Left: A group of airmen from the Royal Flying Corps in front of the Engineering Building, c. 1917. Right: Ten of the twelve women enrolled in the Faculty, 1939/40. Source: The Skule Story
The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering is one of Canada’s oldest engineering schools.
It all began in 1873 with the creation of the School of Practical Science – a single red brick building that offered students instruction in mining, engineering, mechanics and manufacturing. The School of Practical Science, also known as the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” officially became a part of the University of Toronto in 1906 and its name changed to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.
Since 1873, the Faculty has had roughly 50,000 students pass through its doors and leave as engineering professionals. Throughout our incredible history, we have consistently drawn inspiration from the exceptional men and women that have made their mark not only within the Faculty and University communities, but also in the field of engineering. This is evidenced by the hundreds of awards and honours received by members of our Faculty over the years.
While the Faculty has changed over the years to include a wider range of engineering programs, new technology, facilities, and a broader global perspective, it is with the same spirit and vigor that current Engineering students and Faculty continue to make strides in the field of engineering – improving the lives of others around the world.
Below is a list of a list of the extraordinary people who have contributed to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering’s accomplished legacy.
To learn more about the lives of these women and men, visit the alumni website or visit the Hall of Distinction (10 King’s College Road), which displays the portraits and stories of notable U of T Engineering alumni.
For more information about the Faculty’s outstanding history, its traditions and more, please visit alumni.engineering.utoronto.ca.
As the first Engineering professor at the University of Toronto in 1878, and the first Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering in 1906, John Galbraith helped lay the foundations for engineering education in Canada.
His approach to teaching was based on the belief that engineering education needed to progress with an awareness of the social problems that it aimed to correct.
In his honour and memory, the Faculty named one of its buildings (Galbraith Building) and a unique program for outstanding incoming first-year students (Galbraith Scholars) after him.
A prominent Canadian civil engineer in the early 1900s, Edward Lancelot Cousins was Chief Engineer and General Manager of Toronto Harbour Commission from its inception in 1912.
A recognized authority on the development and operation of marine ports and installations, Cousins’ consultation and advice was sought in the development of many world class ports, such as Port Authority, New York City.
Edward S. (Ted) Rogers Sr.’s longtime interest in radio led him to develop the world’s first radio that operated without batteries using only household current.
In 1927, he founded CFRB radio station, which is now owned by Astral Media.
In his honour, the Department he once attended as a student is now named after him: The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His son, Edward S. Rogers Jr. went on to build Rogers Communications Inc., one of Canada’s largest communications companies.
A talented engineer and trailblazer for women’s rights, Elsie MacGill spent much of her life excelling at firsts: she was the first woman to receive an Electrical Engineering degree in Canada, and the first woman in North America to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering (University of Michigan, 1929).
In the late 1930s, she designed and tested the Maple Leaf Trainer II, making MacGill the world’s first female aircraft designer. She later earned the nickname ‘Queen of the Hurricanes’ for her role in producing Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
In 1947 she became the chairman of the United Nations’ Stress Analysis Committee, the first woman in the history of the organization to chair a UN committee.
Winnet Boyd was chiefly responsible for the design, development and creation of the first all-Canadian jet engine, the Chinook (1945).
The Chinook was the forerunner of the world-leading Orenda jet engine, which powered Canadian-produced fighter aircraft.
Years later, Boyd went on to serve as a nuclear consultant to the United Nations, developed new environmentally friendly tar sands technology and invented the first back-pedaling braking system for multi-speed bicycles.
After graduating from Chemical Engineering at U of T, Lewis F. Urry began working for the Eveready Battery Company (later named Energizer in 1980), where he invented the alkaline battery.
Over the course of his life, Urry held more than 50 patents including several for the lithium battery – the source of energy for many of the electronic devices we use today.
His prototype alkaline battery and first commercially produced cylindrical battery is displayed next to Thomas Edison’s light bulb at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History.
Approximately 80 per cent of all dry cell batteries used in the world are based on Urry’s work.
William Shaw’s development of the IMAX projection system – a groundbreaking medium that allowed films to be projected onto massive screens – has revolutionized the motion-picture industry.
