John and Melinda Thompson help Western advance the future of engineering leadership and innovation

Western University is poised to help revolutionize engineering education, thanks to the launch of the John M. Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership and Innovation.

The Thompson Centre will help engineering and business students design new products and processes and obtain crucial business skills that will guide them through the process of transferring their ideas to market.

The Centre provides a home where students can combine traditional technical training with core competencies and next-generation skills. Graduates will be ready to work at the forefront of the industry. And the Centre will solidify Western as a leader in engineering education globally.

To help further these efforts, Western has also established a new research Chair and a student innovation fund.

The John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation will join the Thompson Centre as well as the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, and will also teach at the Ivey Business School. This interdisciplinary appointment will strengthen the existing collaborative relationship between the two faculties. The Chair has been established through the generosity of John, BESc’66, LLD’94, and Melinda, BA’64, Thompson along with funds from Western.

The John M. Thompson Innovation Fund will support engineering students with early stage ideas, prototype building, start-ups and with engaging experts in the field.

The Thompsons are long-time Western supporters. Combined with University matching funds, their generosity has enabled a total investment of $10 million in engineering leadership and innovation.

“We are immensely grateful to the Thompsons for their ongoing generosity and honoured to have John’s name on our Centre as a role model for students,” said Western President Alan Shepard. “His success as a leader speaks for itself. His leadership style, strong values and steadfast commitment to advancing education are truly an inspiration.”

A goal of the Centre is to develop a life-long entrepreneurial mindset in Western Engineering graduates, regardless of their career path. Through the Certificate in Engineering Leadership and Innovation and the dual BESc-HBA program with Ivey, students can build business and innovation management skills that are second to none in Canada.

“The benefits of combining engineering and business skills are immeasurable,” said Thompson. “I’ve been fortunate in my career, and it’s my great pleasure to use that good fortune to continue supporting Western, and to provide students with an education unmatched anywhere in Canada, so that they too may benefit for years to come.”

John and Melinda are both proud alumni and longtime, dedicated supporters of Western. They have two children who are Western graduates.

Mr. Thompson served as Western’s 20th chancellor from 2008 to 2012, in addition to serving on the President’s Council, chairing Western Engineering’s advisory board and co-chairing Western’s Renaissance Campaign from 1989 to 1994.

Thompson was the inaugural recipient of the Ivey Business Leader Award, which honours individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of business in Canada and have demonstrated leadership in both business and their communities.

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