This Tectorian of the Week’s recognition is approximately 2,808 weeks overdue. Ian Barrodale has been a professor, successfully started and grown his own business, inspired many future Tectorians, and sees no end to loving his work, or this city.
Beginning in academia…
Ian has been involved with the University of Victoria (UVic) since the beginning. “I graduated in the UK with a B.Sc. in Mathematics in 1960, and immigrated to Canada in 1961 to begin work at Victoria College as an Instructor in Mathematics. The University of Victoria was established in July 1963, so I took leave for a year at UBC where I first began programming in order to complete my thesis for a M.A. in Mathematics. This extra degree was still not sufficient to maintain my position at UVic, so I took leave again and enrolled at the University of Liverpool, where I graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1967. I have been a faculty member (of some type) continuously since 1961; my current appointment as an (unpaid) Adjunct Professor expires in 2017 – which will then be 56 years in total.”
Venturing into business…
Fuelled by an effortless and enduring interest in mathematics and computing, and the excitement of interacting with almost every student, Ian has successfully earned a living by pursuing his interests. When he began feeling that he lacked relevant “real-world” experience (having been in academia since high school), Ian set out to rectify this situation by forming a consulting company in 1978 with his wife Sheila. “This entity slowly blossomed, and eventually I was faced with the significant challenge of choosing between full-time work in our company or continuing on full-time at UVic. The Computer Science department came into being in 1980 (I was the founding Chair) and I was then able to work there half-time for two years, quarter time for two years, and finally I went off salary at UVic in 1984; by this time our company had a dozen staff. So, ironically, my decision to acquire real-world experience in order to enhance my effectiveness as a professor eventually led to leaving my employment at UVic (albeit remaining as an Adjunct Professor).”
His academic and real-world experiences have made Ian and his company Barrodale Computing Services known world experts in numerical analysis. “Barrodale Computing Services has completed more than 450 projects for many different customers and application areas; almost all these projects required novel software development. The ready availability of bright and well educated personnel from UVic as staff members was crucial to the success of our company. We started primarily as a defence contractor involved with submarine and naval mine detection (during the Cold War), ventured into applications in hydrography, forestry, seismic processing, astronomy, and materials science, and eventually into geospatial database applications involving BC watershed mapping, fast delivery of mission-critical customized weather forecasts around the world, timber supply modelling including the effects of mountain pine beetle infestation, and development of an integrated digital electoral atlas used in managing BC provincial elections.”
Victoria keeps getting better…
Ian’s appreciation for the lifestyle Victoria can offer has increased year by year, and surely as he is reflecting on some of his past successes or obstacles overcome (be it while golfing, sampling local craft beer or exercising his new power washer), no achievement must make him prouder than the fact that he survived teaching a young, loud, rebellious and bratty Rob Bennett of VIATEC ;).
His journey has woven through academia, business, and even involved taming the most unruly student in UVic history – and throughout it all Victoria remained the primary backdrop. “When I arrived here in 1961 Victoria had very few restaurants, pubs, bookstores, or shopping centres, but it did have good weather and golf courses … Back then UVic was expanding rapidly (it experienced a few growing pains too), and professional collaboration with others usually involved travel on and off Vancouver Island. The internet, email and cheap telephone communication has now largely eliminated Victoria’s former isolation, so professionals and many types of businesses (particularly software companies) can thrive here as never before. Why would anyone who enjoys their work want to completely retire with all that Victoria now offers?”
Ian’s contributions to Tectoria have spanned decades and look set to continue, which makes him a true Tectorian, and our Tectorian of the Week.