Mario Bento (ChemE 8T8), born in the small Caribbean island of Antigua, moved to Canada in 1981 to study chemistry at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. By the end of his first semester, he realized he wanted to become a chemical engineer specializing in water treatment. All his decisions following this ‘ah-ha’ moment would be in support of this goal!
After graduating from St. Mary’s in 1984 with a B.Sc. and Diploma in Engineering, Bento went on to work for a waste treatment plant in Bolton, Ontario for nine months. With his education and experience in hand, he applied to U of T’s Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry in 1985 where he was accepted as a second year student.
“Initially, I was going to attend the University of Waterloo but after doing a summer course at U of T I knew that was the ‘Skule’ for me. I was blown away by the breadth of U of T’s engineering program and impressed by the connections that could be made through the Faculty,” recalls Bento. “Until this day, I remember working with Professor Irving Spinner on his short-bed ion-exchange process, which was my first introduction to real-world engineering. Additionally, Professor Bill Graydon taught us all the practical nature of engineering. My education at U of T helped me develop sound analytical skills that I still use today.”
After graduating from U of T Engineering in 1988, Bento went on to work as a process development engineer at Zenon Environmental Inc. where he was personally mentored by Dr. Andrew Benedek, a Canadian pioneer in membrane technology and a globally-recognized leader in the water industry.
Bento feels very fortunate to have honed his skills under the guidance of so many great minds, but still counts his father as his greatest mentor. “My dad was a successful entrepreneur in Antigua. He ran his own pharmacy and was the one who sparked my early interest in chemistry, science and ultimately entrepreneurship.”
After four years with Zenon and 11 years in Canada, Bento moved back to Antigua to start Caribbean Water Treatment Ltd. in 1992. “Looking back now, it was certainly a bold move. The concept of a full water treatment business was very novel, and not even my own mother could get a good grasp of what I was trying to do. It was a slow, challenging start but the business gradually got some traction and began to grow,” says Bento.
Today, Caribbean Water Treatment (CWT) provides a full range of water treatment services to resorts, water bottling plants, commercial facilities, and utilities across the Eastern Caribbean. Services include seawater desalination, wastewater reuse, swimming pools and water filtration, disinfection, and distribution. CWT plans to keep growing across the Caribbean, integrating more renewable energy into its processes, and addressing the pressing issues of climate change, particularly for small tropical islands.
Ever thankful for his U of T experience, Bento is now working with U of T Chemical Engineering to explore a summer-student research opportunity at CWT, and is happy to mentor current students through U of T Engineering Connect, the Faculty’s exclusive online platform for alumni and students. To reach out to Bento, visit uoftengineeringconnect.ca.