[University of Waterloo]


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About the DB

Thursday, June 23, 2005

  • Summing up 38 years of computers
  • Seeking the next dean of arts
  • Health informatics 'boot camp' coming
Chris Redmond

St. John's Eve

[A sea of green and blue]

From the air, a ten-year-old in an airplane can see the Dana Porter Library (top left), Laurel Lake (centre), Westmount Road (top-to-bottom on the right side of the image) and St. Jerome's University (lower left). The photo was taken Monday evening by Annika Paterson, daughter of Scott Paterson of the arts computing office. Vic Neglia, also of arts computing, was the pilot.

Summing up 38 years of computers

Some of the old-timers in information systems and technology were chuckling as Carol Vogt reminded them last week of what things were like in the infancy of computing. "For the computer to run for two hours without crashing was unusual," said Vogt, remembering the IBM 360/75 that was the biggest and latest thing when she started work in 1967. She will retire June 30 as director of IST's Electronic Workplace group.

"She's been showing others the way with style and grace for all our lives," said Roger Watt, who has worked near Vogt for 37 of her 38 Waterloo years, and who introduced her as the speaker for IST's Friday morning professional development seminar.

[Rose pinned to her dress]

Carol Vogt at a retirement reception earlier this month -- photo by Chris Rutter.

Some of Friday's audience, including co-op students working for IST as well as the younger staff members, weren't even born, Vogt noted, when she finished her master's degree in math and took a job "helping people debug Fortran programs" for what was then called the Department of Computing Services. (The chairs in the IST seminar room are still labelled DCS.)

"I actually knew how to go through a core dump and do arithmetic in hexadecimal," she told her audience -- the younger ones stunned, the older ones, such as Watt and Marj Kohli and Paul Snyder, amused. Her PowerPoint presentation showed an example of IBM Job Control Language (which, Vogt said, she recently discovered was still in use some places) and (more amazement) the IBM 029 keypunch with its notorious control drum. It was a huge step forward when IBM 2741 terminals were introduced and a modest amount of "interactive" computing first became possible.

Later, she recalled, came word processors . . . primitive networks . . . and microcomputers. "A lot of people weren't taking them seriously -- they were mostly in the hands of hobbyists" until the introduction of the IBM PC in 1981, she said (although UW did have a student lab equipped with Commodore PETs at one point). Then more innovations came along: the Apple Lisa with the first graphic user interface, and later Microsoft Windows.

And then came the last big breakthrough. "It happened in this room," Vogt said, pointing to the chair she was sitting in for an IST seminar one Friday morning in 1993, when a co-op student demonstrated a new piece of software. It was Mosaic, the first web browser. "The Internet exists!" she remembers thinking.

These days Vogt's group in IST is responsible for helping campus users with word processors and other office software, e-mail, software licensing, and just a few other things. Most recently she has been chairing the Web Operations Committee -- not bad for somebody who admits that in 1992, "I'd heard about this thing called the World Wide Web, and I tried it. Wasn't too impressed!" Times change.

Seeking the next dean of arts

A nominating committee is at work to fill the position of UW's dean of arts, says a memo from the provost addressed to "all faculty, staff and students in the Faculty of Arts and at the colleges".

Bob Kerton, former chair of the economics department, started a five-year term as dean in 1999 and then accepted a two-year extension, which will take him to June 30 next year.

"This is to inform you," said the memo, "that the Nominating Committee, constituted under the terms of Policy 45 is now in place and has held its first meeting to begin the process of finding Bob Kerton's successor when his second term as Dean expires June 30, 2006. As required by Policy 45, the Committee will advertise the position, internally and externally, in its search for the best available candidate.

"In the next few weeks, the Committee would very much appreciate receiving your views about the search process, including the characteristics to be sought in the next Dean of Arts and the challenges and opportunities the new Dean will need to address. Please make your views known to any member of the Nominating Committee and feel free to suggest the names of strong potential candidates. Members intend to consult broadly, so don't be surprised if your views are sought.

Summer Solstice Book Sale winds up today, South Campus Hall concourse.

'Pension Crises' conference in Toronto, sponsored by Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance and Institute for Insurance and Pension Research, details online.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Flavio Gomes, LogiSense, "Surviving and Thriving as a Software Vendor", 12:00, Needles Hall room 1101, information ext. 7167.

Computing Help and Information Place (CHIP) closed today 11:45 to 1:15.

Front desk security seminar for staff who work in isolated reception areas, 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1304, no registration required.

Work terms in the US: information sessions for students with fall jobs, details online.

