Two UBC alumni receive 2022 McEwen Family Teacher Recognition Award

Framed awards recognizing the 2022 McEwen Family Teacher Award winners are displayed on a table
Todd Ablett was nominated by Joshua White, a student in UBC's Department of Engineering Physics.Joe Muise was nominated by Matt, a first-year UBC Engineering student .

Todd Ablett, a teacher of competitive robotics at West Vancouver Secondary School, and Joe Muise, a science teacher at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, are being honoured with the 2022 McEwen Family Teacher Recognition Award by the UBC Faculty of Applied Science.

The annual award, established in 2010 by Dr. James (Jim) McEwen and his family, aims to celebrate high school teachers who "go above and beyond teaching the curriculum to ensure their students succeed" both academically and personally. The award also aims to encourage UBC Applied Science students, who nominate their former teachers for consideration, to reflect on the impact their teachers had on their success.

A pioneering figure in the field of biomedical engineering, Dr. McEwen is a UBC Engineering alumnus and adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering who established the award with his family in 2010.  This year they were kind enough to extend their generosity and recognize not one, but two incredible teachers, “we are thrilled both are UBC alumni!” added James Olson, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science.

Both recipients will receive $2,000 for their own professional development, while their schools receive $5,000 to spend on school enrichment activities,programs, or development. In addition, they will be asked to nominate a current high school student to receive a $5,000 entrance scholarship to attend UBC. The UBC Applied Science students who nominated the winning teachers will receive $1,000 respectively in recognition of their efforts.

Ablett was nominated by Joshua White, a student in UBC's Department of Engineering Physics, who attributed many of his personal successes and love of engineering to Ablett’s enduring mentorship in robotics.

In 2016, Ablett started the Robotics Academy at West Vancouver Secondary School to increase students’ opportunities for STEM education and to engage them in learning within a creative, exciting and competitive environment.

“The support Mr. Ablett gave was relentless,” White wrote in his nomination letter. “With the exception of a few rest days, [he] would spend every day after school working with students. [He] prioritizes removing logistical barriers for students [and] maintains a self-discovery approach to the learning process.”

The other recipient of this award, Muise, was nominated by Matt, a first-year engineering student at UBC who described his former teacher as genuinely caring and “committed to helping his students succeed not only in their studies but also in their activities outside of class.”

In his nomination letter, Matt describes Muise’s infectious enthusiasm for science and support for students to reach beyond the regular school curriculum. One example is the Students on the Beamlines team, a program run by Canadian Light Source, Canada’s national synchrotron light source facility. The program gives students the opportunity to conduct a research experiment using the facility’s synchrotron.

In his nomination letter, Matt wrote: “He wants all his students to experience the same joys that science has brought him. On a personal level, especially as a first-year engineering student, the lessons he taught me about being resilient in the face of immense challenges are as important as the lessons he gave about force vectors and electric fields.”

A group photo celebrating the recipients of the 2022 McEwen FamilyTeacher Award.

On October 7, UBC Applied Science hosted an event to celebrate Ablett and Muise's awards and achievements. Attendees included Dr. James McEwen and his children, Jenn Alberts and Jeff McEwen, both recipients, their nominators, Muise’s spouse Dr. Kelly MacDonald, West Vancouver Secondary School Principal Steve Rauh, and Director of Instruction for West Vancouver Schools Diane Nelson, and members of UBC Applied Science. These included Dean James Olson, senior director of development and alumni relations Debbie Woo, development officer Noelle Yeung and development coordinator Ana Merino.

Nominations are now open for next year.

Discover Student Experiences

UBC Applied Science students are people who are passionate about their chosen field — architecture, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, engineering and nursing — and those that inspire others by making meaningful contributions to the betterment of society.

Browse Student and Alumni Spotlights
UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Arrow in Circle An arrow indicating direction. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. E-commerce Cart A shopping cart. Time A clock. Chats Two speech clouds. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Home A house in silhouette. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Calendar Location Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Social Media The globe is the default icon for a social media platform. TikTok The logo for the TikTok social media platform. Location Pin A map location pin. Mail An envelope. Telephone An antique telephone. Play A media play button. Search A magnifying glass. Arrow indicating share action A directional arrow. Speech Bubble A speech bubble. Star An outline of a star. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. User A silhouette of a person. Vimeo The logo for the Vimeo video sharing service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service. Future of work A logo for the Future of Work category. Inclusive leadership A logo for the Inclusive leadership category. Planetary health A logo for the Planetary health category. Solutions for people A logo for the Solutions for people category. Thriving cities A logo for the Thriving cities category. University for future A logo for the University for future category.