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Canada’s Resilient Recovery: A Commentary from the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Ottawa – 22 September 2020

The current COVID-19 pandemic resembles an earthquake of global dimensions, with enormous  impact and aftershocks still being felt and feared.  Unlike an earthquake causing physical destruction, the pandemic has stretched and disrupted the sinews of modern life: the ways we interact, earn a living, learn, care for our health and for each other, and function as a society.

While the full damage is not yet known, it is not too early to consider life after the pandemic.  The recovery must be resilient and sustainable, thereby leading to better protection and improvements for all citizens, communities, institutions, the economy, and environment.  It must also mitigate future risks and address uncertainties, including the effects of climate change, while positioning Canada for new opportunities in a rapidly changing world.

The recovery will add to the enormous costs and debts already incurred by citizens and governments during the pandemic.  Success requires commitment and coordinated action by the governmental, industrial, not-for profit, and civil society sectors, leading to clear and readily understood benefits for all Canadians.  The recovery cannot be achieved by government investments, regulations, and initiatives alone.

The Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE) is exploring various means of supporting the recovery and welcomes efforts by others, including the Task Force for a Resilient Recovery (TFRR) which has just released a comprehensive report.  It suggests five “Bold Moves”:

  1. Invest in climate resilient and energy efficient buildings
  2. Jumpstart Canada’s production and adoption of zero-emission vehicles
  3. Go big on growing Canada’s clean energy sectors
  4. Invest in the nature that protects and sustains us
  5. Grow clean competitiveness and jobs across the Canadian economy

All Moves are dependent on engineering and present major opportunities and challenges for engineers now and in future years.

Goals

More generally, the immediate goal of recovery efforts must be the quick return to a state where Canadians, their companies and institutions can again function properly.  An example of an immediate goal is to provide more and safer long-term care facilities for elderly Canadians.  This need was laid bare during the pandemic, but it was already well recognized in 2017 when the Conference Board of Canada concluded that approximately 10,000 new long-term care beds were required per year, up to 2035. The pandemic showed that the issue is not only more beds, but also beds located in more appropriately designed, staffed, and maintained rooms.  The pandemic also demonstrated that public health, hygiene, and the full set of health care supports (ranging from research to practical education) are critically needed to avoid and manage pandemics.  It is therefore somewhat surprising that the TFRR report does not include ‘health’ as a major component of recovery actions.

However, the report identifies better buildings and vehicles as key resilience goals.  It places strong emphasis on energy efficiency, which is well-aligned with the objective of reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero by mid-century.  The opportunities for efficient building construction (including the use of modular construction technologies) and improving vehicle safety are clear.  The infection risks related to buildings and public transport (including trains, planes, and buses) that have high occupancy densities can be addressed through better design and operation.

Energy is and will remain a central issue in Canada’s economy, involving and supporting large numbers of jobs and generating export earnings, which are essential to Canada’s high quality of life.  Canada’s energy sector must continue to undergo changes that result in substantially less greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional fossil fuels sector and in the growth of the renewables sector.  The TFRR report, like other reports, places great emphasis on transitioning to renewable energy sources and electricity.  Large-scale hydro electricity and nuclear power are not emphasized but should remain under active consideration due to their great potential, while recognizing divergent views within Canadian society.  The long-term prospect of nuclear fusion should also be kept in focus because of its inherent potential and safety.  Canada recently signaled that it will join ITER, the international effort to develop fusion power.

Electrification of Canada’s energy sector requires not only increased generation capacity.  It also requires the development and deployment of storage and transmission capacity, especially when reliance on intermittent solar and wind energy is increased.  Nation- and continent-wide systems are needed, and have already been outlined in major studies supported by the CAE.

The TFRR makes a strong case for the protection of the natural environment.  This goal ultimately sustains life not only in Canada but also, given Canada’s extensive land and sea areas, the health of the entire planet earth.  The active participation of all Canadians, but especially the expertise and collaboration of Indigenous peoples, are critical.  Protecting and ensuring the sustainability of the natural environment in relation to agricultural, industrial, and recreational uses calls for both a deep understanding of the underlying sciences as well as respect for its values.

