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Spiri – Designing for Autonomy

December 12, 2014
5:30 pmto7:00 pm

The Robotics and Automation / Instrumentation and Measurement Society Joint Chapter of the IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section wishes to invite you to the following presentation.

Title of Talk: Spiri – Designing for Autonomy
Speaker: Dr. Patrick Edwards-Daugherty, Pleiades
Time: 5:30pm – 7:00 pm, Friday, December 12th, 2014 (includes a light supper at the beginning)
Place: Dalhousie University • Sexton Campus • Room C360 • Halifax • NS • Canada
RSVP: Please RSVP to by Wednesday, December 10th so we can assess numbers for the light supper and seating
Cost: FREE to IEEE Members
$5 for non-IEEE members


Spiri is a small, unmanned aerial system (UAS) designed for consumer as well as industrial applications. It distinguishes itself from most other lightweight quadcopter drones in the quality of its sensors, the capacity of its on-board computer, and the facility with which it may be programmed and accessorized.

These feature advantages lend themselves to using Spiri as a testbed platform for developing autonomous systems of one or many agents, and for developing intelligent human-machine interfaces.

Areas of active research with Spiri include SLAM, visual tracking with a form of object permanence, haptic controllers and feedback, gesture as a means of communication to a flock, music and natural language as a means of communication with a flock, emergent play based on multi-agent interactions using tones, lights, and motion, self-organization of flocks, feature recognition, autonomous perching and perch sharing when both Spiri and perch are in motion, and others.

About the Speaker:

Patrick Edwards-Daugherty was born in 1974, grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and studied theoretical physics at McGill and Cambridge before founding Pleiades in 1999. There, he and his team developed e-learning systems and virtual worlds before pivoting into robotics. Work on Spiri was begun in 2012, and it is set to be released in early 2015.

Tutorial on Kernel Machines

December 8, 2014
12:30 pmto1:30 pm

The Computational Intelligence / Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society Joint Chapter of the IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section wish to invite you to the following presentation.

Title of Talk: Tutorial on Kernel Machines
Speaker: Dr. Jason Rhinelander, Saint Mary’s University
Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm, Monday, December 8th, 2014
Place: McNally Main Building • Room 301 • Saint Mary’s University • Halifax • NS • Canada.


Kernel machines have been successfully applied to solve many problems in the area of pattern recognition. The term “kernel machine” refers to a family of machine learning algorithms that can be used for classification, regression, clustering, principle component analysis and adaptive filtering. The kernel function is employed to map the input space to a high dimensional feature space which gives the kernel machine the ability to represent non-linear relationships in the input data.

The purpose of this tutorial is to provide a high-level introduction to some popular kernel machines and to present a road map for practitioners looking to learn more about this exciting and advancing field. Knowledge of a high-level programming language such as Matlab or Python is helpful, but not essential. Examples will be used to illustrate key concepts and suitable references to the existing literature will be given. Individuals working or interested in the area of kernel machines are invited to attend and there will be time for a group discussion after the presentation.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Jason Rhinelander received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carleton University in 2013. His doctoral research focused on online pattern recognition using kernel machines and resulted in multiple publications in IEEE conference proceedings and an IEEE journal article. Dr. Rhinelander received his M. Eng. and B. Eng. in Electrical Engineering from Memorial University in 2003 and 2001, respectively. His research interests are in the area of pattern recognition for security and defence applications.

Dr. Rhinelander is an assistant professor at Saint Mary’s University within the Division of Engineering. His research at Saint Mary’s is focused on developing novel methods in the area of machine learning and optimization applied to online and big data applications. Additionally, in 2013, Dr. Rhinelander founded Reiland Systems Limited in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Reiland Systems Limited provides computer system and software design consulting services to client companies and organizations. He also volunteers his time reviewing journal articles for Control and Intelligent Systems (ACTA Press) and for IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part B Cybernetics. In September of 2014 Dr. Rhinelander was elected as chair of the IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section’s joint chapter on Computational Intelligence and Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.

Biosensors – Enjoying Research at the Crossroads of Engineering and the Science

November 25, 2014
2:30 pmto3:30 pm

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Dalhousie University, along with the The Signal Processing / Microwave Theory and Techniques Joint Chapter and Circuits and Systems / Solid State Circuits Society Joint Chapter of the IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section wish to invite you to the following presentation.

Title of Talk: Biosensors – Enjoying Research at the Crossroads of Engineering and the Sciences
Speaker: Prof. Jamal Deen, McMaster University
Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm, Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
Place: Dalhousie University, Sexton Campus, Room C104 • Halifax • NS • Canada.
Cost: Free. Light refreshments will be served.


