Tom 4

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18 years, 32 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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These are Posts that have been published by Tom 4

I was fully expecting to write Part 2 of my postcard from China when a life-changing event interrupted my creative processes. My son Eric is thirteen and is about to complete grade 8. Math is not exactly his strongest subject but I blame it all on the fact that he has not started algebra in any substantial way yet… where math starts and that arithmetic nonsense stops.  In classic Eric style, he informed me that he had a math test the very next day and he absolutely needed to have a scientific calculator. “How did you do your homework so far then?”, I naively asked … “I don’t know … I faked it”.  After a moment of disbelief, with a sprinkling of anger, all mixed with a hint of pride that he got a B in math while “faking” the calculations, we got in the car and headed off to Staples.

The great Chinese philosopher Laozi (aka Lao-tzu) once remarked that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. With my recent business trip to China, I feel that I have a blog posting of a thousand miles ready to burst onto my keyboard but for everyone’s sanity, I’ve chosen to deconstruct my experience and pick a few highlights that I’ll share over a couple of postings. This first one is on the people I’ve met.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) World Congress is an annual event in April that draws automotive engineers from around the world to Detroit to learn about and share thoughts on new techniques and technologies. Once again this year, Maplesoft was an active participant. This was a milestone event for us as it was the first SAE Congress where we could show off and fully demonstrate the potential of the MapleSim/Maple solution. Even in these trying times in the auto industry, our corner remains vibrant and very optimistic about the future.  In no particular order, here are some highlights.

A prolonged winter is one of the challenges of living where I do. But each year, we also get the pleasure of experiencing the very first spring day and that’s a special feeling that I would not trade for all the tropical weather in the world. For me, spring in my town is not defined by the temperature or amount of sunshine. It’s defined, oddly enough, by robots … the third week in March is typically the week of the FIRST Robotics Waterloo Regional Tournament. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Reward of Science and Technology”. It is an international team sport where high-schools from around the world compete in complex robotic games with full sized remote controlled and autonomous robots on the playing field about the size of half a basketball court.

As I was preparing for an upcoming presentation, I stumbled on a graphic that I always thought was one of the best ones in my endless collection of Powerpoint slides. This particular graphic portrays the evolution of engineering modeling software and I always thought it was an incredibly impactful and clear view on a very complex topic. Unfortunately, I really can’t take any credit for it. The basic concept was created by Mr. Alex Ohata of Toyota. I remember the first time I saw it at a conference.  It really was one of those light-bulb moments where the Universe unfolded as it should … and now I pay due homage to this work of scientific art.

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