He later developed several variations of IMAX, including IMAX Dome and IMAX 3D. To date, there are more than 200 IMAX theatres in 30 countries around the world. The oldest IMAX theatre can be found right here in Toronto at Ontario Place’s Cinesphere. When it opened in 1971, the theatre used the projector Shaw showcased at Expo ’70 in Osaka Japan.
While William Shaw was most famous for the invention of IMAX technology, he was an internationally renowned inventor with numerous patents to his credit.
Tom Closson’s name is synonymous with accountability and excellence in Canada’s healthcare system.
Over the past decade, he has served as President and CEO of three major healthcare corporations, most recently at the University Health Network in Toronto where he doubled research funding to $156 million.
The engineering graduate also played an important role in the establishment of the MaRS Centre – a non-profit innovation centre that connects and fosters collaboration between science, business and capital.
Paul Cadario, a Civil Engineering graduate, is dedicated to fighting poverty and improving the living standards of people in the developing world.
Through his work with the World Bank, he has made significant impact on the results and ethics of international economic development. As Senior Manager, Trust Fund Quality Assurance & Compliance in Washington for the World Bank, he oversees the Bank’s trusteeship of donor countries.
Professor and alumnus Greg Evans completed his BASc, MASc and PhD degrees in Engineering at U of T. In addition to being an award-winning instructor, Professor Evans is the founding Director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR), an interdisciplinary research centre that studies the environmental and health impacts of air pollutants.
Among his many contributions in this field is the construction of Canada’s first real-time Laser Ablation Mass Spectrometer for the chemical analysis of individual urban aerosol particles. Professor Evans is also the co-founder of U of T Engineering’s Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (Troost ILead) program.
President and co-founder of Integran Technologies Inc., Gino Palumbo’s ground-breaking research in nanotechnology and materials science has led to major research and development contracts with the U.S. Air Force and NASA, not to mention one of the first U.S. patents issued in nanotechnology.
His company developed the Electrosleeve process, used to repair the inside of steel tubes in nuclear steam generators. It was one of the world’s first large-scale industrial applications of nanomaterials.
A true entrepreneur, Jeffrey Skoll was instrumental in bringing eBay to incredible levels of success.
Over the years, the U of T Electrical Engineering graduate founded the independent film production company, Participant Media – producing films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Syriana and North Country.
Aside from his entrepreneurial spirit, Skoll is a true philanthropist, earning several awards and accolades for his charitable contributions and global leadership, such as Time Magazine’s 100 People of the Year (2006) and Outstanding Philanthropist Award (2003).
U of T Engineering and the Rotman School of Management created the Jeffrey Skoll program, one of the first Engineering-MBA programs in the country. Students in the program can achieve the Bachelor of Applied Science and an Master of Business Administration in only six years and eight months (in comparison to the 10 years it normally takes to complete both degrees separately).
In June 1992, the Canadian Space Agency selected Julie Payette from 5,330 applicants to become one of four astronauts. This achievement made Payette the first Canadian to set foot on the International Space Station (1999) and the second Canadian woman to enter space (after U of T’s own Roberta Bondar in 1992). In 2017, she was installed as Canada’s 29th Governor General.
Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Payette is also fluent in six languages and is an accomplished pianist and vocalist.
Recently honoured as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Dr. Tom Chau is changing the lives of Canadian families through his research in paediatric rehabilitation at Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto. His U of T-affiliated lab, Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM), conducts research to maximize the possibilities for children and youth with disabilities and special needs through engineering excellence.
Dr. Chau is also the Senior Scientist and Canada Research Chair in Paediatric Rehabilitation Engineering and teaches at U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering.
A leading artificial intelligence engineer at the University of Toronto, Professor Parham Aarabi became one of the youngest professors in Canada at the age of 24.
A graduate of Electrical and Computer Engineering at U of T, Professor Aarabi has won numerous national and international awards and honours, including being named among the world’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review magazine, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Professor Aarabi also holds the title of Canada Research Chair in Internet Video, Audio and Image Search.