Engineering and entrepreneurship: A new gift helps join the two

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Getting research discoveries into the marketplace, where they can change lives, requires resources that post-secondary institutions don’t always have at the ready. McGill Engineering alum William Seath knows this reality, which is why he’s helping McGill students and professors expand their research and development–and to grab market opportunities through entrepreneurial start-ups and industry partnerships.

As a tribute to his alma mater and to his wife who passed away in 2006, Seath recently donated $2 million to the Faculty of Engineering. Each year, two individuals will be rewarded with the new William and Rhea Seath Awards in Engineering Innovation. Another part of the gift will support a full-time Industrial Research Development and Engagement Officer in the Faculty of Engineering. This officer will be the basis of a new Innovations Catalyst in Engineering hub, which will – among other things – administer the William and Rhea Awards.

A few weeks ago, the Canadian government also pledged to make innovation a key element in the upcoming federal budget. The philanthropic gesture should help Canada rank better among OECD members as to innovation. The country currently ranks 14th out of 17. “I wanted my gift to benefit not only McGill but also the industry and the economy,” says Seath, an aviation engineer who spent his career working at Pratt & Whitney Canada, the country’s largest designer and manufacturer of gas turbine engines.

Image: Fotolia

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