Hrymak engineers a plan to face future challenges

Andrew Hrymak sees the challenges ahead; now he gets the chance to tackle them. Hrymak was re-appointed last week to a five-year term as dean of the Faculty of Engineering. His first term concludes June 30, 2014.

“I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to serve another term and I really look forward to the next five years,” Hrymak said. “For me, this is really a privilege and an honour. There are lots of good things going on in Western Engineering; it will be great to continue with the work we started and accomplish some great things.”

Under Hyrmak’s leadership, the faculty has seen an increase in undergraduate and graduate enrolment, industry partnerships, alumni activities and outreach initiatives.

Throughout his first term as dean, Hrymak worked with his team to increase opportunities for women in engineering through participation in activities such as Go ENG Girl, Girls Club and Hydro One’s new Women In Engineering University Partnership with Ryerson University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology and University of Waterloo.

“For undergraduate students, we’re looking at revising some of our programs and focusing on the class experience,” he offered as an example. “At Western, we’re well known for our ‘best student experience.’ Part of that experience is focusing on academic issues and working to make sure students are prepared academically.”

As for the road ahead, the dean expressed optimism that the university’s Strategic Plan, now in draft form, “shows a stronger impetus and direction in research.” He looks forward to building partnerships with Engineering not only across campus, but in the community and around the world.

In 2011, Hrymak played a key role in securing a long-term research collaboration between Western and the Fraunhofer Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in the area composite technologies. This joint venture – the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Composites Research @ Western – represents the first comprehensive initiative between a Canadian university and an institute of Fraunhofer.

He looks forward to continuing those types of partnerships. In fact, he said the faculty depends, in part, on developing those further.

“An ongoing challenge – and President Chakma has mentioned this before – is the financial one,” Hrymak said. “As we want to start new opportunities, new programs, we know finding the funding in the constrained environment that we have in terms of provincial funding will be difficult. We will require help from our alumni, from industry partners.

“That will be a challenge on an ongoing basis. But, also, it will be an opportunity to rethink what we are doing and do things in different ways, perhaps even start some new things that might attract some new resources.”

Hrymak holds a BEng degree from McMaster University and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. His principal areas of specialization are polymer and materials processing, computational fluid dynamics, and process design and simulation.

“I know that you will join the Selection Committee and me in celebrating Andy’s re-appointment. He has provided excellent leadership to Engineering during his first term and he received strong endorsement for a second term from our campus community during the decanal review process,” wrote Janice Deakin, Western’s provost and vice-president (academic). “I am confident that, with your continued support, Andy will continue to provide creative and effective leadership for Engineering and the broader university in his role as dean.”

Hrymak, who started as Engineering dean on July 1, 2009, was recruited from McMaster where he was a professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering as well as director of the Walter G. Booth School of Engineering Practice and McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute.

He has held leadership positions in professional organizations, chaired major international conferences and is an editor for two journals. He has been recognized through awards by the Chemical Institute of Canada and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.