Tom 4

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18 years, 38 days

My title is Chief Evangelist for Maplesoft. I interpret that as “the guy who’s been around forever”. I started my professional Maplesoft career in 1989 as a contractor trying to earn money to feed my grad student habits, like eating and visiting my parents. Before that I was introduced to what was then referred to as the Maple programming language and to my surprise, Maple immediately helped me figure things out in my courses and more importantly it made me look smarter in front of potential grad supervisors. That’s how the love affair began.

Since then I’ve held various senior positions including Vice President of Marketing and Market Development. I’ve witnessed the transformation of this company from a start-up doing something strange called “computer algebra” to a well-recognized, leading solutions company with a growing and ever diversifying user community. I’m even more thrilled at the fact that so much of our new achievements are in the world of engineering modeling and simulation which was my specialization in University.

I did my degrees at the University of Waterloo. My Bachelor and Master’s degrees were in Systems Design Engineering and my PhD in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in surface modeling for CAD systems. Along the way, I dabbled in control systems, physical systems modeling, and computer-assisted education. I still stay connected to the academic world through my position as Adjunct Professor in Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo, and as a member of the Board of Governors, Renison College affiliated with the University of Waterloo.

I was born in Seoul South Korea but raised in Toronto, Canada. I moved to Waterloo, Canada to attend university and never left. I tell the Maplesoft people that it’s because of the company but it’s because I met my wonderful wife Dr. Sharon here :-)

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For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been flying around the world on a press tour … sounds glamorous doesn’t it? Images of Brad Pitt or Prince William come to mind? Well, any similarities between a Brad Pitt press tour and one that I’m involved in is purely coincidental (if not miraculous). So what does one do on a Maplesoft press tour?

 Well, as it turns out, there actually is a fairly active community of journalists from far and wide who have a particular interest in recent developments in engineering and mathematical computing. And every year or so, we like to meet the press face to face to keep the lines of communication open between the company and these influential people of letters. This year, my tour took me through key regions in the US, UK, and Germany.

This weekend was reunion weekend for me. On Saturday I made the return journey to my alma mater, the University of Waterloo (i.e. I walked 10 minutes to the campus from my house), for the 20th reunion of my Engineering Class of 1988. Among the various events and activities, I had the pleasure of having a sitdown chat with Professor Peter H. O’N. Roe, retired professor of Systems Design Engineering (my undergrad department) at the University.

The modern engineering achievements of Japanese industry are the stuff of legends. And for an engineering nerd like myself, Japanese industry quite often equates with the many qualities that drew us into engineering –precision, vision, and technological ambition.  So it’s no surprise that each time I visit Japan, I feel like a kid again, eagerly waiting to discover yet another technological marvel -- whether it’s something very important like automotive powertrains that consume ridiculously small amounts of fuel or something that’s just plain fun (like this), I’m generally in a constant state of amazement if not giddiness during my visits.

Yesterday I watched a demonstration of Maple being applied to the modeling and simulation of the internal deformations of human bones. The researcher was a mathematician working primarily in the biomedical modeling fields. The actual technique was to utilize the symbolic mathematical power of Maple to formulate the necessary equation pieces for a finite element model (FEM) of the internals of the bone. The equations are then fed into the legendary FEM solver ABAQUS.

Due to the notoriously non-linear qualities of human flesh and bone, traditional formulation methods developed for modeling beams and metals simply do not work. So as in the case of so many impressive engineering applications, the power of Maple is being deployed in the formulation or the pre-solution phase of modeling and in doing so, previously infeasible models now become feasible.

One of the greatest pleasures of my job is meeting users and learning first hand of their achievements (hopefully with our products). Last week was a particularly eventful week and a distinct highlight was a visit our friends at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Montréal.

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