Honorary Degree Citation - Elvie Lawrence Smith*

by T.S. Sankar, June 1983

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Elvie Lawrence Smith, a distinguished mechanical engineer and an eminent industrialist, who heads a Canadian company which is the world leader in the manufacture of gas turbine engines and associated products for general aviation and other industrial applications.

Born in Eatonia, Saskatchewan, Mr. Smith received his early education there, graduating with a mechanical engineering degree in 1947 from the University of Saskatchewan. He then proceeded to Purdue University to obtain a Master of Science degree in the same field. During the next five years, he worked in the engine laboratory of the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa on projects dealing with gas turbine anti-icing and thrust boosting, and afterwards worked on the flight testing of after-burning gas turbine engines for the flight research section. Mr. Smith joined Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada in 1957 and immediately assumed the leadership role in the early PT6 gas turbine design and development team. His deep sense of practical engineering and technological innovation was a catalyst to the group which created this famous engine, known for its versatility, dependability and design excellence. More than 22,000 such engines have been built and sold during the last twenty years. Mr. Smith rose to the position of Chief Project Engineer in 1959, to that of the Company's Vice-President in 1966, and in 1980 he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Smith is the author of many publications dealing with gas turbine design and development. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and received its McCurdy Award in 1972. Recently, he was honoured as recipient of the C.D. Howe Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the fields of planning, policy-making and overall leadership in Canadian aeronautics and space activities.

Elvie Smith's unassuming manner and friendly personality conceal a quick-thinking and incisive engineering mind and innovative skills. His extraordinary interest in engineering education and research has resulted in increased cooperation in educational and research programs between his company and this University. Further, Mr. Smith not only believes in putting priority emphasis on Research and Development spending, but has taken concrete action to prove it. In his own words, "increased R & D activity will surely translate into increased production as the products being developed reach the market place". His statement is true not only for his company but also for the prosperity of this nation. Since his appointment as President, he has nearly doubled his company's R & D budget to $135 million.

Elvie Smith is a credit to his company and to this country. He has played a leading role in building up a Canadian company to a position of world leadership in its field and that of a major contributor to the economic well-being of Quebec and Canada.

Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to by the authority of the Board of Governors, confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws; you, on behalf of the Senate and Elvie Lawrence Smith, that you may honoris causa.

* deceased