This past year I had the pleasure of serving as Acting Chair of DCS as we await our incoming Chair Sven Dickinson, who starts his term July 1, 2011. I had a great opportunity to experience firsthand the incredible range of activity we have in this very impressive Department. I also enjoyed working closely with the large number of incredibly talented and dedicated people whose hard work underlies all of our success. In this message I'd like to give you a brief overview of some of the things that happened in DCS this year.
First, I have to open with a sad note. In the late spring 2010 we lost of one of our young talented faculty members, Professor Avner Magen; Avner perished in a mountain climbing accident in Alaska. Avner was an outstanding scientist and teacher and a great personal friend to many in the Department. I encourage you to visit his memorial blog
to learn more about Avner and his many exceptional qualities. He will be missed.
Education is a huge part of our academic mission and over the last twelve months DCS continued to make improvements to our undergraduate and graduate programs. These improvements allow us to keep our programs at the forefront of innovation.
We redesigned our undergraduate program to give our students much more flexibility; now they can more easily pursue interdisciplinary studies. Students can also now choose from a range of concentrations
which allow them to build up core expertise in interesting topics, like human computer interfaces, computer systems, or theory of computation, by taking a suite of specific courses during their program.
This year in our graduate program we introduced a new Masters in Applied Computing
(MScAC). This innovative new graduate program is designed for students whose main interest lies in applying state of the art ideas to practical applications. The MScAC program involves course work as well as an eight month internship in industry. Our regular masters and doctoral programs continue to attract strong students both locally and internationally. These students -- whose primary interest lies in research -- help to advance the state of the art in computer science.
On the research side, we had another incredible year. Having just gone through our annual review of faculty members' activities, I can tell you that the level of research productivity in DCS is nothing short of phenomenal. One tangible aspect of our success in research lies in the large number of prestigious awards won this year by our faculty. Professor Geoff Hinton was awarded the 2010 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering
. This is Canada's most prestigious award in Science and Engineering and represents an incredible accomplishment for Geoff and for DCS. On top of the Herzberg, which is aimed at senior scientists, Professor Aaron Hertzmann was awarded the 2010 Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences
. The Steacie Prize is Canada's most prestigious award for Scientists and Engineers under 40. Our graduate students also won a number of awards, most notably Dr. Andres Lagar Cavilla was awarded the 2010 NSERC Doctoral Prize for his Ph.D. work on cloud computing under the supervision of Professor Eyal de Lara,. Incredibly this is the third year running that DCS graduates have won this award. DCS members won a number of awards for their outstanding teaching as well, demonstrating the department's excellence in all aspects of our academic mission. Most notably Professor Karen Reid was awarded the University of Toronto's Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award
and Professor Paul Gries was awarded the 2011 President's Teaching Award
. These are U of T's two most prestigious awards for teaching. Finally, although there are many other awards and accolades for our members this year, I cannot go without mentioning that Professor Allan Borodin was named a University Professor
. This is U of T's most distinguished award for its research faculty.
We are pleased to see increasing interest in Computer Science, with our undergraduate enrollments climbing again this year. There has been a severe shortage of qualified applicants for many high-tech jobs, and it is fantastic that we can help to address this problem. Our graduates have been very successful in obtaining enriching job opportunities after the completion of their BSc and we are especially pleased that the latest improvements to our curriculum will enable us to send the highest quality, most well-rounded graduates into industry and academia.
Before closing, I want to thank the many members of the department who have helped make my year as Acting Chair enjoyable and manageable. Besides our academic staff and students, our administrative staff play an absolutely essential role in keeping things going. Without their help I would never have survived my year!
As always, we encourage you to keep in touch. If you are interested in engaging in any aspect of departmental life, whether keeping up to date or making contributions to our many activities in teaching, scholarship, or public outreach, don't hesitate to contact us