San Francisco alumni reception 6 to 8 p.m., Canvas Gallery, details online.

Conrad Grebel University College banquet to support the Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training, 6:30 at Grebel, information 885-0220 ext. 223.

Math Society movies: "Jesus Christ Superstar" 7:00, "The Phantom of the Opera" 9:00, Math and Computer room 2066, free.

Work reports available for pickup at Tatham Centre tomorrow.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8;30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Perimeter Institute presents Rob Myers, Perimeter researcher and UW physics faculty member, "The Superstring Adventure", Friday 7 p.m., Rozanski Hall, University of Guelph, reservations 824-4120 ext. 53965.

Warrior Weekend events in the Student Life Centre: Friday evening salsa lessons, café, Italian movies, beach volleyball; Saturday evening "International Amazing Race", origami, movies, ice cream; more information online.

Digital Moose Day in Silicon Valley, sponsored by Canadian high-tech firms; UW alumni affairs is a participant; Sunday 1:30 to 5:00, Huddart County Park, Woodside, California; details online.

John Tory, leader of Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, speaks in Student Life Centre, Wednesday 2:00.

"If you prefer to respond in writing, please direct your submission to John Bullen (University Secretariat, Needles Hall; jbullen@uwaterloo.ca; fax 519-888-6337). However you respond, your comments will be held in confidence within the Committee."

Amit Chakma, the provost, chairs the committee. Other members:

¶ Kathy Acheson, English Language and Literature [ext. 2122; koa@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Howard Armitage, School of Accountancy [ext. 7165; howard@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Renjie Butalid, Undergrad Student [588-1551; rlrbutal@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ David DeVidi, Philosophy [ext. 5701; ddevidi@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Ken McLaughlin, St. Jerome's University [884-8111 ext. 218; kmclaugh@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Daniela O'Neill, Psychology [ext. 2545; doneill@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Beatrice Orchard, Grad Student, History [743-7253; wadjet@hotmail.com]
¶ François Paré, French Studies [ext. 3394; fpare@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Donna Sutherland, Staff Member [x6542; donna@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Mary Thompson, Statistics and Actuarial Science [x5543, methomps@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Diane Wiles, Staff Member [ext. 5450; dwiles@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Mark Zanna, Psychology [ext. 5799, mzanna@uwaterloo.ca]
¶ Anne Zeller, Anthropology [ext. 305O; azeller@uwaterloo.ca]

Health informatics 'boot camp' coming -- from the UW media relations office

A summer bootcamp at UW will introduce participants to the rapidly growing field of Health Informatics and what it means for the health-care system. The Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research is hosting the intensive five-day course July 18-22 on the UW campus.

The Health Informatics Bootcamp is intended to introduce those with little or no knowledge of HI to the nature, key concepts and applications of the innovative discipline in order to address challenges in the health field. The focus of the week-long session will be on applied HI, the discipline addressing the planning, procurement, deployment, implementation, resourcing, effective usage and evaluation of informatics solutions in health.

"Canada Health Infoway and the Smart Systems for Health Agency have identified the need for over 2,000 Health Informatics professionals in Canada," said biology professor Dominic Covvey, the institute's founding director. "But academic programs in Canada produce less than 100 such professionals each year. This is a crisis that needs innovative responses."

The purpose of the bootcamp is to provide a broad introduction, not to replace academic programs that give the knowledge and experience needed to function as a professional. "I think of it as an index into the field, which will provide a path for deeper learning," said Yuri Kagolovsky, co-ordinator of Conestoga College's new Health Informatics Management program. "The bootcamp will kick-start a life-long learning process that we hope will include participation in existing academic programs in Health Informatics."

To help them in that direction, participants will be given information on all of the HI programs and courses in Canada as well as websites for programs available internationally. "We see this program as also being an entry point to Health Informatics for clinicians," said David Koff of Sunnybrook and Women's College Hospital in Toronto, one of the faculty for the bootcamp. "Many are interested in bringing this discipline into full flower in the care of patients. This is a good place to start."

The program is sponsored by Ontario's Smart Systems for Health Agency, with support from other health organizations and private industry. "We view this program as basic training for our own staff, and counsel others to participate as well," said Mike Connolly, the CEO of SSHA. "We realize that it must be followed by deeper enquiry and learning, but it is a real start on addressing our capacity gap." Other partners are Canada Health Infoway, Conestoga College, Grand River Hospital, Healthcare Information Management and Communications Canada, NORTH Network and Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre. As well, benefactors contributing to the bootcamp are Accenture, COACH and ORMED Healthcare Information Services.


Communications and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
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(519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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