Brian Cassidy   2005 UNB Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Brian Cassidy has worked at UNB as a member of the Computing Center, Computing Services and Integrated Technology Services for the past 37 years.  Over that period he has developed and implemented a wide variety of information technologies to the benefit of our students, faculty and staff.

 After completing an electrical engineering degree at UNB in 1966, Brian began his professional career with Canadian Westinghouse.  In January of 1968, he joined the fledgling Computing Center as a scientific programmer to assist in implementing and maintaining the first of UNB’s large mainframe computers and to help the entire UNB community take advantage of this powerful new tool.  In addition, he was tasked with giving short courses to staff, faculty and students in the then relatively new field of computer programming and assisting external customers to use this exciting new technology.  He was awarded one of UNB’s first master of computer science degrees in 1972. 

 Over the years, Brian has played a large part in many innovations at UNB.  He helped the University successfully navigate the transition from batch to time sharing systems, and during this period designed and implemented ENLIST, UNB’s first online library system, a precursor to today’s modern library systems.

 One of the earliest adopters of microcomputer technology, Brian established UNB’s first personal computer labs.  This started a revolution in teaching and learning at UNB — students from many different disciplines sitting side-by-side in rooms full of networked PCs with access to a wide variety of powerful software tools that enabled programming (utilities to compilers), applications (statistics to CAD drawings), and personal productivity (word processing to spreadsheets to databases).  He continues to manage and re-invent the labs to this day.

 

On the research side, Brian worked with the Civil Engineering Department and Transport Canada on the Light Truck and Van study which led to the creation of an accident investigation team at UNB.  He also played a key role in the implementation of the mainframe vector facility, UNB’s first numerically intensive “supercomputer.”

 

On his own time, Brian developed an innovative interactive computer-based scoring system for the sport of curling.  He donated his skills to the Canadian Curling Association as head statistician and was awarded the CCA’s Award of Achievement in 1992 and appointed to the Governor General’s Curling Club in 1996.  Today his software is used at many prestigious curling events, including the Canadian Brier and the World Curling Championships, and he is affectionately known at curling bonspiels worldwide as the computer guy from UNB, much to our credit.  Brian’s outstanding work in this area sharpened his programming and networking skills, which he then passed on to his colleagues at UNB.

 Always the experimenter and innovator, Brian worked behind the scenes to develop tools and methods that enhanced services and improved the quality of education for UNB students.  He devoted countless evenings and weekends to keeping the computer system for which he was responsible running at peak performance to meet the ever increasing user demand.

 Brian’s dedication to the University has benefited all he has served, and few have graduated from UNB in the past 37 years who have not been served exceedingly well by Brian Cassidy.

 Presented by Greg Sprague
Former Executive Director of Integrated Technology Services
March 23, 2005