Ray Roussy, a mechanical engineer from Surrey, British Columbia, took home a coveted $10,000 Innovation Award from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation for developing one of the fastest drilling systems in the world.

Roussy’s sonic drilling technology, which he began developing in his own backyard nearly three decades ago, is in use on six continents and gaining worldwide recognition, especially as an environmentally-friendly alternative.

Today, Roussy’s sonic drill is commonly used to quickly install geothermal energy loops, provide continuous core samples for environmental investigations, and explore possible mineral deposits. “There is a critical need for more innovation in Canada – Canadians need to create and commercialize innovations to compete in the global economy,” says Bruce Fenwick, executive director of the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation.

The Foundation, which is named after the former Alberta Premier, has provided more than $4.2 million in awards, celebrated 225 adult and youth award winners, and has had more than 2,500 nominations in its 29-year history. “The Foundation’s laureates are role models who inspire Canadians,” adds Fenwick.

Unlike a traditional drill rig, the sonic drill uses high-frequency mechanical vibrations to easily cut through earth formations and bedrock.

“I think its versatility is what makes the sonic drill a leader in its field,” says Gary Whitesell, owner of Alberta company Crater Lake Drilling Ltd. “It is the most multi-functional piece of equipment I have ever seen in the drilling industry.”

Roussy is president of the contracting company, Sonic Drilling Ltd., and the U.S.-based Sonic Drill Corp. He also is co-owner of the manufacturing company, Sonic Drill Systems. Combined together, the companies employ more than 50 people in Chilliwack and Surrey, British Columbia. Overall company revenues are $8 to $10 million annually.

Roussy received his award in Ottawa on Sept. 17, 2010, in front of an audience of Canadian innovators, elected officials, educators and business leaders at a gala event.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation (www.manningawards.ca) recognizes the importance of Canadian innovation in strengthening the nation’s capacity to compete in the global economy. The Foundation annually supports and celebrates Canadians with the imagination to innovate and the stamina to succeed.