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Ernest C. Mercier Lecture – Entrepreneurs: Born? Or Created?

The BEST Lab presented the Mercier Lecture on November 7th featuring Dr. Allan Carswell, hosting more than 200 guests at the Bergeron Centre of Engineering Excellence. The Mercier Lecture commemorates Eileen Mercier’s late husband Ernest C. Mercier in an effort to inspire and empower future generations of STEAM students at York.

Entrepreneurs: Born? or Created? was an honest lecture about success and the element of chance involved in being successful. Many self-made entrepreneurs speak of their hard work as if sheer force-of-will aligned the stars and made their business endeavour successful. Dr. Carswell acknowledges sometimes hard work and perseverance can only get one so far, and sometimes no matter how hard you try, an idea simply won’t succeed. This honest perspective set a refreshing tone for the lecture which went on to detail Dr. Carswell’s own journey to success in his field. 

Dr. Carswell never set out for success, he didn’t even have the goal of pioneering Lidar. Equipped with a PhD in physics, he was assigned to work on a laser project for Ontario Hydro where he was tasked with solving an issue they were having to detect coal power emissions. Pleased with his solution, Ontario Hydro contracted him to create truck-based Lidar and instead of creating a general Lidar product, Dr. Carswell treated every contract with the same customized approach.

As one of our students said of Dr. Carswell’s career, “as a young engineering student in the audience, this is the kind of entrepreneurship that piques my excitement because it isn’t about success at all costs, or finding the “correct” way to be an entrepreneur. He followed his passion, identified a problem, created a solution – rinse and repeat – because it kept working.”

Dr. Carswell left attendees with powerful words of wisdom remarking, “we don’t know what will change the world next, but it’s waiting in the path of someone’s passion, and that’s where we should be directing all of that hard work. Work on what you love and enjoy, what you’re curious about, it’ll give you the unique solution to someone’s problem.”

Dr. Carswell believes that becoming an entrepreneur is less about one’s natural or learned talents and more about whether or not someone is willing to take risks and opportunities as they come. Dr. Carswell is committed to giving students the opportunity to take those chances, by spending his retirement giving supporting the next generation of researchers through scholarship funding.

Thank you, Eileen Mercier and Dr. Allan Carswell, for making the Mercier Lecture a great success!

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Category: News