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26 March

Well, you asked for pictures from the High School robotics competition I mentioned. Here are a couple of the team and their dragon-robot sculpture. Sadly, I have no pictures of the actual robot in the competition, due to the awful lighting.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
12 May

Last week I gave an invited lecture at the Annual Huggins Science Seminar at Acadia University. My talk dealt with the current state of robotics for outdoor environments.

The Huggins Science Seminar is an event named after Charles Huggins, the Nobel prize winner who attended Acadia for his undergraduate degree. The seminar series brings in senior high school students from around the province to hear lectures on Science. The lectures are, by and large, delivered by scientists who are nominated, selected, and flow in for the lectures. I was impressed by the calibre of the students and the coordination of the whole event, and had a chance to meet Spencer Barrett over breakfast, a Canada Research Chair in Botany from the University of Toronto, who also gave a talk there.

Acadia is in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It's a small town and very picturesque, being located right on the Bay of Fundy. I wish my trip had allowed more time to do some sight seeing or to contact local friends.

Wolfville NS in the evening
Wolfville NS in the evening

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
03 September

Today was my second day in my new role of Director of the McGill School of Computer Science (roughly equivalent to "Chairman of the Department"). The school is part of the Faculty of Science, but it has many links to Engineering as well. I also have some plans to increase the visibility of robotics at McGill, and this platform should help.
Trottier Computer Science and Engineering Building

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
24 October

The Globe and Mail newspaper released their Canadian University Report. Like all such surveys, the results need to be taken with a BIG grain of salt, in part because it was based on students judging their own university (so there is a lot of selection bias). Similarly, note that most Americans who have never been outside the USA think it's be best country to live in: what does that really tell us?

Still, it's nice that McGIll University did well. Also interesting is the fact that Canadian students everywhere are generally satisfied with just 7% saying otherwise. This is consistent with my longstanding belief that the Canadian education systems works really well from both a social and personal point of view.

McGIll is most naturally compared to the University of Toronto, University of Alberta, UBC and Waterloo based on the size, diversity, scope and impact of the schools. This is especially true in Computer Science.

McGill is top in this set of 5 in the important areas of:

academic reputation,
campus atmosphere,
career preparation,
campus technology,
student residences,
most satisfied students,
quality of education,
quality of teaching.

McGill fails to win in

course availability/variety,
student faculty interaction.

There were also some areas I personally deemed of minor significance like
buildings and facilities (where McGill still won), Food Services and ease of course registration (where it fared less well). Notably, the University of Western Ontario also fared very well in this survey.

In the area of "reputation", the entire set of "Large Schools" rank as follows:

McGill University

University of Toronto - St. George

University of Waterloo

University of Western Ontario

University of Alberta

McMaster University

University of British Columbia - Vancouver

Université Laval

Université de Montréal

University of Ottawa

Concordia University BUniversity

of Manitoba

Université du Québec

Ryerson University

York University

University of Calgary

Asking students about their own university becomes more questionable as the school becomes more culturally selective and/or smaller. For example, imagine asking people if their own rooms are well decorated, or if their church is the "best kind". For larger diverse universities this seems less problematic, since the students may have been exposed to a variety of alternatives.

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (2) or Leave a comment |    
06 August

Computational Principles of Mobile Robotics

2nd Edition

coming soon

CPMR cover

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
18 September

It's been a busy period with the start of the academic term. It appears that based on preliminary estimates enrollment in computer science is up again this year, and by a somewhat larger margin than the year before. This includes both students who are specifically taking a computer science course, as well as students who are doing some other kind of degree but taking just one or a few CS courses to complement their skills.

Presumably this due to a couple of factors: the job market for CS graduates has been strong for years (despite all kinds is misleading rumors), the job offers pretty hospitable conditions, it's very mobile, and the CS skill set is useful, and maybe mandatory, for just about everything. At the Microsoft Faculty Summit this summer I learned that at Georgia Tech (unlike McGill) a computer science course is mandatory for every single student no matter what the major. This seems eminently reasonable. How can you cope with almost any academic discipline without solid basic computer science knowledge and skills? Today, it seems just as necessary as basic math, for for student in the humanities perhaps even more important.

Anyhow, the numbers are up and this is keeping us busy.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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