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Focus 2010

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SPRING   2010   I   VOL.21   I   NO. 1
Motion Metrics
ICICS-incubated start-up
company an international
success, pg.02
Pg. 02       j Pg. 04       j Pg. 06       j Pg. 08      j Pg. 10 COVER ARTICLE
issue of FOCUS, which is my first
as ICICS Director. I would like
to thank you for giving me the
chance to lead ICICS into the new
decade. Mostly due to technology,
the world today is much more
tightly integrated than it was when
ICICS was created in 1986, and
requires thinking beyond traditional
disciplinary boundaries. For over
twenty years ICICS has promoted
a multidisciplinary culture that
emphasizes flexible thinking and
finding a common language across
disciplines. The collaborations
profiled in this issue illustrate these
hallmarks of ICICS researchers and
their students.
Now, with roughly 150 faculty
members from across the campus
and state-of-the-art infrastructure,
we are ideally positioned to meet
the demands of the new academic
and economic realities, where
borders are constantly shifting. In
the coming years, I will act as an
ambassador for ICICS to increase
our engagement with academia,
industry, and government agencies,
both in Canada and internationally.
I am confident that with your
help and support, we can take
ICICS to the next level of growth
and recognition on the road to
excellence. Our best days are still
Panos Nasiopoulos, ICICS Director
Start-up Company an
nternational Success
NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of university start-up companies fail, so Shahram
Tafazoli, founder and president of Motion Metrics International (MMI),
was wise not to consider his company a success until it was generating at
least $1M annually in sales. Housed in the ICICS building, Motion Metrics
recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The company develops intelligent
embedded monitoring systems for the open-pit mining industry. Their main
product, ToothMetrics™, is a camera-based system for detecting missing teeth
in mining shovels. Since the operators of these enormous machines can't see
the bucket clearly, they have no way of knowing if its teeth are intact. A broken tooth that goes undetected may end up jamming and seriously damaging
the mine crusher. "We are providing a system that prevents a one-million dollar problem," says Tafazoli, who is also an ICICS member and ECE adjunct
professor. It also protects workers, who have been seriously injured and even
killed trying to remove broken teeth from jammed crushers.
Tafazoli scouted UBC in 1992 after completing his M.A.Sc. degree in Iran.
The applications focus of ICICS member Peter Lawrence (ECE), who would
become his Ph.D. supervisor, appealed to him, so he decided to stay. At the
time, Lawrence and a team of ICICS researchers were working on simplifying the operator controls on heavy equipment such as excavators, log loaders,
grapple yarders, and feller-bunchers. These machines are notoriously difficult to operate, with various combinations of hand controls and foot pedals
required to rotate the cab, extend the boom, operate the grapple, etc. "You see
something that's obviously wrong in the world," Lawrence explains, "and start
thinking about it. I get a lot of pleasure out of improving bad designs."
Through successive rounds of funding and other support from MacMillan
Bloedel, Caterpillar, Finning, RSI Research Ltd., Western Economic
Diversification Canada, Precarn/IRIS, the BC Science Council, BC Advanced
Systems Institute, Forest Industry Engineering Research Institute of Canada,
and others, Lawrence and his team developed a single hand controller so easy
to use that the 12-year-old daughter of a visiting professor could operate a
feller-buncher with no training. The multidisciplinary team included ICICS (L-R): Peter Lawrence, Shahram Tafazoli, the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue.
> Open-Pit Mining
> Broken Tooth Detection
> R&D Tax Credits
"ICICS played a key role in the
early stages when Motion Metrics
International was a start-up company,
by providing space and other
facilities. Our relationship has evolved
continuously since then. Motion Metrics
has initiated and provided industrial
sponsorship for numerous collaborative
projects involving ICICS members and
students, all while based in ICICS. We
have also hired graduates from ICICS,
and continue to work with the ICICS
governance to spotlight this important
multi-disciplinary organization. ICICS
has been instrumental in our ability to
successfully commercialize innovative
"Made in Canada" technologies in the
mining industry worldwide. Without
ICICS there would be no Motion
Shahram Tafazoli,
President, Motion Metrics Internationa
members Lawrence, Alan Mackworth
(CS), David Lowe (CS), Tim Salcudean
(ECE), Farrokh Sassani (MECH), and
the late Dale Cherchas (MECH). Their
control system was shown to significantly
boost productivity and reduce operator fatigue. Although it was not widely
adopted by manufacturers, many students
received important design training over
the course of the multi-year project,
which Lawrence feels is the point: "It's
about the students," he says. "Solving a
problem for someone in industry is very
motivating for them."
