Past Chair of Friends receives Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

John Bockstael Feb 09


Congratulations to Friends of Engineering Past Chair, John Bockstael, P.Eng., (B.Sc.C.E. 1980) on receiving the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada on April 12, 2016. The new medal was presented to 55 Canadians at Rideau Hall to recognize exceptional volunteer achievements in a wide range of fields.

“I’m delighted to recognize some of Canada’s most caring individuals with the inaugural presentation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers,” said the Governor General. “Each recipient was nominated for the medal from within their community, making this celebration a wonderful reflection of generosity across Canada during National Volunteer Week.”

In addition to being a community builder, John Bockstael has been dedicated to expanding accessibility to health care in Winnipeg for over 10 years. He is a perennial fundraiser and volunteer with St. Amant Inc., working to help those with developmental disabilities and autism, and has served as a board member and fundraiser for the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba.

Bockstael was also a founding member of the Friends of Engineering (Manitoba) Inc., a unique group of top engineering influencers who share the University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering’s commitment to excellence in engineering education.

2016 Friends of Engineering Co-op/IIP Student of the Year

Congratulations to the 2016 Friends of Engineering Co-op/IIP Student of the Year, Mechanical Engineering student, Sarfraz Ahmed.

The award is given to a student who has made an outstanding contribution to the workplace while on a work term, has advanced the promotion of the Co-op/IIP to fellow students and professionals, and has grown personally and academically as a result of applying knowledge learned at a workplace during a Co-op/IIP work term.

This year’s winner had an 8 month work term with Buoyant Aircraft Systems International, which comprises several aerial and ground platforms for airship and drone technology research, design and testing. One of the company’s goals is to develop a zero-carbon-emission airship by using hydrogen gas for buoyancy. This airship would carry cargo to areas in the north with poor transport infrastructure.

While at BASI, this student continuously exceeded the performance standards for his position as a Mechanical Engineering Intern. He willingly accepted new assignments and offered to help wherever he could in administrative and engineering support. The reports he developed have been invaluable to the definition of the conceptual design of their transport airship. His project documents have been presented to a number of potential customers and investors. They have also used his publications in their meetings with the Ontario Government. His work has served as a crucial foundation to the development of their business plan that is necessary to solicit investors to make the project a reality.

Mr. Ahmed was given his award, a certificate and a cheque for $2,000, at the Friends of Engineering Annual General Meeting and Co-op/IIP Celebration on February 24th, 2016.


Happy Holidays from the Friends of Engineering

On behalf of the Board of the Friends of Engineering, I want to thank you for your membership and participation in the Friends of Engineering. As 2015 draws to a close, I am reminded what a busy year it has been for Friends.

I do hope you have taken advantage of the events and networking opportunities we have offered this past year, including the Friends of Engineering/UMES Wine & Cheese last month. We were delighted to host and showcase winners of the Technical Communications Report Prizes, winning teams of the Friends of Engineering Intro to Engineering Design prize, and Friends of Engineering Co-op/IIP Student of the Year at this event. We also hosted several other students from the various competition teams and student groups that have received Friend’s support to attend competitions and conferences.

The Board has been meeting to discuss upcoming events as well as the continuation of our mandate and is excited about the possibilities in this upcoming year. I would welcome your participation and input at our next Annual General Meeting being held on February 24th 2016. Expect a formal invitation with more details soon.

If you have suggestions for the Board, please contact our Executive Director, Amber Skrabek at 204-474-9034 or email her at

Once again, thank you for being a Friend of Engineering.

Walter Czyrnyj, P.Eng.,
Director of Quality, Magellan Aerospace
Chair, Friends of Engineering (Manitoba) Inc.

Province adding 18 new engineering seats, new engineering hybrid pathway at U of M

Premier Selinger looks on as Friends Past-Chair, John Bockstael speaks to the demand of engineers in Manitoba.
Premier Selinger looks on as Friends Past-Chair, John Bockstael speaks to the demand of engineers in Manitoba.

Young Manitobans who want to become professional engineers will soon have more opportunities to enter the faculty of engineering thanks to $500,000 in new funding from the province that will create 18 new seats and a new hybrid pathway between the University of Manitoba and other Manitoba post-secondary institutions, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.

