I attended SFU from 1968 to 1971 working towards my Ph.D. in Physics. During that time I met my wife. Both our sons have degrees from SFU.
My degree was granted for work on cadmium sulphide, under the supervision of Rudi Haering, head of the Physics Department and Academic VP. Prior to that I had received my B.Sc. (Honors) and M.Sc. in Physics from U of A in Edmonton and worked at Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) on germanium gamma ray spectrometer development, which brought greatly improved precision to nuclear spectroscopy.
Following my return to AECL and 3 years of work on other semiconductors for nuclear spectroscopy, I joined Aptec Engineering as Technical Director and later VP of Engineering. My mandate was to develop production of germanium spectrometers and other nuclear radiation measurement systems for research and the nuclear power industry.
With the slow-down of the nuclear industry in the 1980’s I joined a small company in Vancouver to provide project management. While the main project was a control system for a small nuclear power source, a secondary project involved the development of a computer-based diagnostic system for large engines (> 1000 HP). This project was the genesis of a product for determination of large engine health. I formed a company to take over the manufacture, sales and continued development of this product, CARMA.
In 1999 my company and my services were acquired by Spartan Controls of Calgary. The reduced management load enabled me to concentrate on development of improved monitoring and controls technology for large industrial engines in natural gas production. This spawned several REMVue products and several patents, which, by improving energy efficiency and using petroleum gases otherwise released to the atmosphere, now contribute to the annual reduction of over 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent compared to business-as-usual technology. This is equal to the CO2 output from about 100,000 cars in one year.
In retrospect, my time at SFU (also during the days of student revolt) taught me to not be constrained by old ways and how to systematically proceed to a project goal. My supervisor, Rudi Haering, was very supportive in these respects
My years in the business world have taught me the importance of excellent written and verbal communication skills to translate highly technical work into terms that others can understand.
My degree from SFU demonstrated my ability to learn new things quickly and to prepare a thesis. My experience at SFU taught me to question current ideas, which continues to be a huge advantage in discovering opportunities to make things better.
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
I came because the Dept. of Physics had an excellent and exciting program in Solid State Physics and because the staff were young and dynamic.
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
Since I was a grad student, most of my time was in one of the Physics laboratories and the library.
What is your favorite memory from your time at SFU?
One is sitting in the sun on the stairs coming down from the quad and eating lunch over-looking the main plaza. Another is my wedding to Caroline.
Who was your favorite SFU professor and why?
Rudi Haering was not only my supervisor, but an inspiration to me.
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
My degree provided me with a deeper understanding of how things worked and gave me the confidence and research skills to go in new directions.
What is your favorite SFU snow story?
The effects of snow at SFU, are, for me, who had grown up in Alberta and worked in Eastern Ontario with snow banks well over 2 meters, fairly minor. In three winters I remember only one day when SFU and all the schools in Burnaby were closed. Otherwise, not a big deal!
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
Learn how to communicate effectively in both professional and personal activities.
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
A key to SFU is the close proximity of facilities which engenders interaction among diverse ranges of people from many different disciplines.