For his doctoral thesis, Tafazoli, who
was co-supervised by Clarence de Silva
(ICICS/MECH), modelled the dynamics and frictional effects of hydraulic
excavator arms. At the urging of one of
Lawrence's industrial contacts, Tafazoli
put these metrics together with previous
kinematics work done by the team to
develop a real-time technique for determining the bucket payload of hydraulic
mining shovels. After graduating in 1997,
Tafazoli started a consulting company,
with initial free space from ICICS. For
his first product, he packaged his payload
measurement system as LoadMetrics™,
which is still on the market.
In 1998, a researcher from Syncrude
Research brought the broken tooth problem to Tafazoli's attention after speaking with Lawrence. Over the next five
years, with seed funding from Syncrude
Research and several rounds of funding
from NRC-IRAP, Motion Metrics developed ToothMetrics™. "Nobody believed
you could put a camera system that
would survive on top of a large mining
shovel," he recalls. "So we had to prove
ourselves." Tafazoli and his talented team
of ICICS-affiliated graduates did just
that, and MMI made its first sale of the
system to a De Beers diamond mine in
Botswana in 2003. Word spread, and
ToothMetrics™ is now in place in 26
mines around the world.
The company's other products include
ViewMetrics™, a camera-based collision
avoidance system for mining shovels;
ViewMetrics™-Radar, which adds proximity detection to the camera views;
and FragMetrics™, which uses computer
vision to determine the size distribution
of rock fragments in the bucket.
Continued on Pg. 05 »
FOCUS | Spring 2010      Q3 Kellogg Booth to Lead
$23.25 Million Network of
Centres of Excellence
ICICS member Kellogg Booth (CS) has
a distinguished record of spearheading
lasting multidisciplinary efforts in computer graphics and collaborative technologies. Co-founder of UBC's Imager
Laboratory for Graphics, Visualization
and HCI, founding director of the Media
and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre
(MAGIC) at UBC, Associate Director of
the six-university Network for Effective
Collaboration Technologies through
Advanced Research (NECTAR, 2004-
09), Booth's impact on his field has been
widely felt.
Booth was also instrumental in ICICS
securing a $22.1 million infrastructure
grant in 2000 that funded a six-storey
addition to the ICICS/CS building and
the purchase of a range of advanced
equipment. Several of the labs set up
through that grant, such as the Interactive
Workroom, with the largest 3D interactive
screen in the country, made research projects possible that helped lay the groundwork for Booth's latest initiative.
GRaphics, Animation and New meDia
(GRAND) is one of three new Networks
of Centres of Excellence announced by
the federal government in January. Hosted
(L-R): Sid Fels, Cristina Conati, Kellogg Booth, Kosta Beznosov, Alison Ariss, Michiel van de Panne.
by UBC through MAGIC with Booth as
Scientific Director, GRAND comprises
a network of 56 Network Investigators
(9 of them ICICS members), over 40
Collaborating Researchers, and industrial
partners from across the country. The overall goal of the network is to build bridges
among its participants that will accelerate
innovation in new media, animation, and
electronic games. "Social networks and new
media," Booth emphasizes, "represent some
of the most significant popular adaptations
of computer technology. GRAND will
enable research collaborators to address
issues and explore opportunities in this
fast-growing sector."
Research will be conducted in 32
projects structured around 5 integrated
themes: (1) New Media Challenges and
Opportunities; (2) Games and Interactive
Simulation; (3) Animation, Graphics, and
Imaging; (4) Social, Legal, Economic, and
Cultural Perspectives; and (5) Enabling
Technologies and Methodologies.
Industrial partners will be involved from
the design stage, to ensure results are
transferable to society to benefit Canada.
Progress will be assessed annually and
04 funding redistributed, if necessary. It's an
approach informed by Booth's experience
with NECTAR.
