2005 Winner: Leaders of Tomorrow
The way Ryan Schneider works could be a metaphor for the innovative technology he developed while earning his Master’s degree at the University of Calgary. As a student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Schneider investigated a technology to speed up computer simulation, a process required in almost all areas of R&D and engineering, from developing new cancer diagnostic tools to building better washing machines. Recognizing a huge market for such a tool in both industry and academia, Schneider co-founded Acceleware Inc. in 2004 with another student and their faculty supervisors. As Chief Technology Officer, Schneider led a team of eight engineers and software developers to bring the company’s first product to market in less than 12 months.
Acceleware’s flagship product is a family of flexible hardware accelerators that can be plugged into a computer to vastly improve performance. This special-purpose hardware transforms problems that would require hours on a supercomputer into simulations that can be completed in minutes on a modified desktop. In Alberta, university researchers are using Acceleware products to develop new technologies for breast cancer detection and petroleum engineers are investigating Acceleware technology for reservoir simulation. Engineers from international companies such as Motorola and Nokia are applying Acceleware technology in the development of modern wireless devices. Acceleware can reduce the time it takes to complete a complex simulation of a cellphone next to a user’s head – to assess safety – from several hours to a few minutes.
In addition to leading Acceleware, Schneider, 28, is president of Vortex Computing, a high-performance computing provider he launched seven years ago and ran while completing his undergraduate and Master’s degrees. In his “spare time,” Schneider is continuing his work in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to complete his PhD. Schneider has presented his research results at scientific conferences and in numerous invited talks in Canada and abroad. He published his results in a number of journal papers and co-authored a chapter in a textbook.
Schneider has won several competitive scholarships and bursaries, including Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC) scholarships and awards, an iCore supplement and an Alberta Ingenuity Studentship. Schneider has been an active leader on campus as well as in the lab and boardroom. As a graduate student he represented his department on the Graduate Student Council. In 2003, recognizing a need for an organization to give graduate students a voice in the department, he founded the Electrical and Computer Engineering Graduate Students’ Association. Schneider red-shirted with the University of Calgary Dinos varsity basketball team as a student and continues to organize basketball and volleyball activities.