../Morning Post
Posted November 9, 2009

Convocation College-Wide Awards Honour Outstanding Students

Kitchener - As part of the 41st Convocation ceremonies (fall) of Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning on November 7, President John Tibbits will present a number of College-wide achievement honours.

The Conestoga College Mastercraft Award

Established by former Conestoga President Kenneth E. Hunter, this award recognizes outstanding technical achievement by an individual or a student team in the creation of a program-related technical project. Eligible projects must first win a program-level competition to qualify for College-wide judging. The prize consists of an inscribed and framed program shield, plus a cheque for $500. For the first time this year, Conestoga is now giving two of these awards – one at the spring Convocation, the second at the fall event.

Neil Dignam of Kitchener is a graduate of that city’s Resurrection Catholic Secondary School. He originally graduated from Conestoga in 2000 with an Electronics Engineering Technician diploma. He pursued a career in quality control for five years, in the electronics and automotive industries, before returning to Conestoga to enrol in the Mechanical Engineering Technology – Design and Analysis program.

His comprehensive, final-year project is the design and documentation for a diesel pile driver, for use in both hard clay and soft soil conditions. It uses diesel fuel combustion to raise the piston and then free-fall to drive the pile into the ground a set distance, at which point the cycle repeats. He employed a full range of mechanical engineering skills: thermodynamics for the combustion chamber, dynamics for the piston design, hydraulics for the starting mechanism, and a wide range of stress analyses.

His thoroughness and dedication to detail is impressive – he spent more than 675 hours completing his project.

The President’s Scholar Award

The President’s Scholar Award, a specially inscribed and framed Conestoga Coat of Arms, recognizes the graduating student from a four-year degree program who achieves the highest composite academic average for all courses. The curriculum in Conestoga’s degree programs is exacting and demanding, given the high level of theoretical and practical skills needed to graduate.

Jordan Wisniewski of Cambridge entered the Integrated Telecommunications and Computer Technologies program in 2005. He began his education through home-schooling, and in 2002 graduated from St. Benedict’s Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge.

Following a year of study at Wilfrid Laurier University in Honours Computing and Computer Electronics, he decided to pause and rethink his educational goals. That process led him to Conestoga.

His studies at Conestoga have led to a position at Research In Motion as an embedded systems software developer. In the four years of work towards his Bachelor of Applied Technology degree, he achieved an overall academic average of 86.37 per cent.

The Governor General’s Academic Medal

The Governor General’s Academic Medal recognizes the graduating student who achieves the highest composite academic grade average for all courses in a diploma program. The award is a bronze medallion commissioned by the Governor General of Canada.

Robin Hayward of Guelph actually took part in the June Convocation, receiving her Biotechnology Technician diploma. She has returned to receive her award, which is given annually at the fall graduation.

She graduated from high school in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and then enrolled at the University of Guelph, earning her B.A. in Classical Studies and Art History. Her long-standing interest in the sciences, however, eventually drew her to enter Conestoga, in order to pursue a new career direction.

She now is employed at the university in the environmental biology department and is preparing to pursue graduate studies.

Her overall average in the challenging, two-year Biotechnology Technician program was 96.21 per cent.

In addition, on November 7 Conestoga will award its first-ever honourary degree. A Bachelor of Applied Studies will go to John Keating, CEO of Cambridge-based COM DEV International. Mr. Keating will also deliver the Convocation address to graduates.

The fall Convocation ceremony recognizes more than 1,200 graduating students from all academic divisions – engineering technology, information technology, trades and apprenticeship, media and design, communications and liberal studies, the Conestoga Language Institute, business and hospitality, health and life sciences, and community services. The ceremony also recognizes graduates of Conestoga’s four-year degree programs.

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