Joanna McGrenere (CS/ICICS) is
another "NECTARine" participating in
GRAND. She will investigate personalizing user interfaces based on user task,
intentions, and goals. Tailored interfaces
will become increasingly important as
applications become more complex.
Industrial supporters include Autodesk,
providers of 3D capabilities for engineering design, and Side Effects, a world
leader in animation and special effects
ICICS member Karon MacLean
(CS/ICICS) will also focus on improving interfaces, by incorporating haptic
(touch) and audio modes to avoid visually
overwhelming the user. Haptics technology developers Immersion Canada stand
to benefit from this research.
Dolby Computer Science Research
Chair and ICICS member Wolfgang
Heidrich developed the underlying algorithms for the High Dynamic Range
(HDR) display, a UBC invention that
provides a range of contrast close to what
we see in the real world. As Animation,
Graphics, and Imaging theme leader,
Heidrich aims to overcome the computational "brick wall" often hit in realistic
simulation, by integrating image capture
with physics-based animation. GRAND
industry partners Autodesk and Pixar
Animation Studios will be keeping a close
eye on Heidrich's progress.
A measure of GRAND's scope and
potential is the involvement of two
UBC Nobel Laureates. John Robinson
(Institute for Resources, Environment
and Sustainability) contributed to the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, which was jointly awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize with AI Gore in 2007.
He will work on a project sponsored
by Autodesk and BC Hydro to create
interfaces aimed at reducing homeowner
energy consumption, and explore applying these approaches in commercial
buildings. Carl Wieman, winner of the
2001 Nobel Prize in Physics, will collaborate with MAGIC Director Sid Fels
(ECE/ICICS) to improve the effectiveness of display sharing in classroom and
other learning environments. This project
builds directly on advances made by
NECTAR researchers.
Booth will also contribute to the
shared display project, as well as to a
special project that involves dissemination of operational information across
the network, and another that assesses
GRAND's progress against its goals,
specifying intervention where necessary.
These are just a smattering of
GRAND projects. By assembling a wide-
ranging network of academic researchers,
industrial sponsors, and other stakeholders, Booth has laid strong foundations for
his most ambitious collaborative venture
yet. Its results will touch us all in some
way in the near future.
Kellogg Booth can be reached at
604-822-8193 or ksbooth@cs.ubc.ca
Continued from Pg. 03 »
Tafazoli and his team of 15 employees
are constantly developing novel
customer-driven products. This past
August, the Honourable Jean-Pierre
Blackburn, federal Minister of National
Revenue, acknowledged this emphasis on
innovation with a cheque for $931,000
in scientific research and experimental
development tax credits. This amount
represents 35 to 40 cents of every dollar
spent by the company on R&D over the
preceding two years. Motion Metrics was
the only company in Vancouver visited
by the Minister.
What goes around comes around.
Motion Metrics is now an industrial
sponsor of an NSERC Strategic Grant
held by Lawrence and Robert Hall
(Mining Engineering). Financially,
Tafazoli can now consider his company
a success; even with last year's economic
downturn, MMI generated $2.7M in
sales. And like many of Lawrence's
former students, a number of Tafazoli's
employees have moved on to high-level
industrial positions, the true metric of
success for both men.
Shahram Tafazoli can be reached at
604-822-5840 or
FOCUS | Spring 2010      Q5 An Integrated Approach to
icrosystems Design
DESIGNER, you have to be a "glass-half-
full" sort of person. This is because at
the microscale, interactions between the
various subsystems, such as electrostatic
forces, have an impact on system
performance they wouldn't have at the
macroscale. Instead of seeing these forces
as a problem, Electrical and Computer
Engineering professor Edmond Cretu finds
ways to turn them to his advantage.
Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)
design is an inherently multidisciplinary
field, and well suited to the ICICS context.
Before coming to UBC, Cretu spent
five years at Melexis N.V. in Belgium,
developing MEMS-based angular-rate
sensors for automotive applications, such as
rollover detection. In that work, he learned
how to manage multidisciplinary teams,
by focusing on their overlapping elements.
A microscale inertial sensor, for example,
has virtually no mass, making acceleration
hard to detect by conventional means. This
deficit in the mechanical domain, however,
can be compensated for architecturally
by coupling with electrostatic forces in
a feedback loop, so acceleration can be
sensed. "Microsystem design," Cretu says,
"requires an integrated approach. You have
to design and simulate a complex system,
not just the sensor itself." Power transfer
from one domain to the other is controlled
through digital signal processing in a
feedback loop, so the system can adapt to
changing conditions.
