The Engineering Newsletter

Q & A with Bryan Karney

  Bryan Karney

Bryan Karney joined the Department of Civil Engineering in 1987 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1992 and to full Professor in 1996. Professor Karney has a notable track record of administrative service in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. He continues to serve as Chair of the Division of Environmental Engineering and Energy Systems, a position he has held since 2006. He also served as Associate Chair, Graduate Studies in the Department of Civil Engineering from 2004 - 2006.

As the Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs, Professor Karney will lead the newly created Cross-Disciplinary Programs Office in the Faculty. The mandate of the Cross-Disciplinary Programs Office will be to provide academic and administrative leadership to enhance the cross-disciplinary educational activities of the Faculty.

1. What kind of music do you listen to when you want to relax?
I love some of the rock of the 70s and 80s - Guess Who, Al Steward, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull, America.

2. What book are you currently reading?
I read quite widely but recently thoroughly enjoyed Stieg Larrson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." A real page-turner of a mystery novel set in Sweden.

3. Where did you grow up?
Many places stretched across Canada from Ottawa to Vancouver, with a year in Tanzania to round it out.

4. iPhone or Blackberry?
Both are impressive and neither are for me.

5. What is your definition of leadership?
Is anyone following?

6. What are your ambitions/goals for your portfolio?
To add real richness to our course and program offerings so they are much more than merely technically good; to learn how to inspire and instruct real connectedness to the interface between people, the
built world, and the natural enviroment.

7. Why did you decide to study Engineering?
I wanted to make a difference in an area that really mattered to people (water supply initially) and because I loved math and physics.

8. Do you collect anything?
I am still a bit of a rock hound, but in a very casual way.

9. Who – or what – would you say, had the biggest influence or impact on your career?
My career at U of T has been consistently, positively and deeply influenced by Barry Adams.

10. What do you feel has been your most important professional accomplishment to date?

I am not sure I am in the position to judge.  My greatest insight, I think, is not to worry too much about that question - in other words, to learn that teaching and research are not viewed best as popularity contests, but as iterated ethical choices that ask me over and over whether I really care.

11. Who (other than family members) do you admire most?

I have read a great deal by Dorothy Sayers, and find her insights, her diversity on writing, and her perspective on many things deeply inspiring; I would love to write and think with that clarity.

12. In one line or less describe our Faculty.

I am not sure that a one line description of such a place of diversity, variation and complexity can be trusted!

13. What’s one piece of advice you would give to future global Engineering leaders?

Celebrate but mourn; learn both to act and to be patient; listen more than you speak, but then have the courage to speak with boldness and clarity.

14. If you had not chosen a career in Engineering academia, what else would you have done?

For many years I wanted to be an oceanographer. I think I would have eventually found my way back to the sea, probably via a consulting career or overseas work.

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