[University of Waterloo]

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About the Bulletin

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

  • UW students are Disney competition finalists again
  • Ottawa funds new chair probing nuclear plants
  • Between the living and the dead
  • Health services closed tomorrow, and other notes

Chris Redmond

E-mail announcements to bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Disney Finalists
From left, clockwise: Erin Yu, Bonny Lau, Jenny Yeung and Eric Lee, fourth-year systems design students make up one of three finalist teams from across North America in the 2005 Disney Imagineering Design Competition. At centre is Analene (Go) Belanger, Disney software engineer, a member of the Waterloo team that won the 2003 Disney contest. -- Photo by Barbara Elve

UW students are Disney competition finalists again -- by Barbara Elve

For four systems design engineering students, the creation of an interactive virtual motion theatre ride is their ticket to the world of Disney.

As one of three teams of undergraduate students selected as finalists in the Walt Disney Imagi-Nations Design Competition, Bonny Lau, Eric Lee, Jenny Yeung and Erin Yu will travel to Disney headquarters in Glendale, California, in June to present their design to a panel of judges.

Their entry in the contest, entitled DIVA (Disney Interactive Virtual Adventure) was part of an eight-month final-year design workshop project supervised by management sciences professor Tom Carey and electrical and computer engineering professor Rob Gorbet.

The project “employs various motion tracking and image processing technologies to allow visitors to navigate through a virtual space using body motions,” explains Yu. “It is designed to encourage social interactions among the visitors as they must cooperate with each other to steer the vehicle and fight the villains.

“In addition to extensive research in the areas of motion platforms and immersion techniques, the project combines various methodologies such as theme-park attraction design, multi-player video game design and user-centred design. The team has also implemented an animation in the first person perspective as an example of what the audience will experience while on the ride,” he adds.

Waterloo is beginning to forge a reputation as a strong competitor in the Disney design contest. Two years ago, systems design students Munira Jessa, Analene Go and Kimberly Tuck took top prize in the Imagi-Nations competition with their “Monsters Inc. Training Facility Ride.” Today, Analene (Go) Belanger is a Disney software engineer — and one of the Disney reps who traveled to Waterloo last week to break the good news to this year’s team.

Disney Imagi-Nations competition is an annual design competition sponsored by Disney Imagineering to invite undergraduate students from all over the world to design original theme park attractions.

Ottawa funds new chair probing nuclear plants --from UW media relations

A new industrial research chair investigating the modernization of nuclear power plants was formally launched today at the University of Waterloo with a total of $2 million in federal and research partner funding. The chair will be called the NSERC/UNENE Industrial Research Chair in Risk-Based Life Cycle Management of Engineering Systems.

The program, headed by Mahesh Pandey, a faculty member in civil engineering's structures, mechanics, and construction engineering research group, will help assess the reliability of components over the life of a power plant.

Federal support of $1 million over five years is provided through the research partnerships programs of Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC). The University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) -- an alliance of universities, nuclear power utilities, and research and regulatory agencies -- will contribute an additional $1 million over five years.

"We are expecting that Dr. Mahesh Panday and his research team will develop new probabilistic methods, tools and models for inspection, rehabilitation and replacement strategies that will result in safe and economic life cycle performance of systems, structures and components in a nuclear power plant," said Dr. Mohan Mathur, President and CEO of UNENE. "Dr Pandey will add a nuclear dimension to the activities of the world known Institute for Risk Research at the University of Waterloo and graduate highly qualified specialists who will integrate risk based decision making at nuclear power plants."

UNENE has collaborated with NSERC in the creation of five Industrial Research Chairs in the nuclear field at Ontario universities. "The NSERC-UNENE Chair program provides an exciting opportunity to work collaboratively with industry partners to develop innovative analysis tools and advanced methods for managing risk to critical infrastructure," Pandey said. "The goal is to develop the knowledge base in support of best practices for inspection, assessment and refurbishment of power plant systems that enhance safety, reliability and cost efficiency in the nuclear power industry."

Pandey has many years of experience in both probabilistic analysis and applied mechanics. He has received awards for teaching and research excellence from UW as well as the Ontario Premier's Research Excellence Award in 2003.

"The development of this strong research program in nuclear engineering, combined with the training of students, will definitely be of benefit to the University of Waterloo," said Dr. Tom Brzustowski, President of NSERC. "The knowledge obtained through this research will not only assist Canada's nuclear power industry, and economy at large, but also benefit the environment, since nuclear power produces no greenhouse gases."

UNENE is an alliance of universities, nuclear power utilities, research and regulatory agencies dedicated to supporting and developing nuclear education, research and development capability in Canadian universities. Its main purpose is to assure a sustainable supply of qualified nuclear engineers and scientists to meet the current and future needs of the Canadian nuclear industry through university education, university-based training and encouraging young people to choose careers in the nuclear field.

