July 5, 2016  |  Volume 9, Issue 10
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The Engineering Newsletter

Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering | University of Toronto

In this issue

A Year in Photos

Academic Plan & Annual Reports

Recruitment & Admissions

Enriching Engineering Education

Research Impact


Boundless Progress: Advancement & Alumni


Infrastructure Renewal

New Colleagues


Past Issues
A Message from Dean Cristina Amon

In the final year of our five-year Academic Plan, we have much to celebrate. Our outstanding programs and strong global reputation, combined with strategic recruitment initiatives, have attracted a record number of applications from the world's best and brightest students. Our entering 2015 undergraduate class was the most diverse in our history. Nearly one third came from outside of Canada and 31.4 per cent were women — our highest proportion yet. In our entering 2016 undergraduate class, this proportion is set to be higher than 39 per cent.
We have grown our overall graduate student population by 75 per cent over the past 10 years, increasing the number of PhD students by 57 per cent and more than tripling enrolment in our MEng programs. These students enable our world-class research and enrich our global community of alumni upon graduation. We continually strengthen our graduate programs with new offerings, such as our MEng in Biomedical Engineering, which welcomes the first cohort of students in fall 2016.

Our exceptional researchers are addressing major global challenges, from improving human health to advancing sustainability and clean energy. This year, a team of U of T Engineering researchers created a platform for growing human tissues outside the body which will enhance drug safety and could one day be used to repair damaged organs with lab-grown replacements. Another created a catalyst with record-setting efficiency that could improve the storage of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

We have earned recognition at the highest levels for our excellence in research and teaching. In 2015, U of T Engineering won more than 20 per cent of major national and international awards presented to Canadian engineering institutions, including the Killam Prize and honours from the Royal Society of Canada and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. Our professors also received the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Teaching Award and the President’s Teaching Award in recognition of remarkable achievements in education.
In 2015–2016, we have continued to enhance experiential learning opportunities that develop our students' competencies in engineering, leadership and global fluency. Whether they are designing the world’s fastest bicycle or building a wind-powered irrigation system for farmers in Nicaragua, our students are creating solutions with impact. They are also launching startups — such as teaBOT, TeleHex and Kepler Communications — with support from our rich ecosystem of entrepreneurship accelerators, including Start@UTIAS and The Entrepreneurship Hatchery. These formative experiences prepare students to be the next generation of innovators, makers and leaders.
The Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CEIE) will be a vibrant hub that sets a new standard for engineering education and research. When it opens next year, it will provide a new home for some of our world-leading institutes, such as the Centre for Global Engineering and the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics. Its design/meet rooms and light fabrication facilities will enable students, professors and industry collaborators to work together across disciplines on complex global challenges and launch new companies to bring their solutions to market. This year the CEIE has continued to receive strong support from the U of T Engineering community and beyond, including a $15-million investment from the Government of Ontario.
Thank you for your tremendous contributions and commitment to our ambitious goals. In the fall, we will publish our final report on our achievements towards the 2011-2016 Academic Plan, and we will complete our Faculty-wide self-study. Until then, I wish you all an enjoyable summer.
– Cristina

A Year in Photos

From frosh week to convocation, relive some of this year's most memorable moments.

Academic Plan & Annual Reports

We continue to make outstanding progress toward achieving the goals we set in our Academic Plan 2011–2016.
In the past year, we published the Academic Plan 2011–2016 — Year Four: Progress and Achievements as well as the international award-winning Annual Report 2015: Performance Indicators, both of which provide a comprehensive overview of our accomplishments. We also published the Year in Review: 2015 Annual Report, a vibrant summary of our Faculty’s most significant achievements for alumni, donor and industry audiences. Academic Plan 2011–2016 — Year Five: Progress and Achievements and Annual Report 2016: Performance Indicators will be published this fall. 

Academic Plan – Year Four: Progress and Achievements Annual Report 2015: Performance Indicators Year in Review:
2015 Annual Report

Recruitment & Admissions


Our innovative programs and standing as a global leader in engineering education continue to draw the brightest students from across Canada and around the world.

