Canadian IT pioneers honoured at CASCON

IBM’s Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS), on Wednesday, honoured longstanding members of Canada’s computer science community with the title ‘Pioneers of Computing in Canada’ for their contribution to Canadian IT.

In all, 90 IT professionals were honoured at CASCON 2005, a computer science and software engineering conference hosted by the Centre. “By honouring these Pioneers, we’re acknowledging the extraordinary impact they have had on the evolution of the Canadian computing technology industry over the last 50 years,” Dr. Kelly Lyons, director of Markham, Ont.-based IBM CAS, said in a statement.

“We want to ensure their place in Canadian computer science history is recognized and documented, so young people will aspire to follow in their footsteps. As the Canadian workforce ages, we need to ensure our universities continue to graduate the topnotch computer scientists in demand by the many innovative technology companies that call Canada home,” Lyons said.

The “pioneers” honoured have been involved in creating a foundation for Canadian IT, IBM said. This includes developing university computer science departments in the 1960s and 70s, to breaking ground in the fields of artificial intelligence, networking and various programming languages.

Those honoured included:

Eric Manning, professor in the University of Victoria’s Department of Computer Science and major contributor to fault tolerant computing and computer networking

Dana Wasson, responsible for the creation of the first Faculty of Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick (1990), and focusing on leading the Computing Centre and Computer Science Department through successive states of development.

Calvin Gotlieb, touted as the “Father of Computing” in Canada, help found of University of Toronto’s computer science department and was part of the first team in Canada to design and construct digital computers.

Morven Gentleman, professor of Computer Science at Dalhousie University, has made groundbreaking strides in the fields of software engineering, computer architecture and mathematical software

These four were also involved in a panel discussion at CASCON, and talked about the importance of collaboration between industry and academia and computing research’s future in Canada.

Gottlieb said few would have predicted that today’s desktops and mobile devices would harness the processing power from 1960’ s-era mainframe computers. He noted that computers have become so embedded in our daily lives that it’s becoming for difficult to recognize benchmarks.

“I think it’s very difficult to try to predict the future of technology…but (the industry) will have to focus on reliability,” Gentleman offered. “We’re going to have to worry about reliability a lot more than we have in the past — especially with things associated with the Internet.”

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