Meet the Winners of the 2017 IT Awards

Every year, the Office of the Vice Provost and Associate Vice President (Information Services & Technology) proudly sponsors five awards to celebrate the effort staff, faculty, and students put into innovating the campus experience through the use of technology. We are pleased to highlight the winners of this year’s IT Awards, whose efforts were recognized at the annual IT Awards ceremony on October 20.

IT Ambassador Award — Simon Collier

Simon Collier, IST, won the IT Ambassador Award for his vision, leadership skills, and constant desire to connect people and ideas. He’s brought groups together to solve large challenges for the University, and he’s acted as an outgoing liaison and support role for multiple units.

Simon started with the University twelve years ago. His skillset and abilities were immediately recognized, along with his constant desire to learn more. In his most recent role, he has become instrumental to the growth of IST’s strategy. He voluntarily meets as an advisor on a NAIT committee that structures curriculum and advises on the direction of IT, and he helps organize meetings for the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Enterprise Architecture Forum (eCEAF).

Simon’s strong vision for the future and constant drive to do what’s right for the institution have been an inspiration to his colleagues and made him an integral part of the University.

IT Excellence Award (Individual) — Lise Niyuhire

Lise Niyuhire, Campus Saint-Jean, won the IT Excellence Award for always seeking innovative solutions to problems and for her ongoing dedication to professional development in both French and English. She shows remarkable teamwork and is always ready to help her colleagues in their technological efforts.

Lise is always supportive of new initiatives, and though she stands behind every endeavour, she never seeks to take credit. She listens to instructors’ needs, zooms in student learning objectives, and translates them into stimulating technological features. Lise has developed a number of tools in Moodle that allow instructors to take full advantage of Moodle’s possibilities. She organizes regular Moodle workshops, makes them available on video, and is always willing to do one-on-one Moodle coaching.

Lise works collaboratively in the field of innovation and consistently makes recommendations to improve Campus Saint-Jean’s technological performance, particularly in the field of distance education.

IT Excellence Award (Team) — Academic Advisement Team

The Academic Advisement Team is made up of Robin Cowan (Faculty of Arts), Kim Olson (Faculty of Arts), Joyce McEachern (Augustana), Carine Tuekam Kunche (Campus Saint-Jean), Barbara Peebles (IST), and Robin Wilson (IST). Together, they won the IT Excellence Award for their work on Academic Advisement.

Academic Advisement is a module within PeopleSoft Campus Solutions that is used to track the requirements and policies that a student must satisfy in order to graduate. Typically, degree audit and advisement activities are highly manual work for a faculty. However, the self-service Academic Advisement reports through BearTracks help enhance the student experience by providing a consistent, reliable, and up-to-date view of academic progress.

This initiative has been an excellent example of cross-administrative organizational effort, with staff coming together from multiple faculties, IST, and the Office of the Registrar.

IT Client Service Award (Individual) — Dave Laurie

Dave Laurie, IST, won the IT Client Service Award for the tremendous impact he’s had on his clients and colleagues alike. Whether assisting clients one-on-one or delivering training to clients in larger groups, Dave is especially skilled at assessing client needs and helping them reach their goals.

Dave is personally responsible for resolving over 1,000 tickets a year, ranging from basic service requests to complex problems that impact thousands of users. His actions have made it possible to identify, communicate, and mitigate or resolve many problems that would have otherwise incurred a larger issue for users and a larger support load for his team. Throughout his career, Dave has coordinated and built the bulk of a client-facing knowledge base that receives over 50,000 visits per year. 

By attending events, panels, workshops, and training sessions, Dave acts as ambassador for his team. The dedication he shows has inspired others to follow his lead and go that extra mile for a client.

IT Client Service Award (Team) — Client Support 1

IST’s Client Support 1 team is made up of Dustin Littlewood, Danny Whittaker, Christianne Ussher, Roman Paszewski, Ryan Williams, Maxim Wawruck, Raihan Jamil, Anders Simons, Tom Bowman, Richard Lalonde, and Jeremy Bauche. Their efforts won the IT Client Service Award.

Whether they’re assisting with major events, troubleshooting issues with computers, or responding to emergency inquiries, each member of this team demonstrates a high level of knowledge, patience, and caring. Thanks to consultations with the Client Support team, one of the faculties found that Adobe Connect would be an easy way to reach a broader audience outside of Edmonton, thus creating an easy, cost-effective solution that allows for promotion and support of faculty events to an external audience.

Time and again, the Client Support team has proven themselves to be reliable and flexible, and their positive attitudes make the client experience comfortable in frustrating situations. 

IT Unsung Hero Award — Giovanni Trapasso

Giovanni Trapasso, IST, won the IT Unsung Hero Award for graciously sharing his knowledge with those around him. He is a key member in keeping core critical University services functioning and always takes on the work that “nobody else wants to do,” treating it instead as a learning opportunity. 

Giovanni has spent countless hours tweaking, optimizing and fixing issues to ensure key services are available when needed. Whether he is giving up his lunch to address an issue with UWS, in the basement of CAB plugged into a critical campus router at 2:00 a.m., or staying late to finish a project so there will be no impact to users the next day, he does so with no fanfare and maintains his cheerful and positive attitude.

Giovanni’s continued efforts behind-the-scenes ensure the campus network services function in a reliable and expected manner.

IT Distinguished Career Award — Dr. Masao Fujinaga

Dr. Masao Fujinaga, IST, won the IT Distinguished Career Award for supporting researchers in their use of high-performance computers for the past 24 years. His support is unwaveringly helpful, and he always leads by example.

Masao has built strong relationships with researchers and advanced research computing staff both at the U of A and at other institutions across Canada. He is a member of Compute Canada’s Research Support National Team, where his efforts are recognized nationally for quality and quantity, and numerous peers have been positively impacted by his work over the years. 

According to one nominator, “[Masao] fills an essential role for all of us in the interface between research users and the technical details of high performance computing.”

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