Concordia University is naming its faculty of engineering and computer science after the first woman to graduate with a PhD in building engineering from the institution.

Gina Cody donated a whopping $15 million to Concordia. In exchange, the engineering and computer science school will bear her name.

Concordia says it is the first university engineering faculty in Canada to be named after a woman.

Cody arrived from Iran in 1979 and completed her PhD in 1989. She became the first woman to graduate from the university with a PhD in building engineering.

"I had come to Canada with $2,000 in travellers cheques - I couldn't even bring cash from Iran," she recounted.

Cody was president and principal shareholder of CCI Group Inc., a Toronto-based engineering consulting firm, before retiring in 2016.

The university says Cody's donation will provide for graduate and undergraduate scholarships and bolster next-gen research on smart cities. It will also support three new chairs.

At the time of Cody's enrolment at Concordia, very few women were studying engineering. Even today, the national average is low. 

Twenty per cent of students in engineering schools are women - and women make up less than 13 per cent of those working in the field.

"I'm hoping it will send a message, that a girl from Iran can do it, you can do it, you can reach where you want to get," Cody said. "This whole perception that engineering and computer science is for boys, is nonsense."

She alwso hopes her story will change some minds about the value of immigration.

"I'm not alone," she said. "There are many, many people like me who succeeded in this country, and they are giving back." 

More about Cody's legacy here: