Ten U of T Engineering faculty and staff have been honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Faculty with teaching, research and administrative staff awards. These awards recognize exceptional faculty and staff members for their leadership, citizenship, innovation and contributions to the Faculty’s teaching, service and research missions.
“Every day, U of T Engineering faculty and staff put an incredible amount of work into keeping us at the forefront of innovation, and making sure that all of our students have a rich and rewarding experience,” says Dean Christopher Yip.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with such dedicated and talented colleagues. On behalf of the Faculty, my warmest congratulations on these richly-deserved awards.”
ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF AWARDS
Diane McCartney (CivMin)
Agnes Kaneko Citizenship Award
Recognizing a staff member who has served with distinction and made contributions to the Faculty’s mission above and beyond their job description over a long period of time.
Currently a clerical/financial assistant in CivMin, Diane McCartney joined the department in 1982 as a secretary and has been a dedicated member of the Engineering community ever since. As the department moved from typewriters to computers to online technologies, McCartney was always an early adopter and played a leading role in training other staff.
Throughout these changes she has continued to be a role model in her above-and-beyond contributions to the department, both professionally and personally. Despite a heavy workload, McCartney consistently makes time to support our students, staff and faculty members. For example, she collects coupons for meal providers around campus and leaves them in a bowl for students to pick up, helping them to stretch their budgets.
McCartney’s office door is always open, and anyone is welcome to drop by to ask a question, look for help, or just dip into the candy jar she keeps on her filing cabinet. She is incredibly generous of her time and will always try to solve a problem for a student or colleague, whether or not it falls within the boundaries of her job. She also goes out of her way to foster an inclusive and welcoming community and acts as an unofficial goodwill ambassador for the department.
Stephen Johns (EngSci)
Barbara McCann Quality of Student Experience Award for Frontline Staff’
Recognizing a staff member who has made significant contributions to the quality of student experience in the Faculty through their outstanding frontline service.
As the first- and second-year academic advisor for EngSci, Stephen Johns is responsible for advising approximately 400 students, as well as managing admissions and programming. Despite this heavy set of responsibilities, he always makes students feel welcome, inviting them to connect with him whenever they’re in need.
Johns plays a vital role in supporting students’ transition from high school to university. He is fully invested in making sure that they have the best possible experience in the Faculty and they have come to view him as a passionate advocate for their success and well-being. Johns’ focus on student needs and perspectives is evident in all aspects of his role.
As a leader in the EngSci admissions process he has helped to ensure that students with non-traditional experiences or those who have faced unique challenges receive fair consideration. He also shares his understanding of the student experience with faculty, allowing them to be more aware of the challenges faced by our students. A passionate supporter of equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) initiatives, he is a long-standing member of the Engineering Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Action Group and a member of the new EngSci Working Group on EDI.
Iliana Sztainbok (ChemE)
Recognizing a staff member or team of staff members who has shown innovation in developing a new method, technology or system, or improving an existing system, to the benefit of the Faculty
Iliana Sztainbok joined ChemE as Graduate Administrator in 2022. In less than a year, she created and implemented a unique database for the ChemE graduate office which has significantly improved the experience of graduate students, faculty and staff.
Sztainbok realized that storing critical details about MASc and PhD students in multiple locations was considerably limiting the graduate office’s efficiency; using FileMaker Pro, she developed a database that consolidated all this information in one place. The new database houses students’ biographical information, academic progress, supervisory committee information, historical registration data and student funding. The department is now able to quickly identify a student’s demographics, time-to-completion progress, eligibility for awards and scholarships, terms for leaves and guaranteed funding, and contact and career information upon graduation.
The database has been very well received and has allowed the graduate office to operate much more efficiently; it is now being expanded to include MEng students. Sztainbok’s innovation has allowed ChemE to better support its graduate students and provide them with meaningful opportunities and connections both as students and alumni.
Sharon Brown (Dean’s Office)
Quality of Student Experience Award for Behind-the-Scenes Staff
Recognizing staff members who have made significant contributions to the quality of student experience in the Faculty through the creation or improvement of programs or services.
Sharon Brown has been the Assistant Director of the Cross-Disciplinary Program Office (CDPO) since its creation in 2009. The CDPO is responsible for developing and managing minors and certificates for undergraduate students, and Brown plays a key role in this effort. Her contributions in this area started in her previous role, where she helped create and administer two minors through the Division of Environmental Engineering and Energy Systems; the success of these minors drove the creation of the CDPO.
Over the years Brown has worked tirelessly to establish certificate and minor programs to match our students’ diverse interests, ensuring that every student has an opportunity to pursue their unique goals. She takes on much of the work involved in creating these new programs, such as writing proposals, course administration, and liaising with other divisions. She has ably navigated the challenges arising from the growing complexity of the CDPO and her role within it.
Most recently, Brown played a key part in the development of the Tri-Campus Global Leadership minor, working with faculty and students from across U of T to develop admission criteria, identify relevant courses, and usher the program through the Faculty’s governance process.
Michelle Deeton (CivMin)
Harpreet Dhariwal Emerging Leader Award
Recognizing a staff member who leads by example in their dedication to the Faculty’s mission and demonstrates potential to assume a more senior leadership role.
Michelle Deeton joined CivMin in 2017 as the Director of Finance and Administration, after serving as Acting Director for the Office of the Dean for nearly three years. Upon joining CivMin, Deeton faced the challenge of taking on a newly created leadership role at a time when the department’s business office was experiencing significant operational issues, including a near total turnover of staff. She quickly rose to the challenge and set about reorganizing the business office in a way that has made it considerably more effective.
