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Crash of Flight PS752 impacts Canadian engineering community


Fifty-seven Canadians were killed in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 in Iran on January 8, 2020, with 138 of the flight’s passengers headed to Canada. More than a dozen had connections to engineering in Canada.

“Engineers Canada is shocked and saddened by the crash of flight PS752, and we express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims,” said Gerard McDonald, CEO of Engineers Canada. “There were a number of engineers, engineering graduates, and engineering students among those on the flight, and their losses are felt across the engineering community.”

Canada is home to a large Iranian diaspora, thanks in large part to students for whom Canada is a popular place of study, especially in engineering and the sciences given the international reputation of the Canada’s post-secondary engineering programs. Many of the Flight PS752 passengers had connections to post-secondary institutions across the country.

For example, Mojgan Daneshmand and Pedram Mousavi were engineering professors at the University of Alberta. Daneshmand was a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, was a Canada Research Chair in Radio Frequency Microsystems, and had been recognized for her research and her commitment to supporting women in engineering. Her husband, Mousavi, was a professor in the mechanical engineering department and was the NSERC-AI Industrial Research Chair in Intelligent Integrated Sensors and Antennas. Both were members of the Alberta engineering regulator, APEGA, who issued a statement offering their condolences on the loss of the two professors and another professional engineer in Calgary, Kasra Saati.

The University of Alberta identified eight other victims affiliated with the university, including Nasim Rahmanifar, who was pursuing her Master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Other post-secondary institutions likewise identified members of their communities who were on Flight PS752 and held vigils and ceremonies to honour the victims. The University of Waterloo remembered Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani, a PhD candidate in civil engineering. The University of Windsor commemorated three engineering PhD candidates, Hamidreza Setareh Kokab, Pedram Jadidi, and Zahra Naghibi. ÉTS remembered recent engineering PhD graduates Arvin Morattab and Aida Farzaneh. The University of Toronto mourned the loss of engineering PhD student Mojtaba Abbasnezhad. The University of Manitoba honoured Amirhossein Ghassemi, a grad student in the biomedical engineering department. At Dalhousie University, a ceremony celebrated the life of Masoumeh Ghavi, who was pursuing her Master’s degree in engineering. Concordia University remembered Siavash Ghafouri-Azar and Sara Mamani, both alumni who had obtained their Master’s degrees in the mechanical, industrial, and aerospace engineering department.

Universities across Canada joined together to hold a moment of silence at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 15, to honour the victims.

“This tragedy represents a terrible loss for the engineering community in Canada,” said McDonald. “These engineers and engineering students and graduates had enormous talent and potential and they contributed greatly to advancing research in their respective fields. Their loss will be felt for years to come.”