Between the living and the dead -- from the Arts Research Update

Kate Lawson of the UW English department has teamed up with Lynn Shakinovsky of Wilfrid Laurier University's English department to conduct research into the ways that female widows are portrayed in the fictional works of the 19th century and in contemporary society.

The research traces a range of female characters whose husbands die in 19th-century British novels and poetry in order to identify how these characters' lives and identities were reshaped by their husbands' deaths.

Lawson and Shakinovsky have found that, in many cases, the female character is portrayed as being "incomplete," or "lost" between the worlds of the living and the dead following the death of her husband. The portrayal of female widows as having lesser lives is not surprising, since, according to feminist scholar Sandra M. Gilbert, the term "widow" comes from the Indo-European widhewo, meaning 'to be empty, be separated,' to be 'destitute' or to 'lack'.

Perhaps the most famous Victorian widow, Lawson and Shakinovsky point out, was Queen Victoria herself, who not only expected but also wished to die after the death of her consort, Albert, in 1861. She wrote of widowhood in a letter: "To the Queen, it is like death in life!" Of course, Victoria survived in this "death in life" state for forty more years, but she did so, as the Times newspaper criticized, by making mourning "a sort of religion."

Lawson and Shakinovsky examine how these pervasive notions of the widow living in a perpetual state of death, emptiness, or lack build on, and affect, Victorian cultural ideals of femininity and masculinity. Their analysis of 19th century literature also sheds new light on how "western" notions of widowhood, as portrayed in fiction, can be compared with "real life" practices from other cultures and times.

Lawson and Shakinovsky link fictional representations of widows in 19th century literature with debates in parliament and the periodical press of the time concerning the practice of suttee in colonial India where women threw themselves (or were thrown) onto the funeral pyres of their dead husbands.

Their findings also have a significant contemporary resonance. Lawson and Shakinovsky note that: "From the so-called 'Black Widows' of Chechnya, who, it is claimed, commit suicide and murder to avenge the deaths of their husbands, to the controversy surrounding Deepa Mehta's film on the widows of Varanasi, River Moon, the widow is a continuing site of cultural anxiety."

When and where

UW's 2005 Formula SAE race car unveils today, 5 - 7 p.m., in parking lot X (off Columbia).

Graduate Student Leisure Research Symposium tomorrow in the Clarica Auditorium, LHI 1621.

"Adventures in BioChemistry: A Chemist's Exploration of Biological Systems," seminar by John Honek, Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Friday, 3 p.m., room 1200 Thornbrough Building, University of Guelph.

"WTO Dispute Settlement and Issues for Reform" by Chad P. Brown at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Friday at noon. RSVP by emailing rsvp@cigionline.ca

The Bookstore, UWShop, and Techworxx will be closed for inventory-taking all day Friday. They will reopen Saturday at noon.

Beckett's Catastrophe, videoconferenced production followed by cyber-cast party, 5 p.m. Friday, Theatre of the Arts

Health services closed tomorrow, and other notes

UW Health Services sends notice that Health Services will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) for a professional development session and will re-open on Friday at 8:30 am. Those with medical problems that can't wait until Friday are advised to go to a walk-in clinic or a hospital emergency room.

Chad P. Brown, a Brandeis University professor who is a visiting scholar at the World Bank, among other qualifications, will speak on "The use of WTO Dispute Settlement and Issues for Reform: An Economic Perspective in Light of Political and Legal Realities" at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, on Friday at noon. The talk is part of the CIGI's Food for Thought luncheon seminar series. Brown's research is on "international trade disputes and frictions in the GATT/WTO system as well as national use of trade remedy laws such as antidumping." If you would like to attend, RSVP at rsvp@cigionline.ca

Waterloo on the World Stage: a celebration of Baroque music featuring the Grand River Baroque Festival Chamber Ensemble, Monday, May 2, 7 - 9 p.m., is billed as "an inspirational evening that showcases Waterloo's international work and musical talent." It's also being held at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Call 885-2444, ext. 226, or email rsvp@cigionline.ca

An Office of Continuing Education leaflet spotlights a "workshop-style" course called Writing for Public Relations and Marketing, taught by UW professional writing grad Paula Hendsbee. "Topics and applications include writing for brochures, news releases and media kits, direct mail, the Internet, print and radio advertising." It runs four mornings during May, starting next Tuesday, at 335 Gage Avenue. Information on times and cost can be found in the online calendar . Register by phone, 888-4567, ext. 4002, or in person at Gage Avenue.

Popular writer Illona Haus has been associated with UW as a student (BA’88), staff member in the Faculty of Arts (1988-97) and continuing education instructor. In 1997 she delivered the Friends of the Library lecture. Author of several romance novels, she has switched genres; the first novel in her psychological-thriller/police-procedural series is due out May 1 -- "although apparently it's already on the shelves," Haus says. Blue Mercy, published by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster, will be launched at the Mysterious Affair bookstore in Waterloo on May 14, 2 - 6 p.m.