The trend toward miniaturization in
almost all areas of technology has made
Cretu a key player in several ICICS
research endeavours. In a project sponsored
by Ultrasonix Medical Corporation,
Cretu and ICICS colleagues Shahriar
Mirabbasi (ECE), Rob Rohling (ECE/
MECH), and Tim Salcudean (ECE) are
developing a low-cost portable ultrasound
(US) machine. Current machines use
piezoelectric transducers to convert
electrical energy into an acoustic wave that
penetrates the body, reflects off tissue,
and is converted back to electrical energy
by the transducers. This signal is then
sent through wires to the US machine for
image reconstruction. The transducers
are assembled in a linear array, each one
connected to the US machine by a wire.
Moving to a 2D array, and ultimately
3D and 4D (real-time) is infeasible using
current arrays, because of the number
of wires involved. The team is therefore
developing MEMS-based transducer
arrays, with CMOS electronics and signal
processing at the "front end" to replace
the connecting wires. "We looked around
ICICS," Cretu says, "and realized we are in
a privileged research environment." He was
able to assemble a team with expertise in
CMOS design (Mirabbasi) and biomedical
imaging (Rohling, Salcudean) that neatly
complemented his own in microsystems.
Cretu is designing the MEMS-based
transducers, whose tiny membranes
can vibrate at higher frequencies than
piezoelectric transducers. This could lead
to new applications such as skin analysis.
By exploiting the membrane dynamics,
he hopes to improve the received signal
for better imaging. The future integrated
"front end" will make the developed
US machine much cheaper to manufacture
than current machines, and portable,
so doctors will be able to detect and
monitor diseases such as breast cancer
in their offices.
Cretu is also lending his expertise to
monitoring the health of structures, in
collaboration with ICICS ECE colleagues
Konrad Walus, John Madden, and
Boris Stoeber (ECE/MECH). The team
is developing techniques for printing
flexible electronic devices such as strain
sensors, using a commercial inkjet printer.
06 > Adaptive Microsystems
> Ultrasound Transducers
> Printable Electronics
"We looked around ICICS and realized we are
in a privileged research environment."
The sensors will be based on carbon
nanotubes/nanowires or a carbon/
polymer matrix, suspended in a viscous,
ink-like fluid. Since the conductivity
of these carbon particles changes under
stress, they can be used as the basis for
stress or strain (accumulated stress)
gauges. Conventional, metallic-film
gauges are manufactured by lithography
in several steps, which is expensive and
slow. They are also inflexible and can
cover only a small surface area. Flexible,
large-area printed sensors could be
used for structural monitoring of pipes,
bridges, and buildings. Conventional
metallic strain-gauges are DC-operated,
while the new sensing devices could
operate in either DC or AC modes; this
will enhance their detection capabilities
for hidden defects like microcracks.
Researchers and manufacturers would be
freed from reliance on silicon foundries,
making for cheap, rapid prototyping and
The Weir-Jones Group engineering
firm sees the project's potential. They
have agreed to install prototype sensors
in the field alongside the firm's
conventional sensors, giving the team
invaluable, real-world testing conditions.
The project has just begun, but may lead
to other printable devices such as solar
cells, microcapsules for drug delivery,
and tissue scaffolds for use in skin and
bone grafting.
Cretu is also one of 10 Pis on a
$48.26 million Canadian Foundation
for Innovation grant to implement
advanced microsystems research
infrastructure at 37 universities across
Canada. Led by Queen's University
under the umbrella organization CMC
Microsystems, the grant will enable
purchasing portable equipment that
can be shared among centres, and
setting up complete centres for tackling
strategic research themes. UBC will be
one such centre, with Cretu as the lead
Cretu's key role in a number of
ICICS research projects is now playing
itself out on the national stage, it seems.
Edmond Cretu can be reached at
604-827-4115 or edmondc@ece.ubc.ca
FOCUS | Spring 2010      Q7 If These Arterial Walls
Could Talk...
