Frank Wilson and members of his family at his tribute dinner, where funds were raised for a UNB scholarship in his name worth $165,000.
More than 250 UNB alumni, faculty, students, friends and family came together during a Homecoming weekend to celebrate Frank Wilson (BScEng’62, MScEng’63), saluting his tremendous contribution to the university and the community.
The proceeds from that evening in 2015, as well as donations from alumni and friends of the university, combined to create the Frank Wilson Scholarship, worth $165,000. This scholarship will provide financial support to third- or fourth-year civil engineering students, enabling them to further their education and skills, and inspiring them to follow in Dr. Wilson’s footsteps.
Dr. Wilson, a civil engineer, joined UNB in 1967 where he embodied innovation and excellence, working tirelessly for the advancement of the university and its students until his retirement in 1997 – and beyond.
A year after he started at UNB, Dr. Wilson founded the UNB Transportation Group with colleague Prof. Albert Stevens (BScEng’47, MScEng’57). It has since produced exceptional professionals working in all facets of the transportation industry. Made up of professional engineers, economists, planners and specialists, the group conducts research relating to transportation safety, mobility and materials. Even after his retirement, Dr. Wilson continues to contribute his expertise and support to the group and its members.
Holding a record-breaking three deanships over the course of his career, he oversaw the establishment of 11 funded research chairs in engineering, championed the construction of M. Patrick Gillin Hall, developed UNB’s Student Health Centre and Counselling Services and attracted millions of dollars in new research funding.
He went on to become the university’s first vice-president of research and international co-operation, and has played a major role in shaping UNB into the institution it is today. The impact of Dr. Wilson’s work can be felt in every corner of the university.
For Trevor Hanson (BScEng’02, MScEng’04, PhD’10), associate professor in the department of civil engineering and a faculty member of the UNB Transportation Group, Dr. Wilson was a guiding force.
“I’m always impressed with professors who just love what they do so much that they continue to work and lend their expertise to their field,” he says.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have his mentorship.”
Dr. Hanson’s work is an example of the vital work being undertaken by the group, continuing the legacy left by Dr. Wilson.
With the support of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada discovery grant, Dr. Hanson is working to foster the understanding and development of rural and community transportation alternatives for an aging New Brunswick population. He believes that over time, community transportation, such as volunteer driver programs, will become the go-to solution for those in rural areas that are unable to meet their transportation needs.
The challenge is that community transportation is typically not viewed through an engineering lens, says Dr. Hanson, making it difficult to anticipate and meet demands. The work he’s doing with these programs will help him to gain a greater understanding of how people are using their services, which in turn will allow him to be able to predict the need for these services in New Brunswick and beyond.
“Over time, we hope to expand our network to be national in scope,” says Dr. Hanson, who in 2013 was honoured by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick with its Young Professional Achievement Award “in recognition of his work to create 21st-century transportation solutions that work for everyone.”