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October 30, 2007


Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
REVISED Minutes of the Departmental Meeting on October 30, 2007

Present: B. Boulet, C. Brown, C. Champness, L. Chen, J. Clark, D. Davies, F. Ferrie, K. Fraser, D. Giannacopoulos, W. Gross, V. Hayward, K. Johnson, A. Kirk, M. Levine, L. Mason, H. Mayer, P. Menon, Z. Mi, S. Michailescu, S. Musallam, L. Parris, D. Plant, M. Rabbat, M. Rochette, R. Rose, I Shih, T. Szkopek, J. Webb, S.C. Wong, Z. Zilic. F. Nabki, S. Gidda

Regrets: R. Abhari, T. Arbel, M. El Gamal, A. Hamoui, R. Khazaka, F. Labeau, H. Leib, D. Lowther, S. Mannor, L. McKenna, A. Wojciechowska

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. S. Gidda, from ExCESS requested to add “Funding” to the agenda and K. Fraser requested to add “Iron Ring Ceremony”. D. Plant asked for a motion to adopt the agenda. B. Boulet, A. Kirk seconded. Carried.

2. Approval of the Minutes (September 25, 2007): K. Fraser, seconded by B. Boulet. Carried.

3. Remarks from the Chair:

1) New Arrivals: Sarah Lessard: Diploma from Algonquin College (99), B.A. from University of Ottawa (02); current pursuing a second B.A. at Concordia in French Studies.

2) Since our last Dept. meeting in May, and working with the Departmental Leadership Team of Associate Chairs and Directors, and the Professional Staff, we have been focusing on the following issues which I will update you on: 3) Services and Cost Recovery: Continuing to work on our services/cost recovery model for the department. We are making good progress in all relevant domains. The Mechanical Design and Machining Services group is full cost recovery mode for research jobs. The Technical and Laboratory Services group has developed a draft description of services that they can provide on a cost recovery basis. We will be disseminating this shortly. Finally, the IT group has an update for later in the meeting. 4) Renovations: Almost finished; target “move-in” date is next Monday. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Debbie, Anna, Lori, and Lois for a job well done in keeping the department moving forward during the disruption. 5) Accreditation: please note that the CEAB will be visiting November 5 and 6. The visit is being coordinated at the faculty level by Associate Dean Jim Clark – thus we are in good hands. For those implicated in the visit, we will provide additional information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any update on your Professional Registration status, please send this to Associate Chair Benoit Boulet.

4. Undergraduate Admissions Statistics

J. Webb gave his presentation regarding undergrad enrollment which showed how many registered students are in the program. J. Webb indicated that surprisingly there has been a drop in registration. J. Webb remarked that the popularity of this program has dropped and unless the media deems this “hot” he cannot foresee an increase. R. Rose inquired why the Faculty model stated that we should have had more admissions. F. Ferrie responded that we got new professors and the faculty assumed there would be more graduates but nothing increased. T. Szkopek asked how the 260 student target compares to the operating capacity of the undergraduate program. J. Webb said that the international student enrollment has been lowered to keep our numbers up and F. Ferrie commented that this is working. J. Webb stated that the average marks within a class used to be around 90 to 92 percent but he indicated that recently the class average has dropped to about 82 percent. S. Gidda said that she realizes that the numbers have fallen, but agrees that a certain standard should be maintained and she requested that the rules be stricter than it is now. S. Gidda stated that she knows of students who have been disappointed in the program. J. Webb said student numbers are important and he would be in favor of smaller classes. M.D. Levine asked how the threshold is set. J. Webb said he is not clear on who actually sets the number, and that possibly it could be set by the Dean. J. Clark stated that maybe the faculty could set the threshold in comparison with our peers as for example, University of Waterloo which has many good candidates. J. Clark suggested that students should be attracted to come from these universities. A. Kirk indicated there has been a decrease in graduate student applications to our university. T. Szkopek asked how we compare to other universities. J. Clark indicated he has been in one particular meeting and has found out that several universities across the country are increasing their enrollment. F. Ferrie said there is a potential market for growth with students from the United States; however, with the rise in the Canadian dollar, it is getting more expensive for American students to come here. F. Nabki asked if everyone at the meeting had to deal with students who not able to handle the workload. He also stated that McGill runs the risk of lowering the standards by letting in students that cannot handle the work. J. Webb remarked there should be arrangements made for that matter and indicated that there are a few students at the top of the class but there is a long range between the top and bottom.

5. Visit of CEAB on November 5 and 6

J. Webb announced that on Monday and Tuesday (November 5th and 6th) we will be visited by the Accreditation of Programs Board. J. Webb named the visitors and asked if everyone had handed in their course work. J. Webb also added that the visitors may request other material at any time, so he urged everyone to be prepared and let D.Davies know if you will NOT be here by sending her an email. J. Webb said that the goal here is to get the program accredited. J. Clark stated that not only is the whole purpose of this is to get the program accredited, but the visitors mainly want to know if the courses we teach match what is in the course description. They are also looking at moral. D. Plant asked when will we know the final decision and will have it by next June. J. Clark answered that the final decision will be next June but the essential report will be given in December.

6. Report from the Curriculum Committee

L. Chen said ‘Rather than providing info, I have highlighted the changes that have to be made.’

1. ECSE 527 Optical Engineering Action: Drop ECSE 304 Signals and Systems 2 from the list of pre-requisites. The only pre-requisite for the course is now ECSE 352 Electromagnetic Waves. Rationale: Very little material from ECSE 304 is required for ECSE 527. Any notions relating to spectrum or spectral content of a signal can be reviewed in ECSE 527. ECSE 527 change in the existing registration will be 30, no need for 34.
Seconded by B. Boulet. A discussion followed. Carried.

