New award recognizes achievements of young professors

    Ralph Haas / Stantec Fellow in Civil Engineering recognizes achievements of young professors

    By Richard Cairney on November 5, 2012

    Edmonton—The University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering has announced the creation of the Ralph Haas / Stantec Fellow in Civil Engineering, a one-of-a-kind award for promising young professors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

    Established through a gift from engineering alumnus Ralph Haas and with support from Stantec Engineering, the fellowship is the first of its kind at the University of Alberta.

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Alireza Bayat was awarded the inaugural fellowship during a special event at the U of A Nov. 5.

    Bayat, who heads the Faculty of Engineering’s Centre of Excellence for Trenchless Technology, says receiving the award is meaningful because it provides recognition of his early career achievements in teaching and research.

    There is degree prestige associated with the award, he said.

    “Ralph is known as the ‘Father of Pavement Management’ and this is a legacy of Ralph,” he said. “Ralph is such a strong role model for me and for many young professors—you want your career to go as well as his.

    “To have Stantec Engineering as a partner in this means a lot—it is really quite an honour for me.”

    Dean of Engineering David Lynch praised Haas and Stantec for “very significant and generous” support and encouragement to young professors.

    “It’s important to provide this kind of recognition and support for faculty members early in their careers, when it sometimes seems that everything is a struggle,” Lynch said.

    Haas, who graduated from the U of A with a degree in civil engineering in 1961 and a master’s degree in 1963, says several factors led him to establish the fellowship.

    “Part of it goes back, in large degree, to the memories I have of the U of A,” he said, adding that the idea of creating an award that “would recognize the achievements and potential of early-career professors” took shape when his son Carl won a similar award at the University of Texas at Austin. (His son is now a tier 1 Canada Research Chair at the Waterloo University, in Ontario.)

    Haas has had a tremendous impact on engineering teaching and research.  In 1966, after teaching at Carleton University for three years, he became an associate professor at Waterloo University. There, he twice served as chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. He retired from teaching in 1996 and became a Professor Emeritus at the university.

    Haas is known as “the Father of Pavement Management” for developing and implementing systems, concepts and technologies for managing networks of paved roads. His concepts remain in use internationally and he has published more than 400 academic papers and 12 books.

    He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Engineering Institute of Canada, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

    Stantec senior vice-president Carl Clayton said being involved in initiatives such as this not only recognize talent but also nurture it in young engineers.

    Clayton said Haas is “a true leader in education” who has “demonstrated the value in continually investing in education . . . we think this fellowship is a really great idea.”