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Management Sciences

A touch of interactivity

If Mark Hancock’s predictions are correct, someday people will sit down at their desk-slash-computer. Or grab a virtual pen in one hand to jot notes, while moving photos with the other.

Mark Hanock portraitHancock, a new management sciences professor, researches how everyday surfaces can be repurposed into digital interactive touch displays. He is also examining how our mental model of the world around us changes, or doesn’t, when working with virtual objects.

By understanding the way we think in the virtual world, computer designers in the future will be able to create devices that require little training on our part. We’ll already know how to use them because they’re fashioned after objects we already use, like pens or paper.

The traditional computer mouse could become a thing of the past now that Hancock is leveraging the strength of his multidisciplinary team of top researchers and students. “Waterloo is a great university for this kind of work,” he says. “We have some of the best undergrads in Canada, so being able to work with those students is perfect.”

Highlights

  • Frank Safayeni succeeded Beth Jewkes as the chair of the department. His term runs until June 30, 2013.
  • In November 2010, faculty member Olga Vechtomova became the new associate dean, computing.
  • im Ostrowski, a post-doctoral management sciences student, finished second in the Nicholson Student Paper Competition, an annual contest to honour outstanding student papers in the field of operations research and the management sciences.

A different kind of engineer

The co-op ad called for a fourth-year electrical engineering or computer science student. But that didn’t prevent third-year management engineering student Melissa Deziel from applying – or from landing the California-based position with CBS Radio working on its online Radio Player.

She credits her success on the broad range of skills that management engineering students acquire, including software programming, accounting and traditional engineering knowledge. “We can bring together different elements from different departments,” she explains.

Demand for students from the three-year-old management engineering program is growing steadily. “I think the word is getting out that the program produces students who have a lot to offer,” says Rob Duimering, associate chair of undergraduate studies for management sciences. “They’ve got a lot of knowledge of business systems but also a good, solid technical depth of it.”

As a result, they’re equipped to handle everything from developing databases to improving supply chains. In Deziel’s case, her quality assurance job included tracking down the regulations for online radio players, testing software and writing scripts for Android phones.

She returned from L.A. equipped with a new programming language and experience working with global teams. Plus, there’s the confidence she’s gained from handling unexpected responsibilities – like filling in for her supervisor who left the company and helping to train his replacement.

Her only regret? After all the hours Deziel spent working on the U.S.-only service she can no longer listen to it now she’s back in Canada.