculty. Since then, I’ve met hundreds of students, alumni and donors who all contribute to the success and tradition of Western.

Now almost five years later (and being reappointed for a second term), I find myself reflecting on the past and looking to the future.

Here are some highlights since 2009.

  • We have introduced new initiatives to support the undergraduate experience. Through informal coaching, social connection and academic tutoring, programs such as WE Connect, Super Tutor, Big Sister/Little Sister, and 1-2-3 Mentorship are making the transition to university more meaningful.
  • On Shadow Days, students can explore various engineering disciplines, and our shop training programs help students learn how to manufacture their designs.
  • With Ryerson, UOIT and Waterloo, we are part of the Hydro One Women in Engineering partnership (We MADE it) that will provide $350,000 over four years to support outreach, mentorship and networking activities for female students.
  • Through a generous gift from John and Melinda Thompson, we’re moving forward in creating an engineering leadership and innovation initiative in partnership with Ivey Business School.
  • Our graduate education and research programs have progressed. Our researchers have been successful in establishing two NSERC CREATE programs: Computer-Assisted Medical Intervention, and Clean Technologies for Water Refining and Nutrient and Energy Recovery.
  • We are also spreading our wings overseas. Through our internationalization certificate program (WE Go Global), students can spend a study semester abroad. We’ve also established partnerships with three universities in China.
  • Western’s newly unveiled strategic plan, Achieving Excellence on the World Stage, positions Western Engineering to respond to greater global and research opportunities.

As Western Engineering pursues an extraordinary future, we want to be recognized as the destination for leadership, business and innovation practices in engineering, which complement our experiential education through co-ops, internship, megaproject clubs, and international study opportunities. I invite you to participate in this journey.

In the coming term, I want to strengthen four major areas of research.

Sustainability, environment, resiliency and adaptive systems
Concerns about climate change and the need for green technologies gives our researchers opportunities to build a sustainable future and to improve water quality, enhance environmental remediation, and optimize energy management.

Biomedical engineering, technology in health and medicine
Our strong collaboration with Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Science and Health Sciences has produced outstanding research in biomedical engineering, medical physics, cell biology and anatomy, and musculoskeletal health. As the need for medical devices rises, our faculty will contribute to new medical devices that will improve health care support and delivery.

Innovative materials and biomaterials
The global need for lightweight materials for transportation (to address energy costs and environmental concerns) is driving industry, business and research sectors to partner and engineer advanced materials and biomaterials – which are critical building blocks for any new manufacturing development. Our successful collaboration with industry is already attracting multi-million dollar funding and access to global research facilities.

Ubiquitous information and communication
An IBM-Western initiative in cloud computing, big data analytics and high-performance computing propels the work already underway in computer science, software engineering, medical imaging and many other research areas on campus. Working with “big data” offers opportunities for entrepreneurial alumni and industry supporters to create a unique student learning experience in a booming field.

As we build a stronger engineering program, I sincerely thank everyone for their support. Members of the Advisory Council for Western Engineering have provided tremendous wisdom, for which I am grateful. I’m thankful too for our incredible students, faculty and staff for their dedication, enthusiasm and optimism for our future.  

And to our many alumni, friends and donors, I truly appreciate your participation and commitment to Western Engineering through your gifts, time and advice. We would not be where we are today without your generous support.

We have much to do in the next five years. I am privileged to serve in this role as dean, knowing that together we will build the extraordinary.

Best wishes,

Andrew Hrymak
Dean, Faculty of Engineering