The current pandemic also demonstrates the need for private and public sector activities unrelated to health to be viable under rapidly changing circumstances.  International competition for Canada’s goods and services providers will grow.  However, some aspects of globalization may slow that growth due to increased protectionism and the desire for greater national self-sufficiency.  New demands and associated opportunities will arise in Canada and abroad for materials, products, and services with greater and more sophisticated knowledge content than their present counterparts.

Canadians must possess the expertise, experience, and commitment to compete in a rapidly changing world.  Consequently, broad and sustained investments by government and industry into the not-for-profit sector, which includes universities, colleges, and other educational and research institutions, are critical.  This sector is an essential foundation for innovation in general, but innovation is also the key to dedicated recovery actions in health, buildings, transportation, energy, and the natural environment.  The TFRR report recognizes these necessities without major elaboration.

Success

Canada, as a trading nation and mid-size power, must align its recovery activities with global realities.  This means that Canada must be a winner in the global competition for markets, ideas, and people.

Success in resilient recovery from the current pandemic is predicated on effective collaboration within Canada by the governmental, industrial, not-for-profit, and civil society sectors.  Success is also heightened by collaboration with counterparts abroad.  Such collaboration should be sought with countries and multi-national organizations that share Canada’s values and goals.

Collaboration must be inter- and multi-disciplinary.  None of the important recovery challenges are the purview of a single sector, discipline, or profession.  All recovery challenges involve the natural and social sciences, humanities, economics, business, and engineering.  Imagination, creativity, and commitment to sustainable progress are the overarching and unifying elements.

The Canadian Academy of Engineering, by virtue of its 800 Fellows and their distinguished records in engineering and collaboration, is well-positioned to support Canada’s resilient recovery from the current pandemic.  Specifically, the CAE would welcome and support the development and implementation of a national recovery strategy.  The CAE and its Fellows will work for a recovery that positions Canada as a modern society and economy dedicated to large, measurable near- and long-term increases in sustainability, international competitiveness, employment, and quality of life for all Canadians.

Yves Beauchamp, PhD, FCAE, Ing.

President, Canadian Academy of Engineering

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About the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE): The CAE is Canada’s national academy of engineering. It consists of over 800 elected Fellows who have made important contributions to engineering in Canada. The mission of the Academy it to demonstrate leadership in the responsible application of engineering knowledge for the benefit of Canadians, provide strategic advice to decision-makers, and contribute to shaping the future of engineering.

The CAE is an independent, self-governing and non-profit organization established in 1987. The CAE works with other senior Canadian and international academies, and is a founding member of the Council of Canadian Academies, along with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

For more information please contact:

The Canadian Academy of Engineering | L’Académie canadienne du génie
300 – 55 rue Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6L5
Canada

www.cae-acg.ca
communications@cae-acg.ca

Fifty-two new Fellows elected into the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Ottawa – (15 June 2020) – President Yves Beauchamp welcomed 50 new elected Fellows and two new International Fellows to the Canadian Academy of Engineering on 15 June 2020. Due to the complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, new Fellows were welcomed virtually, in conjunction with the Academy’s 2020 Annual General Meeting.

The official Induction Dinner for 2020 Fellows has been postponed and will take place at the 2021 Annual General Meeting and Symposium in Halifax, NS.

To view our official press release, click here.

2020 CAE Scholarship Winners Announced

The Canadian Academy of Engineering is pleased to announce the winners of its 2020 national scholarship competitions.

The winner of the 2020 CAE Bruce Aubin SAE Aerospace Design Award is Ms. Megan Holmes, a Mechatronic Systems Engineering student at Simon Fraser University.  She is recognized for her work on the 1U cube satellite that is due to go into low earth orbit in Q2 2021.

The winner of the 2020 CAE William G. Belfry SAE Award is Mr. Ben Sprenger, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Toronto. He is recognized for his work on Formula-E racing.

To view our official press release, click here.

