Adel Sedra and Matt Stevens

The University of Waterloo has named its Student Design Centre – where students fall “in love with engineering” – in honour of Adel Sedra, former dean of engineering.

Sedra was instrumental in bringing the 20,000-square-foot facility to reality for more than 20 student teams who work on design projects and compete internationally.  The largest facility of its kind in North America, the centre was named the Sedra Student Design Centre at a recent ceremony.

“The Student Design Centre symbolizes what is best about Waterloo Engineering,” said Sedra. “To have my name permanently attached to the SDC in perpetuity is a great honour for which I am grateful.”

“The school is very lucky to have had leadership that understood the benefit of student teams to the educational experience,” said Matt Stevens, CEO and founder of CrossChasm – a company that develops next generation vehicles. While completing his undergraduate degree and Ph.D in engineering at Waterloo, Stevens was heavily involved in international competitions with the University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT).

Stevens said he spent thousands of hours working on UWAFT and while he gained 40 pounds, drank gallons of caffeine, and even had a trip to the hospital, he noted:  “What is most important about that time is that it is where I fell in love with what we were doing. You’re working with a passionate team, tackling technical challenges and creating something new.”

Stevens said Waterloo engineers who went on to build companies of their own will say the team experience was the time “we fell in love with engineering.” Student teams at Waterloo work on everything from a new Formula One car to autonomous robots or a hybrid vehicle.

“If you believe that a main product of the university is talented graduates, then combining academics with co-op and student teams generates world-class talent,” Stevens said.  “That's why over half of our team at CrossChasm are student team graduates.”

Sedra, who served as dean from 2003 to 2012, is one of the world’s leading electrical engineers and an engineering educator specializing in the areas of microelectronics and the theory and design of circuits for communication and instrumentation systems. He is the co-author of three textbooks, including Microelectronic Circuits, now in its seventh edition, with more than two million copies in print in 10 languages. 

During Sedra’s nine years as dean of engineering, Waterloo introduced its world-renowned programs in mechatronics engineering, management engineering and nanotechnology.