Editor's Note: The following article
is reprinted with permission from the University of Calgary's
online Engineering Faculty News.
By Christine Ward
The January avalanche death of U of C alumna Naomi Heffler,
E.I.T., is helping to advance understanding of snow stability
and avalanche control through a new graduate scholarship funded
by Alliance Pipeline.
When Ms. Heffler, who received her bachelor of science degree
in engineering in 2002, died in a tragic accident in January,
members of her father's corporate family were among the first
to rally close with a unique idea for honouring the U of C
"Naomi's dad, Howard Heffler, P.Eng., was part of Alliance
Pipeline from the earliest days of our company's inception
in 1995," says Al Edgeworth, P.Eng., Alliance Pipeline's
president and chief executive officer. "When Naomi, a
member of Alliance's extended family, died suddenly and tragically,
all of our employees shared the pain and wanted to find a
way to demonstrate their compassion."
The result is the Naomi Heffler Memorial Scholarship in Avalanche
or Snow Science. Funded by a $25,000 contribution from Alliance's
Community Investment Fund, the $5,000 annual award will support
one graduate engineering student over each of the next five
Says Mr. Edgeworth: "The choice of snow science and
avalanche control was an easy one since it's so relevant,
not only to the way in which Naomi was killed, but also how
Naomi Heffler, along with six others, died in a massive avalanche,
Jan. 20, while on a back-country ski expedition in eastern
British Columbia. The 25-year-old was part of a highly skilled
group enjoying the area near Durrand Glacier in the Selkirk
Mountains. In spite of expert response by all other members
of the party of 24, seven of the 13 buried skiers were not
Naomi began hiking and skiing in the mountains with her sister
Laura, mother Lyn, and I as soon as she could walk,"
remembers Naomi's father. "As she matured, her love of
the mountains and the rivers grew stronger, as did her skills
and sense of adventure."
While pursuing her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering
at the U of C, Naomi swam with the university team and was
active with the Engineering Students' Society. For the past
six years she worked as a canoe guide in the summers in northern
Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories.
She was a qualified ski instructor, who had completed Level
2 avalanche training. A graduate-level course with U of C's
Bruce Jamison further inspired in her a desire to pursue post-graduate
Through its investment, Alliance hopes the University of Calgary
will be able expand its Applied Snow and Avalanche Research
Group, already recognized as among the best in the world.
But even more importantly, the company wishes to celebrate
Naomi's adventuresome spirit and enduring love of all life