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Message from the CEO

As summer continues, our team at Profound Impact™ is taking some time to reflect on the success of the recent months and highlight future projects we are looking forward to sharing with you. 
 
I’d like to thank all of you for your continued engagement with our webinar series — Profound Insights. As we are not hosting a webinar this month in preparation for our upcoming annual Profound Impact Day celebration in September, we have included recaps and links to each of our previous webinars in case you were not able to attend. We look forward to continuing our webinar series in the following months and facilitating new discussions with highly regarded panelists. 
 
This month’s Impact Story shines a light on James Wesley (Wes) Graham (1932-1999), professor, innovator, entrepreneur — otherwise known as the “Father of computing” at the University of Waterloo as the first director of the University’s computing centre. Throughout Wes’ esteemed career, he was accredited for providing the leadership in software development for education that has given Canada and the University of Waterloo an international reputation in this important field. Helping to cement Waterloo as a leader in computer science education and research and a dynamic software development hub, Wes’ contributions have resulted in significant positive economic and employment impact for the Region. His tenacity and ambition left a lasting impact on the countless students and colleagues he engaged with during his career. We hope you enjoy the unique academic ancestry and impact visualizations we have included in this newsletter showcasing the far reach of Wes’ impact. 
 
As we continue to transition into various re-opening stages, we encourage you to continue to learn more about how online virtual events and platforms like Profound Impact can elevate your organization’s engagement and the strong relationships it can build now and into the future.
 
Check out our free self-assessment tool to learn more about Profound Impact’s digital engagement communities and how the Profound Impact platform can ensure a safe and secure platform for your entire organization and attendees while aligning with your organization’s strategic objectives.
 
Thank you for your continued engagement and support. 

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Profound Connections

James Wesley (Wes) Graham

James Wesley (Wes) Graham

“Father of Computing” at the University of Waterloo

With exceptional leadership in the field of computer science and his dedication to making computers accessible to a wider audience, James Wesley (Wes) Graham (1932-1999) was known as the “Father of Computing” at the University of Waterloo. Serving as early director of the University of Waterloo’s Computing Centre, Wes had an active role in shaping computer science education worldwide. His experience teaching at the University inspired the creation of software to support education, particularly in programming and access to computers. Many of the software systems that would further enhance Waterloo’s international reputation were created under his leadership. 

After starting his career as a systems engineer at IBM Canada, Wes joined the University of Waterloo in 1959 to teach statistics, where he quickly became one of the first professors offering courses in computer science. The move into this field brought exciting change and challenges for the University, leading to significant impact on Canadian and international computer science education and software development practices. Wes and other early professors were instrumental in establishing the department of computer science and in  realizing the importance of computers to a wide range of applications providing opportunities for future generations. 

Wes thoroughly enjoyed teaching and mentoring students and recent graduates throughout his career. Receiving the Distinguished Teacher Award from the University of Waterloo in 1978 was one of his proudest accomplishments. His professorship at the University and engagement with this burgeoning field of computer science allowed him to provide leadership and momentum in the growth of this new area that would establish a direction for others. Believing that computers should be available to the widest audience possible, Wes orchestrated the University of Waterloo’s investment in an IBM 360/75 computer in the mid 1960s, the most powerful computer in Canada at the time. He was influential in the development of the computer studies programs, along with hardware and software, for both university and high school students.  

Wes Graham at the University of Waterloo beside the IBM 360 Model 75. 

Wes was a champion of ‘ease of use’ for computers, long before ‘ease of use’ became central to the software industry. Recognizing that the available software was not designed for teaching purposes, Wes led a team in building a solution to facilitate learning. With four students and a junior faculty member, WATFOR (Waterloo Fortran Compiler) was built to solve speed of processing and obscure error reporting. Attracting worldwide attention, this compiler was eventually used in thousands of colleges and universities around the world as well as businesses and governments and led to the development of many other educational software systems at Waterloo. 

With the intent of influencing software so that it could be better applied in education, Wes would often use the software to build his own programming examples for instructional books, providing candid feedback to the developers about his experience. If he felt software was confusing or had inappropriate error messages, he insisted it be improved. His determination was instrumental in the transformation of computing to make it accessible to more people. His approach and influence in the early WATFOR project helped make early Waterloo compilers successful—not just because of speed and efficiency, but because they were easier to use. 

Wes’ hands-on approach to teaching was a reflection of his desire to provide leadership and guidance to others while exploring the many possible uses of computers. Many of the expectations Wes had for software and computing can be recognized in today’s systems and in the ongoing work of those who he mentored. In recognition of his many accomplishments Wes Graham was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1999. 

Click on the image below to go to the Profound Impact™ academic ancestry graph connecting Wes Graham all the way back to Friedrich Leibniz!

Wes Graham had a long, impactful career as a professor, innovator and entrepreneur. You can view some of his most significant accomplishments listed in the image below. 

Do you have an impact story to share? Let us know at connections@profoundimpact.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming newsletter! 

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Profound Connections

CEO Message

Message from the CEO

Welcome to June, a month to celebrate a new season and warm weather. As we look forward to what this month has to offer, it is imperative to recognize June’s significance as National Indigenous History Month and the #215children. In light of recent events, the Profound Impact™ team wishes to emphasize its support for the Indigenous community and its efforts to continue to positively support and share resources through our various platforms. ⁣

Thank you to those who attended our most recent Profound Insights webinar titled, “The Future of Work: Lifelong Learning & Networking with Digital Communities.” The webinar, moderated by Rob Darling, was a great success and facilitated engaging conversations with our esteemed panelists from the Waterloo Region including Simon Chan, Vice President of Talent, Academy & Future of Work at Communitech, Dr. Judene Pretti, Director of the Work-Learn Institute at the University of Waterloo, and Caitlin MacGregor, CEO and Co-Founder of Plum to discuss lifelong learning, professional development and talent resilience. 

This month’s Impact Profile will shine light on Don Cowan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus from University of Waterloo. Don’s rich and expansive career history in mathematics is attributed to his emphasis on mentorship and connections in academic ancestry, especially his connection to Sir Isaac Newton. We hope you enjoy the unique academic ancestry and entrepreneurism visualizations we have included in this newsletter. In each of our newsletter, we look forward to highlighting exceptional impactful individuals and welcome your suggestions on who to feature.

As the province-wide lock-down comes to an end, we encourage you to continue to learn more about how online virtual events and platforms like Profound Impact can elevate your organization’s engagement and the strong relationships it can build now and continue when we are able once again to engage in person.

Learn more about Profound Impact’s digital engagement communities and how the Profound Impact platform can ensure a safe and secure platform for your entire organization and attendees and align with your organization’s  strategic objectives by completing our free self-assessment tool.

Thank you for your continuous engagement and support.