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Top row, left to right: Inga Hipsz (MechE 9T4, MIE MASc 9T6), David Poirier (IndE 8T1) and Michael Kropp (ElecE 8T6); bottom row, left to right: Paul Acchione (MechE 7T1, MIE MEng 7T6), Serena Mandla (EngSci 1T7, BME MASc 1T9) and Professor Giovanni Grasselli (CivMin).

Six members of the U of T Engineering community have been honoured by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and Professional Engineers Ontario with Ontario Professional Engineers Awards.  

These awards recognize engineers in Ontario who have made exceptional contributions to the profession and to society.   

Professor Giovanni Grasselli (CivMin) has been awarded the Entrepreneurship Medal for applying new technologies or innovative approaches that have enabled new companies to get started.  

Paul Acchione (MechE 7T1, MIE MEng 7T6) garnered the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing the engineering profession through long-standing service to OSPE.  

Michael Kropp (ElecE 8T6) received the Engineering Excellence in Industry Medal, recognizing overall excellence in the practice of engineering in industry.  

Inga Hipsz (MechE 9T4, MIE MASc 9T6) and David Poirier (IndE 8T1) both were awarded the Management Medal for innovative management practices contributing significantly to an engineering achievement.  

Serena Mandla (EngSci 1T7, BME MASc 1T9) received the Young Engineer Award for an engineer no older than 35 years old who has demonstrated excellence in their career, community and professional service. 

“These outstanding engineers demonstrate the range of contributions that our faculty and alumni are making across multiple fields, from founding new companies and managing significant Canadian organizations, to serving in leadership roles in the profession and in the community,” says U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip 

“On behalf of the faculty, my heartfelt congratulations on these well-deserved recognitions.”  

Professor Giovanni Grasselli

Grasselli holds the NSERC/Energi Simulation Industrial Research Chair in Fundamental Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics. Throughout his career, he has made exceptional contributions to the field of rock mechanics through his innovative work on the Finite-Discrete Element Method (FDEM) and the commercialization of this method through the start-up Geomechanica Inc. Grasselli’s leading research has significantly advanced our understanding of and capabilities in simulating complex rock mechanics problems. This work, combined with his entrepreneurship skills, culminated in the development of Irazu, a state-of-the-art FDEM commercial software for the analysis of deformations, fracturing and stability in rock masses.  

Irazu has changed the way engineers and researchers predict rock behaviour under various stress conditions, offering unparalleled accuracy. It has significantly impacted the rock mechanics field, enhancing safety and efficiency in engineering projects worldwide, and continues to be the sole FDEM GPU commercial software available on the international market. 

Under Grasselli’s leadership, Geomechanica Inc. has become a beacon of innovation. It is now a leading firm both in the development of numerical models — which have been used in the design of deep underground nuclear waste disposal facilities — and in laboratory testing, with services contracted by mining operations around the world. 

Paul Acchione
Paul Acchione

Acchione has more than 50 years of engineering and management experience in the nuclear and fossil power generation industry. He worked with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and its predecessor companies in their fossil and nuclear engineering divisions from 1971-2002 and is now a consultant with Market Intelligence & Data Analysis Corporation.  

During his career at OPG, Acchione held several positions, including design engineer, design engineer specialist, supervising design engineer, project manager and department manager. He received two new technology awards and a product champion award. 

 Acchione’s experience includes the design of automatic control systems and simulation studies of the performance of nuclear and fossil generation plants and their integration with the electrical grid. He has published a dozen technical papers related to his design, simulation and project management experience.  

Acchione has a longstanding interest in energy supply options that can provide Ontario with reliable, safe and sustainable electricity at a competitive price. Recently, he has been focused on the design of retail electricity rates that can make clean surplus electricity available at prices lower than fossil fuels on an energy equivalent basis. Such price plans can accelerate the transition to low-emission electricity. Acchione was the President and Chair of OSPE from 2013-2014 and has served as a member of the OSPE Energy Task Force for a decade. He was elected Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2014 and received the OSPE President’s Volunteer Award in 2018. 

Mike Kropp
Mike Kropp

Kroppis co-founder, president and CEO of PEER Group, a leading supplier of factory automation software for the semiconductor industry. Kropp has led the company’s 30-year transformation from a niche provider of custom manufacturing software solutions to a global market leader in factory automation software and services. Focused on technical proficiency, he has overseen several key innovations in semiconductor factory and tool automation by applying engineering principles to the software development life cycle.  

