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Thursday, January 22, 2004

  • Applications slow down after double cohort
  • Annual award for research 'excellence'
  • Students and grads help raise roofs
  • A few flakes in the daily storm
Chris Redmond

Year of the Rat

[Leaning on a great expanse]

The solar panels on Federation Hall are pumping electricity into the campus grid, and Chris Hadlock and Tanya Dhir -- both mechanical engineering students -- are among the Solar Technology Education Project volunteers who will be celebrating today. The "grand unveiling" of the solar project is set for 11 a.m., with an open house -- displays, tours, refreshments -- continuing until 3 p.m. "This is the first student-designed solar array on a university campus in Canada," STEP organizer Jeff DeLoyde stresses. "The array will prevent more than 1,200 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year from polluting our air by avoiding the burning of fossil fuels."

Applications slow down after double cohort

The number of high school students applying to Ontario universities, including UW, has dropped from last year's "double cohort" boom year, but is still ahead of levels in 2001 and 2002, according to information this week from the Council of Ontario Universities and UW's admissions office.

A memo from Peter Burroughs, director of admissions, says applications at Waterloo are down by about one-third from last year, pretty much the same figure seen across the province. Last year saw the first rush of students graduating from Ontario's new four-year high school program overlapping the last class of graduates from the five-year program, and producing record applications, with more than 101,000 high school students seeking university admission.

So far this year, it's 71,222, says OUAC, compared to 69,305 in 2002 and slightly fewer than 60,000 in 2001.

Says Burroughs: "As anticipated, the number of OSS [Ontario secondary school] students who have applied to date is significantly less than last year. The total number of OSS applications at this point is 348,500 compared to 520,112 in 2003 representing a decrease of approximately 33%. The average number of applications per applicant (student) this year is 4.9 compared to 5.1 in 2003 and 4.0 in 2002.

"Using 2001 as a base year for comparisons, system wide, there are 19% more applicants applying in 2004 than in 2001 and 49.6% more applications. UW has experienced an increase of 25.5% in applications (applicant/student data by institution is not yet available).

"UW continues to have one of the highest proportions of first choice applications to institutional total at 23.2%.

"Comparing 2003 to 2004, UW has received 33.4% fewer applications than last year at this time. The system's total decrease is 33%. Similarly, the decrease in first choice applications at UW is 34.8% compared to a system decrease of 30.1%."

Program-by-program details should be available in a few days, Burroughs said. Information about applicants who aren't from Ontario high schools -- those from other provinces and countries, or entering from the work force or community colleges -- will start arriving next month.

Annual award for research 'excellence'

Deans, department chairs and faculty members are being invited to send in nominations for this year's Awards for Excellence in Research, with a deadline of April 30.

  • Ontario will 'overhaul' student aid (Star)
  • Federation plans improvements to Bombshelter (Imprint)
  • Strategic research plans from Canada's universities
  • Student urges UW to lease environmentally friendly cars
  • 'Window of opportunity' for income-contingent student aid
  • UW prof writes on reform in the Muslim world
  • Scientists mentor girls by e-mail
  • Guelph sees two candidates for provost
  • Prof and his company issue million-dollar challenge
  • Protests in Toronto against French headscarf law
  • Accessibility not linked to tuition fees after all, economist says
  • Vote on tuition fees a major challenge for British PM
  • [Heaven & Hell at Federation Hall] A memo from the vice-president (university research), Paul Guild, reminds them that the awards were set up "to recognize distinguished research achievements of UW faculty members. The Award provides a $1,500 grant for research to four recipients annually: two from Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environmental Studies and the Federated & Affiliated Colleges; and two from Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Normally, tenured University of Waterloo faculty members are eligible."

    A nine-member committee, chaired by the vice-president, looks at the nominations and chooses the winners.

    "In assessing excellence," the terms of reference say, "the term 'research' must be interpreted in its broadest sense, referring to any original, productive scholarship in any of the disciplines of investigation and learning in the University. The Committee will give cognizance to differences among disciplines in terms of funding levels, time to publish, and nature of publications or other scholarly contributions.

    "In general, nominees will have achieved a high level of internationally recognized research production in their disciplines. This will commonly be a major part of the evidence supporting a nominee's case. Other evidence may include awards and fellowships, invited and other scholarly presentations, and novel applications such as creative writing, design, fine and performing arts.

    "Award winners will receive special recognition at fall Convocation. . . . Each will make a brief public presentation about his/her research as a keynote speaker during the annual Graduate Student Research Conference."

    A nomination form is available from the research office, phone ext. 3432.

    Students and grads help raise roofs -- by Rebecca Mallinson, from the UW Recruiter newsletter

    As president of The Truss Shop, Bill Steele hired his first UW graduate in fall 2002. Since that time, he hasn't been able to stop.

    The Truss Shop, a quickly expanding company that designs and manufactures roof trusses, flooring systems, and wall panels, has locations in Belleville, Brockville, and Waterloo, Ontario, as well as Syracuse, New York. It is at the Waterloo location that half of Steele's office staff are from UW.

