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December 18, 2007


Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Minutes of the Departmental Meeting on December 18, 2007

Present: B. Boulet, C. Brown, L. Chen, J. Clark, M. Coates, D. Davies, F. Ferrie, K. Fraser, D. Giannacopoulos, W. Gross, K. Johnson, P. Kabal, R. Khazaka, A. Kirk, F. Labeau, H. Leib, M. Levine, E. Lotayef, D. Lowther, P. Menon, Z. Mi, D. Plant, M. Rabbat, I. Shih, T. Szkopek, J. Webb, Z. Zilic. F. Nabki.

Regrets: T. Arbel, S. Mannor, L. McKenna

The meeting was called to order at 3:05 pm.

1. Approval of the Agenda: D. Plant asked if there were any additions to the agenda – none. L. Chen requested that Item 5 be discussed before Item 4. D. Plant asked for a motion to adopt the agenda. F. Ferrie, B. Boulet seconded. Carried.

2. Approval of the Minutes (November 27, 2007): K. Fraser, seconded by F. Labeau. Carried.

3. Remarks from the Chair:

Holiday party: I would like to thank Debbie, Lori, Anna, and Heidi for putting on a wonderful Holiday Party last week.

Hiring: we have four slots to fill this winter/spring. In each case, they are connected to an NSERC Industrial Research Chair – two with Bell Canada and two with Hydro-Quebec. In order to fill these slots, we have formed five search committees in the following areas: communications, optical networks, renewable energy, wind energy, and general areas of interest. Many of you are sitting on these committees and I thank you. We will be interviewing during the second half of January and February in order to fill these slots.

The department offices will be closed from December 22nd to January 1, inclusive, reopening January 2nd.

Finally I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday and a Prosperous New Year

4. Report of the Curriculum Committee:

A. Course Revisions:

L. Chen requested the following revisions:
• ECSE 423 Fundamentals of Photonics
Action: Drop PHYS 271 Introduction to Quantum Physics from the list of pre-requisites (the only pre-requisite will be ECSE 352 Electromagnetic Waves).
Motion to adopt revision: F. Ferrie, seconded by B. Boulet. Carried.
• ECSE 528 Telecommunication Network Architecture
Action: Drop the co-requisite ECSE 509 Probability and Random Signals 2. Change the pre-requisite from ECSE 511 Introduction to Digital Communication to ECSE 304 Signals and Systems 2 and ECSE 322 Computer Engineering.
Motion to adopt revision: F. Ferrie, seconded by M. Coates. Carried.
• ECSE 597 Circuit Simulators
Action: Change the pre-requisites from (MATH 270 Applied Linear Algebra or MATH 271 Linear Algebra and Partial Differential Equations), ECSE 334 Introduction to Microelectronics, and ECSE 352 Electromagnetic Waves to ECSE 303 Signals and Systems 1, ECSE 330 Introduction to Electronics, and ECSE 352.
Motion to adopt revision, J. Clark, seconded by R. Khazaka. Carried.

B. Program Revision

L. Chen requested the following revisions:
• Change in the description of the EE Regular program
Action: Revise the description of the enhanced power concentration.
Motion to adopt revision, D. Lowther, seconded by F. Ferrie. Carried.
• Change in the CE program
Action: Replace COMP 431 Algorithms for Engineers with COMP 251 Data Structures and Algorithms.
Motion to adopt revision, F. Ferrie seconded by B. Boulet. Carried.

C. New Course proposals

L. Chen requested the following new course proposal:
• ECSE 515 Optical Fibre Communications (3-1-5) 3 credits
Rationale: Optical communications represent one of the most important markets for photonics. This course will provide students with a background of optical fibre communication technologies and issues relevant to optical signal transport. This new course complements the department’s existing graduate course offerings in the area of photonics (ECSE 527 Optical Engineering, ECSE 571 Optoelectronic Devices, ECSE 572 Nonlinear Optics, and ECSE 596 Optical Waveguides) and fills the important void of a photonics-systems-level course. Motion to adopt new course proposal, unanimous. Carried.

D. Course Retirements

L. Chen requested that the following courses be retired:
ECSE 483 Multidisciplinary Project 1
ECSE 484 Multidisciplinary Project 2
ECSE 525 Computer Architecture
ECSE 592 Microwave Theory and Techniques
ECSE 667 Modern Power System Analysis
Motion to adopt retirements, F. Ferrie seconded by K. Fraser. Carried.