“Civil, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineers are in demand in our province and increasing the number of engineering graduates is necessary to create more good jobs and keep our economy growing,” Premier Selinger said.

The University of Manitoba is the only institution in the province to offer accredited engineering degrees and is currently operating at or above capacity.

“The faculty of engineering at the University of Manitoba is in high-demand – attracting the best and brightest students from Manitoba and beyond,” said Dr. David T. Barnard, president and vice-chancellor.  “This investment ultimately will enable us to graduate more engineers, responding to a real and pressing need in our province.”

Undergraduate engineering enrolment has increased by 48 per cent at the U of M since 2008, Barnard noted.

The new hybrid engineering pathway will be introduced over several academic years through collaborative efforts between the University of Manitoba and Red River College (RRC) and other post-secondary institutions, supporting increased credit transfer and recognition of prior experience for those students.

“Red River College is proud of the quality of its graduates and we welcome opportunities for them to further their education as a result of this pathway program with the University of Manitoba,” said Paul Vogt, president and CEO, Red River College.  “When you combine the experience our students receive from both institutions, it’s a recipe for success that will have a considerable benefit to many industries here in Manitoba.”

Once fully established, this new hybrid pathway will transition between 10 and 15 hybrid engineering students annually from RRC and other post-secondary institutions to U of M engineering degree programs.

“Engineers provide services that drive our economy,” said John Bockstael, president and CEO, Bockstael Construction, and graduate of the faculty of engineering at the University of Manitoba.  “It’s important that we provide opportunities for our students to receive a first-rate education in their home province where they can then build careers and contribute to our economy.”

Friends Member wins Outstanding Service Award

Mr. Allan Ball, P. Eng., FEC, graduated from Red River College with a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 1974, and worked in the consulting and control businesses for a number of years before enrolling in APEGM’s examination program in 1982. After completing 16 exams or their equivalents and submitting a thesis, Allan obtained his professional status in 1990.  During these eight years, he spent virtually every year attending one or more engineering courses at the University of Manitoba.

Upon registration with APEGM, Allan became a member of the Communications Committee and was active on that committee until 1997, during which time he wrote numerous articles for the Keystone Professional. During the 1990s, Allan was active on ad-hoc committees dealing with the issues of electronic seals and guidelines for the use of the seal.  Between 1997 and 2001, he was a member of council and in 2001 was appointed Council representative on the Investigation Committee.  In 2006, he accepted the Chair position of the Investigation Committee, and with that role has also been part of the association’s Nominations Committee.

Allan has been involved with the ACEC – Manitoba Chapter, sitting on the industrial liaison committee in the late 1990s and currently serving on the Energy Committee. For the past eight years, Allan has also sat on, and served as interim chair of, the Mechanical Engineering Technology Advisory Board at Red River College, providing industry input to the College’s Mechanical Department. During the last two years, he has been a member of the Friends of Engineering.

Allan is a senior Project Manager and Associate at Hatch Ltd, a prominent Winnipeg engineering consulting firm. His career at Hatch has spanned 18 years during which time he has held the positions of Mechanical Department Head, Engineering Manager, and Quality Lead.

In the community, Allan has been deeply involved in the operation of his local church, having served in roles such as Board Chair, Trustee member, Trustee Chair, Property Development Taskforce Chair, sound technician, as well as providing project management and safe practice direction for church work projects.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba was pleased to recognize continuing meritorious professional service by presenting the 2014 Outstanding Service Award to Mr. Allan Ball, P.Eng., on October 24th at a gala event held at the Hotel Fort Garry.

WISE Girls Make Their Move

On International Women's Day (March 8th) the Friends of Engineering was pleased to sponsor a special outreach event that inspired, celebrated and promoted women in engineering. Make Your Move, a unique outreach event presented by WISE-Kidnetic Energy, invited young women in grades 8-9 who have demonstrated leadership in their community, academics or athletics to a day of fun and challenges at the Faculty of Engineering. The girls, divided into teams, were each assigned a female engineer as a mentor and participated in design/build/test challenges meant to encourage teamwork, creativity and ingenuity.