Thomas Bennett (1983-2010)

Tom-Bennett-climbing-photoVancouver, Canada—Dec 8, 2010—The life of Thomas Edward James (TJ) Bennett will be honoured this Friday, December 10 with a plaque unveiling ceremony and reception in memory of the University of British Columbia alumnus (BASc ’07). He died on Mount Shasta in Northern California on April 1, 2010 at age 26.

Bennett’s family, friends and colleagues have established the Thomas Bennett Student Enrichment Memorial Fund in Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC in his honour. The fund will enable an undergraduate student or group of students within the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science to receive $1000 in support of student enrichment activities. Preference will be given to students who demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership, and social and environmental concern.

A plaque unveiling ceremony will be held 1:30pm in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Building (2360 EAST MALL V6T 1Z3) at UBC. An informal gathering at Mahoney & Sons Irish Pub will follow. The memorial is hosted by his mother, Mary Kenny of Sechelt, B.C. and Bennett’s faculty mentor, Professor Naoko Ellis of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Backgrounder:

• A plaque unveiling ceremony and reception in memory of University of British Columbia alumnus Thomas Edward James Bennett are taking place on December 10, 2010 in Chemical and Biological Engineering Building at UBC. An informal gathering at Mahoney & Sons Irish Pub on campus will follow. The memorial is hosted by his mother, Mary Kenny of Sechelt, B.C. and Associate Professor Naoko Ellis of the UBC Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, who was Tom’s faculty mentor.

• Thomas Edward James (TJ) Bennett died on Mount Shasta in Northern California on April 1, 2010 at age 26.

• Tom graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering and Honours in Chemistry from UBC in 2007. While at UBC, Tom completed an 18-month Engineering Co-op work placement with INCO in Thompson, Manitoba. His final year project was a feasibility study on installing a solar system in an engineering building at UBC.

• After graduating from UBC, Tom worked as a Process Engineer for Fluor Corporation in Vancouver. In the fall of 2009, he moved to the company’s office in Dublin, California.

• As an engineer, Tom was passionate about making a difference through sustainability. He played a key role in bringing a biodiesel production project to UBC. A plaque will be hung in Tom’s honour near the reactor that is part of the biodiesel project.

• Also at the memorial gathering, a winter mountain climbing brochure will be introduced. The brochure was developed by alpinists, climbing rangers, Tom’s climbing friends and his mother, Mary Kenny. It outlines lessons learned from Tom’s tragedy, in the hope of keeping future young alpinists alive. The brochure is “wikipedia-style”, so Tom’s climbing friends with knowledge on our various brochure topics can contribute what they know, in their friend’s memory. Ms Kenny hopes the brochure will expand into a permanent climbing educational program.

• At the pub, Tom’s Papa (grandfather) will toast Tom with Jameson Irish Whiskey, the family “toast of choice” and the same whisky still in Tom’s flask when it was recovered from Mt. Shasta months after it was abandoned with his basecamp and belongings.

• Tom loved the outdoors. He loved to bike and play soccer, football, hockey and other sports. He actively pursued his passion for outdoor activities and adventures, adding new adventures such as snowboarding, climbing, hiking and Whistler barbecue cooking competitions. He was also a self-taught guitarist, a member of Oakland’s CAOS (climbing) group and a Kung Fu student (Wing Chun group in Vancouver).

• Tom touched so many lives along the way. His gentle, confident, sociable, witty, kind manner was loved throughout his life.

• Tom was passionate about climbing. It was an expression of his mantra to live life to its fullest. He and his friend Mark Thomas reached the summit of Mt. Shasta, California (14,179 feet) and were planning their descent when Tom took ill with altitude sickness. Extreme weather hampered rescue attempts for five days. On Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 10:04 a.m., rescue teams finally found Tom in the snow cave Mark had dug for him. Tom was deceased.

• Tom’s family, friends and colleagues have established the Thomas Bennett Student Enrichment Memorial Fund in Chemical and Biological Engineering at UBC. Each year, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC will recommend one student to receive $1,000 in support of student enrichment activities. Preference will be given to students who demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership, and social and environmental concern.

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