John Spencer MacDonald

Canadian aerospace pioneer, engineer, academic, loving husband, and gentle father, John Spencer MacDonald, O.C., Ph.D., F.C.A.E., P.Eng, IEEE­FL, passed away peacefully on 26 December 2019. The only child of Alice and Neil MacDonald, born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, on 13 August 1936, he demonstrated an aptitude for electronics at a young age repairing marine radios for the local fish boats while in high school. John obtained his undergraduate degree in Applied Science from The University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1959. He was accepted into the post­graduate engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he earned his master’s degree in 1961 and his doctoral degree in 1964 and thereafter was appointed to a teaching position at MIT.

However, he loved his homeland more. Together with his wife, Alfredette, and two young sons, Neil and Jay, John returned to Vancouver in the fall of 1965 to teach electrical engineering at UBC, his alma mater.

In 1969, John co­founded MacDonald, Dettwiler, and Associates (MDA), an aerospace, information systems, and technology company. He served as President and CEO of MDA until 1982, and as Chairman of the Board from 1982 to 1998, at which time he became Chairman Emeritus. In addition to professorships in engineering at MIT and UBC, John served in an advisory capacity to various governments and on the board of directors of numerous companies. He was a Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) and a Founding Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE) and has received many awards for his contributions to the technology industry including the British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) Impact Award for Person of the Year in 2008, and the first ever given Air Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) Life Time Achievement Award in 2018. In 2001, based on his observation in RADARSAT imagery of shrinking Arctic sea­ice due to climate change, John co­founded Day 4 Energy, a solar energy technology company, and served as its CEO until his retirement in 2014. From 2010 through 2016 he served as the Chancellor of The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).

Dr. MacDonald was teacher to hundreds, mentor to many, and friend on all seven continents of the earth. For those who knew him well, he will be remembered for the constancy of his friendship, his integrity and loyalty, and for his true smile, honest laugh, and booming voice.

John is survived by his loving wife and partner of 60 years, Alfredette, by their two sons, Neil (Ashly) and Jay (Kristin), and their three grandchildren, Lochlann, Tyne, and Tristan MacDonald.

A celebration of life reception for all of John’s family, friends, and acquaintances will be held at a date to be announced. On­line condolences can be made at http://www.amherstcremation.com/memorials/macdonald2.html.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks to please consider a “Memorial Gift” donation to the Alzheimer’s Society of British Columbia (www.alzheimerbc.org) in memory of John Spencer MacDonald.

Fifty-five new Fellows inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Ottawa – (21 June 2019) – President Eddy Isaacs inducted 49 new Fellows, five new International Fellows and one Honorary Fellow into the Canadian Academy of Engineering on 21 June 2019. The ceremony took place in Quebéc City, in conjunction with the Academy’s 2019 Annual General Meeting and Symposium.

For more information, click here.

For more information on our Honorary Fellow, click here. 

 

 

Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE) appoints new Executive Director

Dear Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE),

On behalf of CAE’s Board of Directors. I am pleased to introduce and welcome Robert Crawhall as our new Executive Director with a starting date of May 27, 2019. Robert has an excellent technical and executive leadership background and we believe that he fits well with CAE and our ambitions for the future. Robert will be at our Quebec City AGM, Symposium and Induction Dinner and Fellows attending will be able to meet Robert in person. Read Robert’s biography here.

Best regards and hope to see many of you in Quebec City.

Eddy Isaacs

President, CAE

2019 CAE Scholarship Winners Announced

The Canadian Academy of Engineering is pleased to announce the winners of its 2019 national scholarship competitions.

The winner of the 2019 CAE William G. Belfry SAE Award is Mr. Keegan Richter, a final year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Victoria. He has participated in a number of design projects, including the Formula Hybrid Design Team.  His reference commended him on his teamwork, attention to detail, and communication.

The winner of the 2019 CAE Bruce Aubin SAE Aerospace Design Award is Mr. Keagan Shedden, also a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Victoria.  He has been actively involved in rocketry projects and is currently employed in a 10 month co-op placement with a rocket company based in New Zealand.  His reference from that company noted that he is exceptionally diligent and self-motivated.

To view our official press release, click here.

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