This February, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC) announced their annual major research awards. Included in this list were the four annual Synergy Awards for Innovation, one of which was won by faculty member Eugene Fiume, representing the Dynamic Graphics Project, and industrial partner Gord Kurtenbach (a DCS alumnus), representing Alias and Autodesk.
The Synergy Awards recognize exceptional partnerships in natural sciences and engineering research and development between universities and Canadian industry. Eugene was recognized for developing a long, extremely productive research relationship with Alias/Autodesk, which has contributed significantly to making Canada a leader in visual modelling. This collaborative research has led to software that is currently used in fields such as filmmaking, games, architecture, design and medicine.
Eugene noted, “[this award] is really about our having built an almost 20 year relationship that has seen approximately 100 graduate students and several faculty from our department work at Alias (or subsequently Autodesk Canada). It has resulted in some terrific work in human computer interaction and in graphics, various awards, a huge contribution to the Canadian economy, and a whole lot of fun.” Most of the U of T students employed by Alias/Autodesk were from the Dynamic Graphics Project (dgp), the interdisciplinary research lab housed within the Department of Computer Science that focuses on computer graphics and human-computer interaction.
The Synergy Award nomination also reflects on the rich partnership between DCS and Alias/Autodesk: “The growth and success of this partnership is astonishing. The industry over the past twenty years went from an addressable market of about $100M in 1992 to about $2B in 2011. Over this period, more than 100 papers were co-authored by dgp alumni at Alias/Autodesk Research, of which more than 50 were co-authored by current members of dgp. Numerous co-authored patents have also ensued.” Among other successes, “the work performed [as a result of this partnership] has involved collaborative research in science, technology, engineering, and the arts. It has resulted in numerous recognized technical achievements, including technical Academy Awards.”
As the Synergy nomination observes, “A relationship that began with the modest technology transfer of some basic scientific results has flourished into a collaboration of huge economic, scientific, artistic and social benefit. This relationship… is worthy of celebration.”
NSERC also honoured another DCS affiliate this year: cross-appointed faculty member Brendan Frey was awarded the John C. Polanyi Award for his ground-breaking work with Benjamin Blencowe of the Department of Molecular Genetics. Their research on understanding the human genome better will shed new light on how our bodies function and how DNA mutations can result in disease.
See the U of T story on the Synergy Award, the Polanyi award, and other 2011 NSERC awards here.
See the NSERC Synergy site here. See the Autodesk announcement here.
Congratulations to all!