Remembering George Soulis, father of systems design engineering
Retired Engineering professor George Soulis died on January 19 at the age of 92.
A furniture designer and factory manager for the Snyder's Limited Furniture Company, Soulis joined the University of Waterloo in March 1961 as an assistant professor at the invitation of Douglas Wright, dean of engineering. To burnish his academic credentials (he had graduated with a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toronto in 1950), Soulis received a grant to study at the prestigious German design school, the Hochschule für Gestaltung.
Returning to the Waterloo campus nine months later, Soulis taught early classes of engineering students, some of them in the campus maintenance building, next to the snowplows and tractors.
“He was largely responsible for bringing the discipline of design into the curriculum for engineering, not just at Waterloo, but across Canada,” writes retired professor Ed Jernigan. Together, with Professors Peter Roe and Vir Handa, Soulis wrote The Discipline of Design, the first engineering design textbook in Canada.
Soulis was also an integral part of the committee that designed the University's coat of arms.
In 1964, Soulis founded the Institute of Design at Waterloo with support from the National Research Council, “to undertake fundamental research related to design and to carry out individual design projects.” An early interdisciplinary effort, the Institute was a collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and the Doon School of Fine Arts.
Soulis went on to establish, alongside Roe and H.K. Kesvan, the Department of Design within Engineering. In 1965, Soulis was named Associate Professor and chair of that department, and in 1966 he was promoted to full professor.
The Department of Design initially focused on architecture and industrial design from an engineering perspective. The department added an undergraduate program in Architecture in 1967. A year later the Architecture program was moved to the newly created Faculty of Environmental Studies. A result of this move was the creation of the Department of Systems Design Engineering with Soulis, Roe, and Kesavan as its founding members.
The financial foundation for the creation of this new department was partly from money earned by a team of Waterloo engineering faculty members for design work done for Expo ’67 in Montreal. Soulis was an integral part of the University’s design team which did the main design work for three pavilions at the event including Kaleidoscope, which was one of the most popular exhibits at the world’s fair.
The vision for Systems Design Engineering involved “building an education for engineers that would balance systems thinking as a way of knowing our complex, interdisciplinary world and design practice as a way of doing – finding solutions to those complex problems that transcend disciplines,” writes Jernigan.
In addition to teaching, Soulis held many administrative appointments, including a long stint as the Faculty of Engineering’s associate dean (undergraduate studies) and served on the University’s Senate and Board of Governors
In 1981 he was one of the first Waterloo faculty members recruited into the SHAD Valley summer enrichment program for outstanding high school students, many of whom find their way into the systems design engineering program.
In 1984 Soulis transferred to Management Sciences, with a continued cross appointment to systems design engineering.
Soulis retired from the University in February 1991, though he stayed on as an adjunct professor for many years. He would later lead the University of Waterloo’s Retiree Association. In 1998 he was named an Honorary Member of the University.
Soulis held dozens of patents, on everything from artificial paintbrush bristles and the paint roller to solutions on how to prevent users from seeing the edges between floors, walls and ceilings within virtual reality environments.
Fully three generations of the Soulis family have been deeply involved with the University of Waterloo as students, faculty and staff, as further detailed in a 2007 Waterloo magazine article on the Alumni website.
A visitation will be held at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home in Waterloo on Sunday, February 4 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. A funeral will be held at Highland Baptist Church in Kitchener on Monday, February 5 at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow. Memorial donations to Children’s Need Distribution Centre at Highland Baptist Church may be arranged by contacting the funeral home at www.erbgood.com or 519-745-8445.
Those who wish to share any stories or other messages with the family may do so by sending a note to his son, Professor Ric Soulis at email@example.com.
Sexual violence training available through LEARN
Beginning this week, the University of Waterloo is offering new online training exploring sexual violence awareness and support for faculty, staff and students.
"The University of Waterloo is deeply committed to creating a safe environment wherein all students, faculty and staff can flourish," wrote Vice-President, Academic & Provost George Dixon in a memo circulated to campus earlier this week. "We are taking action to make our campus safer, while providing support for those who have experienced sexual violence. This work is guided in part by policy 42, which outlines Waterloo’s Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence."
In addition to the establishment of the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator and the hiring of Amanda Cook in the position, the University is offering the online training, available through LEARN, as a way of raising awareness and providing education on sexual violence, both key steps in aiding the prevention of incidents.
"The course takes approximately twenty minutes to complete and provides important information for our entire UW community, including where to seek and receive help if you, or someone you know, has experienced sexual violence," the provost's memo continues. "Please visit the Equity Office website to learn more about how to enroll on LEARN."
"In making this training available to everyone, we are highlighting the importance of creating a campus climate in which we can openly discuss sexual violence, and raise awareness with the ultimate goal of reducing sexual violence," writes the provost. "I strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to complete this course."
Aldo Caputo named Centre for Extended Learning director
"I am very pleased to announce that Aldo Caputo has just been appointed as the Centre for Extended Learning’s new Director, starting on February 1, 2018," wrote Associate Vice-President, Academic Mario Coniglio in a memo circulated to Executive Council earlier this week. "Aldo brings 21 years of experience supporting the enhancement of university teaching and learning through the pedagogically-driven, evidence-based application of technology. Many of you know Aldo in his former role over the last 10 years as Associate Director, Online Learning at CEL, which also includes over two years as Acting Director. Before coming to Waterloo, Aldo worked at the University of Guelph, as a manager, initially in Faculty and Instructional Support and then in Learning Technology and Courseware Innovation."
"CEL has also been a major contributor to the institution’s strategic plan goal of being a leading provider of technology-enabled learning opportunities, one of the two broad areas in the Outstanding Academic Programming strategic theme," Coniglio writes. "As Associate Director and Acting Director in the last few years, Aldo has had a significant hand in charting the course for CEL’s growing reach, both internally, in the development of online programs, courses and modules, programming and key collaborations (for example, with the Centre of Teaching Excellence, the Writing and Communication Centre and the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC)), and externally, notably with other universities and eCampusOntario, and through CEL’s Professional Development offerings."
"I would like thank Carey Bisonnette (Science), Dave Bean (CEL), Donna Ellis (Centre for Teaching Excellence), Leeann Ferries (AHS), Becky Grant (Human Resources) and Cathy Newell Kelly (Registrar’s Office) for their participation in the interview process."
"The Centre for Extended Learning, under Aldo’s leadership, is well prepared to continue to support our academic mission," Coniglio concludes. "Please join me in welcoming Aldo to his new role."