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Boeing grant to drive visual analytics research

June 12, 2008

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A $1.35 million grant from The Boeing Company will put SFU and UBC at the forefront of the emerging field of visual analytics, leading to better ways for governments, industry and academia to cope with an increasing flood of information.

The five-year grant will fund investigations by a team of researchers from both universities, led by SFU’s John Dill and Brian Fisher, and UBC’s Ron Rensink.

The researchers will collaborate with the Chicago-based aerospace company to evaluate and improve ways to analyze complex data on aircraft safety, reliability and maintainability.

The techniques they develop will also help decision makers in banking, health care, transportation and public safety to interpret the vast amounts of information that they currently struggle to understand.

"The conventional approach for computing has been to build software that could process information and try to make intelligent decisions automatically," says Dill, a professor at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology.

"Instead, visual analytics uses computers to visually convey what the data is telling us, and puts decision-making back in the hands of humans."

Boeing’s investment is an integral part of its C-17 Industrial Benefits (IB) Program. Under this program, Boeing is required to match nearly $800 million invested by the Canadian government in acquiring four C-17 strategic transport aircraft, by issuing contracts or making investments of equal value to Canadian industry partners and institutions.

Boeing is the world’s leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined. The company designs and manufactures rotorcraft, electronic and defence systems, missiles, satellites, launch vehicles and advanced information and communication systems.

Boeing is recognized by the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada as one of the four pillars of the Canadian aerospace industry.
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