Engineering Tomorrow's Leaders
Michael Norris and Family
"They call it an engineering school, but it’s really a leadership school."
It's a provocative statement. When we think of engineers, we think of them building bridges or dams. But leadership?
For Michael Norris, Sc'75, it makes perfect sense. At its heart, says Norris, "engineering is about problem solving." The skills that make a good engineer can also make a good CEO or entrepreneur. Norris's own history certainly bears this out. Trained at Queen’s in engineering, he also spent 25 years at RBC, ultimately as deputy chairman of RBC Capital Markets, advising major corporations.
Engineering gave him a perspective, he says. "To me it was critical that you had a holistic view."
So it's not surprising that when the dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Kim Woodhouse, approached him to chair their campaign, he and his family was more than ready to help her “take engineering to the next level." (Queen's engineering is very much a family affair. Norris's sons Jonathan, Sc’11, and Andrew, Sc'07, both followed in their father's footsteps without, as Norris puts it, "a lot of pressure from dad.").
Among other goals, the campaign will pay for a new building, the Queen’s Innovation Commons, a 70,000 square foot facility, featuring state-of-the-art labs and design studios. It will also fund the creation of the Queen’s Innovation Connector, a joint program between Business and Engineering that will give students the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs and innovators. Preparing them, in other words, for the leadership roles they will be increasingly called on to assume.
In addition to his leadership role, Norris and his family have made a significant contribution to the campaign. "I wanted to give back, to ensure that Queen’s remains a good school for our children and grandchildren," says Norris. "If we educate them properly, we're going to help them in their careers. More important, we are going to continue to make this country great."