Colin Simpson (author)

Keynote address, International Distance Education Conference, Copenhagen, 2006

Colin Simpson is a Canadian entrepreneur, software developer, and the author of six textbooks, including the bestseller Principles of Electronics. With over 300,000 of his textbooks in print, Dr. Simpson is considered as an expert in the teaching of electronics and electronics simulation technology. He has won numerous awards including the Award of Excellence from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC),[1] the TVOntario Lifelong Learning Challenge Award,[2] and the CODiE Award from the Software Publishers Association. Simpson holds two patents in electronics laboratory simulation and control systems technology, and is recognized as an authority on distance education and the integration of laboratory simulation software. He has been interviewed by the CBC, PBS, CTV, TVOntario, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Chicago Tribune, and has lectured at universities around the world.

Contents

Early Years

During his tenure as an electronics professor at George Brown College in Toronto, Simpson found that students who were financially disadvantaged and unable to purchase electronics simulation software were achieving poorer grades than their counterparts who were able to purchase such products. At the time, simulation software was prohibitively expensive for a typical student, and Simpson decided to develop his own electronics circuit simulation and make it available free of charge to all students.[3] Simpson approached computer programmer John (Bud) Skinner with this idea, and development work began on a product that ultimately became CircuitLogix. As a result of using this software students grades improved significantly,[4] and it has also removed a very divisive issue from the classroom. To date, over 150,000 students worldwide have downloaded the free student version of CircuitLogix, and site licenses for the full version of the software have been purchased by more than 1,000 Colleges and Universities.

CircuitLogix simulation software developed by Simpson and Skinner.

Simpson was one of the first electronics professors to use simulation software, and his fourth book, Principles of Electronics was written specifically for use with simulation software. At the time, there was considerable opposition among the electronics education community regarding the use of simulation software for the delivery of electronics curriculum. Many educators felt that a “hands on” methodology was the only valid method of learning electronics, and that simulation was a less-effective substitute.[5] Simpson embarked on a series of lectures, conference presentations and meetings with accrediting organizations throughout 1996, where he demonstrated that electronics simulation software could achieve identical results to laboratory experiments performed with real equipment.[6]

In 1997, Simpson's Electronics Technician distance education program (ET) received approval and accreditation from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). In its first year, the program enrolled over 500 students from 17 countries, with over 30 companies sponsoring employees,[7] and has since become the largest distance education program of its kind in the world.[8]

With over 10,000 students studying electronics at a distance, Simpson's ET distance education program has effectively broken down the barriers that prevent students from accessing technical course material on-line. Of note is that the program has broken the gender barrier in the study of electronics. Typically, less than 2% of students who study electronics in Colleges and Universities are female. In the ET distance education program almost 20% of the student’s are female, which has been attributed to the accessibility of the learning material and the integrative multimedia courseware which is designed to scaffold student learning and accommodate learning style differences.[9]

Awards

In 1996, Simpson and Joe Koenig were joint recipients of the Award of Excellence, from the Software Publishers Association[10] for their work in simulation technologies and multimedia.

In 1998, Simpson's electronics program received the Program Excellence Award, from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, a consortium of 155 Colleges. It was the first time a distance education program had earned this award and was noted by ACCC President, Gerald Brown, as a “landmark achievement in the field of distance education”.[11]

In 2003, Simpson's Electronics Technician program received a $1 million grant from the Government of Ontario for the development of a “virtual campus” to support students who were enrolled in 85 cities and towns throughout the province. The award was presented by TVOntario President, Isabel Bassett.[12]

Robotics and Beyond

In recent years, Simpson has continued his work in simulation software and in 2005, launched the Programmable Logic Controllers Technician program, which integrated simulation software with his book, Programmable Logic Controllers. The program is now the largest of its kind in the world and provides training to employees in over 100 companies [13]

Simpson's RoboLogix simulation software

In 2008, Simpson published his most recent book, Introduction to Robotics. He also oversaw the development of a new robotics simulator software package, RoboLogix, which was completed in 2009 and was designed by John (Bud) Skinner using specifications derived from Simpson’s research in robotics, algorithms, and simulation technologies. In 2009, Simpson launched the Robotics Technician online program,[14] which presently has over 800 students in 15 countries.

In addition to his work in electronics and simulation technologies, Simpson is also an accomplished musician. In his early 20’s, he was a member of the recording group Champion, who achieved gold record status [15] in Canada and were nominated for a CASBY Award in 1983.[16] In an interview with Canadian Musician magazine,[17] Simpson attributed his early interest in electronics out of the necessity of having to repair, maintain and design audio equipment used by bands he performed in. Once he “retired” from the music business at the age of 26, he pursued this love of electronics as a professor, author, and inventor.

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ ACCC document with article regarding Simpson's Electronics Technician distance education program
  2. ^ TVOntario Lifelong Learning Challenge Award
  3. ^ "Free Student Version of CircuitLogix". www.circuitlogix.com. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20080430220124/http://www.circuitlogix.com/student_version.html. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  4. ^ "Press Release - January 12, 2007". www.etcourse.com. http://www.etcourse.com/press_release_06_08_1998.html. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  5. ^ http://www.sv.vt.edu/classes/ESM4714/Student_Proj/class03/stillwater/prj/project/sim_pandc.htm
  6. ^ Popular Electronics Magazine, The New Virtual World of Electronics Laboratories, pp. 3-5, Gernsbeck Publishing, New York, October, 1996
  7. ^ http://www.etcourse.com/press_release_06_08_1998.html
  8. ^ "Press Release - January 12, 2007". www.etcourse.com. http://www.etcourse.com/press_release_08_17_2001.html. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  9. ^ http://best.berkeley.edu/~aagogino/fie95/FIE95.4a2.1.agogino.html
  10. ^ Popular Electronics Magazine, The New Virtual World of Electronics Laboratories, pp. 3-5, Gernsbeck Publishing, New York, October, 1996
  11. ^ ACCC document with article regarding Simpson's Electronics Technician distance education program
  12. ^ http://jobboomcc.canoe.ca/News/2003/03/26/1225158-sun.html
  13. ^ http://virtual.torontosun.com/doc/torontosun/ContinuingEducation/2010120601/9.html#9
  14. ^ http://www.automation.com/content/online-robotics-training-program
  15. ^ Melhuish, Martin (1996) Oh what a feeling: A vital history of Canadian Music, Quarry Press, P. 141 ISBN 978-1550821642
  16. ^ Melhuish, Martin (1996) Oh what a feeling: A vital history of Canadian Music, Quarry Press, P. 188 ISBN 978-1550821642
  17. ^ Williams, Terry (1983) Canadian Musician Magazine, July/August Edition, P.37

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