Accomplished on Many Levels

By: Andrew Forde October 17, 2012

When it comes to excellence, Andrew Forde is right up there at the top. What is most impressive is that the young man is just 25 years old.

Forde is an accomplished musician, having started playing the violin at the tender age of four. He is also the president and chief operating officer of Sommerfeld Solutions which aims to drive innovation and growth in the mining, information and technology, and health care sectors; the chief executive officer of Sommerfeld Engineering, and the founding executive director of The Forde Institute which is a non-profit global centre for research in technological innovations.

A graduate of the University of Toronto (U of T) with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nano Engineering, Forde is pursuing his Master’s in Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation at McMaster University.

Earlier this year, the university received a $787,500 federal grant to help finance up to 75 graduates and graduate students to launch or expand up to 30 business enterprises. As one of the beneficiaries, Forde is utilizing the funds to develop a computer tablet that he hopes will be placed in hospitals around the world as a way of making it easier for doctors to treat their patients.

With the tablet, medical staff would be able to make their notes immediately in a secure form and the tablet will link directly to a pharmacy allowing drugs to be dispensed faster with fewer chances of error.

He will test the tablet at Hamilton Health Sciences or another local hospital before presenting it globally.

“This honour is humbling and it certainly will inspire me,” said Forde who co-founded the one-week ENGAGE summer engineering camp at the U of T for under-served young people from marginalized communities.

Three years ago while working for the Independent Electricity System Operator responsible for the operation of the province’s electrical system, one of Forde’s tasks was assessing how the province’s Green Energy Act would affect the market and trans-border operations. Through his research, he discovered a wind-farm development opportunity and created a venture to design and manufacture them.

Through Sommerfeld, Forde developed The Electronic Chat which is designed to streamline charting, logistics and patient care in the health care industry.

Forde is a former president of the National Society of Black Engineers U of T chapter which was the recipient of the 2010 International Pioneer Chapter of the Year Award. With him at the helm, the university chapter established the TORCH program designed to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers. That program morphed into the ENGAGE camp.

“The leadership taken by Mr. Forde shows that he excels at outreach to the community, provides a catalyst for development of new product/technology initiatives while maintaining a humanitarian approach centred very much on the assistance and success of others,” said U of T associate chair of graduate studies for the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Dr. Steven Thorpe, who was one of his nominators for the Harry Jerome Award. “Mr. Forde is just the type of role model that our Faculty strives to create in our graduates and is a most deserving recipient of the recognition.”

Forde’s love of the arts is just as strong as his passion for engineering. Under the direction of virtuoso violinist and teacher, Martin Bazarian, Forde has developed a unique musical style and interpretation while revitalizing the violin’s image and seeking to remove the cultural barriers associated with the instrument.

“I grew up in a musical family,” said the Unionville High School of the Arts graduate. “I started to play the violin at a young age and, looking back, I am happy with the choice I made because it has evolved as an instrument over the years. It was originally seen as a limited instrument until Bach came along and wrote harmonies on a single violin.

“I have been able to apply the comfort level that I have developed from playing in front of audiences and engaging people in the engineering field.”

Forde has played to sold-out audiences across the country and he has shared the stage with other talented Canadian musicians including Kardinal Offishall, Eddie Bullen and Justin Bieber.