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Fourteen U of T Engineering faculty members 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.

“As we navigate our way through — and out of — the pandemic and toward an uncharted future, our innovative engineering faculty and staff continue to meet and overcome each and every challenge we face. They are setting a world-class standard across our research, teaching and administrative operations,” says Dean Christopher Yip. “On behalf of the Faculty, I extend my warmest congratulations to the awardees and my heartfelt thanks to all our faculty and staff members for their hard work, resilience, creativity,  tenacity and dedication.”

The award recipients are:

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF AWARDS

Dan Grozea

Dan Grozea (MSE)

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.

Dan Grozea joined MSE in 2000 as a Research Associate and took on the role of Teaching Laboratory (Engineering) Technologist in 2008. Since that time, he has grown that position into one far beyond that outlined in his job description and has become an invaluable resource to the entire department in many areas.

Grozea has completely revitalized the MSE teaching labs and has been instrumental in the realization of several funding initiatives for both teaching and research that have transformed the MSE undergraduate lab experience. He has also fundamentally restructured the laboratory exercises for several courses, a task previously only undertaken by faculty.

Grozea currently serves as co-chair of the MSE Joint Health and Safety Committee, in which role he helped steer the department through many challenges related to the pandemic. He also created new health and safety training specifically for the department, which previously had relied on the ChemE training program due to their small size. In addition, Grozea has served as an unofficial mentor and counsellor to the students he interacts with, who come to him for advice with challenges within and beyond the lab.

 

Jen Hsu
Jen Hsu

Jennifer Hsu (ChemE)

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 Manager of External Relations for ChemE, Jennifer Hsu has shown tremendous leadership in improving the experience of our students on several fronts. She has played a key role in organizing outstanding student-focused events, including the annual ChemE Exhibition and Dinner and the Graduate Research Weekend, which was so successful it was subsequently expanded to the Faculty level.

Hsu is also an exceptional advisor to all the student clubs within the department, working with these organizations to develop programs and events that enhance students’ feeling of community as well as their personal and professional development. Hsu connects with students on a one-on-one level, acting as an adviser and mentor and providing support for those who reach out with personal and academic issues.

The relationships Hsu has fostered with these students carry on well beyond graduation; she continues to offer support and a friendly ear as they launch their careers. Her efforts have resulted in a strong community of alumni who act as ambassadors for U of T Engineering and as mentors for our current students, further enriching the student experience.

Left to right: Aliz Karami, Celeste Francis Esteves and Oscar Del Rio
Left to right: Aliz Karami, Celeste Francis Esteves and Oscar Del Rio

Aliz Karami, Celeste Francis Esteves, Oscar Del Rio (MIE)

Innovation Award

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.

This team is being recognized for working together over the past few years to develop MIE’s Graduate Management System (GMS) into a multipurpose software tool that is integral to running the MIE Grad office.

The GMS was originally created in 2014 to monitor the progress of PhD candidates through their program. The team has vastly enriched GMS by expanding its use to MEng and MASc. students, pivoting to online exam management and adding personalized funding information that can be accessed by students and staff. In 2021 the team was able to connect the system to ROSI/ACORN, allowing for student information to populate into GMS automatically. This achievement has made it significantly easier to maintain registration information, as staff no longer need to collect data from multiple locations.

Most recently, the team has added enhanced communication features that allow students to use the system to contact the graduate office with queries; questions and responses are recorded in the student file, easily retrievable by both parties. GMS is now the backbone of MIE graduate studies administration, providing a better experience for both staff and students.

Jessica MacInnis
Jessica MacInnis

Jessica MacInnis (ECE)

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.

Jessica MacInnis joined ECE in 2016 and has served as ECE’s External Relations Manager since 2019. She has increased ECE’s reach and engagement with the engineering community by promoting the accomplishments of faculty, students and alumni and by working to build an extensive network of alumni, many of whom give back to the department as volunteers and donors. Since she joined ECE, major gifts to the department have tripled, partly due to these relationship-building efforts.

MacInnis has also worked to promote EDI within ECE and the Faculty; for example, she created a focused recruitment effort for ECE, helping the department to significantly increase female enrolment. In 2021 she was a founding member of the EDI in Alumni Relations working group and, with her cofounders, put together a preliminary plan for addressing the recommendations of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report through the lens of alumni relations.

Beyond U of T, she serves as co-chair of the ECE Department Heads Association Communicators Group, a network of communications professionals from ECE departments across North America. She is also a member of their editorial board.

