November 18, 2005

Consulting Engineers

Honours bestowed upon trio

Professional association lauds exceptional work

A trio of consulting engineers will be among those honoured for exceptional achievement this weekend at the annual Ontario Professional Engineers Awards gala in Markham.

Winners include Bert Wasmund, executive director of Hatch Ltd., recipient of the engineering medal for engineering excellence; Tony Franceschini, president and chief executive officer of Stantec Inc., winner of the engineering medal in the entrepreneurship category, and Jack Nicholas de la Vergne, a senior consultant at McIntosh Engineering Ltd., recipient of the engineering medal for engineering excellence.

The awards, co-hosted by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), will be presented Saturday evening. In all, some 11 professional engineers will be recognized.

In a statement, the awards sponsors said Wasmund has been recognized for more than 35 years as an international expert in metallurgical and chemical processes for smelting metals.

“Since Wasmund joined the company in 1966, Hatch Ltd. has become a major force in the engineering of smelting furnaces and fluidized bed reactors for the metallurgical industries,” according to the awards release. “He was instrumental in building the firm’s hydrometallurgical group, which is internationally recognized for innovation and quality.”

In 1973, Wasmund invented technology for cooling furnace walls using copper elements, which enables much higher productivity and a longer furnace life. The technology was patented a year later and has since become the pioneering cornerstone of Hatch’s custom-design furnace business, which has seen over 100 installations world wide.

In 1989, Wasmund and the Hatch team revolutionized the platinum smelting business with the design of a new electric smelting furnace for Impala Platinum Ltd. in South Africa, which tripled the daily rate of the existing furnaces.

For his part, Franceschini has transformed Stantec from a primarily western Canadian engineering firm to a leading North American professional services firm providing services in engineering, architecture, planning, environmental sciences, and related disciplines through over 50 offices and 5500 employees throughout Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

He became Stantec’s president and CEO in 1998.

“Franceschini has led Stantec to unprecedented growth and success over the past seven years, including a 181 per-cent increase in gross revenue, a 319 per-cent increase in net income, the addition of more than 3,500 employees and the acquisition and integration of more than 40 companies,” the awards sponsors said. “The firm is on pace to become a top 10 global design firm by 2008, a goal around which he has rallied employees across the country.”

Since becoming publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1994, Stantec has posted 44 straight quarters of profitability and a compound growth rate of over 20 per cent. In August 2005, Stantec became listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is the first Edmonton-based company and Canada’s only engineering firm to achieve this distinction.

PEO and OSPE said de la Vergne has worked in more than 20 countries, “earning the respect and admiration” of mine owners, operators and entrepreneurs around the world. His career has spanned more than 35 years.

“Engineer de la Vergne has the ability to assess situations quickly, and then to analyze alternatives and develop solutions for complex undertakings,” the awards sponsors said. “Industry wide, he is recognized as an expert in mine shafts, hoists and the associated mine infrastructure.”

Among his greatest contributions to the mining industry is the writing and publication of two comprehensive textbooks: The Hard Rock Miners Handbook is now in its third printing and has been embraced by thousands of students, professors, miners, engineers and mining executives as an invaluable source of practical mining information. The handbook has been featured in international publications, and copies have been distributed to more than 113 countries.

The Hard Rock Miners Technical Spanish Dictionary was published in July of this year. This authoritative volume translates 22,000 terms associated with the extraction industries, mining and petroleum. It is anticipated that this book will soon command recognition as an engineering standard for the transcontinental mining community.

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