media release

Plaque honours young pioneer of visual analytics

May 25, 2012
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Contact:
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017; Marianne_Meadahl@sfu.ca

Andrew Wade plaque
Photos on Flickr

A plaque unveiled today at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus honours Andrew Wade, the first graduate of the Master’s Degree Program in Visual Analytics, who died in a plane crash in Nepal last fall.

The degree was presented to Wade’s family posthumously at Fall Convocation last October.

The plaque is located at the entrance to SFU Surrey’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology labs. It depicts Wade, an avid traveller, in front of the Taj Mahal and describes him as  “a pioneer in the field of Visual Analytics,” who had been working in India using visual analytics to solve data set problems in software – a joint project between SFU, Boeing Company and Optimus Information Systems in India.

“This is a bittersweet time, a sad time, but also a celebration of Andrew and his life and commitment,” Andrew Petter told a crowd of Wade’s family, friends and university peers who gathered for a brief ceremony.

“I’m told he embodied so much of the spirit of the university. He was the epitome of the engaged student. Though he was young, he was regarded for being a promising scholar…bold and inventive.”

His supervisor, SIAT associate professor Brian Fisher, said: “Students will be walking by this plaque, and what I hope they get from this is that the qualities that made Andrew such an interesting guy are the same qualities that made him so successful. He had the same kind of enthusiasm for life as he did for his work.”

Wade, from Denver, earlier worked as an intern at Boeing with safety engineers, using his expertise to help find ways to minimize damage to aircraft from bird strikes. His efforts led to changes in five Boeing aircraft as well as their pilot safety manual. He was to have started a full-time position with the company after returning from a trip to India.

Wade’s family has established the Andrew Wade Memorial Scholarship in Visual Analytics at SFU, the first graduate scholarship in SIAT. The Vancouver Institute of Visual Analytics (VIVA) has also created the Andrew Wade VA Challenge, a student-focused branch of VIVA where students are trained in visual analytic techniques using real world data provided by industry or academic partners.

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