Brian Coates
Brian Coates

Brian Coates (Office of the Dean)

Catherine Gagne Sustained Excellence in Leadership Award

Recognizing a staff member who has demonstrated leadership in supporting the Faculty’s mission over a sustained period.

Brian Coates joined the Faculty as Chief Financial Officer in 2012, when it was in the early stages of implementing a complex new budget model. This was a huge undertaking that took many years to be fully realized and Coates’ leadership was critical to the new model’s successful adaptation. Coates was able to identify ways in which the new budget could offer solutions to financial challenges and ensure that the Faculty was on a strong financial footing moving forward. He also ensured that the Faculty was able to build the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship without weakening its financial position.

Coates has been a driving force behind many business process improvements in the Faculty. For example, he took the lead on developing and implementing the contract review guidelines and the guidelines on service contract overhead. Coates has been very generous with his time and knowledge to the benefit of our departmental leadership and our finance staff, both within his portfolio and in the academic units. Under his leadership, the CFO portfolio has grown considerably and he has made it a priority to mentor these staff members in their new roles.

RESEARCH AWARDS

Scott Sanner
Scott Sanner

Scott Sanner (MIE)

McCharles Prize for Early Career Research Distinction

Recognizing exceptional performance and distinction in early career research.

After receiving his PhD in Computer Science at U of T in 2008, Scott Sanner was a principal investigator at National ICT Australia and an assistant professor at Oregon State University. He joined MIE in the Industrial Engineering program in 2016 and was promoted to associate professor last year.

Sanner’s research spans a broad range of topics, from the data-driven fields of machine learning and information retrieval to the decision-driven fields of artificial intelligence and operations research. Sanner has applied tools from these fields to diverse application areas, such as conversational recommender systems, adaptive user interfaces and Smart Cities applications like predictive health analytics, transport optimization and residential HVAC control.

He has received several prestigious awards for his accomplishments, including two best paper awards (one for optimal traffic signal control and one for novel optimization techniques with applications to deep learning), as well as two first-place results in international machine learning competitions. In 2020 he received a Google Faculty Research Award for his conversational recommender systems research.

Marianne Touchie
Marianne Touchie

Marianne Touchie (CivMin, MIE)

McCharles Prize for Early Career Research Distinction

Recognizing exceptional performance and distinction in early career research.

Marianne Touchie obtained her PhD in Civil Engineering at U of T in 2014. She was a Building Research Manager at the Toronto Atmospheric Fund before returning to U of T as a postdoctoral fellow, then joining the faculty in 2016.

Touchie’s research is focused on performance assessment and retrofit development for multi-unit residential buildings. Specifically, she is developing strategies for reducing building energy use while improving the quality of the indoor environment for occupants. Touchie has taken an interdisciplinary approach to this work, collaborating with researchers in architecture, public health and urban planning, as well as a large network of industry and government partners. Touchie’s research has already impacted policies and practices related to building energy use by organizations such as Toronto City Council, Toronto Community Housing and Toronto Hydro.

In 2018, she garnered The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ New Investigator Award, given out to only one recipient per year globally. She received the Ontario Building Envelope Council’s Rising Star Award in 2021.

Andreas Moshovos
Andreas Moshovos

Andreas Moshovos (ECE)

Safwat Zaky Research Leader Award

Recognizing leadership in innovative interdisciplinary and multiple-investigator initiatives that have enhanced the Faculty’s research profile.

Since he joined the Faculty in 2000, Andreas Moshovos’ research leadership has brought numerous benefits to ECE, the Faculty and U of T. Most significantly, in 2017 he brought together a group of 21 professors to create a research initiative focused on hardware for machine learning, known as the Computing Hardware for Emerging Sensory Applications (COHESA) network. This NSERC Strategic Network brings together academic and industry researchers with expertise spanning the entire machine learning field. Approximately half of the PIs are U of T faculty, with the others being leading academics across Canada. COHESA has attracted more than $5M in funding and trained 250+ students, researchers and postdocs, resulting in over 150 publications and 14 patents.

Under Moshovos’ leadership, COHESA holds annual general meetings, bringing together academics, students and industrial partners to showcase progress, network and foster further collaboration. His efforts have put the University of Toronto at the centre of a nationwide collaborative effort to advance the tech ecosystem in Canada and globally.

