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Wednesday, January 23, 2002

  • Fourth-year engineers show their work
  • Canada's first love, the constitution
  • Notes from Monday's senate meeting
  • Optometrists to head for Mexico
  • Here we are in the middle of the week
Chris Redmond

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

[Sitting in his office]

Mohamed Elmasry of UW's electrical and computer engineering department is featured on the front page of today's Gazette, talking about his new book, Spiritual Fitness for Life: A Social Engineering Approach. As national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Elmasry is often asked to speak about his faith to audiences he senses are estranged from spiritual issues. "It's a disease of the times," he says, and his book offers a systematic cure. "You do not have to give up your job and travel to faraway places to achieve spiritual fitness," he writes.

Fourth-year engineers show their work -- from the UW news bureau

More than 250 students graduating from the electrical and computer engineering program are showing 51 of their group design projects today and tomorrow in the Fourth Year Design Project Symposium, being held at the Davis Centre.

Over the course of the symposium, each group will present its project in seminar format to invited guests from industry, academe and the media. Throughout both days, student groups will also publicly display their design project posters and will be available to discuss their projects during breaks.

Grade 6 through OAC students from schools in the region, along with their parents/guardians, have been invited to an open house from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday to visit the various displays and to talk with the student designers.

The symposium presentations will cover many leading-edge technology developments in E&CE. Design project topics include wireless and Bluetooth systems, radio frequency and infra-red systems, digital systems, network cards, network encryption systems, anti-piracy systems, large scale World Wide Web base applications, micropayment systems, active map systems, production management systems, voice controlled systems, location tracking systems, plant efficiency systems, and robot control systems. Some projects also have societal impacts, such as vision and hearing aid advances.

Dean of engineering Sujeet Chaudhuri describes the depth and breadth of this year's projects as an "indisputable testimonial to the quality of engineers graduating from the department this year." He also gratefully acknowledges the work of faculty members, technologists and industry partners who have provided essential support to the students.

This year's symposium includes the second set of graduates to complete the intensive fourth-year design project course sequence, which challenges students in their final year of study to work in groups to identify and address a specific design problem. The symposium gives these students the opportunity to showcase their projects in poster and prototype format and to present them as seminars to external audiences.

Students will be graded on their presentations, explains Jim Barby, E&CE's fourth-year design project coordinator. "Being able to present your ideas to an investor or a client or a boss is essential in our field. These seminars and poster presentations -- in front of an external audience -- help our students develop the skills they'll need to do that successfully."

Opening ceremonies, with presentations by the dean and the chair of E&CE, are scheduled at 9:30 a.m. today. A detailed symposium schedule, including abstracts of each student project, is available on the web.

Traffic note

I understand there was a spectacular collision at the University Avenue entrance to campus about 8:30 this morning -- no information at this moment about the details.

Canada's first love, the constitution

There was once (so the story goes) an international conference about elephants. The French delegate spoke on the love life of elephants; the American delegate, on "raising elephants for fun and profit"; the British delegate, on the role of elephants in tea production. And then came the Canadian delegate: "The Elephant -- a Federal or Provincial Responsibility?"

The imperfect balances in the Canadian constitution have been a preoccupation in public life in this country since forever, and especially over the past four decades. And today attention will be focused on them in the 21st annual Faculty of Arts Lecture: "Constitutional Reform in Canada: The God That Failed".

The speaker is Alan Cairns, an adjunct professor in UW's department of political science, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a prominent figure in poli sci in Canada. Last fall he was the guest of honour at a conference at the University of British Columbia, under the title "Rethinking Citizenship in the Canadian Federation", and gave the closing address: "My Academic Career: The Pleasures and Risks of Introspection".

Said the conference announcement: "Over the last thirty years, few scholars have shaped our understanding of the Canadian federation in the manner of Alan Cairns. In a remarkably wide array of fields -- including the regional impact of Canada's electoral system, the historical development of Canadian federalism, the ongoing efforts to constitutionally reshape the federation, the minoritarian effects of the Charter of Rights, and the question of Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal relations -- Cairns's scholarship has initiated and shaped many of the most pivotal debates amongst scholars and students of Canadian politics.

"Even today, Cairns's scholarship operates at the cutting edge of Canadian social science. This is evidenced by the widespread attention generated by his most recent book, Citizens Plus, which is already stimulating important interdisciplinary dialogue on the future of the Canadian federation. Yet while Cairns has tackled an extraordinary number of topics, and has utilized diverse lenses of enquiry, there is a strong theme -- a basis of cohesion -- that operates throughout his work. This theme is Cairns's overarching and consistent focus on the question of citizenship in a federal society.

"Cairns's impact on the study of the Canadian federation reflects not only the quality and range of his scholarship; it also owes much to the manner in which he discharges his role as an academic. Through his dedicated service to his profession and to generations of his students, Cairns has long demonstrated the ideals of scholarly responsibility and duty. This sense of duty extends beyond the academy as well. For example, Cairns was a lead researcher for both the Hawthorn Inquiry of the late 1960s and the Macdonald Commission of the 1980s. In undertaking these activities -- as both a scholar and citizen -- Cairns has demonstrated a second common thread that has operated throughout his career: his cultivation of a scholarly citizenship."

