Engineering profs receive alumni UBC Achievement Awards

alumni UBC Achievement Award winners

Three members of the APSC community — mechanical engineering professor Nemkumar Banthia; electrical and computer engineering professor emeritus Charles Laszlo; and electrical and computer engineering adjunct professor James McEwen — have received alumni UBC Achievement Awards.

Presented during a black-tie event at the Vancouver Convention Centre West yesterday evening, the awards recognize recipients for “excellence, leadership, and innovation in their achievements and contributions to the social, cultural, and economic well-being of society, which positively reflect on the University of British Columbia.” 

The event, hosted by CBC news anchor and UBC Journalism graduate Lien Yeung, also featured a silent auction to support the UBC Blue & Gold Campaign for Students. Almost $1.1 million was raised.

Below are the APSC awardees’ citations. For more information about the other awardees, as well as photos from the evening, please visit

Nemkumar Banthia, PhD ’87 – Global Citizenship Award (“given to a UBC alumnus/alumna in recognition of significant community or voluntary service which has gained international recognition and made a global difference”)

Dr. Banthia is a world-class researcher in the field of advanced building materials who is dedicated to improving the lives of people in marginalized communities through innovative solutions to improve infrastructure. He is the CEO and scientific director of the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS).

Charles Laszlo, CM, OBC – Honorary Alumni Award (“recognizes outstanding contributions made by a non-UBC alumnus/alumna to UBC”)

A professor emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UBC, Dr. Laszlo is a pioneer of biomedical engineering in Canada who has made remarkable contributions to the field as an educator, researcher and inventor. Hard of hearing since his twenties, he has taken on several volunteer leadership roles to enhance accessibility and inclusiveness for those with hearing loss and co-founded numerous companies specializing in the development of electronic hearing aids. Dr. Laszlo led the creation of the Faculty of Applied Science’s Biomedical Engineering program.

James McEwen, OC, BASc ’71, PhD ’75, DSc ’11 – Research and Innovation Award (“recognizes a UBC or honorary alumnus/alumna whose outstanding research or innovation has made a significant impact to the community and society”)

Known as the grandfather of the biomedical engineering industry in BC, Dr. McEwen invented the world’s first microprocessor-controlled automatic surgical tourniquet system, which improved the precision, speed and safety of surgery and is now the standard of care worldwide. He has founded several medical technology companies and established the Medical Device Development Centre — an incubator for many more.