> Micromachining
> Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (ME
> Stentenna
driven by the semi-conductor industry
have made micro-electro-mechanical
systems (MEMS) possible. Their low cost,
small size, and high functionality have led
to a range of applications, from attitude
control in spacecraft to implantable
medical devices. ICICS member Kenichi
Takahata, a Tier-2 Canada Research Chair
in Advanced Micro/Nanofabrication and
MEMS, draws on 12 years of industrial
research experience in micromachining
techniques to make some startling advances
in his field.
From 1999-2001, Takahata was a
visiting scientist at the University of
Wisconsin, where he developed advanced
micro-electro-discharge machining
(micro-EDM) techniques on behalf of
his employer, Panasonic. He found the
academic environment stimulating and
decided to pursue a PhD, graduating
from the University of Michigan in 2005.
For his thesis, Takahata applied
micro-EDM to making medical stents,
wire-mesh tubular structures used to
expand and scaffold blood vessels narrowed
by plaque accumulation. Conventional
stents are cut from surgical stainless steel
tubes by a scanning laser. They
are positioned within the blood vessel
using a catheter, and expanded by a
balloon inflated with saline solution. A
common problem with implanted stents,
however, is restenosis, or re-narrowing
of the blood vessel. The patient must be
monitored regularly by invasive
procedures such as X-ray angiogram,
or by MRI with its lengthy wait times.
Takahata has devised a better way
to monitor stent status. Having
demonstrated that stents could be
made from flat (planar) stainless steel
using micro-EDM, he incorporated
capacitive pressure sensors at either end
that form passive electrical circuits with
the expanded stent's helical structure.
The resonant frequencies of these circuits
can be monitored wirelessly using a
magnetically coupled external coil; the
stent becomes its own antenna. "Changes
in blood pressure," Takahata explains,
"modify the device's resonant frequencies,
pointing to changes in blood flow rate and
the need for further testing."
At UBC, Takahata is taking a
multidisciplinary approach to
advancing the "stentenna" towards
commercialization. To improve its
sensing and wireless communication
abilities, he is developing miniaturized
sensors that will be completely embedded
in the stent coils, and working on a
design with higher radiofrequency (RF)
performance. With ICICS colleague
and system-on-a-chip expert Shahriar
Mirabbasi (ECE), he is investigating an
"active" stentenna with incorporated
integrated-circuit chips that convert the
signal from analog to digital and reduce
noise. Dr. Jay Kizahakkedathu of UBC's
Centre for Blood Research will investigate
various polymer coatings to prevent
restenosis and biofouling.
"There are always trade-offs in
MEMS design," Takahata stresses.
"In our case it is between improving
the stentenna's electrical functionality
while maintaining its mechanical
performance and minimizing its
biological impact." If his team gets
the balance right, biomedical device
manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada
plan to bring the stentenna to market.
Ultimately, millions of patients around
the world may be able to monitor their
stent status at home and transmit the
data to their doctor's office over the
Takahata is also developing implantable
MEMS-based drug delivery devices for
targeted treatment of lesions. Operating
without batteries, one or more drugs
stored in tiny reservoirs are released
by hydrogel valves that contract when
heated. A circuit similar to that used
in the stentenna acts as a heater when
an external magnetic RF field is tuned
to its resonant frequency. Unlike other
MEMS-based designs, this approach
allows controlled, selective drug release;
if the patient has an adverse reaction,
drug administration can be stopped
immediately. If necessary, a different drug
can be released by adjusting the RF field
to open the appropriate valve.
Takahata continues to explore improved
micromachining methods. One
innovative approach is to fabricate
multiple arrays of moveable electrodes
and microactuators on a sacrificial film
laminated to the workpiece. Large-area
devices such as flat-panel displays could
be manufactured in this way, without
the need for an expensive micro-EDM
Takahata is excited to be involved
in research that will make a difference.