    Tanja Prica, a 2002 economics grad, is the first UW graduate Steele hired. As The Truss Shop's office manager, she plays a critical role in the whole financial end of the company, doing accounting, budgeting, and cash-flow analysis.

    [Smiles into the sunshine]

    Greg McNally, Tanja Prica, Elaine Bell, Ryan Tucker and Marie Hertzberger show off a Truss Shop product

    Civil engineering graduates Greg McNally and Marie Hertzberger were hired as designer/estimators through the UW alumni job postings. They design roof trusses and pre-engineered floor systems for residential, commercial and farm buildings. In addition, The Truss Shop employs third and fourth year civil engineering co-op students Ryan Tucker and Elaine Bell, who have both opted to return to the company for second work terms.

    When asked why he hires so many Waterloo people, Steele answers that the increasing complexity of the structures being built nowadays is driving the building components industry to employ professional engineers as designers, which is not something people can be trained overnight to do. "In our business plan we want to buy one location per year. I need to develop a good core of competent engineers and financial people so that when I'm acquiring new locations we can have young people trained and I can drop them into new locations as we grow."

    According to Steele, it's obvious that every employee he's hired from UW has received excellent training. "What I've noticed from some other universities that we've hired out of, from our other locations," he says, "is that the people coming out of Waterloo have been second to none."

    Blood donor clinic, last day, 10 to 4, Student Life Centre.

    'Files, Damned Files and Statistics', presentation about online German courses, 11:00, Dana Porter Library room 329.

    Chinese new year lunch, University Club, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 3801.

    Career Decision-Making, career development workshop, 1:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

    Finance office deadline today for submitting internal transactions before end-of-January system shutdown.

    'Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda', lecture by Mark Drumbl, Washington and Lee University, 4:30 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University senate and board chamber.

    St. Jerome's University board of governors, 6 p.m., board room at St. Jerome's.

    Columbia Lake Village open house at the old and new townhouses, Friday 10:30 to 3:30, all staff and faculty invited.

    'Plurality and Differences in an Unstable World', Rev. Robert Schreiter, lecture Friday at 7:30 p.m., St. Jerome's University.

    Biosand filter workshop, Saturday 9 to 4, information e-mail sacleary@yahoo.ca.

    Canadian Student Summit on Aerospace, January 30 through February 1, information online.

    A few flakes in the daily storm

    Yep, there's a lot of snow out there; nope, the university is not closed today. Under UW's longstanding storm procedure, the university closes if, and only if, the local public school board closes all its schools. Today's snowfall meant the cancellation of school buses, but the schools themselves are open, and thus UW is too.

    And let's hope the snarled traffic on major highways doesn't hinder people getting to Toronto for the first day of the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, being held at the Delta Toronto East on Kennedy Road. Some 500 students from about 20 Canadian universities are expected. The UW-based organizers have technical panels and seminars on the agenda for today, starting at 9:00 sharp. The conference continues through Saturday.

    It's day four of National Non-smoking Week, and if (let's say) you've been following the daily steps suggested by the folks in the occupational health office, you've moved from thinking about stopping smoking to stage four, Action. "Since smoking is a difficult habit to break, you may want to visit your physician to discuss a nicotine replacement. You may also want to change your daily routine to make quitting easier or avoid going places where smoking is permitted. Ask family and friends to support you in your decision to quit. Among sources of more background and help: the Quit4Life web site from Health Canada. (And let me just mention that millions of dollars' worth of research about stop-smoking programs and similar health behaviour issues is carried out at -- guess which university? -- Waterloo.)

    "We are looking for healthy post-menopausal women," says Tanya Spitzig from the kinesiology department, "who are either taking or not taking hormone replacement therapy, to participate in a study that will help us understand the effects of estrogen on the control of muscle blood flow. The main experimental details include small blood samples to determine your cholesterol levels; non-invasive measurements of cardiovascular function; eating a 'fast-food' breakfast. The time commitment will be on two separate days, the first day taking only 15 minutes, and the second taking the morning. Financial compensation is provided." The project is supervised by kin professor Rich Hughson. Anyone who might be interested can get more information from Spitzig at ext. 6137.

    An announcement from the housing office: "Residence applications for fall 2004 are available online from Friday, January 23, at 10 a.m. until Tuesday, January 27, at 10 a.m. Hundreds of spaces are available to current students and a random selection process will take place once applications close on the 27th. More spaces may become available in late June, once the first-year guarantee is complete."

    Chainsaws were fired up yesterday, as the city of Waterloo is starting the sad, but apparently necessary, job of cutting down some 70 big trees along Columbia Street. They'll be replaced by new trees -- lilac, ash and oak -- once a street-widening project is completed. Columbia, the main access route to UW's north campus and budding R&T park, is heavily congested, and the city is broadening it to four lanes. The current phase extends all the way from King Street up to Phillip Street, just east of campus. Starting next week, parts of the street will be closed daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as road work progresses.


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