2. ECSE 571 Optoelectronic Devices Action: Drop ECSE 304 Signals and Systems 2 and ECSE 305 Probability and Random Signals from the list of pre-requisites. The only pre-requisite for the course is now ECSE 352 Electromagnetic Waves; ECSE 533 Physical Basis of Semiconductor Devices remains as a co-requisite. Rationale: ECSE 571 does not require any background material that is covered in either ECSE 304 or ECSE 305.
Seconded by B. Boulet. A discussion followed. Carried.

3. ECSE 476 Software Engineering Design Project 1(0-2-1) 1 credit
ECSE 477 Software Engineering Design Project 2 (0-5-1) 2 credit
Rationale: The two-course sequence ECSE 476 (Software Engineering Design Project 1) and ECSE 477 (Software Engineering Design Project 2) will replace the current 1 semester course ECSE 495 (Software Engineering Design Project). This new two-course format is the same as that used for the design project in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering programs, i.e. ECSE 474 (Design Project 1) and ECSE 475 (Design Project 2), and will thus allow for cross-population of students with ECSE 474 and ECSE 475 (namely, Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Electrical Engineering students can all participate in the same project).
Seconded by K. Fraser. A discussion followed. Carried.

4. Revision to the EE-Regular program
Action: Add ECSE 420 Parallel Computing to the list of technical complementaries.
Rationale: Adding ECSE 420 to the list of technical complementaries increases the range of courses that students can take and thus increases program flexibility.
Seconded by R. Rose. A discussion followed. Carried.

5. Revision to the EE-Honours program
Action: Add ECSE 425 Computer Organization and Architecture to the list of technical complementaries. Limit the number of 400-level courses which can be chosen as technical complementaries to 1.
Rationale: There is currently no graduate level equivalent of ECSE 425 and ECSE 525 Computer Architecture has not been taught in many years]. Honours EE students should have the opportunity to learn the material in ECSE 425 and so, the course should be included in the list of technical complementaries. However, we must limit the number of 400-level courses that Honours EE students can take; otherwise, their program has very little difference from the regular EE program.
Seconded by K. Fraser. A discussion followed. Carried.

6. Revision to the CE program
Action: Add ECSE 436 Signal Processing Hardware to the list of laboratory complementary courses.
Rationale: ECSE 436 discusses hardware and implementations for performing signal processing functions; as such, the material is very pertinent for CE students. In fact, this course teaches the hardware aspects of ECSE 490 Digital Signal Processing Lab and so, it is just as relevant as a lab course.
Seconded by Z. Zilic. A discussion followed. Carried.

7. Revision to the CE program
Action: Add ECSE 436 Signal Processing Hardware to the list of laboratory complementary courses.
Rationale: ECSE 436 discusses hardware and implementations for performing signal processing functions; as such, the material is very pertinent for CE students. In fact, this course teaches the hardware aspects of ECSE 490 Digital Signal Processing Lab and so, it is just as relevant as a lab course.
Seconded by W. Gross. A discussion followed. Carried.

8. Revision to the SE program
Action: Replace ECSE 495 Software Engineering Design Project with ECSE 476 Software Engineering Design Project 1 and ECSE 477 Software Engineering Design Project 2.
Rationale: The two-course project sequence has the same format as the regular EE and CE programs; cross-population between students will now be possible.
Seconded by Z. Zilic. A discussion followed. Carried.

There was a brief discussion about course information sheets and ensuring the accuracy of their content, especially in view of the forthcoming CEAB visit.

7. Changes to the ECE Webpage

H. Mayer presented changes to our webpage. She asked for any news to be sent to her for the revised webpage with examples of student events, courses, etc. The organizational chart has been added as well as the service areas with the exception of S. Henry’s area. H. Mayer added that the next thing she would like to add to the webpage is the Student Awards. She requested that any professor that has a student with an award to notify her. H. Mayer concluded by requesting feedback. B. Boulet commented that the webpage is lively and up-to-date. J. Clark suggested that maybe a large department photo would look good on the webpage.

8. IT Services Group Update

Z. Zilic stated that the IT services have been going through changes. Cost recovery plan has been on going since September 1st and he is looking into ways of pursuing this. He is researching into the number of ways how to recover the cost of services. He has several different models and three different types of services are available. 1) Payment will be twice a year, to coincide with two half-periods of McGill fiscal year. 2) First installments it could be the same, the charging schemes and the related issues are being looked at by IT Services Committee as well as the chairs and directors. 3) As far as the service description is concerned, the three parts include a) Basic IT Service, b) CAD SW Support, and c) Supported machines.

Within a month he will be able to present this structure. In terms of when exactly payments will happen, it will not be until the end of the fiscal year. In the meantime, he will keep you informed and is open to any input about any of the services you may want to have. Z. Zilic said that they are charging heavily for backing – up systems but that is changing. Z. Zilic ended by stating that they would try their best to bring useful services to the professors, and he requested that everyone try to estimate how much IT support will be needed. D. Plant concluded that Z. Zilic will give a more formal report for the next meeting.

9. Other Business:

S. Gidda asked to have some funding for their event. D. Plant requested that she send an email and he will see what he can do for ExCESS.

K. Fraser reminded everyone that November 16th, 2007 is the Iron Ring Ceremony and if anyone wishes to present a ring they must be obligated. He also stated that for the March 2008 ceremony professors are welcome to fill out the forms in advance.

D. Plant asked for a motion to close the meeting. Motion to adjourn: B. Boulet, Seconded by A. Kirk at 4:21 pm. Carried.

L. Parris, Secretary