Derek Wright

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11 years, 47 days

Derek is responsible for helping customers to succeed with Maple and MapleSim. He has been using Maple since undergrad and used Maple to help develop the analytical models of his Ph.D. thesis.

Derek Wright received a B.A.Sc. degree in electrical engineering and a M.A.Sc. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Waterloo, Canada. He subsequently received a Ph.D. degree in the collaborative electrical and biomedical engineering program at the University of Toronto, Canada. His research has focused on developing analytical models of phononic crystals and metamaterials that use active materials, such as piezoelectrics and dielectric elastomers, which may lead to controllable dynamic ultrasonic lenses. He has also worked in the areas of robotics, control, analog and digital VLSI and board-level circuit design, and CCD cameras.

Derek is a trained classical pianist and particularly enjoys performing Bach. He also works out daily at the Maplesoft gym and tries to bike to work as often as possible. He regularly reads Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, and Skeptic magazine. He also enjoys the weekly CBC Quirks and Quarks podcast to catch up on science news. Most of all, Derek enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and his son, William.

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These are Posts that have been published by Derek Wright

I’m not a morning person. Well, that’s not entirely true: I am not particularly a morning person, but relative to my wife, Amy, I seem awfully crusty and curmudgeonly for about an hour after waking up. She, on the other hand, is definitely of the “up and at ‘em” variety. As such, I would like to credit coffee with contributing significantly to our happy marriage these last five years.

With so many data points I can now reliably say that it is in everyone’s best interest for me to wake up first, or for us to wake up at the same time. If Amy gets up first, by the time I wake up she is reciting lists of “things I’d like to do today” as I groggily attempt to get that first double espresso to my lips. This is where something interesting happens: If I don’t perk up, Amy gets extra happy in an attempt to cheer me up (just give me time to wake up!). This implicitly suggests that she is using her mood as a forcing function to my mood. If I still don’t perk up, then things turn ugly as I am clearly being insensitive to her generous efforts to cheer me up, and her mood drops. Conversely, if I do perk up, whether from the coffee or her cheerfulness, all is well.

Undergraduate engineering and science consists of learning various rules and laws that govern the domains of interest. For me, it was Maxwell’s Equations for electromagnetics, the Navier-Stokes equation for acoustics, the Rayleigh criterion for imaging, the speed of light, et cetera ad nauseam. What is frequently missed or neglected in teaching and in practice is how these rules and limits are simply the boundaries of the game – endpoints on a spectrum of possibilities. That’s why a recent headline caught my attention: “Computers to Get Faster Only for 75 More Years". I find it hard to believe that humans a thousand years from now will be commemorating 2084 as “The Year Computers Stopped Getting Faster”. After reading the research paper from which this headline arose, I was reminded that innovative science doesn’t set limits, it uses them as tools. Since this is precisely what we do in Applications Engineering at Maplesoft, I thought it would be worth looking into a little further.

A leading motorcycle manufacturer has been using MapleSim to model their powertrain, and now they want to include a realistic battery model. This would let them choose batteries and accessories (like starters and alternators) that they can simulate under a variety of operating conditions, along with their powertrain model. The company turned to Maplesoft to help with this modeling exercise and I was put on the task. My background is in circuits so I thought this would be a straightforward project. In my mind batteries were just constant voltage sources that eventually ran out of charge. I was able to find several recent research papers on battery models, and I realized their behavior was much more complicated than a simple voltage source.

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