Goodbye Dr. Berenzai: Longtime educator contributed much over a half century

Dr. George Bereznai retires after 50 years in nuclear education
Image: CNS

George Bereznai is set to retire after half century dedicated to training and education in industry and academia. After creating and leading training and education programs in Ontario and internationally, he found a calling teaching the next generation at Ontario Tech University, as founding dean of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science.

JUNE 25, 2021 – Like the (fictional) scholarly and lovable Mr. Chips before him, across the Canadian and global nuclear community, there is a name, well familiar to generations of nuclear sector engineers guided at some point in their journey by George Bereznai.

The founding dean of Ontario Tech University’s Energy Systems and Nuclear Science program spent a large part of his earlier career as director of industry training programs at Ontario Hydro (now Ontario Power Generation) and working with Atomic Energy Canada Limited to train nuclear workforces, worldwide.

The Canadian Nuclear Society Educator of the Year, 2019, announced his retirement, at the end of June, capping a career, in academia and industry, filled with notable contributions to nuclear training and education.

A professional engineer, Bereznai began his 30-year career at Ontario Hydro in 1971, at its nuclear training centre. He advanced to the role of senior training officer, and in 1980, moved to simulator services, eventually overseeing 70 people and the operation of five training simulators.

From 1987 to 1990, Bereznai took on a temporary posting and helped to open Ontario Hydro’s first overseas office in eastern Europe.

In 1995, Bereznai took on a five-year appointment with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, as the Chair of Nuclear Engineering at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He developed and implemented a nuclear engineering curriculum that included bachelor, master’s and doctorate programs and delivered courses on CANDU systems, operations and controls. As well, Bereznai taught nuclear-focused courses in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines and hosted workshops on the use of nuclear simulators for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In 2001, Bereznai joined Ontario Tech University, then known as University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and became the founding Dean of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, where he helped establish the institution’s first nuclear programs.

Bereznai is the winner of multiple industry honours including the Harold A. Smith Outstanding Contribution Award (2005) and more recently, a Canadian Nuclear Achievement Award in Education and Communication (2019).

Bereznai previously served as a UNENE and Canadian Nuclear Association board member.

He holds a bachelor of engineering from the University of Adelaide in Australia and a PhD in electrical engineering from McMaster University.

Ontario Tech University is honouring Bereznai’s industry and academic contributions by establishing an endowment in his name. The fund will support a first-generation student in nuclear engineering beginning in 2023 and pays tribute to the academic programs Bereznai helped build over his 19-year career with the university.

Click here to contribute to the George Bereznai endowment.

NOTE: In the “Please use my gift for” section, select “Other” from the dropdown menu and indicate “The George Bereznai Fund” as the gift designation.

Share your memories and best wishes for George on his KudoBoard virtual retirement card, here.

Join the Celebration

On July 7, from 3-4:30, a virtual retirement party will bring together friends and colleagues to celebrate a half-century of excellence in nuclear education and training as we toast the career of George Bereznai.

To join, RSVP by July 5 here.