MIE faculty and staff honoured for excellence

Fourteen U of T Engineering faculty members and staff have been honoured for their outstanding contributions to the Faculty with teaching, research and administrative staff awards. These awards recognize exceptional faculty and staff members for their leadership, citizenship, innovation and contributions to the Faculty’s teaching, service and research missions.

“As we navigate our way through — and out of — the pandemic and toward an uncharted future, our innovative engineering faculty and staff continue to meet and overcome each and every challenge we face. They are setting a world-class standard across our research, teaching and administrative operations,” says Dean Christopher Yip. “On behalf of the Faculty, I extend my warmest congratulations to the awardees and my heartfelt thanks to all our faculty and staff members for their hard work, resilience, creativity,  tenacity and dedication.”

The award recipients from MIE are:

Aliz Karami, Celeste Francis Esteves, Oscar Del Rio (MIE)

Innovation Award (Administrative Staff Award)

Recognizing a staff member or team of staff members who has shown innovation in developing a new method, technology or system, or improving an existing system, to the benefit of the Faculty.

This team is being recognized for working together over the past few years to develop MIE’s Graduate Management System (GMS) into a multipurpose software tool that is integral to running the MIE Grad office.

The GMS was originally created in 2014 to monitor the progress of PhD candidates through their program. The team has vastly enriched GMS by expanding its use to MEng and MASc. students, pivoting to online exam management and adding personalized funding information that can be accessed by students and staff. In 2021 the team was able to connect the system to ROSI/ACORN, allowing for student information to populate into GMS automatically. This achievement has made it significantly easier to maintain registration information, as staff no longer need to collect data from multiple locations.

Most recently, the team has added enhanced communication features that allow students to use the system to contact the graduate office with queries; questions and responses are recorded in the student file, easily retrievable by both parties. GMS is now the backbone of MIE graduate studies administration, providing a better experience for both staff and students.

Scott Sanner (MIE)

McCharles Prize for Early Career Research Distinction (Research Award)

Recognizing exceptional performance and distinction in early career research.

After receiving his PhD in Computer Science at U of T in 2008, Scott Sanner was a principal investigator at National ICT Australia and an assistant professor at Oregon State University. He joined MIE in the Industrial Engineering program in 2016 and was promoted to associate professor last year.

Sanner’s research spans a broad range of topics, from the data-driven fields of machine learning and information retrieval to the decision-driven fields of artificial intelligence and operations research. Sanner has applied tools from these fields to diverse application areas, such as conversational recommender systems, adaptive user interfaces and Smart Cities applications like predictive health analytics, transport optimization and residential HVAC control.

He has received several prestigious awards for his accomplishments, including two best paper awards (one for optimal traffic signal control and one for novel optimization techniques with applications to deep learning), as well as two first-place results in international machine learning competitions. In 2020 he received a Google Faculty Research Award for his conversational recommender systems research.

Marianne Touchie (CivMin, MIE)

McCharles Prize for Early Career Research Distinction (Research Award)

Recognizing exceptional performance and distinction in early career research.

Marianne Touchie obtained her PhD in Civil Engineering at U of T in 2014. She was a Building Research Manager at the Toronto Atmospheric Fund before returning to U of T as a postdoctoral fellow, then joining the faculty in 2016.

Touchie’s research is focused on performance assessment and retrofit development for multi-unit residential buildings. Specifically, she is developing strategies for reducing building energy use while improving the quality of the indoor environment for occupants. Touchie has taken an interdisciplinary approach to this work, collaborating with researchers in architecture, public health and urban planning, as well as a large network of industry and government partners. Touchie’s research has already impacted policies and practices related to building energy use by organizations such as Toronto City Council, Toronto Community Housing and Toronto Hydro.

In 2018, she garnered The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ New Investigator Award, given out to only one recipient per year globally. She received the Ontario Building Envelope Council’s Rising Star Award in 2021.

Early Career Teaching Award (Teaching Award)

Recognizing an early career educator who has demonstrated exceptional classroom instruction and teaching methods.

Jointly appointed to CivMin and MIE, Marianne Touchie has made outstanding teaching contributions in both departments.

For MIE, Touchie redeveloped and teaches MIE507:HVAC Fundamentals, a course MIE has rarely been able to offer due to lack of expertise. In 2020 she added new field trip and lab components to this course, which she redesigned as virtual experiences during the pandemic. Despite this being a difficult and technical course, she has garnered outstanding student evaluations. For her CivMin Building Sciences course, Touchie created a unique campus walking tour to demonstrate issues that affect aging buildings.

In all her courses, she brings her award-winning research into the classroom, seeks out and implements student feedback and works to develop a sense of community — for example, by providing a forum for students to share music and recipes. As a PhD student in CivMin, Touchie worked with Kim Pressnail to develop and teach Building Science courses, which are still offered by the School of Continuing Studies. More recently, they co-created more than 100 online videos on building science for an eCampusOntario project.

See the full list of Engineering professors and staff who received awards.

– This story was originally published on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering News Site on April 27, 2022 by Carolyn Farrell

© 2021 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering