Don George, the leader of the team that designed the Canadian Light Source synchrotron facility in Saskatoon has received the 2015 Saskatchewan Meritorious Achievement Award given by the province’s Lieutenant Governor.
While the Canadian Light Source synchrotron is one of Canada’s great scientific achievements, helping the country play a vital international role in groundbreaking scientific research, Mr. George’s working life also underscores the vital but unglamorous role that infrastructure plays in facilitating the rest of our technological achievements.
Over the course of his 34-year career as a professional engineer, George has been responsible for the installation of 3,500 kilometres of underground cable and 2,400 services for SaskPower’s Rural Underground Electrical Distribution network, and also designed and managed the installation of over 5,300 kilometres of pipeline for SaskEnergy’s Rural Gas project.
So if there’s a person in Saskatchewan who knows how to install pipe, it’s Don George. And the Canadian Light Source is quite a pipe.
Finally launching in 2004, construction on the Canadian Light Source began in 1999, while planning and haggling over funding and responsibility for the project stretches back decades to the 1970s.
Today the Canadian Light Source has over 200 employees and has hosted over 2,500 researchers from various academic and industrial backgrounds, and has facilitated countless experiments into cancer research, drug design, solar panel technology, improving the efficiency of computer chips, and a host of other technological applications.
Initially working for engineering firm AECOM after graduating with a B. Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Saskatoon in 1981, George oversaw a team that designed the 83 by 83 meter synchrotron facility.
Currently a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan, George has also served for 12 years on the volunteer board of the Saskatoon City Hospital Foundation.
The synchrotron aside, it’s Mr. George’s vast achievement in installing a network for the distribution of electricity to rural areas that’s at least as important to the economic survival and development of places like Saskatchewan.
Quite often, we get hung up on praising the latest, newest forms of technology, such as the thousands of app developers and tech unicorns that tend to dominate headlines.
Meanwhile, we often forget that without humanity’s other great achievements, the harnessing and distribution of electricity, water distribution, the collection of wastewater, and natural gas development, all of which Mr. George has had a hand in, we’d all still basically be living as subsistence farmers.
It’s thanks to those initial innovators that we’re able to lead the lives we lead today.