Since 2014, the Ryerson Institute for Infrastructure Innovation (RIII) has provided technical and policy solutions to Canada’s infrastructure challenges. The institute hired a new executive director at the end of 2017. We caught up with Ashley De Souza to learn more about his new role and where he plans to take the institute in 2018.
For readers who don’t know about the RIII, what’s it all about?
RIII connects Ryerson faculty and students with the public and private sectors to provide comprehensive solutions to the development of smart, sustainable, flexible, and resilient infrastructure systems. Our mission is to create a network of cross-sector stakeholders, conduct interdisciplinary research to develop comprehensive infrastructure solutions, and build an accessible hub of international infrastructure knowledge.
What were you doing before you joined RIII?
Most recently, I was the Director of Government Relations for the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) advocating on behalf of over 220 contractors (small, medium, and large) and associate member companies from across Ontario who build and maintain Ontario’s roads, bridges, highways, and transit system. I was also previously the Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Council of Ontario Construction Associations and have worked for the provincial government at Queen’s Park with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal.
What are some of your goals for RIII?
I’m focusing on broadening RIII’s exposure and promoting greater collaboration. The institute is uniquely positioned to connect both the public and private sector to students and faculty to address Canada’s urban infrastructure challenges. My goal is to bring diverse groups together to create better synergies and forge stronger relationships with companies, government, and industry associations that will advance the infrastructure agenda through research, education, and training.
What’s has impressed you the most about Ryerson since you started?
We have tremendous research talent and capacity here at the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. I hope to work with as many faculty members as possible to enable their research needs. RIII also has a supportive advisory board comprised of senior infrastructure industry leaders. Their counsel, support, and participation are invaluable to achieving RIII’s core mandate and vision.