He was winner of last year's Donner Prize for Citizens Plus, a study of "Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state".

Cairns will give his lecture starting at 4:00 today in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Admission is free.

Notes from Monday's senate meeting

In yesterday's Daily Bulletin I reported on the main controversial item at Monday evening's meeting of the UW senate: a proposed "statement of purpose on undergraduate financial support". But plenty of other matters were raised at the meeting, and here are some of them.

It began with a presentation from Bruce Lumsden, director of co-operative education and career services, about the challenges facing co-op -- especially this term, which began with several hundred students jobless. "Four hundred students and their parents are not happy," said Lumsden, noting that although UW has a long, proud history of co-op, and an international reputation, "size and history are not everything. Today we're vulnerable." He said a task force has been set up to look at major issues touching on the co-op programs. Plans are still in the works, he told the senate, for a change to the present batch processing to match large numbers of jobs and students -- the goal is "a much more even flow" so that employers can get students hired faster.

Then came Graham Brown, principal of St. Paul's United College, with several colleagues. He spoke briefly about St. Paul's, describing UW's church colleges as providing "a learning environment that softens specialization". Brown told the senate that St. Paul's recently signed "a memorandum of understanding" with the LT3 learning centre; is planning to add 200 beds to its residence, more than doubling the number of students it can house; and is exploring the possibility of a co-op program in leadership for non-profit organizations.

Later in the meeting, UW president David Johnston mentioned that UW is still making slow progress on the north campus research and technology park, with officials talking with several companies that are "possible early tenants" to get the park occupied.

Provost Amit Chakma reported on the purchase of a building in the old Galt core of Cambridge that's intended as a new home for the UW school of architecture, and said that if things go really well, the school could open there in the fall of 2003. The Cambridge business people who are backing the move still need to find millions of dollars in private sector money for renovating and maintaining the building. Laura Talbot-Allan, the vice-president (university relations), noted that fund-raising for the project is considered part of UW's coming Campaign Waterloo. The senate passed a motion officially recommending to UW's board of governors that the architecture school move to the new site.

Optometrists to head for Mexico

Some 20 UW optometry students will be flying to Mexico on February 15 -- not to bask in the sun at a seaside resort, but to operate a free eye care clinic for the residents of Puerto Escondido, Oxaca.

The volunteers, all second, third and fourth-year students, will be accompanied by two volunteer optometrists, both UW alumni. They expect to provide treatment for at least 2,500 residents who might otherwise not have access to eye care.

While the trip is organized in part by I Care International, a North American-based charitable organization, students are conducting their own fund raising to pay for their expenses, says Carolyn Fyffe, a third-year optometry student who is participating in the project. "We'll be selling pizza outside Fed Hall on Thursday nights and outside the Bombshelter Saturday nights to help raise funds for our trip."

Anyone wishing to make a donation can send a cheque to I Care International, in care of the school of optometry. A tax receipt will be provided. Children's toys, stickers, colouring books, crayons, candies (no nuts) and Canadian flags or pins are also welcome. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the school of optometry.

Here we are in the middle of the week

A blood donor clinic continues today (and through Friday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Student Life Centre.

A workshop on "Teaching Large Classes", sponsored by the teaching resource office, starts at 12 noon today in Math and Computer room 5158.

Dominic Covvey of the Education Program for Health Informatics Professionals will speak at 4:00 this afternoon, in a seminar sponsored by that UW unit and the InfraNet Project. His talk, on "How Much IT in a Health System Is Enough?", will be given in the Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

The second event in the "civic dialogue" series, sponsored by the civics research group, is scheduled for today from 4:30 to 6:00 at its home in downtown Kitchener, 70 King Street East.

A workshop about UW Innovate Inc. will be offered at 5:30 tonight as part of the career development series. The career resource centre in Needles Hall can provide the details.

Hungry after all that learning? Bon Appetit, the "food fair" in the Davis Centre, has a special on Vietnamese cuisine, today and every Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Philosophy professor Jan Narveson will speak on "Problems with Pacifists and Terrorists" at 7:00 tonight in the great hall of Conrad Grebel University College. His talk is one in a series of four open lectures on war and peace to be given this term.

The basketball Warriors will host the McMaster Marauders tonight in a pair of games in the PAC gymnasium: the women's teams play at 6:00, the men's at 8:00.

Tomorrow, Wesley Wark of the University of Toronto, an expert on intelligence and security ("spying" to you), will speak at 7:00 in the Humanities Theatre, as part of the student-organized "2020: Building the Future" lecture series.

Friday brings a reception and dinner honouring David Burns, former dean of engineering and long-time mechanical engineering professor, as he leaves UW to become vice-president (academic) at Conestoga College. Ethel Spike in the mech eng department, phone ext. 6740, should have last-minute information.

Sunday is the day for this term's local ACM programming contest, a precursor to the regional and international contests in which UW excels just about every year.


January 23, 1970: The Faculty Club (later renamed the University Club) opens for business.

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