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Electrical and Computer Engineering

History

Our Namesake: Walter Light


Since 1983 Walter Light Hall has been home to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Queen's. The seven-story building, made possible by a grant from the estate of the late Joseph S. Stauffer, was named after Queen's Electrical Engineering graduate Walter F. Light, Sc'49.

Light, who was born in Cobalt, Ontario in 1923, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served overseas in WWII. At the end of the war, he arrived on campus at Queen's determined to become an engineer. Upon graduation he was hired with Bell Canada and quickly worked his way up the ladder becoming President of Northern Telecom in 1979. During his time as president, Light developed the "Digital World" vision, which stated that digital technology would be the standard of the future, furthering Nortel's command over the digital technology world.

Light retired in 1984, but went on to chair the Canadian Government's International Trade Advisory Committee. In 1986 he received the Order of Canada. Light also chaired the Board of Trustees at Queen's from 1985 to 1990.

Through his work with Queen's, Light developed the Walter Light Scholar Program which allows departments in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to hire bright, young scholars 3-5 years before a senior faculty member retires and the endowment is used to bridge the gap in funding during that span. In the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Walter Light Scholar winners have been Dr. Naraig Manjikian and Dr. Li Shang.

Light died in 1996, but his legacy lives on with Walter Light Hall, the centre of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Queen's University.