In 2015 we attracted a record number of applications: nine for each place in our first-year programs. We have continued to enhance our admission process to move beyond outstanding grades alone. Our broad-based approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of each applicant’s candidacy.

Our entering undergraduate class for fall 2015 was diverse — at 31.4 per cent, the proportion of women entering our first-year class was our highest ever. International students now make up 27.4 per cent of our overall undergraduate population, enriching our community with a range of perspectives and strengthening the student experience.

We are improving delivery of all first-year course offerings by implementing the recommendations of the Core Curriculum Review Task Force. This includes establishing a First-Year Core 8 Curriculum Committee to oversee implementation of the report’s recommendations, and hiring a new teaching-stream faculty member who will be responsible for enhancing first-year course integration. We also created APS 100 Orientation to Engineering, a seminar course which includes tutorials led by upper year engineering students. This required first-year course provides additional support to students as they transition to first-year engineering.

These new initiatives build on the strength of our existing programs, including embedded counsellors and peer-assisted study sessions. This year, we increased our first-to-second-year retention rate to 96.8 per cent, its highest-ever value.


Our community includes 2,259 highly talented graduate students, our largest number yet, with 31.1 per cent coming from outside of Canada. Our undergraduate-to-graduate ratio is 2.2 to 1, bringing us closer to our Academic Plan goal of 1.5 to 1.

We grew enrolment in our Master of Engineering (MEng) program by 14 per cent compared with 2014–2015, and among this cohort 37 per cent came from outside Canada. In 2015–2016, we surpassed our Academic Plan goal of having MEng and Master of Health Science in Clinical Engineering (MHSc) students account for 50 per cent of full-time equivalent master's students.

This year, we hosted the second annual Graduate Research Days, a Faculty-wide recruitment event that invited 127 top students interested in graduate studies to U of T from across Canada and the United States. We also continued our partnership with a consortium of peer Canadian engineering schools to hold graduate student recruitment events in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Waterloo, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal. These initiatives have enabled us to reach more of Canada’s most promising candidates for graduate studies, and to promote the benefits of graduate education and the unique strengths of U of T Engineering.

Pre-University Outreach

Each year, the Faculty engages with more than 7,000 elementary and high school students from the Greater Toronto Area, across Canada and around the world by delivering summer camps, in-school workshops and special events. These activities spark interest in engineering and provide a better understanding of its role in society.
Some highlights of this year’s programming include:
  • In May 2016, U of T Engineering hosted Innovate U, Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event for kids. Run in partnership with Google Canada and Actua, this one-day STEM celebration featured experiential engineering workshops that allowed students from across the Greater Toronto Area to get a first-hand look at today’s technologies — including 3D printers and solar cars — and learn more about the research and programs at U of T Engineering.
  • In February 2016, the Faculty hosted 350 elementary-school teachers from the Toronto District School Board for a series of coding workshops. Through interaction with current undergraduate and graduate students, the teachers learned how computer coding in their classrooms can help them teach topics from mathematics to literacy. Forty of these teachers returned with their students to participate in Innovate U.
  • In May 2016, 87 female high school students who had received offers of admission to U of T Engineering spent a weekend on campus to participate in the Girls’ Leadership in Engineering Experience (GLEE). Through interactions with faculty members and undergraduate students and experiential learning activities, these students had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of engineering and the opportunities available to them in the Faculty. Seventy-nine of these students (91 per cent) subsequently accepted our offers of admission.
  • In June and July 2016, undergraduate student Rachel Mandel (Year 3 MechE) will travel 8,000 km across Nunavut to deliver STEM workshops in several indigenous communities as part of a project supported by Actua.


