An award-winning engineer, professor and administrator who has spent more than 20 years in academia will become the next dean of the University of Guelph’s newly renamed College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Mary Wells

Mary Wells will begin a five-year term Nov. 1. The announcement was made today by Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic).

The decision follows an extensive international search by a hiring committee composed of faculty, students and staff, and chaired by Yates.

Wells is associate dean of outreach and a professor in mechanical and mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo. She chairs the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE).

“As an experienced university leader, mentor and scholar, Professor Wells successfully balances administrative responsibilities, service and outreach with exemplary research and teaching,” Yates said.

“She is known for bringing people together to work on common goals, making her an excellent choice to lead our college’s future growth and innovation.”

Wells is a sought-after expert and international speaker on women in engineering and science – what Yates called “a topic of utmost importance at U of G.”

Wells’s previous work in industry will help in developing relationships and partnerships with government, the public and private sectors, alumni and other stakeholders, said Yates.

She thanked members of the search committee and the University community for input during the search.

Wells studies mathematical modelling of industrial metallurgical operations.

“I am honoured to join the University of Guelph as the dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences,” she said.

“I look forward to advancing the college’s scholarship and teaching strengths and working with faculty, staff and students to realize our aspirations. I am also eager to work with my colleagues and students to continually set high standards for the experience students, faculty and staff have at U of G and the impact we make on our community.”

Wells was a professor in materials engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) from 1996 to 2007, and has worked in the steel industry in Canada and internationally.

She has chaired ONWiE since 2013. Begun by U of G engineering professor emerita Valerie Davidson, that network links engineering schools across Ontario in order to increase women’s participation in engineering.

At Waterloo, Wells chaired the Women in Engineering committee, and was involved in numerous programs for girls and women, teachers and parents.

Along with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, she established a career mentoring program for women university graduates.

She collaborates with researchers from Canadian universities under a partnership grant on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) success, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Last month, her outreach activities earned Wells both the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Award for Science Promotion, and the prestigious Support of Women in the Engineering Profession Award from Engineers Canada.

A past president of the Metallurgy and Materials Society of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, Wells holds a B.Eng. from McGill University and a PhD from UBC.