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Left to right: Sephen Colavincenzo (UTIAS MASc 9T6) and his father Ovidio Colavincenzo (UTIAS MASc 6T9) attended the 75th anniversary celebration at UTIAS on May 10. (photo by Neil Ta)

On May 10, alumni from the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) travelled from far and wide to walk the halls of their alma mater and commemorate 75 years of impact in the field of aeronautical engineering. Lab tours and research demonstrations brought together the UTIAS community — including faculty, staff, students and notable alumni — to celebrate the founding of the institute and its successes over the years.  

In 1946, Gordon Patterson (UTIAS) was 38 years old and found himself at one of life’s big crossroads. He was a highly sought-after international expert in aerodynamics with six or seven offers from reputable institutions on the table, but it was the offer from the University of Toronto that interested him most.  

Any of the other offers would allow Patterson almost guaranteed success as a researcher in the rapidly growing area of aerodynamics and gas dynamics. However, as a Canadian who had worked in Britain, Australia, and the US, Patterson noted on a road trip across Canada in 1945 that aeronautical education in this country barely existed. 

The U of T offer beckoned as something that would provide him with a life’s mission to do something for the greater good. And so, Patterson decided he would not join U of T unless they agreed to establish a department of aeronautical engineering.  

UTIAS is celebrating its 75th anniversary because Professor Sidney Smith, then president of U of T, agreed with Patterson’s estimation of the growing importance of aeronautical engineering. In 1949, Canada’s only Institute of Aerophysics (UTIA) was established. UTIA was renamed UTIAS in 1963 to recognize the growing areas of research and education at the institute. 

Patterson successfully steered the institute for 25 years. His legacy has continued with succeeding directors, and it is with the help of these leaders that UTIAS became, and continues to be, an internationally recognized institute out of which leading-edge research and many firsts have come. 

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of students in producing this world-class research. Teaching and research are intrinsically linked by a reciprocal relationship. On the undergraduate level, UTIAS is rooted in the Engineering Science program at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.  

And at the graduate level, professors teach and collaborate with students who come not only from the Engineering Science program, but from other internationally recognized institutions — factors that inspire teaching and research at an elevated level. The notable success of UTIAS alumni is testament to the success of the institution. 

View a selection of photographs that capture the excitement of the 75th anniversary celebration event. The full even album is available on Flickr.

Chris Damaran in a black jacket and khaki coloured pants speaks at a podium. A UTIAS banner and balloons are in the background.
The morning began with remarks from Professor Chris Damaren, Director of UTIAS, welcoming alumni, faculty and guests. (photo by Neil Ta)
Four men sit in the front row of a lecture all with orange seats. They are applauding along with other people, also sitting, and out of focus.
Left to right: Chris Yip, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at U of T; James Pasternak, Councillor for York Centre; Meric Gertler, President of U of T; and the Hon. Michael S. Kerzner, MPP for York Center and Solicitor General of Ontario. (photo by Neil Ta)
A shot taken through the open doors of a lecture hall filled with people.
Back at school: alumni, professors and students enjoy lab presentations from the signature orange seats in the UTIAS Lecture Hall. (photo by Neil Ta)
People gather around equipment with red lights, as a student speaks to them.
Mohammad Razavi and Ritesh Maurya (both UTIAS PhD students) present to alumni in Professor Omer Gülder’s Combustion & Propulsion Laboratory. (photo by Neil Ta)
People are seen in a room facing an open laptop. A few of them are smiling or laughing.
Alumni listen to researchers in Professor Jonathan Kelly’s Space & Terrestrial Autonomous Robotics Systems (STARS) Laboratory. (photo by Neil Ta)
People watch a driverless vehicle on a track outside.
Alumni watch a mobile robot demonstration in Professor Timothy Barfoot’s Autonomous Space Robotics Laboratory. (photo by Neil Ta)
Two people look up at the metal insides of a domed area.
The iconic UTIAS Dome was originally built in 1973 to house Professor Phil Sullivan’s circular track for his air-cushion vehicle. (photo by Neil Ta)
An individual looks on as two men look at the camera. They are all inside a domed space with metal corrugated walls.
Professor Emeritus Phil Sullivan, right, speaks with The Hon. Tom Siddon (UTIAS MASc 6T6, PhD 6T9), who served as former MP and federal minister from 1978 – 1993. (photo by Neil Ta)
A woman in a wheelchair and along with other individuals gather around, focused on a person who seems to be speaking to them.
Adelle Buckley (UTIAS PhD 7T4) and her son, Howard Buckley (UTIAS MASc 0T9), listen to a lab presentation. Adelle Buckley was the first woman to graduate from UTIAS with a PhD; she is also one of the co-founders of SCIEX. (photo by Neil Ta)
Two individuals are looking at a mobile phone held up by one of them. There are other people in the room with tables, chairs, and a vending machine in the background.
Ross Myher (UTIAS MASc 0T2), left, takes a photo with his supervisor Professor Emeritus Jorn Hansen (UTIAS). (photo by Neil Ta)

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