May 9, 2024

Schulich dean, faculty members and community supporter named APEGA Summit Award winners

Awards gala honouring best in engineering and geoscience held April 25
APEGA Summit Group Photo
From left: Leonid Belostotski, Kerry Black, Bill Rosehart, Nannette Ho-Covernton, Ahmad Ghasemloonia, Tina Rinker and Bob Shepherd (Syantra). APEGA / Durr Photography

The University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering had a prominent presence in the 2024 Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) Summit Awards.

Each year, up to 11 awards are presented to those who make outstanding contributions to the profession or community.

This year, five Schulich faculty members and one strong community supporter were recognized by APEGA.

“Our mission is to prepare today’s engineering students to be tomorrow’s changemakers and to elevate research impact to advance Alberta’s innovation economy,” says Schulich Dean Bill Rosehart, who is among the award winners. “These awards are a reflection of the great people we have at Schulich and all we have accomplished together.”

The 2024 APEGA Summit Awards Gala was held April 25 in Edmonton.

Bill Rosehart — Centennial Leadership Award 

After joining the Schulich School of Engineering in 2001, Dr. Bill Rosehart, PhD, ascended to become head of the electrical and computer engineering department in 2010 and then dean in 2014.

He has left an indelible mark on the faculty by amplifying the impact of engineering research and education, welcoming a record number of students, enhancing experiential learning and supporting interdisciplinary and industry collaboration.

Rosehart has also spearheaded major capital projects including the expansion and modernization of the Engineering Complex and guided the launch of new programs.

For his contributions, he has been named the winner of the Centennial Leadership Award, which is presented to an APEGA member who has attained the highest distinction relating to engineering or geoscience through directorship of an outstanding project, original research or inventions, or an exemplary career in teaching.

“It truly is an honour to be recognized with this award,” Rosehart says. “As engineers, we have the training, knowledge and skills to make a positive difference in our world and I’m fortunate to have had a career focused on passing it on to the next generation.”

Kerry Black — Community Service Award

A passionate educator with a focus on meaningfully co-developing engineering research with First Nations community partners, Dr. Kerry Black, PhD, says it’s important for everyone to work together to find solutions to issues like safe drinking water, improved sanitation and housing.

An assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Canada Research Chair (Integrated Knowledge, Engineering and Sustainable Communities), Black says a people-first approach to every relationship and community she works with starts by working in reciprocity.

She says residents need a voice in the decision-making process, tangible training tools and ownership of the results.

Black has been recognized for her work by being named the APEGA Community Service Award winner, which goes to an individual who has made significant improvements to a community through efforts in the engineering or geoscience profession.

“Winning this award is recognition for the people that I work with and the work we continue to do to address community concerns and needs,” she says. “It’s recognition of the countless hours and work we put into it, and that it is important and meaningful.”

Ahmad Ghasemloonia — Excellence in Education Award

A passionate advocate for active learning and student engagement, Dr. Ahmad Ghasemloonia, PhD, believes collaborative and hands-on opportunities give students a better grasp on fundamental ideas.

Having completed more than 400 hours of professional development to better his skills as an educator, he says meaningful discussion and participation in his lectures helps build students’ confidence and teaches them to learn through inquiry.

“Visualization gives students a deeper understanding of theoretical knowledge and how these foundational concepts can be creatively applied to solve real-world engineering problems,” Ghasemloonia says.

A professor in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Ghasemloonia also serves as Schulich’s associate dean of student success and interdisciplinary academic programs, and is the academic co-ordinator for the school’s first-year program, Schulich Studio.

For his work, he is receiving the Excellence in Education Award, which goes to an APEGA member who has made exemplary contributions to teaching and learning at a recognized post-secondary institution in Alberta.

Syantra Inc. — Project Achievement Award

A Schulich School of Engineering spinoff company, Syantra Inc. has garnered numerous accolades for its promise to revolutionize health care through the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

While working in her lab at Schulich more than a decade ago, Dr. Kristina Rinker, PhD, and her team came up with the idea of creating a blood test to screen for breast cancer.

Working with several team members including fellow engineer and Schulich alum Dr. Kenneth Fuh, PhD'17, they created a new platform for blood testing using proprietary custom AI-informed software to measure a panel of unique RNA biomarkers from whole blood.

The test was put through clinical trials in several countries demonstrating an overall accuracy of 92 per cent, and is now approved for use in Canada, the United States and Europe.

“When the data showed that this test worked, it was like a light bulb went off,” says Rinker. “I remember saying, ‘We need to do whatever it takes to get this test implemented because it can save lives.’”

Syantra Inc. has been named the winner of the Project Achievement Award, which goes to an engineering or geoscience project that contributes new technologies, processes or innovations for the improvement of society.

Leonid Belostotski — Research Excellence Award

An early interest in circuit boards has turned into a life of research that is out of this world for Dr. Leonid Belostotski, PhD.

A professor in the Department of Electrical and Software Engineering, Belostotski has turned his attention to radio frequency and low-noise receiver development, where he’s helping explore the world of science, the potential of quantum, and faster wireless signals.

He has also become part of an international scientific consortium developing the world’s largest radio telescope which will allow researchers to explore the deepest corners of the universe.

Belostotski, who has won numerous awards at the University of Calgary and in industry, is being recognized with the Research Excellence Award, which goes to an APEGA member who has conducted innovative research in engineering or geoscience that has been successfully applied to improve economic and social well-being.

“It was a very pleasant surprise to hear that I was receiving this award,” he says. “This recognition also acknowledges the invaluable contributions of numerous students, postdoctoral fellows, collaborators and colleagues who have actively participated in research endeavours with our team.”

Nannette Ho-Covernton — Women in Engineering and Geoscience Champion Award

An accomplished engineer and leader, Nannette Ho-Covernton has become a face for creating a more sustainable and inclusive world.

The sustainability lead for Spartan Controls is passionate about empowering young people to be the change they want to see in the world through kindness and innovation.

After overcoming barriers like sexism and discrimination, Ho-Covernton has risen to become a positive influence for women and under-represented people.

“For me, trying to understand different perspectives is a learning process and part of the innovation process,” she says. “Bringing together people with diverse backgrounds and knowledge is critical for both environmental sustainability and the sustainability of the engineering profession.”

Ho-Covernton has chaired the Schulich School of Engineering Career Centre Advisory Council and is an adviser for WISE Planet, which is a Schulich initiative aimed at empowering women and other marginalized groups in STEM.

Schulich’s Distinguished Collaborator Award of Excellence winner in 2019, she is being recognized by APEGA with the Women in Engineering and Geoscience Champion Award for her exceptional service to the community.