One of the University of New Brunswick’s leading researchers and one of its most successful alumni have been honoured nationally for their contributions to engineering.
Dr. Yun Zhang, a Canada Research Chair and professor of geodesy and geomatics at UNB, and Dr. Marcel LeBrun, a UNB engineering graduate and honorary degree recipient, have been inducted as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional honours presented to engineers in Canada.
“Research, innovation, and entrepreneurship run deep in the DNA of our university and in our faculty of engineering,” says Dr. Chris Diduch, dean of engineering at the University of New Brunswick. “Both Dr. Zhang and Dr. LeBrun are incredible examples of the power of determination and ingenuity. We’re proud of them and congratulate them on this honour.”
Working in the department of geodesy and geomatics at UNB since 2000, Dr. Zhang has made a significant impact on the field through his research and entrepreneurial mindset. He has contributed to more than 200 research papers as well as invented six patented technologies and five patent-pending technologies.
His most notable work includes developing an international flagship technology in colour image sharpening that is used by users in the world including NASA and Google, adapting dual cameras for more precise image clarity and colouring, and pioneering several online mapping technologies that were adopted by Google. In addition, he participated in the UNB Street View project and co-published the UNB Street View technology in 2001, which was adopted by Google for its Street View feature released in 2007.
Dr. Zhang has pioneered 3D mapping systems through a research project called EarthView3D. Funded by the Canada Research Chair Program, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation Research Technicians Initiative, the 3D mapping system allows users to tour everything from the deepest oceans and to the highest mountain peaks of the world in realistic 3D without leaving their home.
Dr. Zhang believes this system will likely be adopted by major technology companies within the next five years, similar to other products he has released.
Dr. Zhang expresses a sense of pride and honour in being named Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering but says it doesn’t belong to him alone.
“I work with a team of people dedicated to improving geomatics technologies through innovation and research,” says Dr. Zhang. “Through our collaboration, we have earned this title.”
Since completing a bachelor of engineering at UNB in 1992, Dr. LeBrun has focused on making advances in engineering through an entrepreneurial lens. He has played a prominent role in developing various startups, including Radian6. A pioneering social media monitoring firm, Radian6 was aquired by Salesforce.com in 2011 for hundreds of millions of dollars. Dr. LeBrun’s work with Radian6 earned him, alongside his partners the title of “Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young in 2011.
Through his success, Dr. LeBrun has remained dedicated to giving back to UNB’s engineering students and aspiring entrepreneurs. In 2007, he became the J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship’s first entrepreneur-in-residence. Working in this position allowed Dr. LeBrun to guide students to entrepreneurial and engineering success.
In addition to giving back to UNB, Dr. LeBrun has teamed up with his wife to support charitable organizations and worthy causes such as helping supporting children in need. Dr. LeBrun is also the chairman of the LeBrun Family Foundation. Based in New Maryland, the foundation uses donations to support non-profit organizations such as Snider Mountain Adventures Inc., the Navigators of Canada and the Fredericton Food Bank.
Dr. LeBrun’s entrepreneurial approach to engineering and dedication to giving back as a mentor to engineering students and charitable causes has earned him the prestigious title of Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.
The Fellows were inducted by the president of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Douglas Ruth, at the 31st Annual General Meeting and Symposium recently held in Ottawa.
Media contact: Kelly Stewart, (506) 470-3413
Photo (top): Dr. Yun Zhang, a Canada Research Chair and professor in the faculty of geodesy and geomatics at UNB stands in front of his latest project – EarthView3D. (Joy Cummings / UNB photo)
Photo (bottom): UNB engineering alumnus and honorary degree recipient, Dr. Marcel LeBrun speaking at the 2016 encaenia at UNB Fredericton. (Rob Blanchard / UNB Photo)