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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

  • UW Formula SAE race car to be unveiled
  • Beckett's Catastrophe staged in cyberspace
  • More faculty and more staff this year
  • A paper sale and other non-fiction

Chris Redmond

E-mail announcements to bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

UW Formula SAE race car to be unveiled -- from UW Media Relations

University of Waterloo student engineers will unveil this year's model of their Formula SAE race car tomorrow, April 27, 5 to 7 p.m. in parking lot X at the entrance to the Research and Technology Park (behind the Optometry building), off Columbia Street West. A computer-generated drawing from the team's website is on the left.

UW Formula SAE race car

Activities include driving demonstrations with the old cars and new model and a barbecue, said Will Chan, Team Leader for the UW Formula SAE Team.

Each year, a team of 15 engineers designs and builds an open-wheel race car from the ground up and to the limits of performance and weight, Chan said. "The entire car is designed by students with the exception of a few parts, like the engine which is sourced from a Honda CBR600 motorcycle."

The Formula SAE competition is the largest student engineering competition in the world, with 140 universities representing some 11 countries meeting in Pontiac, Mich. annually (May 18 to 22 this year) to prove their designs in presentations and on-track racing.

The competition challenges teams to design, fabricate, market and race a small formula-style open wheeled race car under the premise they are contracted by a manufacturing firm to build a prototype for evaluation.

"This year, the new Waterloo challenger, dubbed the f05, will be one of the most competitive entries that Waterloo has seen in recent years," Chan said. "The design has concentrated on reducing the weight to a minimum and improving handling by lowering the centre of gravity."

For the first time in its 19-year history, the UW team will travel overseas to Great Britain to take part in the European Championship. This will take place from July 6 to 10 and the team is still looking for more financial supporters.

Beckett's Catastrophe staged in cyberspace -- by Barbara Elve

The possibility of creating collaborative theatre using videoconferencing technology to link remote sets and actors is being explored on Friday in a workshop production of Samuel Beckett’s one-act play, Catastrophe.

The performance will be co-directed by Gerd Hauck, right, of the drama and speech communication department at Waterloo and by George Brown of the department of theatre arts at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.Gerd Hauck

At the Waterloo end, the play will star students Jennifer Scullion and Brad Cook, familiar to campus audiences for their recent roles as Charlotte Corday and Jean-Paul Marat in the drama production of Marat/Sade earlier this spring.

In Friday’s performance, “the 15-minute live production with actors in two different locations will be presented twice,” explains Hauck, “as actors alternate the play’s three roles between Bradley and Waterloo.”

The public is invited to attend the free event at 5 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts. “The first cyber-cast party” will wrap up the performance.

“This is all pretty new stuff,” Hauck admits. “There have been a couple of similar projects, but what makes this project innovative is that we have live audiences as well as actors in two locations interacting and experiencing the same play in a space that is both real and virtual.

"Multi-point videoconferenced theatre is a significant part of my research,” he adds, and some $240,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust and private donors has helped purchase videoconferencing units, data projectors, TV monitors, cameras and other equipment required for such productions.

And the Peoria connection? “We found each other on the web when he (Brown) did an experimental production of Antigone…. We’re seeing this as a prelude to more extensive productions involving more actors and audiences in more than two locations.”

There was no problem agreeing on a play, says Hauck. “Both George and I are great admirers of Beckett’s work, and the play’s structure, plot and character arrangements make the videoconferenced interaction especially appealing and challenging. Also, the play is of manageable length for a workshop production/experiment.”

The challenges of such a performance “are inherent to the medium,” he explains. Most significant is the delay in sound transmission due to the compression/decompression process when the sound and images are relayed on the World Wide Web. “We can teach actors to anticipate the lag, or we can just accept it as a given of the medium.

“We can ‘willingly suspend our disbelief’ to overcome some of these technological shortcomings,” he adds, including the presence/absence of the actors themselves.

Despite possible technical difficulties, Hauck believes there is tremendous potential in such work. “I’m interested in the capabilities of videoconferencing as a medium for creating collaborative theatre.” He plans to develop his ideas in cooperation with groups from different cultures and backgrounds, including aboriginal artists in Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The technology allows collaborative productions to include connections among up to 10 locations that can be streamed onto the Web. Ultimately, he says, audiences will be able to participate as well, with applause, boos -- even walking out fed back to the performers.

Using new media “impacts on our appreciation of what theatre is,” adds Hauck, raising questions about the nature of theatrical space, about immediacy and spontaneity. “We’re using technology to create a new form of theatre,” he predicts.

More faculty and more staff this year

Faculty members and staff members are both more numerous at UW than they were a year ago, according to pages of statistics provided as background to the annual operating budget.

There are actually two different counts of faculty numbers. One chart, "Summary of Regular Faculty Appointments," shows a total of 850 full-time faculty in the current year, according to the institutional analysis and planning office. The other, "Faculty Complement by Department," comes from the finance office and has a bottom line of 816 (allowing for part-time positions).

