Sam Richardson receives 2024 DIALOG scholarship

L to R: Marianne Hatzopolou, Sam Richardson, Jordyn Tripp and Daria Khachi. CivMin’s Sam Richardson (second from left, MASc candidate) receives the Donald Tong Graduate Scholarship at the DIALOG offices in Toronto on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. At right is DIALOG’s Daria Khachi (Partner, Structural Engineer), Jordyn Tripp (CivE MASc 2T0), along with Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou (left, Chair, Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering). (Photo by Phill Snel, CivMin/University of Toronto)

CivMin’s Sam Richardson, a MASc candidate under the supervision of Prof. Jeffrey Packer, has received the University of Toronto Donald Tong Graduate Scholarship in Structural Engineering from DIALOG.

The annual award was presented by company partner Daria Kachi and EIT Jordyn Tripp (CivE PhD 2T0) at a ceremony in the company’s downtown Toronto office on February 27. Richardson is the sixth recipient of this award since its inception in 2019.

“I’m very pleased to have been awarded this recognition for an engineering student who shows not only a strong academic background, but also good communication and community service experiences as well,” says Richardson. “Donald Tong was clearly an inspirational person who will always be remembered by the company, and I’m proud this award can carry on his memory, and his traits, that made him such a recognizable person.”

As an undergraduate student in engineering, Richardson was also simultaneously a varsity soccer player, balancing a demanding academic schedule with competitive athletic endeavours. “I was balancing that extracurricular side with engineering studies, and then along came Covid.  So I then got involved with making some COVID-19 test result calls for a hospital, which added significantly to my community service profile. As well, I’ve always been involved in coaching soccer throughout my life – a lifelong passion. During the pandemic, it had to turn to virtual coaching, but I still got to keep that involvement going.”

Peering into the future, he says, “My aspirations, after completing my MASc, is to go into industry and work on complex and innovative projects. That’s where I align with DIALOG and what they do. I have some experience in the multidisciplinary approach through my previous co-ops; I like that way of working, where you’re working directly with other sorts of engineers, whether it’s mechanical or electrical engineers, and also working with architects.”

Richardson’s current ambitions at U of T are clear, “I’m currently pursuing my MASc under the supervision of Professor Jeffrey Packer. I’m working on a computer program which helps check and design planar HSS welded connections. This software will be available as a web app and used to create design tables to help simplify the design process of HSS welded connections.”
CivMin’s Chair, Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou, adds, “This scholarship is an indication of the trust you have placed in us and of your support to our departmental strength in structural engineering. Your donation helps us acknowledge the great things our students are doing; they push us to share and disseminate stories about student excellence and raise our profile nationally and internationally. Most importantly, this scholarship allows us to honour the legacy of Donald Tong and continue to strengthen the bridges between industry and academia.” 
Donald Tong
(Photo courtesy of Dialog)

The award is named for Dialog’s long-time structural team member Donald Tong, who tragically passed away in 2018 after a courageous battle with cancer. In an online description, Dialog provides insight into the motivation for the award: Donald epitomized the integrated design culture at the heart of DIALOG. He started his career as an interior designer, followed by a stint as an architectural technologist, before he found his passion in structural engineering. It is our hope that future structural engineers will embody Donald’s creative, wide-ranging design spirit.

Jane Tong, Donald’s daughter also present for the event, is continuing the family legacy of engineering as a career.