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Lorne Trottier: The gift of passion for science

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Published: 15 Nov 2006

The combination of a longtime passion for space technology, astronomy and aviation and a personal connection to McGill University have made Lorne Trottier an exceptionally devoted champion of excellence in teaching, exploration and research at his alma mater.

That relationship reached new heights on Wednesday, November 15, at 10:30 a.m., in the 2nd-floor lounge of McGill’s Lorne M. Trottier Building, when Trottier, co-founder of Montreal-based high-tech video graphics company Matrox Electronic Systems, formally announced his intention to donate $12 million to advance the Science and Engineering faculties. The gift comes just six years after his generous donation of $10 million toward the construction of the Lorne M. Trottier Building, which was inaugurated in 2004 and houses teaching facilities for the University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as well as the School of Computer Science.

This latest gift will allow each of the two faculties to establish an endowed chair and will provide fellowship funds for graduate students. Victoria Kaspi, a McGill physics professor and world-renowned expert on pulsars (neutron stars), will hold the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology in the Faculty of Science.

Mr. Trottier, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering from McGill – where he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree earlier this year – admits to a lifelong fascination with space-related sciences. McGill’s strength in these areas was the impetus for his latest gift.

“I’ve been very impressed with the calibre of the astrophysics and cosmology groups at McGill and wanted to help build those programs,” explained Mr. Trottier, who recalled taking up remote-control model airplanes as a hobby while studying at McGill. “I still like to bike out to the airport and watch the planes take off and land. I still get a real charge out of that.”

“This is a very exciting time at McGill,” said Dean of Science Martin Grant. “We are recruiting dozens of bright new scientists at the top of their fields. In the Faculty of Science, about half of our faculty members have been hired in the last seven years. But we simply could not recruit faculty and graduate students at that level without people like Lorne Trottier, who have the passion and the vision to back great ideas with the resources necessary to carry them out.”

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