We can be glad he decided to go back to
Kenichi Takahata can be reached at
604-827-4241 or takahata@ece.ubc.ca
Master's Degree
In Software Systems
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or request an information package by emailing info@mss.icics.iilic.ca
FOCUS | Spring 2010  :  Q9 ICICS Connects Researchers
with Industry at Dinner
Dean of Applied Science, Tyseer Aboulnasr, addresses Industry Dinner
"INDUSTRIAL SUPPORT" of university
research is a nice-sounding phrase, but
what does it really mean? Sometimes a
company will endorse a research proposal
in writing, sometimes they will lend
significant financial and other support
(e.g., equipment donations, loan of a
technician). It is generally acknowledged
that researchers in disciplines represented
by the ICICS membership need to make
their industrial collaborations more
meaningful. The funding agencies want
to see more return on their investment:
funded projects that produce results
translated to society through industry.
In order for this to happen, researchers
need to forge connections with appropriate,
interested companies. Those new to
the university, however, are not always
aware of the local industrial landscape,
or how best to approach potential
contacts. Happily, ICICS has considerable
experience in this area, and drew on it to
co-host, with NSERC, a reception and
dinner at Cecil Green Park House on
October 27, 2009 for ICICS members and
senior industrial executives. Rabab Ward,
ICICS Director from 1996-2006 and
Director Pro Tern from July-December
2009, worked closely with ICICS members
and NSERC-Pacific to match researchers
with appropriate guests from industry.
Judging from the lively conversations
throughout the evening among ICICS
members and their 37 guests from 34 local
companies, this was a wise approach.
Rick Warner, NSERC-Pacific Manager,
is often involved in functions aimed at
bringing academia and industry together.
What made this dinner a uniquely "terrific
event," he said afterwards, was this strategic
matching. By the next morning, it had
already generated several calls to his office
from industry guests eager to discuss
potential collaborations and programs
he had outlined in his presentation. In
her talk, Applied Science Dean Tyseer
Aboulnasr stressed the importance
of industry as a means of translating
researchers' advances to society. Mario
Kasapi of the University Industry Liaison
Office (UILO) spoke about steps his office
has taken to streamline commercialization
of research at UBC. Duncan Phillips of
MITACS and Ross Waddell of the BC
Innovation Council summarized programs
offered by their organizations that mutually
benefit UBC researchers and industry.
The quality of the food and the
complimentary drinks might have had
something to do with it, but the
evening's overall "buzz" was mostly
generated by the enthusiasm on both
sides about bridging the gap between
academia and industry. Dr. John Pacey
is President of Verathon Medical
Canada, as well as a surgeon and inventor.
His GlideScope Video Laryngoscope
has a video camera mounted on a scope
to provide a monitor view of the larynx
for procedures such as intubation and
removal of foreign bodies. He has also
invented a number of other surgical
devices. Even so, he feels there is a danger
in industry of having too narrow a focus.
"The last thing you want," he said in a
conversation before the dinner, "is to
become trapped in a silo. Events like
this keep you open to new ideas and
possible directions."
Dr. Pacey's comments capture the
spirit of the evening. There is a clear desire
among ICICS members and their industry
guests to deepen existing collaborations
and explore new ones. Events such as the
ICICS-NSERC Industry Dinner can help
make this happen.
10 Continued from back page »
'** P •
::::: I     •
ICICS Members Named Fellows of
Engineers Canada
Elizabeth Croft (MECH) and Bill
Dunford (ECE) have been named
Fellows of Engineers Canada (FEC) for
their impressive achievements and service
to the engineering profession. Croft is
an expert in robotics, leading research
projects in human-robot interaction relevant to assistive technology and industrial automation. Dunford specializes in
power electronics, particularly applied to
photovoltaic applications and alternative
energy systems.
Ultrasound Innovations Garner
Synergy Award
Rob Rohling (ECE/MECH) and Tim
Salcudean (ECE), along with their
industry partner Ultrasonix Medical
Corporation, have received one of four
$200,000 Synergy Awards for Innovation
presented by NSERC in 2009. The collaborators were recognized for developing new ultrasonic imaging techniques
that could improve cancer diagnosis and
treatment and reduce the number of
biopsies required. The Synergy Awards
recognize partnerships between universities and industry in Canada.
Yusuf Altintas Recognized for
Industry Collaboration
Pratt and Whitney Canada has recognized Yusuf Altintas (MECH) as one
of six P&WC Research Fellows across
Canada, for his academic excellence
and outstanding contribution to their
technology programs. PW&C has also
renewed his NSERC/Pratt & Whitney
Chair in Virtual High-performance
Machining, with colleague Steve Feng
(MECH) as Associate Chair. Altintas
received an honorary doctorate from the
University of Stuttgart in 2009 for his
contributions to metal cutting, machine
tool vibrations, and machine tool control.
