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William H. Gauvin, HFCIC: researcher, teacher and manager.

On the occasion of the award by the Canada Council of the 1988 Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Prize in Engineering, (an award honouring a lifetime of distinguished achievement in research), principal David Johnston of McGill University noted that William Gauvin is to be admired as much for his exemplary work as a teacher as he is for his work in the laboratory and in the corporate sector. Johnston went on to declare: "His enthusiasm for science, his fastidious concern for accuracy and detail, and his lifelong dedication to excellence have influenced scores of students and young researchers at McGill."

Important as his academic research and teaching are, Gauvin's greatest commitment is to champion university industry collaboration through 'actions concertees'. As head of the Noranda Research Centre for two decades, and later as a consultant, he has promoted joint participation of industry and university researchers in development projects. In this way, he says, the technology gains both a sound theoretical and a strong practical basis.

Gauvin has been associated with MeGill University for over 50 years as student, teacher, research associate, senior research associate and member of the Board of Governors. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering and his doctorate in physical chemistry all at McGill in the 1940s. In 1947 Gauvin was appointed associate professor of chemical engineering, and held this appointment until 1962. During 1951-61 he was also associated with the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (PAPRICAN), first as a consultant and then as head of its chemical engineering division. In 1961 Gauvin created the Noranda Research Centre and he directed it until his retirement in 1983. The academic aspect of his career continued in these years, however, through his appointment as research associate (1961-72) and senior research associate (1972 to date) in McGill's chemical engineering department. He has also been a member of the board of governors of McGill since 1972.

Gauvin is known internationally for his fundamental research studies at McGill over four decades. He has directed the work of over 50 gradaute students and published nearly 200 papers. His early work was on the fundamentals of electrochemistry. His interest in developing new processes for industry led to his involvement in PAPRICAN, and to extensive studies of spray drying. His design of large scale units helped to establish this new technology. By extension of his work on the gas-particulate fundamentals underlying spray drying, Gauvin invented the atomized suspension technique which has seen commercial application in the pulp and paper industry. His fundamental work on high-temperature heat and mass transfer, and on plasmas, underpin his pioneering role in the use of plasma technology for high-temperature processing. This is one example of his actions concertees where collaboration was promoted among Noranda, McGill University, Universite de Sherbrooke and the Universite de Quebec. It later extended to include the Institut de recherche d'Hydro-Quebec and the Industrial Materials Research Institute (of NRC).

In 1960 Noranda Mines Limited asked Gauvin to set up a corporate research group. He started with only a few personnel, a small budget and no facilities. Over 20 years and under this leadership, the Noranda Research Centre became a leading industrial research laboratory in Canada with a world-renowned reputation for excellence. Gauvin's unfailing advocacy of academic and industrial collaboration played no small part in this success. At Noranda he held the positions of research manager (1961-70), director of research and development (1970-82), and director-advanced technology (1982-3). As an outstanding manager of research, he was an influential member of the Canadian Research Management Association and I'Association des directeurs de recherche industrielle du quebec.

Gauvin has served Canada in many ways, and his involvment in various offices and councils has helped to shape Canadian industrial and science policy. Some examples are the National Research Council of Canada (1964-70), the Science Council of Canada (1966-70, 1973-6), delege general, Policy and Planning at NRC (1970-1), and president, Advisory Committee of the Industrial Materials Research Institute (1978-83).

Over the years Gauvin has been a tower of strength within the CIC and CSChE. He has served on many committees, both in Montreal and nationally. He was Chairman of the Chemical Engineering Division of the ClC (1959-60), the second President of the CSChE (1966-7), and President of the Institute (1977-8). He was instrumental in forming the CSCHE in 1966. Perhaps his most important contribution to the stature of the CSCHE was his inspirational leadership of two major international chemical conferences in Montreal-The Tripartite Chemical Engineering Conference (1969), jointly sponsored by the CSChE, AICHE and ICHE, and the Second World Congress of Chemical Engineering (1981). For the latter, Gauvin was not only the senior organizer but also the guiding spirit and the host: both were major successes. He was also president of the Interamerican Confederation of Chemical Engineering, 1979-81.

Bill Gauvin has been recognized by many Canadian and international organizations for his contributions. He has earned more honours and distinctions than any other chemical engineer in Canada. The CIC and CSCHE have awarded him the Jules Stachiewicz Medal (1984), the Montreal Medal (1983), an Honourary Fellowship (1982), The Chemical Institute of Canada Medal (1966), and the R.S. Jane Memorial Lecture Award (1963). He holds honourary doctorates from Waterloo, Queen's and McMaster, as well as McGill. He is an Honourary Fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers (UK) and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Royal Society of Canada. He is a Founding Member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Engineering (US). He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1975. In 1979 he received the Gold Medal of the Societe d'Encouragement pour la Recherche et l'Invention (France). In addition to the Killam (engineering) prize, other recent honours were the Prix MarieVictorin (1984-5), and Inaugural Eugenie Lamothe Lecturer at McGill (1989).

These many honours and distinctions reflect the great esteem and respect that his colleagues and associates hold for William 'Bill' Gauvin, as well as his own unusual energy, perseverance and great abilities. Commanding the respect and affection of chemical engineers everywhere, he has remained a modest and caring person whose friendship is enlivened by a delightful sense of humour.
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Title Annotation:Canadian chemical engineer
Author:Rae, Howard
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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