$1.5M gift will enhance HVAC engineering teaching and research

(Edmonton) Engineers specializing in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) have an impact on every aspect of our lives, ensuring the buildings we live, work and play in are safe, comfortable and healthy. Whether at home, on a crowded subway car or in an office tower, HVAC systems affect the quality of the air we breathe, help keep us comfortable and keep us safe in emergencies like fires or gas leaks.

To help educate the next generation of HVAC engineers and advance research in this field, Calgary-based Engineered Air has made a generous donation to the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering.

The $1.5-million gift will establish the Engineered Air Chair in HVAC Engineering and the Engineered Air Fellow in HVAC Engineering.

“Not that many engineering schools teach HVAC engineering,” Engineered Air president David Taylor said during a special event held today to announce the chair. “A lot of people don’t learn about HVAC until they enter the profession, and we hope that this gives engineering students a head start, that it will raise awareness of our industry and encourage other companies to do the same.”

Dean of Engineering David Lynch said Taylor’s words rang true as the Faculty of Engineering began searching worldwide for an individual with the right blend of academic and industrial experience to be appointed to the Engineered Air Chair in HVAC Engineering.

“It almost seemed that we were looking for something that didn’t exist,” Lynch told the crowd of about 80 people gathered for the announcement. “It was something that appeared to have disappeared from the engineering ecosystem, and we realized that this position is even more important than we first realized.”

HVAC engineering, he added, is at the heart of mechanical engineering. “It’s about great engineering design, execution, equipment and facilities and we take it for granted. In a country like Canada if you don’t have effective HVAC in your home, you just won’t survive very long. The minute it stops working, you know it.”

U of A President Indira Samarasekera praised the partnership, saying that it brings Taylor’s family full circle: Engineered Air founder and CEO Don Taylor earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering at the U of A.

“This connects us all to your time here at the University of Alberta and is going to benefit generations of engineers,” she said of the gift.

“This collaborative partnership highlights an important field of engineering and enhances the outstanding education that we provide to the next generation of engineers,” Lynch added. “When industry and universities work together, students can more clearly see the connection between their classroom lessons and the practical applications of engineering principles.”

The position of Engineered Air Fellow in HVAC Engineering was awarded to Robert Prybysh, a founding principal and chief engineer for Arrow Engineering Inc., an integrated buildings engineering firm.

Prybysh is investigating the efficiencies of an innovative combined system for potable water, heating and cooling. These systems are in use in Alberta and cost less to install and maintain than systems typically in use. In his U of A lab, Prybysh is constructing a working model of the system to collect data on its efficiency.

“It seems like a no-brainer to use these systems, but there’s no hard data on them yet,” said Prybysh, who earned his degree in mechanical engineering at the U of A in 1999 and is now working toward his PhD with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s construction engineering research group. “I’ll be able to generate the data engineers need to see so that they can consider these systems as options in their designs.”

The holder of the Engineered Air Chair in HVAC Engineering will be named at a future date.