Search Engine Developed at UBC
Provides "Discoveries"
Worio, an ICICS-incubated spinoff
company, has developed a search engine
that uses machine learning to provide
"discoveries" based on understanding the
user's interests, as well as keywords. Users
can network search results with contacts
through social media, so they benefit
from one another's searches, or browse
privately. "Worio" is an acronym based
on "Web of Research," the name given
to the researchers that came together at
UBC to develop the technology.
Artificial Intelligence Innovator
Elected to the Royal Society of
Alan Mackworth (CS) has been elected
as a Fellow of the Royal Society of
Canada. Mackworth is Canada's leading
figure in the field of artificial intelligence.
His work has widespread applications for
computer system design and has lead to a
new discipline known as constraint-based
programming, widely used in scheduling
of, for example, airline flights and equipment maintenance. Mackworth is also
the founding father of the robotic soccer
challenge RoboCup, the primary platform
for multi-agent systems research.
UBC Robotics Team Dominates
The ICICS high-head lab was long
home to UBC's Thunderbird Robotics
team, under the guidance of Mining
Engineering professor John Meech.
The large floor space allowed them to
test their "Snowbots" as they developed
them. These l/12th scale autonomous
robotic cars are guided by computer
vision and employ various collision-
avoidance techniques. At the University
of Waterloo's Robot Racing Challenge
last summer, they took places 2 to 6
among 12 entrants.
Sid Fels and Students Win Best
Demonstration Award in Beijing
Sid Fels (ECE) and students Billy
Lam (Masters), Ian Stavness (PhD)
and Ryan Barr (Co-op) won the Best
Demonstration Award at the 17th
International ACM Conference on
Multimedia in Beijing this past October.
Their project was entitled "Interacting
with a Personal Cubic 3D Display."
pCubee is a cubic 3D display that
enables users to experience new interaction techniques for 3D scene manipulation in a cubic display, such as navigating through a large landscape.
Honourary Doctorate for
Martha Salcudean
Professor Emerita Martha Salcudean
(MECH) has been given an honourary
Doctor of Engineering degree by the
University of Waterloo. Salcudean is
the Weyerhaeuser Industrial Research
Chair Emerita in Computational Fluid
Dynamics and a member of the Order
of Canada and the Order of British
Columbia, and a Fellow of the Royal
Society of Canada and of the Canadian
Academy of Engineering.
Van den Akker Prize for
Paper Physics
James Olson (MECH), student David
Goosen, and Dick Kerekes of UBC's
Pulp & Paper Centre have been awarded
the Johannes Van den Akker Prize for
Advances in Paper for their paper, "The
Role of Heterogeneity in Compression
Refining." The award was presented
at the 14th Fundamental Research
Symposium in Oxford, UK. It was created by the Institute of Paper Science
and Technology at Georgia Tech.
Taiwanese Design Contest
Technical Award
Clarence De Silva (Mech) and collaborators at the National University
of Singapore recently won the Digital
Signal Processing Creative Design
Contest's Technical Award for their
paper, "Distributed DSP for Fault
Monitoring and Control." This project
was carried out in collaboration with
Professor K.K. Tan and his laboratory in the Department of Electrical
and Computer Engineering, National
University of Singapore (NUS). The
design contest was held in November
2009 in Tinan, Taiwan, and was sponsored by the Taiwanese Ministry of
FOCUS | Spring 2010  \   \\ P.****    M^fe
Vijay Bhargava Awarded
Strategic Grant
Vijay Bhargava (ECE) has been awarded
a $446,000 NSERC Strategic Project
Grant for the period 2009-2012 to work
on "Advanced Radio Transmission and
Resource Management Techniques for
Cooperative Cellular Wireless Networks."
The Co-PI on the award is Ekram Hossain
of the University of Manitoba. Bhargava
has also received the 2010 IEEE Canada
Outstanding Engineering Educator Award.