E. Reminder about course textbooks

L. Chen asked that everyone let the Curriculum Committee know if they change a textbook for their courses. It should be approved by the Committee.

5. IT Cost Recovery Plan:

Z. Zilic described the services that are being offered by the IT Service Group and thanked all the professors who paid their invoices quickly. The charges were developed with the professor’s pocket book in mind. He explained that there are additional services that can be obtained from Ehab and his Group and that the department is diverse in it’s needs.

Z. Zilic thanked Ehab Lotayef and the IT Committee for all the work that went in to come up with the Cost Recovery Plan for the department. D. Plant wished to thank the IT Service Group for their efforts in creating customer services and delivering those services.

F. Ferrie commented that the concise list is impressive but who archives; this is an essential service. E. Lotayef responded that the files have been archived twice a year from 1999 to the present. A. Kirk suggested that there is a McGill Archivist that would be very interested in your feedback. T. Szkopek asked if there is an option for a more bare bones basic IT service since his high operating costs for research materials leave limited funds for IT services. Z. Zilic responded that it is quiet involved to figure out and that the basic service provided is 5k to 6k per year which is not a lot of money. T. Szkopek asked if he could opt out of these charges. Z. Zilic informed him that it is harder to sustain. F. Ferrie mentioned that there is a similar problem in CIM and that CIM gives the new professors a break with a graduated roll-in. Z. Zilic stated that the assumption is that new hires cannot design without CAD tools. A. Kirk stated that $200 per student is an excellent value. F. Ferrie commented that this has to be a voluntary proposal and that no one should be coerced into paying this. This has to be the best arrangement for everyone. Z. Zilic stated that SYTACom provide one person and ½ of their time is used by ECE. F. Labeau clarified that the IT Service people are paid by the University. P. Kabal commented that at first he thought their was no value to the services the professors get but after he reviewed the cost recovery proposal, he thinks that there is value to all the services that the professor gets. D. Plant stated that the wireless & wireline access is charged by the university and this would be a way to recover some of the charges. M. Levine assumed that if any money comes to the department it should be shared with other units. He also stated that he cannot accept that if Professor Szkopek doesn’t fit into the rules he will get no help from the department. Z. Zilic stated that it is not up to the IT Services to give him the break but the department. D. Plant stated that there will be a phase-rolling plans set in place and the funds that we get from the University is for teaching, not research.

H. Leib asked how do centers co-exist in our department. B. Boulet stated that CIM is historically different than SYTACom. There are many expenses for maintaining the work area and this is not strictly IT. It is very difficult to compare centers and harmonize since they change every year – multi-faculty and multi-departmental. Money is used to refurbish space.

D. Plant stated that there is no problem with phase roll-in and that the department will not force anyone to pay.

Z. Zilic informed the department about possible backup charges. He stated that the professors and their students will be charged for backup space on servers beyond free 1Gb Unix + 1Gb Windows, starting Jan. 1st 2008 at the rates outlined in the service document. He also advised everyone to make sure to remove unneeded disk space by Jan. 31st, in order not to be charged for the backup that they might not want/need.

6. Graduate Admission Statistics:

F. Labeau gave a presentation on graduate admission statistics. He informed us on the status of the drop in the faculty enrollment and let us know that it is not felt in our department. Our position in the grand scheme of things is very healthy.

7. Budget Update:

D. Plant presented the breakdown of the budget and informed us that we are doing a great job of whittling down the deficit. L. Chen asked what the surplus of money would do for the department. D. Plant responded that he can assure everyone that if ECE does have a surplus the Dean has guaranteed that he would not claw it back. D. Plant commented that it is very difficult to think of a surplus when we are aggressively cutting back to bring down the budget. It would be his hope to start the new fiscal year with 0 deficit. L. Chen asked if there is a long range planning committee. D. Plant explained how we cut costs and stated that Anna and Debbie do the heavy everyday belt tightening.

8. Other Business:

D. Plant asked for any items for other business – none.

D. Plant asked for a motion to close the meeting.

Motion to adjourn: P. Kabal, seconded by W. Gross at 4:53 pm. Carried.

D. Davies, Secretary

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