Brielle Chanae Thorsen: recipient of Polytechnique Montréal’s $30,000 Order of the White Rose scholarship

Brielle Chanae Thorsen, sixth recipient of the Order of the White Rose scholarship. (Photo: Chris Noakes)
December 3, 2020
Brielle Chanae Thorsen, sixième lauréate de l'Ordre de la rose blanche. (Photo : Chris Noakes)

Brielle Chanae Thorsen, sixth recipient of the Order of the White Rose scholarship. (Photo: Chris Noakes)

Montréal – Brielle Chanae Thorsen is the 2020 recipient of the $30,000 Order of the White Rose scholarship awarded by Polytechnique Montréal. Originally from Cochrane (near Calgary, Alberta), Thorsen holds a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario), where she is now pursuing a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, was guest of honour at the sixth annual Order of the White Rose award ceremony, held online this year.

Over the years, white roses have become the symbol of Polytechnique Montréal’s commemorative activities to mark the tragedy of December 6, 1989, which cost the lives of 14 young women and injured several others. Upon the commemoration’s 25th anniversary, Polytechnique created the Order of the White Rose in tribute to the victims as well as the wounded, the families, the faculty members, the employees and the students who were forever affected by the tragedy. This $30,000 scholarship is awarded annually by the Polytechnique administration to a woman engineering student who intends to undertake graduate studies in engineering (master’s or PhD) at the institution of her choice, in Canada or elsewhere in the world. Nathalie Provost, who was injured on December 6, 1989, is one of the patrons of the Order of the White Rose scholarship.

very proud to say that in Autumn 2020, the proportion of women in our undergraduate engineering programs exceeds 29%, whereas in 1989, women accounted for only 17% of Polytechnique’s student body. Today, their numbers have reached or surpassed parity in certain specialties, such as biomedical engineering and chemical engineering,” said Philippe A. Tanguy, President, Polytechnique Montréal.

Scholarship winner Brielle Chanae Thorsen remarked: “We all need to remember the women who came before us, especially the victims and survivors of the Polytechnique tragedy. We must all have an equal opportunity to pursue a rewarding career without being the targets of discrimination or violence, regardless of our gender, race, sexuality, or religion.”

She continued: “I want to follow in the footsteps of my father, who is also an engineer. Throughout my academic career I’ve had the opportunity to explore different facets of mechanical engineering. I’m now in a position to make an informed choice about what inspires me most—which is specializing in sustainable energy. I am a strong nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) and a fearless female engineer. I plan to use my knowledge to benefit Indigenous communities in the North, and to run my own business.”

Order of the White Rose scholarship evaluation criteria are based on academic record (30%), technical achievements (35%) and non-technical achievements (35%). Established by Polytechnique Montréal, the selection committee comprises deans from the engineering faculties of the University of Toronto, Queen's University, Université de Sherbrooke, Dalhousie University and University of Victoria, and is chaired by Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, Honorary Chair of the Polytechnique Board of Directors and the first woman to earn a civil engineering degree from Polytechnique in 1963.

Brielle Chanae Thorsen's Accomplishments:

Brielle Chanae Thorsen – Profile:

About Polytechnique Montréal

Established in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada’s largest engineering education and research universities. It is located on the Université de Montréal campus, North America’s largest francophone university campus. With over 52,500 graduates and more than 120 academic programs, Polytechnique has trained 22% of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ)’s current membership. Polytechnique Montréal is also distinguished by its 285 talented professors, more than 9,000 students, and overall annual budget of $255 million, nearly $100 million of which is reserved exclusively for research activities.

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Polytechnique Montréal: Annie Touchette, 514 231-8133


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