U of T MSE community gather in numbers at the 54th Conference of Metallurgists

More than 30 scientific papers presented to commemorate the life of Professor Torstein Utigard


Professor Emeritus Alex McLean, PhD candidate Sherry Esfahani and Associate Professor Mansoor Barati at the 54th Conference of Metallurgists in Toronto (Photo: Mansoor Barati / University of Toronto)

September 2, 2015 | By Luke Ng

The 54th Conference of Metallurgists, hosted by the Metallurgy & Materials Society (MetSoc) of the Canadian Institute for Mining, Metallurgy & Petroleum (CIM), took place from August 23 to 26, 2015. Held in Toronto, this year’s theme was Sustainability in Metals and Materials Processing and Use.

The University of Toronto Materials Science & Engineering community gathered in strong numbers this year, where alumnus and distinguished MIT professor Donald Sadoway (EngSci 7T2, MMS MASc 7T3, PhD 7T7) gave the opening plenary lecture on the Electrochemical Path to Sustainability.

Utigard, Torstein A.

Torstein A. Utigard, Professor & Gerald R. Heffernan Chair in Materials Processing (1954–2012)

“Torstein made many contributions to the area of chemical process metallurgy during his career. But more importantly, it was his kind-hearted spirit that touched the lives of so many around him.”

One of the most attended programs was the Torstein Utigard Memorial Symposium, held to celebrate the life and career of the late U of T professor and friend. A biographical portrait of Professor Utigard was delivered by Associate Professor Mansoor Barati and colleague Dr. Carlos Diaz, while Professor Emeritus Alex McLean gave a brief presentation on the history of pyrometallurgy at U of T. Then, more than 30 papers were presented by Professor Utigard’s former students, friends and colleagues in industry.

The symposium was followed by a dinner at the U of T Faculty Club and a friendly table tennis competition held in honour of Professor Utigard’s passion for the sport and the time he spent playing with his former students. Interestingly, Professor Utigard’s most recent two graduate students, Mark Li and Dawei Yu made it to the final, with Yu winning the title.


Professor Torstein Utigard’s former students and colleagues gathered to play a friendly table tennis tournament in honour of the late professor’s passion for the sport (Photo: Mansoor Barati / University of Toronto)

“Torstein made many contributions to the area of chemical process metallurgy during his career and influenced a number of advances in industry,” said Professor Barati. “But more importantly, it was his kind-hearted spirit that touched the lives of so many around him. It was an honour to organize this symposium commemorating our colleague and friend.”


Two of Professor Utigard’s most recent graduate students, Mark Li and Dawei Yu, were the table tennis competition’s finalist and champion (Photo: Mansoor Barati / University of Toronto)

At the conference closing dinner, Professor Barati was honoured with the MetSoc Brimacombe Award, which recognizes a young individual who has made noteworthy contributions in the metallurgical and materials field and has demonstrated the ability to collaborate with all parts of the professional community.

Finally, PhD candidate and chair of the newly established U of T MetSoc Student Chapter Sherry Esfahani was awarded the winning prize in MetSoc’s video competition on The People who Changed our Industry. Her short film, featuring Professor Emeritus Alex McLean can be viewed below.

“In the beginning, it seemed so difficult to summarize Professor McLean’s lifetime of achievements and contributions to the industry in a five minute video,” said Esfahani. “But I quickly realized how respected he is among the metallurgical community. I would like to thank all the people who contributed heartfelt interviews, the U of T Materials Industry Cub for their support and especially to Professor Kinnor Chattopadhyay who initiated our participation in this competition ”

“I am truly inspired by and grateful to the many members of our department community who put a tremendous effort into organizing this conference and the Utigard symposium. I enjoyed the biographical talk—and, not surprisingly—learned some new things about the history of our department from Professor McLean.” said Professor Jun Nogami, chair of the U of T Department of Materials Science & Engineering. “Particularly, I would like to thank Mansoor and his colleagues for putting together the events to celebrate the life of our good friend, Torstein.”