Strategic Grant for
Visualization Research
Cristina Conati (CS) and co-investigators
Giuseppe Carenini (CS), James Enns
(Psychology), and Melanie Tory (CS-UVic)
have received an NSERC Strategic Project
Grant of $428,000 over 3 years to investigate "Advanced Tools for User-Adaptive
Visualization" of information. The team's
main industrial supporter is Envision
Sustainability Tools, Inc. Conati was also
an invited speaker at the International
Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence
(IJCAI-2009), where she spoke on intelligent tutoring systems.
CIHR Grant Will Lead to Improved
Mobility for Older Adults
A 6-year, $1.5 million Emerging Team
Grant from the Canadian Institutes of
Health Research will enable a Canada-wide
multidisciplinary team to investigate the
use of powered wheelchairs by older adults
and how the chairs can be improved. The
Wheeled Mobility for Older Adults Team
(WheeMOAT) is led by William Miller
(Occupational Science and Occupational
Therapy). It includes ICICS members Gary
Birch (Neil Squire Society/ECE), Meeko
Oishi (ECE), and Alan Mackworth, Jim
Little, and Ian Mitchell from CS.
Edmond Cretu UBC PI for
Microsystems Infrastructure Grant
The Canadian Foundation for Innovation
(CFI) has awarded $48.26 million to a consortium of 37 universities, led by Queen's
under the umbrella organization CMC
Microsystems, to implement advanced
microsystems research infrastructure across
the country. Edmond Cretu (ECE) is the
grant's PI for UBC, which received the second highest funding under the grant. CMC
Microsystems is a non-profit government,
industry, and academic initiative aimed
at building competence in microsystems.
Cretu's research is profiled on Page 06 of
this issue.
Kellogg Booth Elected as
ACM Distinguished Scientist
The Association for Computing Machinery
(ACM) has elected Kellogg Booth
(CS) as a Distinguished Scientist. ACM
Distinguished Members have "achieved
significant accomplishments or have made
a significant impact on the computing
field." This continues to be the case for
Booth, as Scientific Director of the recently
announced $23.25 million Network
of Centres of Excellence, "GRaphics,
Animation and New meDia" (GRAND).
Read more about the network on Page 04
of this issue.
CIHR Proof-of-Principle Funding for
Sports Helmet Project
Peter Cripton (MECH) has received CIHR
Proof-of-Principle funding of $150,000 to
conduct testing that will advance his Pro-
Neck-Tor   sports helmets toward commercialization. The helmet has an inner shell
that, upon impact, pivots within an outer
shell to mitigate damage to neck vertebrae
by up to 56 percent. Proof-of-Principle
grants are intended to bridge the funding
gap between research discoveries and commercialization.
David Pulfrey's Teaching Excellence
October 2009 was a big month for David
Pulfrey (ECE). The IEEE Electron Devices
Society gave him its Education Award for
the quality of his teaching of semiconductor devices to undergraduate and graduate
students. In the same week, the Association
of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists
of BC (APEGBC) honoured him with
its Award for Teaching Excellence in
Engineering and Geoscience Education—
the highest teaching award for engineering
educators in British Columbia.
ICICS Members Inducted as
CAE Fellows
ECE Head Andre Ivanov and his colleague
Resve Saleh (ECE) have been inducted
as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of
Engineering (CAE) in recognition of their
long service to the engineering profession
and their research achievements. Ivanov is
an expert and innovator in the design and
testing of very large scale integrated (VLSI)
circuits. Saleh helped pioneer mixed-mode
(analog/digital) circuit simulation.
Continued on Pg. 11 »
UBC's Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) is an umbrella organization that promotes collaboration among
researchers from the faculties of Applied Science, Arts, Commerce, Education, Forestry, Medicine, and Science, and with industry. ICICS
facilitates the collaborative multidisciplinary research of approximately 150 faculty members and 800 graduate students in these faculties.
Our members attract approximately $18 million annually in grants and contracts. Their work strengthens Canada's strategic Science and
Technology research priority areas, benefiting all Canadians.
ICICS, University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4
EDITOR:  Sharon Cavalier,
ICICS Administrator
Craig Wilson, ICICS Communication Writer
Martin Dee, UBC Public Affairs
Jarret Kusick, Hitman Creative Media Inc.
OFFICE:  ICICS, University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4
TEL:   604.822.6894   FAX: 604.822.9013
E-MAIL:  info@icics.ubc.ca


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