Ontario Professional Engineers Awards celebrate 70 years of engineering achievement

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards, a program founded by PEO to recognize engineers for their professional achievements in such categories as engineering excellence, research and development, young engineer, and for their community service.

Since 2005, the awards have been presented jointly by PEO and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. This year, the following 11 awardees will be honoured at a special awards gala on Saturday, November 18 in Toronto. For ticket information, visit www.opeawards.ca.


Catherine Karakatsanis, P.Eng., FEC, chief operating officer, Morrison Hershfield Group Inc., has been a leader in her professional life, helping lead one of Canada’s largest engineering consultancies, as well as her career-long work as a volunteer leader, including heading up both provincial and national engineering bodies. Karakatsanis joined Morrison Hershfield after graduating as a structural engineer, steadily rising through several technical roles to project management, technical director and into senior director and executive roles. Now a C-level executive, she oversees all Morrison Hershfield operations across North America, and leads four infrastructure business units. Karakatsanis is the only engineer in Canada to have led a provincial regulator, provincial advocacy body and national organization. As chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), she worked to increase the number of women engineers. As PEO president, she inspired the organization to become a world leader in self-regulation. And as president of Engineers Canada, she worked closely with the provincial regulators to deliver national programs that continue to have a positive impact on the profession and its public profile.


Endre (Andrew) Bakos, P.Eng., C.E.T., project manager, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), led the implementation of the 20-year Wireless Services in TTC Subway initiative that now delivers wireless services to subway riders on Canada’s largest public transportation system. After studying public transit wireless services around the globe, Bakos managed the feasibility, procurement, design and deployment of the massive project, which now delivers free Wi-Fi for subway riders (and anyone else around TTC stations) for at least a one-hour session, as well as cellular service for multiple service providers. Today, the subway Wi-Fi initiative ranks as one of the most appreciated services for TTC riders. Besides his work as a TTC engineer, Bakos mentors young engineers—particularly newcomers to Canada—and he is heavily involved with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC), assisting international engineering graduates in their understanding of professional engineering in Canadian workplace culture.

Nicholas Stark, P.Eng., vice president, HH Angus, has made significant technical contributions to the design and construction of Canadian health-care facilities, particularly in HVAC design. Early in his career, he realized radiant panels were ideal for hospitals as they are cleaner and add planning flexibility by leaving outside walls free of heating elements. They are now widely used in health-care applications. Similarly, during the planning of a new North Bay hospital, his designs provided 100 per cent fresh air for all supply air systems, and recovered over 90 per cent of the exhaust energy using ceramic heat wheels—which avoided the issue of transferring bacteria and viruses back into the new supply air. The design cut equipment and ductwork by one-third, reduced energy consumption and created a much healthier environment. His work with government on hospital HVAC systems are now used as a baseline foundation for a new generation of hospitals.


Paul Santerre, PhD, P.Eng., professor, University of Toronto (U of T), is a leader in biomaterials and polymer science who commercialized his research on medical polymers and regenerative medicine by founding biotech firm Interface Biologics. A professor at U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Santerre has led Interface Biologics to become a Canadian success story—particularly with its Endexo family of anti-thrombogenic polymer additives. Medical catheters made with the firm’s Endexo-modified polyurethanes captured 45 per cent of Canadian market sales within one year of its launch. More importantly, the technology prevents blood clotting on medical instruments like catheters, vascular grafts and dialyzers—an enormous problem that reduces the service life of these devices and threatens patient safety. The company now boasts $5 million in annual revenues while employing 26 chemists and chemical engineers at its Toronto facilities.


Samantha Jane Espley, P.Eng., technical director, Vale Base Metals, has demonstrated exceptional engineering and management expertise leading to significant health, safety and environmental advances, as well as improved productivity and reduced costs through the design of new mining and extraction methods. Throughout her career, including stints at several of Canada’s largest mining companies, she has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the engineering profession and considers innovation as a core business value. Espley’s innovations have included new mining methods and designs, new design tools and processes, as well as digitization, Wi-Fi, telemetry, radio-frequency identification tracking, tele-remote mining, automation, ventilation and energy management, along with the emerging short-interval control design process. Recognized as a trailblazer for women in the mining industry, in 2010 she co-authored Gaining Insights on Career Satisfaction for Women in Mining, a paper that explores factors that improve and/or inhibit career satisfaction for women in the industry.


