Helping Students "Turn Their Light On"Neil is the Program Head for the Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering degree program at BCIT. He teaches courses in communications and signal processing, digital techniques and an introduction to engineering.
Neil completed his engineering education with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1989 after 10 years of involvement in university and industry in software and signal processing R&D applied to biomedical engineering. He has worked in industry for two decades, focussing on many aspects of development and commercialization of digital signal processing and communications systems. He worked in technical, managerial and mentorship roles for technology development, and along the way he founded and led a telecommunications product development company.
A large part of communications technology involves signal processing, and Neil continues to expand his expertise in this area. Some of his fascinating research grows out of his experience as a biomedical project engineer at the Vancouver General Hospital. He used recordings of speech signals and signal processing to identify the characteristics of individuals with different throat conditions. Neil also worked on other projects involving developing speech coding systems and telecommunications security products. He holds 6 patents and has authored numerous publications.
It is not surprising that Neil ended up being an instructor, an idea he kept in the back of his mind throughout his career. He has provided graduate-level courses and guest lectures to engineering students while he was working in industry, and has co-supervised several graduate students. Neil’s teaching philosophy is based on helping students answer the question, "Why?". He encourages his students to go beyond memorizing and solving equations and to really understand the problems.
"The best part about instructing is when you help a student ‘turn the lights on’. You see a switch from someone who didn’t get a concept to someone that now does. That is really exciting to see. It is a great feeling to see a student who has had to work particularly hard to master a concept say, ‘Oh I get it!’"
Neil believes that BCIT’s Electrical Engineering Program offers students an excellent alternative for their engineering education. He comments, "BCIT has an ideal mixture of practical focus and technical and theoretical depth that helps enable students to acquire the skills to prepare them for engineering practice in industry. Our instructors tend to have a wealth of relevant industry experience that they are ready and eager to pass on to the students. I get excited when I think about the potential abilities of our graduates."