Enriching Engineering Education

At U of T Engineering, we are nurturing the next generation of global engineering leaders by providing students with an unparalleled experience that equips them with the competencies to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Some of our educational innovations from the past year are highlighted under the following four themes:

Global Engineering Leadership

Last summer, we joined more than 90 North American engineering schools leading a transformative movement to improve diversity in engineering — one of only two Canadian engineering schools to do so. In a letter shared by the U.S. White House, U of T and peer institutions committed to recruit more women and underrepresented minorities to their student and faculty populations, and foster a culture of inclusivity among the broader engineering profession.

Our Faculty's new International Scholar Award enhances our ability to attract top students from around the world. This year we welcomed the first two recipients into first-year engineering, and have selected a further three students to receive the award in fall 2016.

Multidisciplinary Course Offerings

Our diverse minors and certificates in subjects ranging from sustainable energy to engineering business enable undergraduates to customize their degrees and collaborate with students in other disciplines based on shared interests. Demand has grown steadily over the past decade, and this year for the first time more than half of the graduating class completed at least one minor or certificate. Interest in our Engineering Science majors is also growing. In September 2015, we launched our new Robotics Engineering major and enrolment for next year has nearly doubled to 65 incoming third-year students.

For graduate students, we created a new Master of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering, set to launch in September 2016. The program requirements include two new core entrepreneurship courses, which will be taught in the context of biomedical device commercialization, and a four-month internship in applied research in the biomedical industry or in academic laboratories.

Experiential Learning

Our Professional Experience Year (PEY) internships have provided students with full-time jobs and valuable opportunities to apply their engineering competencies to industry challenges for more than 35 years. Many companies, such as Mississauga-based Zebra Technologies, use PEY internships as a key recruitment tool. In 2015–2016, 790 students — 64 per cent of students from the previous year’s third-year class — participated in PEY, the highest number to date. 

For the second year in a row, ILead ran The Game, a year-long co-curricular program that emphasizes leadership and social innovation. The winning team created Foodly, an app designed to reduce food waste by helping users plan meals, prepare grocery lists and remind them when food is about to expire.

The University of Toronto Institute for Multidisciplinary Design & Innovation enables companies to bring their technical challenges to teams of undergraduate and MEng students through paid internships or through the APS 490 Multidisciplinary Capstone Course. Recent projects include a portable, battery-powered elevator for people with disabilities and an app that helps firefighters track their exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Our students also gain valuable experiential learning opportunities from the more than 80 student societies and clubs at U of T Engineering. Several of these have won awards this year including:


Our Faculty’s rich ecosystem of support for entrepreneurship, including the accelerators Start@UTIAS and The Entrepreneurship Hatchery, has launched many thriving student startups. Examples include teaBOT, PowerWring, PheedLoop and many more.

This year, four student startups received major support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s SmartStart Seed Fund, building on seed funding they received from The Entrepreneurship Hatchery at Demo Day in September 2015. Three of the startups — Kepler Communications, MedChart and Pillsy — were originally launched from the Start@UTIAS program, from which they received a total of $55,000 in seed funding in the summer of 2015. The fourth, TeleHex, had a successful Kickstarter campaign in September 2015 and is now taking pre-orders for its product.

The Entrepreneurship Hatchery continues to play a significant role in building entrepreneurial capacity at U of T Engineering. Its summer 2016 cohort includes more than 50 teams, the largest number since the program’s inception in 2012. The Hatchery, part of the Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, is a key contributor to the rich ecosystem of support for new startups available to students and faculty across the entire University.

Research Impact

Our researchers continue to address complex global challenges in fields from bioengineering and clean energy to sustainability and advanced communications.
This year Professor Milica Radisic (IBBME, ChemE) and her team demonstrated AngioChip, a platform for growing realistic heart and liver tissue outside the body. AngioChip is already being used to test drugs for negative side effects through the spinoff company TARA Biosystems and in the future could be used to repair damaged organs.

A  new multi-metal catalyst created by Professor Ted Sargent (ECE) and his team could make it easier to store energy from intermittent sources such as wind or solar. The catalyst lowers the energy cost of splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen with record-setting efficiency, and could be used to turn green electricity into clean hydrogen fuel.

Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou (CivE) and her team created an online map that helps cyclists avoid routes with high levels of air pollution. Building on this work, she is now conducting an international survey of cyclists to determine how much they would be willing to alter their behaviour to avoid traffic pollution along their routes.

Other notable research this year included:

Funding and Facilities

Last summer, U of T created Medicine by Design, a world-leading initative that brings together researchers from multiple Faculties and teaching hospitals to advance the design and manufacture of cells, tissues and organs that can be used to treat degenerative disease. In January 2016, Professor Peter Zandstra (IBBME) was named the the inaugural executive director of Medicine by Design. The centre will work closely with CCRM, an organization dedicated to the commercialization of stem cell-based therapies. Medicine by Design was created with $114 million from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund.

In July 2015, Professor Craig Simmons (MIE, IBBME) was named the Scientific Director of the Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP). A key component of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research (TRCHR), TBEP is a unique interdisciplinary research initiative that brings together leading experts in engineering and medicine to advance discoveries and accelerate new treatments for cardiovascular disease. In October 2015, Simmons received research support from the CP Has Heart Cardiovascular Award, funded jointly by Canadian Pacific and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

The Faculty gained five new Canada Research Chairs (CRC) in 2015–2016:
  • Professor Ya-Huei Cathy Chin (ChemE), Canada Research Chair in Advanced Catalysis for Sustainable Chemistry
  • Professor Birsen Donmez (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Human Factors and Transportation
  • Professor Elodie Passeport (ChemE, CivE), Canada Research Chair in Environmental Engineering and Stable Isotopes
  • Professor Matthew Roorda (CivE), Canada Research Chair in Freight Transportation and Logistics
  • Professor David Sinton (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Microfluidics and Energy.
Two more CRCs were renewed:
  • Professor Andreas Mandelis (MIE), Canada Research Chair in Diffusion-Wave and Photoacoustic Sciences and Technologies
  • Professor Prasanth Nair (UTIAS), Canada Research Chair in Computational Modelling and Design Under Uncertainty.
Other major grants awarded this year include: $2.8 million from NSERC's Strategic Partnerships Grants, $3.3 million from two NSERC CREATE grants, a Connaught Global Challenge Award and $5 million in seed funding for Deep Genomics, the startup company founded by Professor Brendan Frey (ECE).

In May 2016, the Ontario Centre for the Characterization of Advanced Materials (OCCAM) unveiled its newest equipment in a symposium that attracted more than 200 attendees from industry, academia and government. We also created the Centre for Aerial Robotics Research & Education (CARRE), a research institute based at UTIAS that will focus on training a new generation of experts in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for a variety of purposes, from agriculture to environmental monitoring.

International Impact

This year, a team led by Professor Yu-Ling Cheng (ChemE), director of the Centre for Global Engineering, earned a third round of funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the Reinvent the Toilet project. The toilet can disinfect human waste without connections to water, sewer or grid power, and is designed for the 2.5 billion people who currently lack access to safe sanitation.

Kinetica, a company co-founded by Professor Constantin Christopoulos (CivE) and U of T Engineering alumnus Michael Montgomery (CivE PhD 1T1) recently signed an agreement to distribute its products in China as part of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s trade mission to that region.

Professor Amy Bilton (MIE) and several teams of undergraduate students partnered with residents of Pedro Arauz, Nicaragua, to design and construct a water-pumping windmill, providing critical irrigation during the area’s long dry season. The project originated in MIE 491 Capstone Design, a fourth-year undergraduate capstone course.


This year, our faculty, staff and students have been recognized with major awards at the international, national, provincial and university levels. With a higher proportion of honours than any other school in Canada, U of T Engineering is truly outstanding in its class.

