Robert Prybysh

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 37

Job Title: Chief Engineer, Arrow Engineering Inc. and Engineered Air Fellow in HVAC Engineering, University of Alberta

Why He’s Top 40: By improving the education process for Alberta’s future engineers.

Guilty Pleasure: “I cook up a lot of greasy smoked meats and comfort foods that are not exactly the best thing for you.”

Against the advice of his fellow owners at Arrow Engineering, Robert Prybysh decided in 2013 to cut down on his time at the firm. He was happy at Arrow, which he helped start in 2006. During that time, it grew to the point where it had worked on 3,000 projects in western Canada. But when asked to fill a void in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering, he saw it as a chance to give back to a profession that’s been so lucrative for him.

“I was warned it was going to cost me millions in terms of time away from the company,” said Prybysh. “Sure, it’s lost opportunity financially, but  … I want to benefit myself academically and I want to help students.”

He’s still at Arrow, handling the quality control and technical review elements of the company’s building projects, but only part-time. The rest of the day, Prybysh is pursuing his Ph.D. in construction engineering and management, and involved in something much bigger – creating a program and research lab to further study HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), a field he believes is sadly neglected. “HVAC is one of those ignored sciences,” says Prybysh. “Everybody goes into med school thinking they’re going to be a brain surgeon and everybody goes to engineering school thinking they’re going to work for NASA.”

Prybysh believes such a program will make the U of A a world leader in buildings sciences. While the National Research Council of Canada states that increasing HVAC research will help reduce energy consumption, Prybysh is particularly concerned about its applications in more climate-challenged locales, especially Edmonton.

Prybysh has been active with the Rotary Club of Edmonton Glenora the past five years, and he shares his knowledge to several condominium boards in the city. “I try to make things a little bit better,” says Prybysh. “Because my kids are going to grow up in this community, I want them to be involved and care about what’s going on around them.”

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