Few have had as resounding of an impact as Keith Brimacombe (1943-1997) in the metallurgical engineering world. A former UBC Engineering professor, Brimacombe was recognized for his lifetime contributions to metallurgical engineering and metals processing with an induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame on January 14, 2016.
As a researcher, Brimacombe pioneered the application of computerized mathematical modeling to analyze and design processes to extract metals from their ores and convert them into useful products. His efforts led to the development of new metallurgical processes and processing advancements that allowed the materials industry to lower costs, engineer new products, and improve productivity and quality control.
A strong advocate for university-industry partnerships, he established an interdisciplinary research group of 70 faculty, graduate students, research engineers and technicians who worked closely with large companies such as Alcan, Stelco and Hatch Associates. He inspired a new generation of professionals to embrace the materials revolution and manage the technological change needed to sustain it. His collaborative vision helped transform Canada into a leader in value-added metals processing.
Brimacombe earned his BASc from UBC in 1966 and became faculty at the university in 1970. In 1985, he founded and became the director of the UBC Centre for Metallurgical Process Engineering. His dream of building a world-class research facility was realized with the opening of the $21-million Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory (AMPEL) at UBC in 1995. Two years later, AMPEL was renamed the Brimacombe Building in his honour.
In 1997, he became the founding CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which provides funding for Canadian science and engineering research. He also advanced industry knowledge through research papers, lectures delivered in Canada and around the world, and involvement in numerous industry associations.
Brimacombe received global recognition for his pioneering efforts and tangible achievements, including the Canada Gold Medal in Science and Engineering. He was also an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
To read Brimacombe’s biography, visit the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame website.