Senior faculty members garnered several highly prestigious awards this year. University Professor Michael Sefton (ChemE, IBBME) received the 2016 Terumo Global Science Prize, one of only three people to receive this prize since its inception, and the first Canadian. University Professor Molly Shoichet (ChemE, IBBME) was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, one of two U of T professors who were among only three Canadians to be inducted this year. She also received the 2015 Fleming Medal and Citation from the Royal Canadian Institute in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science. University Professor Ted Sargent (ECE) received the prestigious NSERC Brockhouse Prize for Interdisciplinary Research for his collaborative work with Professor Shana Kelley of the Faculties of Pharmacy and Medicine. Professor Elizabeth Edwards (ChemE) received one of this year's Killam Prizes from the Canada Council for the Arts. Dean Cristina Amon received the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards Gold Medal, the organization's highest honour.

Our early-career faculty also won major national and international awards. Professor David Sinton (MIE) was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2015 and received a 2016 NSERC Steacie Fellowship. Professor Warren Chan (IBBME) received the inaugural Kabiller Young Investigator Award from the International Institute for Nanotechnology and Professor Adam Steinberg (UTIAS) received the Hiroshi Tsuji Early Career Research Award from the Combustion Institute and Elsevier.

Other major awards and honours included:

International National Provincial and U of T

Top Media Stories

Our Faculty’s excellence in research and education continues to receive media visibility around the world, and our professors are often sought for their expertise on a variety of engineering topics and issues. Here are some highlights from the past year of coverage:

Boundless Progress: Advancement & Alumni

Major Gifts

Alumni, students, faculty and friends from around the world continue to unite behind U of T Engineering’s ambitious $200-million Boundless campaign goal. This year we reached the $180 million fundraising milestone, 90 per cent of the target total.
In May, the Faculty received an historic $20-million bequest from the estate of alumnus Erwin Edward Hart (CivE 4T0), proceeds from which will fund the Percy Edward Hart and Erwin Edward Hart Professorships. Seven faculty members, each within the first 10 years of their academic careers, will receive $75,000 per year for three years for research and graduate student support. The recipients will be nominated by their department or institute and will have demonstrated a high level of research excellence and exemplary graduate student mentorship.

Major contributions at the $1-million level or higher from the past year include a planned gift bequeathed by alumnus William Dunbar (MechE 5T0) to support graduate and undergraduate mechanical engineering students, and a gift from Bill (ChemE 6T7) and Kathleen Troost to support a new co-curricular leadership training program from ILead and the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry’s Leaders of Tomorrow Awards program. The Troosts’ total giving to date exceeds $7 million.   

Additional Highlights

We made significant progress in implementing Graduway, a social media platform that facilitates communication with and between U of T Engineering alumni. We successfully beta-tested Graduway with Engineering Science, and it is being adopted by the Departments of Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

The Advancement team also launched a communications strategy devoted to increasing alumni volunteer engagement. This includes building a dedicated website to promote volunteer opportunities; a five-part news series profiling alumni volunteers in their communities (planned to coincide with National Volunteer Month); and a feature on seven engaged alumni volunteers.

In 2015, our alumni magazine Skulematters highlighted the myriad ways that diversity enriches the engineering profession with different perspectives, drives innovation, deepens the creative process and enhances the student experience. The cover story featured U of T Engineering alumna Elsie MacGill (ElecE 2T7), who is one of 12 Canadian women under consideration to grace Canada’s newest bank note.

We also launched a successful Tables & Benches Campaign for the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. The campaign has already secured $92,000 in early pledges with additional gifts under consideration.


To find out more about governance items, please visit the Faculty Council webpage or review recaps from this year’s meetings:

Infrastructure Renewal

At U of T Engineering, we are creatively addressing the challenges of our existing space, while actively working towards creating new spaces, such as the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CEIE).
You will find a complete list of 2015–2016 infrastructure projects that are under construction and completed on our Infrastructure Renewal page.

New Colleagues

Our Faculty welcomes new colleagues, recognizes promotions and celebrates this year’s retirees on our 2015–2016 Faculty & Staff Appointments page.  

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