June 6, 2023
4 UCalgary faculty named Canadian Academy of Engineering Fellows
A strong contingent of University of Calgary researchers and professors headlines the list of Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE) 2023 Fellowship appointments.
Dr. Laleh Behjat, PhD, Dr. Ian Gates, PhD, Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura, PhD, and Dr. Uttandaraman (U.T.) Sundararaj, PhD, are among the 55 inductees being honoured this year.
The CAE is an independent, self-governing and non-profit organization that lends experience and strategic advice on matters of critical importance to Canada.
Members are nominated and elected by their peers to fellowships to honour their achievements and service to the engineering profession.
“Over the past 36 years, Fellows of the Academy have provided engineering leadership in the fields of education, infrastructure, innovation, energy, transportation and many more,’ says CAE President Dr. Soheil Asgarpour. “New Fellows have been selected for their outstanding contributions to engineering in Canada and around the world, and for their service as role models in their fields and to their communities.”
Laleh Behjat finds her research and teaching extends far beyond her labs and classrooms.
Originally from Iran, Behjat immigrated to Canada in 1997 and joined the Schulich School of Engineering in 2002, winning numerous awards over the years including the Women in Engineering and Geoscience Champion Award from APEGA in 2015 and the ASTech Leadership Excellence in Science and Technology Promotion Award in 2017.
“Engineers build the now and the future, and to be recognized among the many in our profession who have demonstrated leadership is a great honour — especially as one who belongs to an underrepresented group in engineering,” she says.
“This is a big responsibility, and it means that I will have to work harder to build systems where people, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute to society.”
Behjat is particularly proud of her work in educating the next generation of engineers and serving as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering – Prairies, where she helped co-found WISE Planet at UCalgary.
“I have worked on everything from recruiting students from under-represented groups in STEM, to developing curriculum and teaching undergraduate and supervising graduate students,” she says.
“I feel very proud of the accomplishments of these students and how the culture of engineering classrooms at Schulich has changed to be a creative and collaborative place, where students and graduates think about not only efficiency and economics, but also about building a sustainable and inclusive future.”
Ian Gates has become a go-to expert in the world of energy development, often cited for his experience in hydrogen and heavy oil recovery process design and optimization.
Gates, BSc (Eng)’90, joined UCalgary professionally in 2004 after spending several years in industry, and has since won numerous teaching and research awards including a Killam Annual Professor Award in 2018 and the APEGA Frank Spragins Summit award in 2019.
Gates also won an ASTech Award in 2009 for Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology, then won another in 2016 for Innovation in Oil Sands Research.
A registered professional engineer in Alberta, Gates is also a repeat entrepreneur, being the co-founder of several spinoff companies and acting as a consultant for many small and large energy companies in Canada and around the world. Working in the area of energy, heavy oil, hydrogen, and methane, he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal papers and holds more than 25 patents, several awarded in more than 20 countries.
“I appreciate being named a Fellow as it provides for me a sense of recognition of my work, which reinforces and encourages me to continue what I’m doing,” Gates says. “I am very proud of my research group, my past and present students, postdocs, and research associates, and the work and contributions we make to research, energy systems, the University of Calgary and beyond.”
Janaka Ruwanpura adds to what is already an impressive list of accomplishments and titles as he is inducted as a Canadian Academy of Engineering Fellow.
UCalgary’s vice-provost and associate vice president research (international), he was also selected as a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering in 2014 and a Fellow member of the National Academy of Construction in the U.S. in 2021.
Ruwanpura has an extensive background in the construction industry, developing best practices and tools for productivity improvement, decision analysis and sustainability, and has published more than 180 technical papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings.
He has also won numerous national and international awards for everything from teaching and research to innovation and leadership, including being named a winner of 2022’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants by Canadian Immigrants Magazine.
“I am deeply honoured to receive the Fellowship from the Canadian Academy of Engineering and grateful for the recognition of my contributions to engineering,” says Ruwanpura. “Being part of the distinguished group of fellows is a tremendous privilege, and I am committed to advancing engineering education, leadership, research and innovation even further.”
Ruwanpura says he is proud to represent UCalgary as a member of the CAE community, adding to the number of members who are from Schulich.
This isn’t the first time Uttandaraman (U.T.) Sundararaj has been bestowed the title of Fellow during his illustrious career.
A Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers (USA), the Chemical Institute of Canada and the Engineering Institute of Canada, he also served as president of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering in 2016-2017 and is the international representative for the Polymer Processing Society.
Sundararaj joined UCalgary as department head of chemical and petroleum engineering in 2009, serving in that position for five years, then continuing on as a professor in the faculty. He is currently a Schulich Industry Research Chair and holds a 3M National Teaching Fellowship.
Working in the area of polymer blends, modelling of polymer processes, synthesis of novel nanomaterials and hybrid polymer nanocomposites, he has published more than 200 refereed publications and holds several patents.
A sought-after speaker, Sundararaj has received several teaching and research awards over the years, and volunteers with several engineering societies and boards.
“I was so happy when I received the news,” he says. “It is the culmination of 30 years of efforts in research, teaching and service over a career in academia and industry, and I feel privileged to join the ranks of the distinguished professional engineers in the Canadian Academy of Engineering.”
Dean impressed by inductees
Each UCalgary recipient has contributed greatly to the success of the Schulich School of Engineering, says Dean Bill Rosehart.
“The CAE Fellowship is a significant achievement for any engineer in Canada,” he says. “We are incredibly proud of each of our inductees, and grateful for their contributions and service in our classrooms, research labs and community.”
All inductees will be honoured at the Canadian Academy of Engineering Conference and Induction Ceremony of New Fellows from June 19 to 21 in Victoria, B.C.