Meet the 2018 winners of the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards

This year marks the 71st 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. The program also recognizes a team of engineers that has had a significant and positive impact on society, industry and/or engineering with the Award for Engineering Project or Achievement.

Since 2005, the awards have been presented jointly by PEO and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. This year, the following 10 awardees and one project will be honoured at a special gala on Saturday, November 17 in Toronto, Ontario. For ticket information, visit

A true polymath, John Bandler, PhD, P.Eng., is a professor, engineer, entrepreneur, innovator, researcher, artist, speaker and playwright. But it’s his work in microwave engineering that cemented his professional reputation and helped position Canada as a leader in this game-changing technology.

A professor emeritus at McMaster University, Bandler is the global microwave community’s most recognized figure in design optimization, both as an academic and a practitioner who engineered the highest forms of optimization into microwave computer-aided design (CAD) practice. His pioneering research—optimization algorithms, sensitivity analysis, yield-driven design, fault diagnosis, nonlinear optimization and electromagnetic optimization—built microwave CAD’s foundations. Through his company, Optimization Systems Associates Inc., acquired in 1997 by Hewlett Packard, Bandler commercialized his research by creating software tools used regularly by microwave designers around the world.

In the early 1990s, he invented a mathematical technique known as “space mapping”—a systematic procedure to project the parameter space of a complex, computer-intensive field-based model into a much faster surrogate model that would drastically accelerate traditional electromagnetics-based analysis without sacrificing modeling accuracy. Space mapping methodology has been implemented by a variety of companies in a broad range of applications, including Philips, Saab and BAE.

Inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016, Bandler is active in artistic, literary and theatrical endeavors and has authored fiction and non-fiction, including a screenplay and nine stage plays.

Known by colleagues as an “engineer’s engineer,” Gary J. E. Kramer, P.Eng., PE, senior vice president and global practice director (tunnels), Hatch, has built an international reputation as one of the world’s foremost tunnelling experts. Through his 34-year career, Kramer has managed design and construction for many of North America’s signature tunneling projects, including more than 140 kilometres of constructed tunnels for transit, water, wastewater and energy works. His work includes some of North America’s highest-profile and technically complex tunnelling jobs, such as the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit system, Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Niagara Tunnel Facility Project and Los Angeles’ Metro Red Line Subway. Under Kramer’s leadership, he has assisted in growing Hatch’s tunnels practice from 50 to over 200 staff working in more than five countries. Kramer has devoted considerable efforts over the years to sharing his knowledge through numerous technical publications and is a sought-after presenter at the world’s most prestigious tunnelling institutions and conferences.

A former consulting engineer in Canada’s Arctic for nearly 20 years, David Lapp, P.Eng., FEC, is manager, globalization and sustainable development, at Engineers Canada, where he leads a project assessing potential climate change impacts on Canada’s public infrastructure, and where his work helped develop an infrastructure climate risk assessment protocol. As secretary to the World Federation of Engineering Organisations’ Committee on Engineering and the Environment, he helped apply the protocol for engineers in Costa Rica and Honduras as well as gaining recognition by the United Nations. Lapp also co-chairs the Natural Resources Canada Infrastructure and Buildings Working Group alongside the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. As a volunteer, Lapp has served as a coach in the Ottawa Special Olympics’ bowling and swimming programs. Lapp currently serves as chair of the Building Advisory Committee for the Ottawa Citadel Salvation Army.

David Beckman, P.Eng., president and CEO, Zeton Inc., saw a need in the chemicals and energy industries to design and fabricate small-scale production plants that efficiently take complex process technologies to market. After creating a methodology that sees engineering design and fabrication take place in the same facility, Beckman co-founded Zeton Inc.—a Canadian company that designs and builds lab scale systems and small-scale plants using modular fabrication. Since its founding in 1986, Zeton has completed over 750 projects across many industries and has grown to approximately 250 staff. Since Zeton’s inception, Beckman has been responsible for its operations, strategies for company growth and in-house research and development. Beckman also continues to help develop process design for customers. Currently, Beckman is vice president of the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering and a member of the board of advisors for the University of Toronto’s department of chemical engineering and applied chemistry.

The Greater Toronto Area’s York Region has relied on the engineering and management expertise of Paul May, P.Eng., vice president, project implementation, York Region Rapid Transit Corporation, to help guide the region’s tremendous growth. A former transportation engineer, May contributed to the seamless planning and implementation of significant infrastructure improvements to manage expansion, including road and transit infrastructure, and water and wastewater programs. He also oversaw the design and construction of the region’s $1.75 billion rapid-transit system. A leader who challenges his teams to take initiatives and be innovative, May guided and mentored many technical staffers who have gone on to more senior roles. May and his projects have been recognized with numerous awards over the course of his career, including a 2017 Top 10 Public Works Leader award from the American Public Works Association and ReNew Canada magazine’s 2016 Top 100 Biggest Infrastructure Projects.