TEACHING AWARDS

Xinuye Crystal Liu
Xinuye Crystal Liu

Xinyue Crystal Liu (MSE)

Teaching Assistant Award

Recognizing a TA who demonstrates excellence in classroom teaching, working with students, and the development of course materials.

Xinyue Crystal Liu just completed her Master’s degree in MSE, where she designed open-source testing equipment for engineering education and research. During the first year of her program, she took the position of Head TA for MIE444: Mechatronics Principles, where she helped to redevelop the course content.

She also played a key role in the development of a new design course for Engineering Science, Praxis III, for which she was Head TA and eventually Co-Instructor. When this course had to go online due to the pandemic, Liu, with her co-instructor and TAs, quickly developed a set of design assignments that students could do individually at home, allowing them to achieve their learning objectives.

Liu was also a TA for MSE398: Materials Manufacturing and Design Laboratory, a hands-on course where students build prototypes. When it had to move online, Liu designed, prototyped, manufactured and distributed the Miniature Mechanical Testing Kit, allowing students to build machines and test materials at home. She also developed a detailed manual, plus a series of deliverables for the kit, which made creative use of its capabilities. This received very positive feedback from students.

Marianne Touchie
Marianne Touchie

Marianne Touchie (CivMin, MIE)

Early Career Teaching Award

Recognizing an early career educator who has demonstrated exceptional classroom instruction and teaching methods.

Jointly appointed to CivMin and MIE, Marianne Touchie has made outstanding teaching contributions in both departments.

For MIE, Touchie redeveloped and teaches MIE507:HVAC Fundamentals, a course MIE has rarely been able to offer due to lack of expertise. In 2020 she added new field trip and lab components to this course, which she redesigned as virtual experiences during the pandemic. Despite this being a difficult and technical course, she has garnered outstanding student evaluations. For her CivMin Building Sciences course, Touchie created a unique campus walking tour to demonstrate issues that affect aging buildings.

In all her courses, she brings her award-winning research into the classroom, seeks out and implements student feedback and works to develop a sense of community — for example, by providing a forum for students to share music and recipes. As a PhD student in CivMin, Touchie worked with Kim Pressnail to develop and teach Building Science courses, which are still offered by the School of Continuing Studies. More recently, they co-created more than 100 online videos on building science for an eCampusOntario project

Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown (ECE)

Faculty Teaching Award

Recognizing a faculty member who demonstrates outstanding classroom instruction and develops innovative teaching methods.

Since joining ECE in 1992, Stephen Brown has brought remarkable energy, ideas and vision to his teaching. He has received eight departmental teaching awards, garnering the first in his inaugural year of teaching and has achieved consistently outstanding course evaluations over his career. Brown recently completely overhauled a large, mandatory course, ECE243: Computer Organization.

He received departmental teaching awards for the past three years for this new course and in 2020 was awarded the Gordon R. Slemon Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Design for his related laboratory exercises. Brown is able to present complex material in an intuitive yet thorough way and he has applied his extensive academic and industrial experience to connect course material to cutting-edge research.

He has also had a significant impact on engineering education beyond U of T. He is co-author of the textbook Fundamentals of Digital Logic, which has been a market leader for 20 years and is available in seven editions in several languages. Brown is also Director of FPGA University Programs at Intel Corporation, overseeing a program that has reached more than one million students in universities around the world.

Grant Allen
Grant Allen

Grant Allen (ChemE)

Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award

Recognizing a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the course of at least 15 years.

Throughout his career, Grant Allen has made exceptional contributions to the Faculty’s educational mission both as a teacher and as an administrative leader.

Allen joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1987. He served as Associate Chair, Graduate Studies for ChemE from 2003-2007, Vice-Dean, Undergraduate Studies for the Faculty from 2007-2011 and as ChemE Chair from 2011-2021. As Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, he led the development of the Graduate Research Weekend, now a Faculty-wide event. As Vice-Dean he collaborated with student leaders to implement town halls, a practice he continued as ChemE Chair. He promoted a culture of teaching excellence, offering mentoring to new faculty, incorporating educational thought leaders into ChemE’s lecture series and establishing teaching triads, which encouraged faculty to visit each other’s classes and share ideas.

Despite these demanding leadership roles, Allen has continued to teach core ChemE courses, incorporating humour, props and interactive demonstrations into his lessons and creating a series of online videos for his fluid mechanics course during the pandemic. He received the ChemE Teacher of the Year Award in 2007.

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