College of Engineering recognizes support, partnerships at Evening of Appreciation event

Engineering student Lyndsey Thorson knows the difference donors can make to the undergraduate experience.

Thorson, who serves as the vice-president of the Environmental Engineering Students’ Society, has been the recipient of multiple scholarships throughout her academic career. On Nov. 16, she attended the College of Engineering’s Evening of Appreciation event at Marquis Hall to express her gratitude.

“I think it’s really important that we show our appreciation for all those who contribute to bettering our education,” she said. 

“We’ve received a lot of funding from various corporate as well as personal sponsors that definitely aid in our development as engineers.”

Thorson said life is busy as an engineering student and that can make it difficult for undergraduates to work part-time while focusing on their studies. That’s another reason why the generosity of donors is important, she said, noting they provide funds for scholarships and bursaries as well as necessary materials, such as lab equipment. 

Those partnerships with the college “definitely helps us to be able to blossom as future engineers and definitely learn to our fullest potential so we can focus on our studies and not have to worry so much about the financial aspects,” said Thorson. 

Oliver Butler agrees. As the president of the Civil Engineering Students’ Society and the president of the new Steel Bridge Design Team, he also knows the difference donors can make. 

Butler, who is leading a University of Saskatchewan team that will design a one-tenth-scale steel bridge, attended the Evening of Appreciation event so he could get to know the people who are helping to enhance the student experience at the U of S. 

“When I got in here, I absolutely loved it,” he said of attending the college. “So I’m quite happy with the choice I made.” 

Lesley McGilp (BE ’99) looks back fondly on her time as an undergraduate student at the college, where she studied mechanical engineering. Since graduating 18 years ago she has remained connected to her alma mater; today she is a board member with the Engineering Advancement Trust (EAT), which is comprised of dedicated alumni. The EAT has donated nearly $3.5 million to upgrade and replace laboratory equipment for undergraduate students. 

McGilp said events such as the Evening of Appreciation – which is now in its second year – remind her of what’s special about the College of Engineering. The evening was held in honour of the array of dedicated partners who are helping to advance the vision of the college and the future of the engineering profession. 

“I always go away with a very positive feeling about the college,” said McGilp.

Interim Dean Don Bergstrom addressed all of the donors, alumni, community friends and industry partners that were in attendance at the event. He said they have all been essential to the college’s success.

“During my time as interim dean, I’ve been continually impressed – genuinely impressed – by the commitment and investment of our alumni and partners,” said Bergstrom, who noted these individuals have “made a difference in the life and experience of our students.” 

“A gift isn’t limited to something of monetary value,” Bergstrom acknowledged. Rather, each gift – whether it is partnering in research, hiring the college’s students, giving to academic chairs, offering wise counsel, investing in scholarships, bursaries, lab equipment or Indigenous programming, or something else – “reflects a commitment to the success and betterment of the college, its students and the engineering profession as a whole,” he said.

“Your support has done many things,” said Bergstrom.

“It’s helped to innovate teaching and learning. It’s enabled vital research initiatives. It’s provided mentorship to our faculty, staff and students. It’s enabled us to foster and develop stronger relationships with our Indigenous students and communities. It’s promoted collaborative engagements across the campus and it’s encouraged student success within and beyond the classroom.”

By Shannon Boklaschuk