Deeton has gone well beyond her job description to become the go-to person in CivMin for all policies related to human resources and finance, helping every community member strategically solve problems in these areas. Perhaps most importantly, she has led her team to completely change the culture of the business office, transforming it into a unit that is focused on providing support and guidance in following University policies, rather than simply enforcing those policies. In this way, her leadership has positively impacted faculty, staff and students across CivMin.
Deeton also plays a leadership role amongst her counterparts across the Faculty, promoting improvements to administrative procedures that affect all departments.
David Lie (ECE)
Safwat Zaky Research Leader Award
Recognizing leadership in innovative interdisciplinary and multiple-investigator initiatives that have enhanced the Faculty’s research profile.
Professor David Lie is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Secure and Reliable Systems and associate director of the U of T Data Sciences Institute. A prominent researcher in cybersecurity and digital privacy, he leads a unique research group that publishes across disciplines spanning electrical engineering, computer science, law and policy.
Lie founded and led the Information Technology, Transparency and Transformation Lab (IT3), an interdisciplinary initiative between ECE, the Faculty of Law and the Rotman School of Management. IT3 eventually became part of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, where Lie is currently a member of the research leadership team.
Most recently, Lie has headed the Cybersecurity Resilience Institute (CRI), a U of T Institutional Strategic Initiative, comprising more than 40 faculty members from across the University. Ultimately, the CRI became part of the National Cybersecurity Consortium and Lie remains an active participant.
Maryam Ebrahimiazar (MIE)
Teaching Assistant Award
Recognizing a TA who demonstrates excellence in classroom teaching, working with students, and the development of course materials.
Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Maryam Ebrahimiazar has been a TA for several core mechanical engineering courses over the past four years and has served as head TA for MIE312: Fluid Mechanics since 2020.
Ebrahimiazar has been highly sought after by instructors and regularly received offers to collaborate on their courses. She is also very popular with students — her tutorials are always packed, both with her own students and those from other sections, and she consistently receives excellent student evaluations. Students appreciate her accessibility and approachability, and her ability to adjust her teaching in response to feedback. Ebrahimiazar has also made many contributions to the University’s teaching mission beyond her department.
In 2021, she designed and delivered a course on engineering and human health for high-school students as part of the Engineering Outreach Office’s Blueprint program. She also served as a graduate educational developer at U of T’s Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, creating pedagogical workshops and other initiatives to improve TA performance across the University. Ebrahimiazar was recognized by MIE for her outstanding teaching with the group TA award in 2021 and the individual TA award in 2022.
Alison Olechowski (MIE, ISTEP)
Early Career Teaching Award
Recognizing an early career educator who has demonstrated exceptional classroom instruction and teaching methods.
Professor Alison Olechowski joined the Faculty in 2017 and is jointly appointed to MIE and ISTEP. She has taught six different courses, covering both the Mechanical and Industrial engineering programs as well as Troost ILead, and completely redesigned MIE459: Organization Design.
Beyond her classroom teaching, Olechowski is an emerging leader in engineering education research. She has regularly presented at the annual conferences of the Canadian Engineering Education Association and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and has twice won best paper awards from ASEE for her work exploring traits such as confidence, leadership and risk orientation in different groups of engineering students. Olechowski serves on the committee that launched a Canada Design Workshop and is working with computer-aided design (CAD) education researchers nationwide on an initiative to make CAD labs more accessible for students.
She is an active supervisor of the Spark Design Club and the U of T Aerospace Team and is currently mentoring two high school students through the Girls SySTEM Mentorship program. In 2018 Olechowski received a Dean’s Spark Professorship and a Technology Enhanced Active Learning Fellowship. She garnered the MIE Early Career Teaching Award in 2021.
Scott Ramsay (MSE)
Faculty Teaching Award
Recognizing a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding classroom instruction and develops innovative teaching methods.
Scott Ramsay is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, and Associate Chair, Undergraduate in MSE. Since joining the Faculty in 2007, Ramsay has worked tirelessly to improve the experience of students. He created an entirely new introductory materials science and chemistry course and has continuously developed innovative teaching tools, most notably an online interactive textbook with embedded videos which is now used by all first-year engineering students at U of T.
Ramsay has created short educational videos with high production quality simplifying challenging materials science concepts, all of which are freely available on his YouTube channel. He also developed, with his graduate student Crystal Liu, a miniature mechanical testing kit that enabled students to conduct lab exercises remotely during the pandemic. He is currently playing a key role in developing MSE’s reimagined curriculum.
In 2015, Ramsay garnered the Wighton Fellowship, a national award for excellence in laboratory development and teaching. He received the Faculty’s Early Career Teaching Award in 2015 and was named a Hart Teaching Innovation Professor in 2017. He has been voted Instructor of the Year by MSE students four times.
Ravi Adve (ECE)
Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award
Recognizing a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the course of at least 15 years.
Professor Ravi Adve joined ECE in 2000 and mainly teaches a variety of foundational courses. While continuing to excel in classroom teaching, over the years he has taken on leadership roles through which he has helped ensure a high-quality experience for all ECE students. Adve’s impact on the undergraduate curriculum of ECE, first through his work on the Curriculum Matters Committee and now as Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies, has been tremendous. He also serves on various committees and working groups for the Faculty and for U of T’s Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation.
As Associate Chair, Undergraduate for ECE since 2017, Adve played a key role in guiding the department through the pandemic’s many challenges; for example, he led online discussion forums for faculty to share best practices during the transition to online learning and reviewed and vetted individual course plans for online teaching. Adve has also stepped up to teach several different classes over the past few years in response to instructor shortages. Despite this challenge, he continues to receive some of the highest teaching evaluation scores in the department. Adve received the Faculty Teaching Award in 2007 and is a four-time recipient of the ECE departmental teaching award.