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Donation fuels entrepreneurship at uOttawa’s Faculty of Engineering

Alumni honoured during annual awards

Aali Alizadeh receives Financial Entrepreneur of the Year
Aali Alizadeh receives Financial Entrepreneur of the Year

The University of Ottawa, says the new dean of the Faculty of Engineering, will be home to Eastern Ontario’s largest and leading Discovery District.

“There has never been a better time to be a Faculty of Engineering student at uOttawa and it will only get better,” said Dean Jacques Beauvais. “The startup culture is booming. It took 20 years to launch our first 50 startups and in past four years, faculty and students have launched 50 more.”

The heart of the Discovery District is a $151-million STEM Complex that is scheduled to open in 2018.

The ground floor of the STEM Complex will be uOttawa’s base camp for innovation, housing the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace, Makerlab, PITS (Project Integration and Team Space), where student teams can work on big projects, and the Manufacturing Training Centre, which gives students access to traditional machine shop equipment. This is in addition to other resources for students, such as the Brunsfield Group Student Engineering Project and Entrepreneurship Centre.

And a generous gift from one of the Faculty’s alumni will help ensure the Discovery District helps students pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Alumnus Simon Nehme gives back

On Nov. 17, as part of its annual Design Expo, the Faculty of Engineering announced the gift from computer engineering alumnus Simon Nehme. Today, Nehme manages a portfolio of investments in high tech, real estate and hospitality. But his name may ring a bell as co-founder of Ottawa’s IP Protus Solutions, which delivers Internet fax services and PBX phone services.

“I have been really impressed by the growth of this university and the impact it is having on the community.”

Nehme’s gifts will support:

  • A new Summer School in Engineering Entrepreneurship that will educate and inspire incoming students before the September term starts, to boost the flow of students into the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • The Faculty of Engineering’s Launching Entrepreneurs Program, which offers $45,000 for student-led startups that need support to grow and thrive.
  • And, the Simon Nehme Design Commons, a free collaborative space on the ground floor of the STEM Complex where the walls will be covered with whiteboards and students can work on their ideas. “I am an entrepreneur, I’ve had a number of successful companies, and Ottawa has been my home for 30 years,” Nehme said. “uOttawa is doing so much to support entrepreneurship and encourage the next generation to venture into entrepreneurship with facilities like the STEM Complex that I just feel great about giving back and helping the next generation of leaders.”

Alumni recognized for their contributions

The Faculty of Engineering also honoured the recipients of its 2017 Alumni Awards, all of whom give back to the university and support the Faculty in some way:

Alumni Award of Excellence

Alice Thomas (BSc ’84 — Computer Science), Chief Digital Technology Officer at Sun Life

“This is about connecting back with the university where I had access to a lot of resources that allowed me to grow academically and then apply that to start this company.”

Financial Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Aali Alizadeh (PhD ’10 – Civil Engineering), CoFounder & CEO at Giatec Scientific

Young Alumni Award of Excellence

David George (BSc ’03 – Computer Science), Senior Vice-President, North America at Accedo

Mano Kulasingam (BSc ’03 – Computer Science), Senior Vice-President, Products & Solutions at AccedoHow can you get involved?

To learn more about how you can give back as a uOttawa alumnus, click here.