Both calculations show increases from last year's numbers: from 795 to 850, or from 786 to 816. It's a matter of who's counted and when in the fiscal year.

The "regular faculty appointments" chart also offers a breakdown by status: the 850 faculty this year include 566 with tenure, 204 with probationary status (on the way to tenure), 25 with "continuing" but not tenured appointments, and 55 on definite-term postings.

The "faculty complement" chart includes a breakdown by faculty and department. The total of 816 faculty members includes 45 in applied health sciences, 202.5 in arts, 204 in engineering, 62 in environmental studies, 168.5 in mathematics and 134 in science.

Arts showed no change in numbers from the previous year, while all the other faculties list increases. The biggest jump is in engineering (from 182.5 to 204).

Staff numbers, meanwhile, rose from 1,630.1 in October 2003 to 1,666.6 in October 2004, according to a four-page table prepared by the finance office.

Increases are scattered across the campus: three-and-a-fraction new positions in arts, 4 in engineering, 6.3 in mathematics. The security department (police and parking) shows a jump from 18 staff last year to 24 this year. Plant operations is up by 3 hourly-paid positions; the library is down from 135.1 staff a year ago to 132.6 this year.

The staff numbers include only people paid through the operating budget, not research-paid staff or those in "ancillary" departments such as food services.

A new doctoral thesis completion award is available for full-time PhD students. The one-term-only award of $5,000 is intended to give PhD students some financial relief while they complete their thesis writing and defence. The award "may be used in lieu of a Teaching Assistantship, and can be held by the student award holder in addition to a Research Assistantship," according to a description from the Grad Office. To be eligible, a student must meet the following criteria: "proven high level of productivity and excellence as a doctoral student; expectation of defending the thesis within two terms of receiving this award; during the tenure of this award, he/she will not hold full-time employment or any external award" and a final criterion, "that significant barriers / constraints hamper progress, and … this award will benefit completion of his/her thesis or doctoral program." Twenty awards are available between May 1, 2005 and April 30, 2006. The application deadline is the first day of each term; forms will be online. The nearest deadline is May 1 -- but since that's a Sunday and this is the first occurrence of a new award, the Grad Office will accept applications, this time, for a couple of days into next week.

A paper sale and other non-fiction

Today UW Graphics is holding "the biggest clearance sale ever of fine papers, including envelopes, labels, bond, gloss and matte coated, translucent, vellum, linen, parchment, cardstock, and covers." All paper costs $1 per pound, envelopes are $2 per pound, special cutting is $1 per cut, and there is a $20 minimum if you are paying with a departmental accounting flexfield. The sale takes place in COM from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you're attending any of the EAP Health and Wellness Fair activities today and Wednesday, the UW Recreation Committee invites you to stop by their display, fill out an activity survey and win a prize. The first 25 visitors each day will receive a treat.

Nominations are invited for the annual Faculty of Engineering Alumni Achievement Medals and two new awards. A 2005 Alumni Achievement Medal (up to three may be awarded) goes to a UW Engineering grad "who deserves recognition for his or her professional achievements, community service, or academic excellence." A new Alumni Team Achievement Medal will be awarded to a team of Waterloo Engineering alumni that deserve special recognition, and a new Friend Of The Faculty Award will be presented to "a person who has been a great friend and supporter of the Faculty of Engineering who deserves recognition but is not a grad." The nominations close on April 30. More details and a nomination form are online.

An Immigrant Skills Summit takes place on Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., at Lutherwood Great Hall, the Sunshine Centre, 139 Father Bauer Drive, Waterloo. Registration and breakfast start at 7:30 a.m. The aim is to develop a Waterloo Region strategy to make sure that immigrant skills are better used, for the good of immigrants and the community as a whole. It's organized by the Centre for Research and Education in Human Services, and sponsored by the University of Waterloo, among others. Registration is now closed, but you can add your name to the waiting list by emailing maria@crehs.on.ca.

The Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry will hold its Annual General Meeting, Seminar, Poster Session and Awards Presentations on Friday, April 29, at the University of Guelph. This year's annual seminar, to be presented by John Honek, UW chemistry, is entitled "Adventures in BioChemistry: A Chemist's Exploration of Biological Systems." The seminar is open to all and takes place at 3 p.m. in the Thornbrough Building, room 1200. For more information contact Andrea Wetmore at gwc@uoguelph.ca

All this week, performers in Kitchener's fifth annual Open Ears festival of music and sound will be making a beautiful noise at various local venues. The offerings will range from the traditional to the avante-garde, and will include a performance by the DaCapo Chamber Choir led by Conrad Grebel's Leonard Enns, at St. John the Evangelist Church, Kitchener, on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. More about the choir and ticket prices here.

Alice Bast, a longtime former member of UW's staff, died April 19, 2005. Alice began her employment in November 1966 and held the position of administrative officer in psychology until she retired early on January 1, 1991. She is survived by her husband, Clifford. Memorial visitation will be held at the Ratz-Bechtel Funeral Home, 621 King St. W., Kitchener, today 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.