Faculty and Staff

2016 Staff Achievement Award winners: innovation and team achievement

April 07, 2017

SFU's annual Staff Achievement Awards honour staffers' exceptional personal and work-related accomplishments. Every Friday until Apr. 7, SFU News will post short profiles of the 2016 winners, all of whom were acknowledged at an awards dinner on March 8, 2017.   

Innovation Award

Hanif Kassam, business development manager; Dennis Kong, professional services; Jack Macken, production manager, Document Solutions

SFU’s new Live Event Check-in App, which automates registration for new-student information sessions and Welcome Days, is the brainchild of Document Solutions team Dennis Kong, Hanif Kassam and Jack Macken. 

Working with staff in Student Services, they developed a mobile software application that streamlines student check-in for live-event registrations. In just 20 minutes it can process more than 1,100 check-ins at multiple fixed and roaming checkpoints, and can be enhanced with custom messages and QR codes on printed postcards and email campaigns, also designed by Document Solutions.

Administrators can also use the app to track and monitor student activity throughout the recruitment and transition cycles, deriving a better understanding of students’ behavior and their readiness for academic life.

Kong, who develops applications and services for print production, created the app. Business development manager Kassam ensured the project met its goals and was successfully implemented.

Administrators in Student Services say the innovative system has improved customer service and student engagement, and streamlined staff resources.

Says one Student Services nominator, “This registration and check-in system has benefitted our unit financially, has made our events operate more efficiently and has provided us with the data to support student success.”

Says Kassam, “Our customizable solution is being explored for broader application in the SFU community. We anticipate that surveys, exams production/registration, activity tracking, inventory management, production workflows and large event coordination all have potential.”

l-r: Howard Proulx, Gary Shum, Ken van Wieren, Jamie Shoults, Ray Holland, John van der Est, Bob Zubic, Anthony Slater and Bruce Harwood. Missing: Pawel Kowalski.

Team Achievement

Ray Holland, Pawel Kowalski, Gary Shum, Anthony Slater, John van der Est, James Shoults, Howard Proulx, Ken van Wieren, Bob Zubic, and Bruce Harwood, Science Technical Centre,  Faculty of Science

Whether it’s glassblowing, 3D printing, welding, computer-aided milling or electronics troubleshooting, the Science Technical Center’s (STC) 10  staff  members bring an extensive array of skills to the job of fabricating the many  unique devices required to support scientific research and innovation.

Their collective knowledge and expertise are an invaluable asset to SFU’s science research and teaching community, and many successful research projects would not have been possible without their skills. 

“The work that they do allows our researchers to translate ideas into innovation,” says one nominator.

Often working from a sketch on the back of an envelope, these dedicated staffers have built complicated detector arrays for the TRIUMF cyclotron, modified drones to capture samples inside volcanic craters, and produced intricate, specialized, scientific glassware. As well, staffers in the electronics shop often undertake complicated equipment repairs, often saving researchers thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

Nominators laud the staffers’ extraordinary commitment to complete projects on time, noting they often work overtime and on weekends to get the job done. Nominators also acknowledge how much the team’s work contributes to their own, and their students’, research success.

Says one nominator, “The STC plays an extremely important part in the department’s teaching program. Their work helps optimize the lab environment by creating a safe workplace, and they help maintain the proper operation of lab apparatus and equipment. We are extremely thankful to have them as part of our support team.”

Team Achievement  

Glynn Nicholls (director, academic planning and quality assurance), Rich Chambers (accreditation and special projects officer) and Louise Paquette (program assistant, academic planning), Office of the Vice-President Academic

In 2016, SFU became the first Canadian research university to gain U.S. accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), capping off a seven-year comprehensive and rigorous process.

For an established institution like SFU, this was a herculean task that required a significant effort over many years.

Glynn Nicholls, SFU’s director of academic planning and quality assurance, was tasked with leading the accreditation team that included Rich Chambers, accreditation and special projects officer, and Louise Paquette, program assistant for academic planning.

The road to accreditation began in fall 2008. Once SFU was accepted as a candidate, the team developed a process to meet all of the NWCCU’s requirements for repeated self-study and external assessments.

The work finally culminated last year when the University submitted a final, two-volume, self-assessment and hosted a visit from a large team of NWCCU assessors.

In June 2016, SFU received initial accreditation from the NWCCU’s board of commissioners.

Accreditation was a tremendous achievement for the University, says the team’s nominator.

“The team enhanced SFU’s performance and reputation through their effective and management of the University’s application,” he says.

“Dr. Nicholls achieved this by assembling a small but highly effective team that integrated the knowledge and expertise of many people across the University.”