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Building a Better Heart

Milligan gift will fund graduate fellowships in biomedical engineering

A substantial gift from Frank Milligan (BASc 1948) will enable U of T to enrol more graduate students in biomedical engineering, an area of advanced technology that applies engineering principles to the medical field.

Milligan’s donation will fund 20 graduate fellowships in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME).

The 81-year-old founder and chairman of Thermal & Hydraulic Equipment Limited, a distributor of industrial machinery, graduated from mechanical engineering at a time when students learned about machine design, thermal dynamics, hydraulics, and heating and ventilation systems. Biomedical engineers today use some of the same principles in collaboration with researchers from medicine and dentistry to develop new kinds of prosthetic limbs and artificial organs. Others areas of biomedical engineering include nanotechnology and nerve regeneration. Milligan sees a lot of potential for growth in these fields, and hopes the Barbara and Frank Milligan Graduate Fellowships (worth $6,000 each) will help the departments attract the best students. “When you think of all the medical procedures that are now possible, it’s partly thanks to work by engineers,” he says.

Professor Tony Sinclair, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, says Canada needs biomedical engineers to remain competitive with the rest of the world. “Engineering is changing at a rapid rate. Unless Canada can keep up, we will be back to providing wood and oil to the rest of the world.” Adds Professor Ross Ethier, chair of IBBME, “These fellowships will allow us to recruit more of the best and brightest students into this fast-growing field.”

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