Systems Design Engineer to Receive Honorary Doctorate of Science from VIU

Dr. Keith Hipel is being awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Science from VIU.

January 25, 2017 - 8:45am

University of Waterloo professor Dr. Keith Hipel championed a new field of engineering designed to navigate an increasingly complex world

World-renowned Systems Design Engineer Dr. Keith Hipel says he was honoured to be asked to accept an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Vancouver Island University (VIU), adding how pleased he is that a “young and dynamic University” is recognizing his work.

Dr. Hipel has contributed significantly to the success of Systems Design Engineering as a unique engineering discipline. He is recognized for his creative curriculum development, exceptional teaching and insightful research at the University of Waterloo (UW), where he has worked for more than two decades. He holds the position of University Professor, a designation UW uses to recognize “exceptional scholarly achievement and international pre-eminence.”

Nationally, he has served as President of the Academy of Science within the Royal Society of Canada and internationally he is requested on a regular basis to deliver leading-edge research seminars at research institutions around the globe.

Dr. Hipel’s research takes a multidisciplinary engineering approach that is applied to society’s most complex problems such as climate change, water resource management, global energy requirements and sustainable development.

“In short, Systems Design Engineering is about creative problem solving,” said Hipel.

He says at the base of it, they use engineering principles to look at complex problems in a sensible way to design sound solutions that reflect stakeholders’ value systems.

“When maintaining a system to meet societal needs in a fair, ethical and sustainable manner you have to be prepared to take into account a great many variables,” said Hipel. “With complex problems like climate change you have to look not only at the science but you also have to include systems that embrace social, environmental, political and economic impacts. If a system is developed for just one group of stakeholders and is used to solve a problem, eventually that system may collapse, since neglected parties will not be satisfied.”

Dr. Hipel holds more than 55 academic and professional awards recognizing his research and has authored or co-authored four books and 300 journal papers. Over the past four decades he has taught more than 5,000 students in Canada and 1,000 more overseas. He has also supervised 33 PhD and 47 master’s students who went on to obtain meaningful employment in industry, academia and government.   

One of his first PhD students was Dr. Don Noakes, who published many scientific papers with Dr. Hipel on topics such as hydrological forecasting and salmon aquaculture conflicts. Dr. Noakes is currently the Dean of Science and Technology at VIU and was Dr. Hipel’s nominator for the award.

“I was fortunate to be one of Dr. Hipel’s first graduate students and he’s continued to be a mentor and friend for many years. He’s an exceptional academic and professional and has inspired thousands of students to go out into the world and tackle some of society’s most complex issues. We’re honoured to have him join our VIU family as an Honorary Doctorate of Science,” said Noakes.

Being nominated by a former student is especially gratifying to Dr. Hipel.

“It’s nice to see former students like Don excel in life and in their chosen fields. When our students succeed it paves the way for the students who come behind them. Their success helps others and if we do our job right they leave us as not only critical thinkers, but also creative thinkers.”

Dr. Hipel will accept his honorary doctorate on Friday, January 27 at VIU’s 10 am convocation ceremony.

Learn more about VIU’s graduation ceremonies at the convocation website.  



Dane Gibson, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 | C: 250.618.7296 | E: |  T: @viunews

Tags: Announcements

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email