Working nearly 50 years in aviation, Terrance Nord, P.Eng., president, TNCC Global Aviation, began as a Royal Canadian Air Force captain and continued to his role as managing director/CEO, global aviation with DHL Express. As a Greater Toronto Airports Authority board member, Nord guided the development of the Global Mega Hub Strategy—a plan to develop Toronto Pearson International Airport into one of the globe’s few “mega hub” airports. Nord played a leadership role in the creation of Canadian Airlines—Canada’s first major airline merger. Internationally, he led a team that established a global air cargo network for DHL Express. He also oversaw operations moving freight across an intercontinental air route and managed support infrastructure for engineering, quality control and more. Nord’s engineering achievements include the design and implementation of operations and maintenance procedures for a variety of aircrafts and operations programs for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air Force.

Winnie Ye, PhD, P.Eng., Canada research chair (tier two) and associate professor, Carleton University, is at the forefront of silicon photonics research, an emerging technology with potential to impact the next generation communication, sensing for medical and life sciences, and high-performance computing. Ye conducts research on applying silicon photonics to data communications, telecommunications, sensing, medical devices and renewable energy. Examples of her work include developing an effective DNA detection device and improving the efficiency of solar energy applications. Ye has built an impressive research portfolio, securing nearly $2.5 million in research funding from government organizations and industry contributions. She is recognized internationally and made a major impact with her research, including three industry relevant patents. Her work has been recognized with prestigious awards, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Women in Engineering Inspiring Member of the Year Award. Ye also won Carleton’s Teaching Award in 2011; and, since 2009, she has directly supervised 89 students.

Ashraf El Damatty, PhD, P.Eng., professor and chair, civil and environmental engineering, Western University, and research director, Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute, is a research pioneer in the stability of water structures and the effects of severe wind on power distribution infrastructure. His research helped develop innovative design methodologies for managing hydrostatic and earthquake loads on water tanks, which have been used in Canada and around the world. El Damatty also studies the behaviour of transmission line structures under tornadoes and downbursts, and his research helped create a software package for designing transmission line structures that allows engineers to prepare, upgrade and design transmission lines likely subjected to high-intensity winds. He has published papers in top scientific journals, supervised graduate students, and served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Wind and Structures.

While Jennifer Drake, PhD, P.Eng., assistant professor, civil engineering, University of Toronto (U of T), was finishing up her PhD, her research was already impacting stormwater management across North America. She even received a faculty position at U of T six months before completing her doctorate. In her first year as a professor, she published three papers and obtained funding to continue her research on watershed planning and stormwater systems and management. In 2018, Drake was awarded an Early Researcher Award by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation; and, in 2014, she developed new regional flood equations for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for ungauged watercourses, replacing then-current methods. Providing expertise to young graduates, Drake has trained 45 students, who are now working in water resources engineering for a variety of organizations. Currently serving on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s board of directors and Regional Watershed Alliance, Drake is committed to increasing the public’s knowledge and understanding of issues related to urban flooding and flood prevention.

Some of Toronto’s best-known hotspots, like the Liberty Grand, came from the vision and drive of engineer and entrepreneur Nick Di Donato, P.Eng., president and CEO, Liberty Entertainment Group. Founded by Di Donato in 1986, Liberty Entertainment Group develops and operates numerous landmark establishments and has been redefining Toronto’s restaurant, nightlife and special event experience. Combining his engineering credentials, design and construction experience and a passion for architecture, Di Donato has built his career by breathing new life into historically significant properties, including Toronto’s Casa Loma. An active volunteer with the University of Toronto’s faculty of applied science and engineering, Di Donato mentors students and speaks at the BizSkule program, which showcases engineering leadership in business. He also serves on several boards, including Sick Kids Hospital, St. Michael’s College and Canada’s Walk of Fame. He is also founder and co-chair of the annual Caring & Sharing Children’s Christmas gala.

Improving mobility while protecting the environment in a fast-growing region, York Region’s 2nd Concession Project connects growing communities and encourages healthy activities such as cycling.

This major north-south arterial corridor located in East Gwillimbury was completed in August 2017, when the local road was widened to a four-lane arterial. The project included road widening, trails, three bridges, retaining walls, active transportation infrastructure, stormwater management, gravity and large force main sanitary sewers, and a watermain.

Positive impacts to the local community are immense. The project increases travel options for all corridor users through greater road capacity and access to York Region’s road network, and improved trail connections and sidewalks. It also provides dedicated and illuminated cycling infrastructure. The project’s trunk sanitary sewers and watermain provide essential servicing to new residents and allow for future growth. It will have long-lasting and positive social impacts on its surrounding communities, and help bring economic growth to the area.