The Polytechnique Montréal administration is proud to be awarding the Order of the White Rose scholarship today to Viviane Aubin, a Polytechnique Montréal graduate in mechanical engineering. This $30,000 scholarship created in 2014 is awarded annually to a Canadian woman engineering student who plans to enrol in graduate studies in this field, in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
Since childhood, Viviane Aubin has cared about the environment. Her gift for science, perhaps passed on by her maternal grandfather and her mother, both Polytechnique graduates, led her to pursue a career in engineering with the hopes of being able to do something tangible for the future of the planet.
“I liked the idea of inventing, creating through human ingenuity,” she says. “And I had a goal, which I still have, of making use of all this ingenuity to address one of the most critical issues of our time: the environmental crisis. This is a problem that I am very concerned about. For me, choosing engineering meant equipping myself with the tools to hopefully be part of the solution one day.”
She chose to pursue her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, where her almost perfect average earned her a host of academic scholarships. During her undergraduate studies, she developed an algorithm applicable to the study of soil liquefaction, a particularly destructive phenomenon throughout the world. She then undertook graduate studies in power engineering, focusing on research aimed at optimizing hydroelectric dam production in a context of solar and wind energy integration.
Viviane Aubin, fourth recipient of the Order of the White Rose. (Photo: Denis Bernier)
Viviane’s energy and desire to invest herself in change were not fully fulfilled by her academic career, however brilliant it was. So the young woman got involved in extracurricular activities, pursuing them with same intensity as she did with her academics. As soon as she began her bachelor’s degree, she joined Esteban Voiture solaire, a student technical society that designs and builds solar vehicles to compete in international competitions. She held several positions over the years, including that of a driver of the vehicle in 2015 for the competition in the United States, where Esteban placed second.
Guided once again by her interest in green energy, she promoted this resource to young people in primary and secondary schools. She also conducted scientific workshops organized by Les Scientifines, an organization whose objective is to introduce young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to science.
Despite suffering from juvenile arthritis, Viviane was no less determined to constantly push her limits, and sports became another arena for her to express her extraordinary drive. She developed a love for swimming, training several times a week with the Club de Sauvetage Sea Devils rescue club and competing in Québec and Canadian lifesaving championships.
Her profile would not be complete without mentioning her global awareness, enriched by several trips abroad to study or carry out humanitarian missions, including to Bolivia and India, through her involvement in the Poly-Monde student committee. Viviane, who speaks four languages, says that these trips taught her a lot about culture and humanity and made her realize that not all populations share the same level of awareness about environmental issues. Today, these observations have only strengthened her dreams of a career in project management in the field of renewable energy. “What I want is to make the biggest difference possible for the environment,” she says.
The Order of the White Rose was created as part of the activities commemorating the 25th anniversary of the tragedy that took place on December 6, 1989, at Polytechnique, to pay tribute to the victims of this sad event. The purpose of this scholarship is to recognize the importance Polytechnique places on the contribution of women in engineering, but above all, to value and encourage a young woman who stands out in this field and is a role model for women drawn to the scientific and technological world.
Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Chair of the Board of Directors of Polytechnique Montréal and Chair of the Selection Committee for the Order of the White Rose, notes: “The Order of the White Rose encourages exceptional young women to pursue their scientific career and use their talents to inspire future generations, far beyond the traditional stereotypes. In this respect, Viviane Aubin, through her remarkable achievements and commitment to the environment, embodies the change that engineering can bring to the world.”
Nathalie Provost, who was injured on December 6, 1989, adds: “Being the patron of the White Rose allows me to support this Order and ensure that the role of women in engineering continues to grow. This year, the recipient of the Order of the White Rose is an exceptional person who is deeply committed to the greatest challenge of our time: the fight against climate change. Not only am I proud that the Order is supporting Viviane in fulfilling her dreams, but I believe that we must join her in her efforts to ensure a future for our children.”
The Order of the White Rose selection committee is made up of outstanding figures in higher education:
Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto
Elizabeth Cannon, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Calgary
Kevin J. Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Queen’s University
Patrik Doucet, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke
Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University
John Newhook, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Dalhousie University
Peter Wild, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Victoria
Left to right: Nathalie Provost, Polytechnique graduate injured during the 1989 tragedy and Godmother of the Order of the White Rose; Viviane Aubin, fourth recipient of the Order of the White Rose scholarship; Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Principal and Chair of the Polytechnique Board of Directors, and Chair of the Order of the White Rose scholarship selection jury; François Bertrand, Deputy CEO and Academic and Research Director of Polytechnique Montréal. (Photo: Denis Bernier)
Website of the Order of the White Rose