Linamar gift backs future engineering, business leaders

Female students aspiring towards engineering and business leadership will gain the boost of a lifetime through a $5-million investment to Western from Linamar Corp. and the families that founded and operate the manufacturing giant.

The Linamar Scholarship for Women in Engineering and Business will offer 10 scholarships to female students each year, to fund half the cost of tuition for each of the three years recipients spend in Western’s Engineering and Business Dual Degree Program. The scholarships will also guarantee students a summer co-op at the end of their third and fourth years, plus an offer of full-time employment at Linamar after graduation.

The announcement took place Wednesday at the Ivey Business School. The gift comes from Linamar, its CEO Linda Hasenfratz and her husband Ed Newton, and Linamar founder Frank Hasenfratz.

“This is a great way to bring together the three things that mean a lot to me and to Linamar as a company: manufacturing, business and improved opportunities for women,” said Linda Hasenfratz, who hopes this will encourage more women to pursue a dual degree in Engineering and Business at Western. “Western has world-class Business and Engineering faculties – it’s the perfect combination to help develop this country’s next generation of women leaders.”

The advanced-manufacturing sector needs people who understand the technical, financial, production and business aspects of industry, she said.

The dual-degree program offered at Western, plus the guaranteed offer of employment, “puts graduates that much further ahead and gives them the ability to lead within our organization or any other. They’re ready to hit the ground running when they come in,” she added. “We’re trying to make it affordable and we’re trying to create a job at the end so that there’s not only the opportunity for a career, but a straight path to one at Linamar.”

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“This generous gift enables Western to support some of its best female students. It provides an unparalleled opportunity for academic growth and offers them an experience that, thanks to Linamar and the Hasenfratz and Newton families, will give them a stepping-stone towards world-changing leadership,” Western President Amit Chakma said.

In 1964, Hungarian immigrant Frank Hasenfratz began Linamar Corp in the basement of the family home. Linamar has since grown from a one-lathe operation into a multi-billion-dollar global enterprise. The Guelph-based auto-parts manufacturer employs more than 25,000 people in 59 manufacturing facilities in 15 countries, and generates annual sales in excess of $6 billion.

The family’s commitment and ties to Western run deep. In 2016, Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) upon Frank Hasenfratz in recognition of his philanthropy and leadership in the manufacturing industry. He is a Member of the Order of Canada.

His daughter, Linda Hasenfratz, is an alumna, having earned a BSc in 1989 and an MBA in 1997.

Linda and Ed’s son Tommy is studying Social Science at Western and hopes to study at Ivey Business School. One of their daughters, Olivia, is interested in studying at Western next year. And the couple’s two eldest daughters, Emily and Katie, are both in the dual degree program of Engineering and Business.

“There are so many benefits in choosing to do a dual degree with Ivey because with engineering you get the technical side but with business you get the networking side, the people skills you need to shape your career,” Emily said.

Fellow student Bridget Anne Hall said she hopes this will encourage more women to apply to Western. “There are very few women in engineering, especially in certain disciplines like mechanical and mechatronics, and if they had this opportunity to do the Engineering and Business Dual Degree program, not only would it encourage them to do the dual degree it would encourage them to do engineering.”

“Linda’s career sets an extraordinary example of leadership; I can think of no better role model for our students. The gift provides the opportunity for students to gain a valuable dual degree that will help them become the engineering and business leaders of tomorrow,” said Mark Vandenbosch, Acting Dean of the Ivey Business School.

Andy Hrymak, Dean of Western Engineering, said the school’s graduates are sought-after around the world. “To know that Linamar is investing in women engineers not only with scholarships but with guaranteed employment, pays testament to both to the family’s generosity and the strengths of our program.”

Linda Hasenfratz wants this to prompt other corporations to consider similar investments and partnerships. “I hope it’s the inspiration for other companies to do similar things.”

“Linda and her family have learned the business from the inside-out and from the shop floor to the boardroom. They are living examples of how to do advanced manufacturing well, how to grow an enterprise and how to lead the world,” Chakma said.

Female engineering students gathered around a small mechine

Frank Neufeld // Western NewsThe Linamar Scholarship for Women in Engineering and Business will support Engineering students like Bridget Anne Hall, Elaine Ainslie Cook, Katie Newton and Emily Newton, pictured left to right.