Remembering André Morin (1960-2018)

André Morin, a consummate event organizer for IEEE and IEEE Canada, passed away on January 25. He had been a member of IEEE Québec Section since 1983 and an active volunteer since 1989.

André Morin was instrumental in drawing numerous IEEE conferences and events to Québec City, and chaired many of their organizing committees. Centre image from ICIP 2015, of which he was General Co-Chair. At right, from Sections Congress 2008, for which he was Steering Committee Vice-Chair.

In his career of roughly 35 years he helped develop numerous practical applications in electro-optics and imaging. Perhaps most notably, while working at ABB in the early 2000s he was instrumental in the development of a spaceborne cross-track infrared sounder for weather forecasting, commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other arms of the U.S. government. Most recently he headed the consultancies Hedzopt and Optelis, which offer expertise in developing camera-based products and systems for use in harsh and uncontrolled environments. Before that he was director of vision, defence and security at Lyrtech. He held a B.Sc. in physics engineering and a M.Sc. in physics, both from Université Laval.

André had an impressive track record in drawing prestigious conferences and events to Québec City - a "key person" said long-time section colleague Xavier Maldague, co-organizer of many of these events. Of benefit to all IEEE Canada members, André led Québec City's winning bid to host the 2008 IEEE Sections Congress - a demanding process concluded in 2004. In recognition of this achievement, he received the 2005 J.J. Archambault Eastern Canada Merit Award for "bringing IEEE Sections Conference 2008 to Canada, and fifteen years of outstanding service to the IEEE."

"André was an amazing ambassador for Québec City," said IEEE Montreal Section Past Chair Fabrice Labeau, who served on the organizing committee for the 2015 International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP), held in that city, for which André was General CoChair. "His efforts on many, many conferences have led to Québec City becoming a recognized conference destination for our organization."

Active with three IEEE Societies over his career, most recently André's focus lay with the IEEE Signal Processing Society, which organizes ICIP. This society also organizes the IEEE Global Conference on Signal and Information Processing (GlobalSIP), held in Montréal last year. André "masterfully orchestrated the industry program" said Fabrice, who also served on the organizing committee.

"André was critical to the success of these conferences," said Rabab Ward of IEEE Vancouver Section, and President-Elect and President of the IEEE Signal Processing Society (2014-2017). "He has also done superb work in many committees in our society." Rabab said also: "I had much respect for his integrity and wisdom. He was thoughtful, deep, and fair. He had creative solutions to difficult problems and proposed excellent suggestions and initiatives. He was kind and compassionate."

Similar sentiments have been expressed by many within IEEE.

"He was always caring, straight-forward and genuine," said Raed Abdullah, a Past Chair of Ottawa Section, who recalls André's approach in mentoring new volunteers."He did not hesitate to share his experience with younger colleagues, helping them to be promoted and giving them advice," said current IEEE Québec Section Chair, Amine Miled.

"He was a remarkable volunteer in every role he took on," said Cathie Lowell, IEEE Canada Administrator 1994-2015, currently Registration Manager for IEEE Canada Conferences. "I will miss his quiet leadership."

Others pay tribute to his skill in verbal and written communications.

"I remember very well his opening remarks at the 2008 IEEE Sections Congress -- very calm but with an excellent sense of humour," said Amir Aghdam, then IEEE Canada East Area Chair, IEEE Canada President 2014-2015.

In his writings, he had a way of shedding light on complicated and confusing issues," said Richard Baseil, IEEE Signal Processing Society Executive Director. "His insights were impressive and his remarks were consistently thoughtful."

"We will miss his quick intelligence, his rigour, his sense of humour," said Xavier Maldague.

By André's count, IEEE Canada's 31st Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE 2018) was the eighth conference he took a major role in organizing. Others not previously mentioned include Photonics North 2000 and 2006 (Organizing Committee), Oceans 2008 (Executive Chair), VTC 2012 (General Co-Chair) and IGARSS 2014 (Publicity Chair). Of his efforts over the years, André had once said: "I think it is a nice way of combining volunteer involvement, giving a little back to Region 7 by virtue of the economic impact, and improving one's skills in a non-professional setting." Although his loss as CCECE 2018 CoChair will be felt on many levels, André's ongoing comprehensive updates on the aspects he was managing make it possible for others on the organizing team to smoothly move forward, said Xavier Maldague, the conference's other CoChair.

But it is not possible to replace the unique personal qualities he brought to each conference organizing team, his colleagues say. From submission of a conference bid, to the last drink at the close of the event, he was attentive and demanding of himself. He was a person of formidable efficiency, but at the same time was fun to work with.

"André served IEEE, Québec and Canada with dedication and enthusiasm and worked hard to make the world a better place," attested Rabab Ward. "As a Canadian, he made us proud."

This five-page article co-authored by André Morin is an example of his enthusiasm for promoting Québec City as a conference destination. Published in the December 2013 issue of IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Magazine, roughly half the piece is given to describing the many attractions of the city. The article can be downloaded from:

Contributed by Bruce Van-Lane, IEEE Canadian Review

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