In recognition of his distinguished career in engineering, and his dedication to innovation, Gilles Patry, former President and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) at the Thursday morning session of Western’s 310th Convocation.
Patry spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Engineering, stressing the importance of remaining open-minded and taking risks in order to benefit society through innovation. Western has prepared these graduates well for such an undertaking, he noted, and graduates must now use the skills and tools they honed to be leaders in innovation.
“Innovation is one of those words that is dropped everywhere by everyone to a point where it has really lost its true meaning,” Patry said.
It is important to recognize the role a university plays in innovation. Innovation is rooted in research. It builds community. It isn’t about technology, but is about people and “the desire to make things better for the benefit of people and society,” he added.
“Innovation is the process of taking an idea and ensuring it benefits society. I encourage you to be innovators, to explore new ways of doing things in classrooms and in your designs. Be creative in everything you do. Innovation is the foundation of a creative society and it is about taking risks. The enemy of innovation is complacency and that is something to fear,” Patry continued.
“We often hear that things are good enough, so why take a risk? If you don’t someone else will. It is commonly said our world changes for the better, one idea at a time. Why not aspire to have one of those ideas be yours?”