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Engineering Society president Aidan Grenville (Year 4 EngSci, left) thanks Col. Chris Hadfield (right) for an inspiring keynote talk at a gala event celebrating the 150th anniversary of U of T Engineering, held April 1, 2023. (Photo: Lisa Sakulensky Photography)

On Saturday, April 1, more than 1,300 members of the U of T Engineering community gathered at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto to celebrate the Faculty’s 150th anniversary — and officially kick off its new Defy Gravity fundraising campaign.

The evening featured a keynote address from Canadian astronaut and engineering graduate Col. Chris Hadfield, who spoke about the power and potential of engineering as a force for good in the world.

The audience included more than 700 current students and 500 alumni, as well as faculty, staff and other supporters. Guests were treated to performances from the Skule™ Orchestra, the Skule™ Stage Band and the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad [sic], among many others.

There  were also exhibitions from many U of T Engineering clubs and teams, from Robotics for Space Exploration to the University of Toronto Concrete Toboggan team.

“Each and every one of you has stories to tell about your time here: the challenges you faced, the lessons you learned, the paths you have embarked on and the places they led you,” said U of T Engineering Dean Chris Yip at the event.

“We are here to celebrate the contributions that U of T Engineering graduates have made to building the brighter world we enjoy today, and to imagine the ones yet to come.”

U of T Engineering 150 Gala

See photos from the 150th anniversary gala in our photo gallery above.

To learn more about U of T Engineering’s history of innovation and the events planned for the rest of the year, visit our Engineering 150 microsite.

The next 150 years

The event also marked the beginning of the Faculty’s new fundraising campaign, a part of the University of Toronto-wide Defy Gravity campaign.

The U of T campaign is helping to address some of the most critical issues of our time. It has twin goals of inspiring 225,000 alumni to get involved, while encouraging them to contribute their time and talent to the University one million times collectively, as well as raising $4 billion in support for the University’s highest priorities.

Over the past century and a half, many new technologies with roots at U of T Engineering have made their mark across Canada and around the world. These include the dry cell battery, the electric wheelchair and the foundation of Toronto’s iconic CN Tower.

“U of T Engineers don’t just accept the world as it is: we fix what’s broken, improve what works and explore entirely new ways of doing things,” said Claire Kennedy (ChemE 8T9) U of T’s Defy Gravity campaign co-chair.

“This is the spirit that has defined the Faculty for 150 years, and it is the sprit that will ensure we can tackle the biggest and most complex problems.”

The new campaign is described by four key pillars that reflect the depth and breadth of the Faculty’s research and educational initiatives. These are:

“One hundred and fifty years of leadership and innovation is an occasion worth celebrating,” said David Palmer, Vice-President Advancement and Interim Vice-President Communications.

“Engineering alumni have made an impact in areas all across the globe. And the anniversary gala event was a small window into the limitless innovation and creativity that takes place every day at U of T Engineering.”

A year of celebration

The gala is the first in a series of initiatives set to take place throughout 2023 that will celebrate the progress of the past 150 years and set the tone for the future.

Upcoming events include Alumni Reunion (May 31 – June 4) and a Faculty open house set for September 30. Details for these events, as well as a series of features and interactive content highlighting U of T Engineering’s past and future impact can be found on the 150th anniversary website.

“I want to thank all of you for all your support, both in the past and the years to come,” said Dean Yip. “The future is bright, and I know that we’re just getting started.”

Learn more about 150 years of impact at U of T Engineering

Media Contact

Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist