Foundation increases level of support to undergraduates

The Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education believes a 50 per cent increase in the amount of its scholarships is helping undergraduate students cope with the increasing cost of an engineering education.

The increase, announced in 2015, was discussed at length during the foundation’s annual general meeting May 2 at PEO headquarters in Toronto.

The scholarships have been increased on average from $1,000 to $1,500 per recipient.

Among the guests attending the event were PEO Registrar Gerard McDonald, P.Eng., outgoing Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) President and Chair Karen Chan, P.Eng., PEO Councillor Santosh Gupta, P.Eng., FEC, who also represents the Council of Ontario Deans of Engineering, and Zachary Muma, vice president of the Engineering Student Societies’ Council of Ontario.

An additional guest was Boris Martin, CEO of Engineers Without Borders, which has partnered with the foundation with its Leaders for the Future Award.

Founded in 1959, the foundation has awarded more than $2.6 million in scholarships to 3044 engineering students over the past 57 years. The foundation awarded $153,000 to 117 students in 2015-2016. In a show of the engineering profession’s diversity outreach, up to 30 per cent of foundation awardees are women.

In his welcoming remarks, McDonald said the foundation lets engineers put their dollars on the line in support of the next generation of practitioners. “It’s a case of engineers looking out for their fellow engineers,” he said.

Foundation President and Chair Marisa Sterling, P.Eng., is a former PEO enforcement officer, who is now assistant dean (inclusivity and diversity) at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University in Toronto.

Sterling outlined some of the foundation highlights of the past year, including the increased scholarship funding and its stepped-up engagement with donors, student societies and professional associations.

This year’s annual meeting included brief presentations from scholarship recipients, each of whom described how the cash awards help relieve the significant financial burden associated with engineering tuition. The foundation estimates that the cost of a typical engineering undergraduate education can run as high as $100,000.

The foundation for education is led by a board of directors from PEO and OSPE. The current board comprises Marisa Sterling, president and chair, Marta Ecsedi, P.Eng., FEC, Roger Jones, P.Eng., Zico Sarmento, PEO’s director, information technology, Maria Iannone, PEO’s administrative assistant, enforcement, and Rhonda Hall, a PEO receptionist. Representing OSPE are: Jane Huang, P.Eng., Steven Rose, P.Eng., FEC, Alourdes Sully, P.Eng., FEC, and Sue Tessier, P.Eng.

The foundation’s board was scheduled to meet in June to elect a new executive for the coming year.

PEO members can donate to the foundation through the donation box on the PEO fee renewal form, or online at