President's Report 2007


Award is a Canadian first for engineering professor

Photo of Dr. Aziz Rahman

Dr. Aziz Rahman

Dr. Aziz Rahman, a professor in Memorial's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, was named the first Canadian winner of the Dr.- Ing Eugene Mittelmann Achievement Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Industrial Electronics Society (IES). The award recognizes his lifelong outstanding contributions to interior permanent magnet (IPM) motor drive systems and associated delta, pulse width and wavelet modulated inverters. With this award, Dr. Rahman also becomes the first Canadian to receive the highest achievement awards from four major IEEE societies. The bulk of the awards Dr. Rahman has received recognize his pioneering contributions in developing modern permanent magnet synchronous motors. Dr. Rahman successfully built the first 45 kilowatt IPM motor in the early 1980s at Memorial University and is widely known as "Mr. IPM". In recent years, the public demand for highly efficient electric vehicles has led car manufacturers like Toyota to seek improved technologies to meet the challenges of an energy hungry world dealing with limited fossil fuel sources. Since launching the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle in 1997, the Toyota Prius, the corporation has sold more than 1,000,000 hybrid vehicles - all of which use Dr. Rahman's IPM motor drive.

Perseverance pays off

Photo of Fatima Fathia Mansaray

Fatima Fathia Mansaray

Bright eyes and a broad smile hide the many years of struggle, sacrifice and hardship Fatima Fathia Mansaray has endured. She was raised in Africa and England and was living in Sierra Leone as a teenager when war began. Ms. Mansaray lost many family members and friends and fled to Gambia for peace and safety. She lived there for a few years before she arrived in St. John's in October 1999, eight months pregnant, and with a three-year-old orphaned girl she is responsible for. Following the birth of her son, Ms. Mansaray began working in home care and received encouragement to train as a licensed practical nurse. She was accepted and began with much support through the Centre for Nursing Studies and the Sisters of Mercy. Ms. Mansaray applied herself and was an excellent student, encouraged once again to further her studies through a bachelor of nursing degree. She received a scholarship in her third year which helped alleviate some financial strain.

"Everyone at the Centre for Nursing Studies was so kind to me," she said. "They taught nursing and all its theory, but really put theory into practice as they nursed me with their constant emotional support, financial support, care, love and concern. Ms. Mansaray finished her final exams in April. She graduated in May 2007 and soon after was offered a full-time nursing position in the medicine program.

Business students win big at competition

Three undergraduate business students captured a top prize at UNB's CIBC Business Plan Competition in Fredericton, N.B., this past year. Jennifer Button, Katie Saunders and Heather Leaman, all students in their final year of the commerce program, created a business plan for a soccer league for children with autism as a project in their new venture creation class. Their professor, Wayne King, was so impressed that he encouraged the students to enter the competition at UNB. After fine-tuning the plan and developing a presentation, the three students travelled to Fredericton to compete against 10 other teams in their division. Their hard work and intense presentation paid off - despite apprehension about presenting to a team of expert judges, the team was awarded first prize. The team won $5,000 and a $1,000 voucher to go towards participation in another competition. They are now in the midst of applying for other competitions and they are hoping to take their plan to a larger competition.

"This was an excellent opportunity," explained Ms. Saunders. "We learned a lot from the development of the business plan itself and we also thoroughly enjoyed meeting and interacting with the other students, judges, and co-ordinators. It was a great networking opportunity and an excellent learning experience. I would strongly encourage other students to try something like this."

French government recognizes work of Memorial scholar

Dr. Ronald Rompkey

Dr. Ronald Rompkey, of the Department of English Language and Literature, was chosen to receive the Ordre National du Mérite. This Order of Chivalry is awarded by the president of the French Republic to French nationals for distinguished civil and military achievements and to foreigners for service to France and the Francophonie. The honour recognizes Dr. Rompkey's contribution to the francophone community of Newfoundland and Labrador - work that has significantly raised the profile of that small but important group. This includes chairing the board of Société 2004, a body that organized activities to mark 500 years of French presence in Newfoundland.

"The French have been in Newfoundland as long as the English. For hundreds of years, they had the right to fish along Newfoundland's shores," Dr. Rompkey explained, adding that between 10,000-20,000 French men would have come to fish every year.

"There was a significant French presence here, but because they couldn't establish any settlements, it was a kind of 'phantom' French presence."

Dr. Rompkey's research over several years has lent substance to that phantom. The French left a rich written record of their experiences and perceptions of this place, but those writings were never well known or accessible. He has studied and published those writings widely and published the results in the 2004 anthology Terre-Neuve: Anthologie des voyageurs français.

In the fall of 2007, he will publish En mission à Terre-Neuve, a collection of correspondence by Charles Riballier des Iles, vice-consul at St. John's from 1885 to 1903. The dispatches cover 18 years of rich territory in Newfoundland's history, including a bank crash, ministerial scandal and the great fire of 1892. "He gives us a picture of life here that hasn't been given before," said Dr. Rompkey. With the Ordre National du Mérite, Dr. Rompkey is also being recognized for his academic contributions in France. In 2005, he was invited to lecture at the Université Michel de Montaigne in Bordeaux on Canadian and British literature, as well as the French overseas fishery.