Jan Andrysek, PhD, P.Eng., scientist, Bloorview Research lnstitute, has built a renowned lower limb prosthetics program for children and youth that has improved the lives of young amputees living in low-resource countries around the world. Andrysek’s early research laid the foundation for a new prosthetic knee joint that enabled a greater variety of physical activities for the user. The design earned him the Heffernan/Co-Steel lnnovation Award, which provided funding to commercialize the knee joint in the form of two products, the MiniMac and GeriMac knees. He later developed a less expensive solution—the All-Terrain Knee—and established LegWorks, an enterprise focused on making prosthetics accessible globally. Over the past year, more than 500 knees have been provided to amputees via LegWorks. Andrysek’s R&D activities have produced 41 peer-reviewed journal articles since 2004. He received the Clifford Chadderton Award for Prosthetics and Orthotics Research in acknowledgement of his international contribution to prosthetics research and innovation.

Craig Alexander Simmons, PhD, P.Eng., professor, University of Toronto, is a pioneer in the emerging field of mechanobiology—the study of how mechanical forces control biological functions—and a world leader in heart valve mechanobiology and microtechnologies. He has made several discoveries that have improved the understanding of heart valve function and disease, including the discovery of heart valve stem cells and elucidation of the mechanisms by which biomechanical forces cause their dysfunction. This basic research is complemented by the development and translation of innovative lab-on-a-chip microtechnologies for cellular engineering, including miniaturized platforms for drug screening and mechanical testing of biomaterials. Simmons spearheaded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Program in Microfluidics Applications and Training in Cardiovascular Health (MATCH)—a program that’s trained over 70 graduate students in biomedical microtechnologies, many of whom have gone on to start their own companies, work in the medical device and health-care sectors, and become professors and doctors.


Maximilian Albert Thomas Mantha, MBA, P.Eng., vice president, area manager, EllisDon Toronto Civil and Looby Construction, is the youngest EllisDon vice president and has risen quickly as an executive and engineer thanks to his extensive industry knowledge, leadership, team-building skills and dedication. His civil engineering career began with the Canadian Pacific Railway, managing infrastructure projects while ensuring continuous rail service across Ontario and the northeastern US. He then held several roles with Infrastructure Ontario, including heading up construction of Metrolinx’s Up Express Spur Line—a rail link between Toronto Pearson Airport and Toronto Union Station. In 2015, Mantha was appointed general manager of EllisDon subsidiary Looby Construction Ltd., and last year became vice president for both EllisDon Toronto Civil and Looby Construction. In the past two years, Looby Construction has experienced unprecedented growth, with Mantha leading the firm to successful outcomes on multiple, complex Ontario Ministry of Transportation design-build projects.


Margaret Kende, P.Eng., president, Anteus Enterprises, is a former dean of engineering technology at Centennial College, management consultant, and a lifelong volunteer. After immigrating to Canada from Hungary in 1957, she was among the first female graduates from the University of Toronto’s civil engineering program. After 10 years as a structural engineer, she joined Centennial College’s civil engineering technology program as a teacher—later becoming Canada’s first female engineering dean in 1977. After retiring from Centennial, Kende worked as a management consultant, and later joined the Canadian Executive Services Organization where she helped spread Canada’s human rights and gender equity values around the world. As a volunteer, Kende served as president of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), as warden of Camp 1 of The Corporation of the Seven Wardens Inc., and as chair and/or member of several PEO committees. As chair of the Education Sub-Commission of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Kende used domestic and international platforms to advance gender equity and human rights.

Benny Pang, P.Eng., knowledge domain owner (acoustics), principal engineering specialist, Bombardier Inc., is one of Canada’s top experts on reducing aircraft-related noise pollution. Joining Bombardier in 1973, Pang works to ensure Bombardier airplanes are the quietest in the industry. He has transferred his professional passion for reducing aircraft noise to his volunteer work, serving on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, and on Transport Canada’s Aircraft Noise and Emissions Committee, helping establish positions on aviation environmental impacts that are balanced, science based and reflective of Canada’s needs and realities. Pang also helped create a Canadian R&D program dedicated to airplane and engine noise and emissions reduction called the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN), now the leader in reducing the environmental footprint of the aviation sector in Canada and worldwide.


Siemens Canada’s Dual Education Program is an innovative work-integrated learning program that equips Canadian engineering students with the educational and professional foundation required for modern manufacturing careers. The program’s goal is to help close the skills gap between knowledge learned at school and the know-how required at modern manufacturers, as well as developing the next generation of leaders. The program combines knowledge acquired at school with a parallel curriculum delivered at corporate-sponsored academies. It is designed to provide a set of complementary skills and experience required by industry. In addition, it offers a structured and robust mentorship program, as well as corresponding hands-on work experience, that enables young recruits to immediately see the relevance and importance of what they learn at both academic institutions and through the academies by placing them in a real-world work environment that demonstrates the value and importance of what they learn.