Biosensors are increasingly used in environmental applications, especially for water quality monitoring or health diagnostics. In the case of water, the availability of safe drinking water is fundamental to our good health. In addition, waterborne illnesses are a significant public health problem. At the same time, current monitoring of microbiological contamination of water currently is time-consuming, laboratory based, and frequently compromises the timeliness of health advisory warnings even when contamination is found. Therefore, rapid detection of unsafe water can contribute greatly to mitigating the morbidity and mortality associated with waterborne diseases due to microbiological contaminants. Fortunately, the research community has shown increasing interest in the development of microtechnology-based sensors for the detection and identification of the bio-contaminants. These sensing systems use the same fabrication technology that has enabled the drastic lowering of cost, exponential increase in complexity of electronic chips and widespread availability of computing resources. In this presentation, we will discuss a low-cost, electrical, label-free microfabricated biosensor that we have been developing for pathogen detection related to water quality. The use of nano-dimensions devices to create futuristic nano-biosensors will be introduced. And we will also describe our ongoing work to create highly integrated and parallel detection systems by integrating the sensor, the processing electronics and the pre-processing stages on the same cheap substrate. Finally, the success of such a low-cost, highly integrated sensing system demands a convergence of expertise from various engineering disciplines, the physical and life sciences as well as public health.

About the Speaker:

Dr. M. Jamal Deen was born in Guyana, South America. He completed a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Cleveland, U.S.A. His Ph.D. dissertation was on the design and modeling of a new CARS spectrometer for dynamic temperature measurements and combustion optimization in rocket and jet engines, and was sponsored and used by NASA, Cleveland, USA. He is currently Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and holder of the Senior Canada Research Chair in Information Technology, McMaster University. His current research interests are nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, nanotechnology and their emerging applications to health and environmental sciences. Dr. Deen’s research record includes more than 495 peer-reviewed articles (about 20% are invited), two textbooks on Silicon Photonics – Fundamentals and Devices, and Fiber Optic Communications – Fundamentals and Applications, 6 awarded patents that have been used in industry, and 12 best paper/poster awards. Over his career, he has won more than fifty awards and honors.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Guyana, Dr. Deen was the top ranked mathematics and physics student and the second ranked student at the university, wining the Chancellor’s medal and the Irving Adler prize. As a graduate student, he was a Fulbright-Laspau Scholar and an American Vacuum Society Scholar. He is a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Electron Device Society.  His awards and honors include the TD Callinan Award and the Electronics and Photonics Award from the Electrochemical Society; the Distinguished Researcher Award, Province of Ontario; a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; the Eadie Medal from the Royal Society of Canada; the McNaughton Gold Medal as well as the Fessenden Silver Medal from IEEE Canada. For his exceptional scholarly achievements and service contributions, and exemplary professionalism, he was awarded three honorary doctorates from University of Waterloo, Canada, Universidad de Granada, Spain and Universitat Rovira I Virgili, Spain. Dr. Deen’s peers have elected him Fellow in nine national academies and professional societies including The Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) – The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (the highest honor for scholars, academics and artists in Canada), The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (FIEEE), The American Physical Society (FAPS), and The Electrochemical Society (FECS). Most recently, he was elected as President, Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society of Canada.

Location Information:

Room C104 is located on the ground floor of the ‘C’ building of Sexton Campus. Enter through the doors off Queen Street for easiest access to this classroom location.

Call for Executive Nominations for 2015

November 26, 2014

Nominations for the positions of IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer, to be elected at the AGM on November 28, 2014, are now open. Nominations, including self-nominations, for the positions are to be forwarded to the Chair of the Nominations Committee, Mae Seto [] by November 26, 2014. Nominations may also be made at the AGM.

Before nominating yourself, or someone else, we would ask that you familiarize yourself with the roles and responsibilities, which are outlined in the new officer training section of the IEEE website and in the Canadian Atlantic Section operations manual. While the positions are not very demanding, they do require a regular commitment and a basic knowledge of IEEE and section operations.

Based on the section By-Laws, the Nominations Committee automatically puts forward the name of the current Vice-Chair for the position of section Chair and does not normally seek any additional nominations. That being said, any member may still chose to put their name forward for the position and an election will be held to determine the Chair.

IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section 2014 Annual General Meeting

November 28, 2014
5:00 pmto9:00 pm

The IEEE Canadian Atlantic Section wishes to invite you to attend their 2014 Annual General Meeting taking place on Friday November 28, 2014 @ 5:00 pm in the private function room of the China Town Restaurant on the Bedford Highway near Bedford, Nova Scotia. Details of the event and of the guest speakers can be found below.

Time: 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Friday, November 28, 2014
Place: China Town Restaurant
381 Bedford Highway, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3M 2L4
Refreshments: A Buffet-Style meal will be provided to all attendees.
Registration is required!
Deadline is November 26th at 11pm, but space is limited so register early!
RSVP: Register here (Payment is due at the door).
Schedule: 5:00 pm: Reception and Networking
5:30 pm: Opening with Dr. Amir Aghdam, IEEE Canada president, “IEEE and IEEE Canada R7”
5:45 pm: AGM
6:30 pm: Dinner
7:00 pm: Keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Hines, “Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound, Everybody Look What’s Goin’ Down (How Sound and Music Are Used to Find Things in a Dark Ocean)”
7:15 pm: Keynote speaker, Dr. Stan Matwin, “Big Data 101: Opportunities and Challenges”
8:00 pm: IEEE CAS Awards
Cost: $35 for IEEE members
$15 for IEEE student members
$40 for non members
Payment: Cheque or Cash at the door.
(Receipts will be provided.)

Keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Hines


Stop, Hey, What’s That Sound, Everybody Look What’s Goin’ Down (How Sound and Music Are Used to Find Things in a Dark Ocean)


Finding one’s way around in the ocean is not all that different from finding one’s way around a room while blindfolded – in both cases the visible light spectrum just isn’t very effective. In the ocean, we’ve relied on active sonar to solve this problem since its development 100 years ago; however, it is one thing to receive a sonar echo and know “something” is out there. It is a much more difficult thing to identify (classify) exactly what that thing is –and this is frequently of critical importance. Humans on the other hand, have a remarkable ability to aurally discriminate acoustic signals –a dog’s bark from a cat’s purr, for example; or recognizing the difference between the same note being played on a guitar and a grand piano. This seminar will begin with a few examples of the ear in the context of it’s exceptional ability to classify sounds. Then an automatic aural classifier inspired by both musical acoustics and the ear will be presented, and shown how it can discriminate submarines from seamounts or humpback whales from bowhead whales.


Dr. Paul Hines was born and raised in Glace Bay, Canada. He attended Dalhousie University graduating with a B.Sc. (Hon) in Engineering-Physics, in 1981 and joined the Defence Research Establishment Atlantic (now Defence R&D Canada – Atlantic), Dartmouth, Canada. From 1985-1988, he attended the University of Bath, UK where he received his PhD in Physics. His research earned him the Chesterman Medal from the University for “Outstanding Research in Physics”. Upon his return to DRDC in 1988, he led a series of research groups and managed a variety of acoustic projects for both DRDC and the United States Office of Naval Research. From 2011-2014 he was Principal Scientist for Underwater Acoustics at DRDC and the Canadian Representative on NATO’s Maritime S&T Expert’s Committee. He maintained close ties with Dalhousie University throughout his career as an Adjunct Professor in the mathematics, oceanography, and electrical and computer engineering departments. Since his retirement in 2014 he has joined Dalhousie’s electrical and computer engineering department to continue his research, and acts as a consultant to the ocean engineering sector. He is a seasoned experimentalist and has been chief scientist for several international research trials. During his career he has conducted research in anti-submarine warfare, mine and torpedo countermeasures, rapid environmental assessment, acoustic scattering and dispersion, vector sensor processing, and sonar classification. He has published over 70 refereed conference and journal publications. Dr. Hines is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, and a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Stan Matwin


Big Data 101: Opportunities and Challenges


In this presentation Dr. Matwin will introduce the concept of Big Data and illustrate it with some examples of current projects at the Big Data Analytics Institute at Dalhousie. He will discuss some of the challenges of Big Data research, and their possible solutions. Data privacy issues surrounding Big Data will be used as the main existing challenge, and some technical solutions developed at the Institute will be discussed. He will round up the talk with an introduction of some highly speculative ideas in big data governance.


Dr. Stan Matwin is a Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) and the Director of the Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University. Fellow of ECCAI and CAIAC and an Ontario Champion of Innovation. Internationally recognized for his work in text mining and in applications of Machine Learning, member of Editorial Boards of the leading journals in Machine Learning and Data Mining. His interests are in data and text mining, big data, and data privacy.

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