Under Kropp’s leadership, PEER Group has matured into a 250-person operation with offices in Toronto, Kitchener, Ont., and Dresden, Germany. Today, PEER Group software is used to automate more than 130 semiconductor tool platforms, powering more than 90,000 pieces of equipment in virtually every chip factory in the world. In 2023, Kropp became the first Canadian member of the SEMI North American Advisory Board and was inducted into the U of T Engineering Hall of Distinction 

Most recently, he was named a 2024 Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Laureate. Beyond his professional achievements, Kropp supports STEM-focused youth programs and implemented a comprehensive student co-op program at PEER Group to help inspire and nurture the next generation of engineers. He also drives corporate fundraising efforts for local charities dedicated to improving health, well-being and opportunities for disadvantaged families and youth. These initiatives have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, making a lasting positive impact on the lives of residents.  

Inga Hipsz
Inga Hipsz

In her more than 25-year career, Hipsz has consistently advanced the organizations she leads by building high-performing teams and driving process improvements. After obtaining her undergraduate degree and master of applied science in mechanical engineering from U of T, Hipsz joined Kodak Canada, where she spent nearly a decade leading process improvement initiatives. She was recognized for developing corporate best-in-class practices that were adopted company-wide and for helping shape the lean manufacturing culture within Kodak’s Canadian manufacturing organization 

In 2005, she joined CSA Group as a project manager developing nuclear standards, leading a series of process improvement initiatives that resulted in a significant increase in industry funding and which became a model for other groups within the organization. This eventually led to the creation of a lean team under her leadership. In 2017, Hipsz was promoted to CSA Group’s global leadership team. In 2018, she was appointed to manage their largest global division as regional vice-president (Americas operations) of testing and certification. By developing a culture of continuous improvement, she significantly elevated the performance of this operation. Most recently, Hipsz was named VP, standards, strategic development.  

Hipsz advocates for the importance of standards to government and industry. She serves as a member of the diversity, equity and inclusion, and environment, social and governance steering committees at CSA Group and acts as a mentor and role model for woman engineers. In addition, she has served the community as an alumni ambassador for U of T and a committee member for girls’ softball associations. 

David Poirier
David Poirier

Poirier is the founder and CEO of The Poirier Group, a boutique management consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations implement and integrate significant change. The firm has worked with major companies across North America to transform their corporate culture and processes. Before starting The Poirier Group in 2005, he had a very successful management career spanning the retail, food distribution, health and life sciences and manufacturing industries. He held senior leadership roles in Loblaw Companies Ltd. and the Hudson’s Bay Company.  

Despite his demanding career, Poirier has always prioritized giving back his time. He has made exceptional contributions to training and mentoring the next generation of industrial and systems engineers and has enabled leading-edge research in these fields by building strong academic-industry partnerships. As an active volunteer with U of T for 25 years, Poirier has chaired both the Dean’s Advisory Board and the Industry Advisory Board for the mechanical and industrial engineering department. He has been a volunteer for Camp One for the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer since the 1990s and served as chair of their executive committee.  

Poirier is a longstanding member of the Council on Industrial & Systems Engineering; he has been its chair since 2014. Poirier was president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) from 2020-2021 and served on their Board from 2019-2022. He is a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada and Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, and he has received many of IISE’s most prestigious awards, including the Medallion Award and the Outstanding Management Award.  

Serena Mandla
Serena Mandla

Mandla is the chief scientific officer and co-founder of Noa Therapeutics, a biotech company advancing the development of multimodal therapies for inflammatory barrier disease drivers. Noa is committed to contributing to the biomedical ecosystem not just through innovation and research translation, but through training, mentorship, outreach and diversity programs. Under Mandla’s leadership the company was selected as a Life Science Ontario Success Story in 2022 and 2023, a finalist in the Sanofi Golden Ticket Challenge and the Johnson & Johnson Atopic Advancements QuickPitch, and it was accepted into JLABS, a Johnson & Johnson lab incubator. She also led an oversubscribed round of seed funding in 2023.   

Prior to co-founding Noa, Mandla was chief scientific officer at Quthero, Inc., a company created with her graduate supervisor, Professor Milicia Radisic (ChemE, BME), in 2017 to commercialize her graduate research on immune instructive biomaterials. At Quthero, she played a key role in the clinical translation of a biomaterial for wound healing and cosmetic applications and developed a dermatological cosmetic trial. She also successfully supported rounds of seed funding through pitch competitions and investor pitches.  

As a racialized woman, Mandla is committed to ensuring access to opportunities in engineering for underrepresented groups.  She participates in several mentorship programs, is an organizer for various entrepreneurial bootcamps, has delivered talks on biomedical engineering and entrepreneurship at several venues and actively volunteers at U of T Engineering to promote student success.   

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