Honorary degree citation - Robert H. Tanner*
By: T. Fancott, June 1989
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Robert H. Tanner, distinguished engineer, honoured scientist, leader in his profession.
Robert Tanner has attained unique distinction in his career through a combination of high achievement in engineering, as well as leadership of the engineering profession. He has received the highest level of recognition for his scientific and engineering achievements, and has also been elected to the highest office in the leading professional society of his area of endeavour.
Educated at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, England, he began his career with the British Broadcasting Corporation as a pioneer in the world's first high definition television station developing audio techniques and researching the acoustics of studios and concert halls.
In 1947, he emigrated to Canada and commenced an outstanding engineering career with Northern Electric, Bell Northern Research, and subsequently the Canadian Department of Communications. He contributed to Canadian engineering in many fields, managing the development of products and systems from audio equipment to microwave relay stations. His skill as an engineer and a manager was recognized in his appointment in 1973 as Director of Industrial Research of the Canadian Department of Communications.
During this period, he did not allow his experience in acoustics and noise control to lie fallow. As a consultant, he was responsible for the acoustical design of many important buildings, including the Royal Canadian Mint and the Stratford Festival Theatre in Ontario. He dedicated himself to this work after leaving the Department of Communications in 1975, and has since carried out the acoustical design of many buildings, including an Air Force Academy for Saudi Arabia, and the new Canadian Embassy in Washington.
In his remarkable career, Mr. Tanner has received many awards for his work. He has been honoured with the McNaughton Gold Medal of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, known more familiarly to us as the IEEE, and the Haraden Pratt Award. Four professional societies have conferred their highest honour on him: he is Fellow of the American Society of Acoustics, Fellow of the IEEE, Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and Fellow of the Institute for Electrical Engineers.
Mr. Tanner has expressed his dedication to his profession not only in his outstanding work in engineering, but also in his contribution to the advancement of science and engineering. He has for many years been active in the IEEE. He held the offices of Director of the Canadian Region, Secretary, Executive Vice-President, and, in 1972, President, becoming the first and only member of the Canadian Engineering Profession to hold this high office. In fact, he is the only non-American ever to have been elected to this position. To this day, he continues to be active in many of the Institute's committees.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Robert H. Tanner, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.