El-Sheimy, Dr. Naser

2011 Winner: Outstanding Leadership In Alberta Technology

Dreams Lead To Innovative, Low Cost Navigation And Positioning Technology

Dr. Naser M. El-Sheimy came to Alberta almost 20 years ago to realize his dreams to apply geomatics research to make a profound difference to society and to the lives of individuals. He has done that.

Leader of Geomatics

Dr. El-Sheimy is a professor in geomatics engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary and a Canada Research Chair in Mobile Multi-Sensor Geomatics. He leads a team of between 15 and 25 researchers and manages funds of $800,000 annually for research and development of geomatics systems for navigation, mapping and GIS (geographic information system) applications.

Dr. El-Sheimy is CEO of Trusted Positioning Inc. (TPI), a start-up company from the University of Calgary. The company has developed an innovative technology platform called the Trusted Positioning Platform (TPP) that harnesses the potential of low-cost sensors. It provides enhanced navigation and positioning technology, products and services that improve on existing navigation and positioning products, and deliver reliable and accurate navigation and positioning indoors and outdoors, underground and undersea and while walking or driving.

Varied Applications

One application targets the Canadian Forces who are engaged in missions in hostile territories.

“Our work augments GPS making it more useful in urban battlefields by using sensors that allow soldiers to be located at any time,” he says. “We are now working on a device to help search and rescue of personnel.”

Another application uses a small device based on sensors to help diagnose movement disorders, generally classified under Essential Tremors or Parkinson’s disease.

“More than 20 million people worldwide suffer from these disorders. Neither is adequately characterized, so they are also not being diagnosed properly,” he explains. Another device he is working on will track elderly dementia patients and people with mental disabilities.

Prominent Organization

Dr. El-Sheimy led the establishment of TECTERRA, a nonprofit organization that invests in and supports development and commercialization of geomatics technology across Canada. TECTERRA receives almost $33 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. Dr. El-Sheimy is the company’s scientific director.

Dr. El-Sheimy counts mentoring and training over 65 graduate students and researchers among his most important contributions. “I am rewarded knowing that I have trained future generations of highly qualified personnel and have contributed to a sustainable industry in Alberta and the world.” He credits his students for their contribution to geomatics.

“These students and researchers help make our research group a leader in multi-sensor geomatics, “he says.

Throughout his career, Dr. El-Sheimy has made major and sustained contributions to the development, dissemination and commercialization of mobile mapping and integrated navigation system technology in Canada and internationally. He hopes to further contribute to better manage the planet’s natural resources by building observation systems to monitor forest fires, detect climate change and pollution and track endangered species.

“Most important is that our projects translate into commercially viable services and solutions that align with the industries of strategic importance to Alberta, and make a positive impact on the lives and prosperity of Albertans and all Canadians,” he says.