1994: Breakthroughs

In 1994, a pivotal year in technological advancement and innovation, the World Wide Web emerged, reshaping the landscape of technology and business for years to come.

Meanwhile, the ASTech Awards celebrated outstanding achievements across diverse fields, ranging from journalism to biotechnology and industrial research

Alberta Innovates

Medical researcher Dr. Lionel E. McLeod was recognized as an Alberta Pioneer in Science and Technology, for his visionary leadership and dedication to biomedical research and education. Dr. McLeod served as the first President of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) (which later became Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions), and was part of the team enabling the province to become a global leader in this space by facilitating the recruitment of renowned scientists, the training of thousands of investigators, and the establishment of world-class research groups and facilities in Edmonton and Calgary. Born in Wainwright, his career spanned roles such as Dean of Medicine at The University of Calgary and President of prestigious medical associations.

Winner for Outstanding Contribution To The Alberta Science And Technology CommunityDr. D. Robert Weir, Senior Vice- President of Sherritt made significant strides in advancing extractive metallurgy, and brought industry and government together in a research and development consortium known as Westaim Technologies Inc. On August 4, 1989 the Government of Canada, the Province of Alberta, and Sherritt Inc. announced the major collaboration that would take place over a five year period for research, development and commercialization of advanced industrial materials – which would include new state-of-the-art facilities and make it possible to recruit more than 100 new scientists, engineers and support personnel from 9 different countries. Dr Weir developed strong ties with the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary, and in 1989, became a director of the Alberta Research Council (now Alberta Innovates).

Biomedical researcher Dr. Jerry H. Wang, winner for Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Science, became renowned for his groundbreaking research in enzymology, particularly in signal transduction mechanisms. At The University of Calgary since 1982, his work on calmodulin’s calcium-binding activity significantly advanced our understanding of intracellular processes. He held pivotal roles establishing the Cell Regulation Research Group and coordinating a Signal Transduction research group.

Award winner for Journalism: Specialized Publications medical journalist Lois M. Hammond played a pivotal role in educating Albertans on the significance of medical research through her work as Communications Director of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) – (AHFMR later became Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions). Lois was instrumental in writing “The Power and The Promise” a publication that highlighted human biology, Alberta’s pioneering role in medical research, and its impact on health and the economy. It was distributed widely – including every junior and senior high school in the Province. Reaction was “phenomenal” – winning awards from professional public relations organizations, both nationally and internationally.

Dr. Clifton Shook, Winner of the Innovation In Oil Sands Research award and Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, was recognized for his groundbreaking research in producing high-quality data describing pipeline operations that are fundamental to the field. His research led to big construction cost savings for Syncrude and Suncor by optimizing pipeline designs. The Canadian Society of Chemical Engineers also gave him the prestigious Century of Achievement Award. 

The Science Alberta Foundation (now known as MindFuel) won the award for Excellence In Science And Technology Public AwarenessMindfuel promotes science education, encouraging Albertans to pursue careers in science and technology. Champions of ‘hands-on, minds-on’ learning, the organization has enhanced science education through innovative and accessible means since being founded in Calgary in 1990. Presently, MindFuel is a leader in developing youth innovation talent through STEM programs for K-12 and collegiate youth populations. MindFuel has also won the ASTech 2014 Award for Excellence In Science And Technology Public Awareness.

Harding Instrument Company Ltd. award winner for Industrial Research (Northern Alberta Region), for their work designing an electrostatic imaging sensor for gas transmission. Founded by Professor Patrick Harding, as a University of Alberta spin-off, the company gained global recognition, with its products being marketed worldwide. Harding’s headquarters are in Edmonton and have now been in operations for over 55 years.

Bovine genetics innovator Alta Genetics Inc. was recognized for Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology for enhancing the efficiency of milk and meat production. Based in Rocky View County, Alta Genetics started in the town of Balzac, and continues to serve an international market – solidifying its status as a world leader in genetic and reproductive programs to optimize herd performance. Alta Genetics Founder Doug Blair is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Canadian Commemorative Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Canada. The company is now part of URUS, a global agriculture company.

Dr. Donald B. Robinson was recognized with the Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Technology for groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of hydrocarbons. The Peng-Robinson equation became the industry standard, revolutionizing oil and gas reservoir simulations, hydrocarbon processing, and pipeline flow simulations. Dr. Robinson applied his expertise commercially nurturing a team of world-wide experts through DBR Group of Companies, which was acquired by Schlumberger in 2002. Former Chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Alberta, Dr. Robinson won many honours.

1994’s Other Winners Include:

Mr. Arthur Heller, winner Journalism: General Public, developed Science, Technology and Society, a seven-part series of fifteen-minute video programs that provide real-life examples of complex topics. Produced through Access TV’s Edmonton facility, the series is aimed at senior high school students, although the topics covered are also of interest to more general audiences. Among the issues explored are how scientific knowledge develops, and the influence of society on scientific and technology research.

Winner of Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology, Broadband equipment innovator IDACOM Telecom Divisiona division of Hewlett-Packard Canada, was recognized for its commercial achievement for its specialized high-performance protocol testing solutions. This homegrown Alberta company grew from technology originally developed by AGT (Alberta Government Telephones) Limited (now Telus) – and in 1993 had revenues exceeding $30 million.

New Era Systems Services Ltd., was recognized for Innovation in Industrial Research(Southern Region). This Calgary company’s flagship product HARBOR, allowed automatic backup without the need for a mainframe – advancing the management of data and security solutions. New Era Systems Services Ltd. was later acquired by Interlink Computer Sciences in 1997.