[University of Waterloo]


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Monday, May 30, 2005

  • Sociology professor is mourned
  • Students know, says economics prof
  • PhD orals are announced
  • From here and there on campus
Chris Redmond

The 2005 World Exposition


Sociology professor is mourned

Jim Curtis, a long-time faculty member in UW's department of sociology, died suddenly Friday following an apparent heart attack suffered on campus. He was 63.

Bob Kerton, the dean of arts, called Curtis's death "a tragic loss . . . he has been an inspiring teacher to thousands of students, and a truly wonderful colleague. It is also a major loss to Canada."

Says the official obituary: "James Curtis was one of Canada's pre-eminent academic and intellectual figures, and perhaps the finest Sociologist that this country has ever produced. His honours are too numerous to mention, but include his recognition by the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association for Outstanding Contribution to the field of Sociology, and his admission as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. A truly gifted teacher and incomparable researcher, Jim is beloved and respected by the literally thousands of students and colleagues that he touched, and whose academic and personal lives he graced, during his more than thirty years in the Sociology Department at the University of Waterloo."

Curtis worked in areas of sociology ranging from religion to gender and voting, and was particularly well known for decades of work on the comparison of Canadian and American values. He was appointed to the kinesiology and health studies and gerontology departments, as well as to sociology, and had been on UW's faculty since 1970.

He is survived by his wife, Penny, and four sons, as well as many other family members. Memorial donations to the Emmanuel at Brighton Child Care Centre -- directed by Penny Curtis for many years -- were suggested in lieu of flowers.

Visitation will be today (Monday), from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held in the chapel of the funeral home on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Students know, says economics prof

"My students are totally plugged in," says UW economics professor and media darling Larry Smith. He's interviewed in the new issue of the UW Recruiter newsletter for co-op employers. An edited version of his thoughts on how to stay plugged into the latest trends:

How do you stay plugged in? "My students. They are totally plugged in to what is going on out there and outdo the media every time. Essentially, they're my early warning system and the best information source I could possibly access. My students have kept me informed and abreast of every major technical advance that has happened since I've been here -- and that's a lot of years.

Can you give us some examples? "My students told me about email long before it went mainstream. They said, 'Larry, it's coming -- why don't you get an account?' So I did. I vaguely knew about it, but they knew it was going to be hot long before Mr. Gates latched onto it.

"I had a student come in for some advice on his business -- which was building computers in his basement. I asked him how he was doing it. He told me he had memory, processor, and programmability -- all off the shelf -- and was putting them together. I knew if my student was able to do that, the ground was shifting away from mainframes."

What else do they tell you? "I hear about more and more interesting stuff all the time. I get to hear about how businesses in general are doing. The good -- and the not so good. Sometimes they tell me things I don't like, such as what developers are not doing with Internet applications. And I learn about what is over-hyped as well. I've learned listening to bad news is just as important as listening to good news."

Is there a particular program in which students tend to be more on top of things? "Absolutely not. Being plugged in is not restricted to one program or faculty at all. I have history grads telling me about database management and engineering students telling me about communication and digital media."

So what's the latest word on the street? "Right now there's a vacuum. The tech sector is grinding forward, which makes perfect sense in terms of the maturity of the field. The dot-bomb destroyed financial resources, and while there is still investment in communications, there is a logjam as resources are starved of funds due to a continuing emphasis on the Internet. When the jam breaks, the movement forward will be fast and furious. I know I'll hear about it almost before it begins.

"I do know productivity tools for businesses are coming; software that accomplishes instead of making us work -- such as credit authorization software that demonstrates who should get money and who shouldn't. And new manufacturing software too. I can also tell you that artificial intelligence is not hot; it's stuck in a loop.

What's the key piece of advice you can offer employers? "Listen and learn. The key difference between me and other people who might have heard students talking about these same things is that I listened. Skeptically, but I listened. How many times do students have to be right before more people start listening open-mindedly? I listen that way now."

PhD orals are announced

Here's the latest list of graduate students who will be defending their doctoral theses in the weeks ahead:

Chemistry. Shih-Chieh Yin, "Understanding Structure-Property Relationships in Lithium Metal Phosphates and Oxide Electrode Materials: X-ray/Neutron Diffraction and 7Li MAS-NMR Coupled with Li-Ion Electrochemistry." Supervisor, L. F. Nazar. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, June 10, 9:30 a.m., Chemistry II room 361.

Electrical and computer engineering. Guillermo Bautista, "Alternative Models to Analyze Market Power and Financial Transmission Rights in Electricity Markets." Supervisor, V. H. Quintana. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Friday, June 10, 10 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Systems design engineering. Abdul-Rahim Ahmad, "Intelligent Expert System for Decision Analysis and Support in Multi-Attribute Layout Optimization." Supervisors, O. Basir and K. Hassanien. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, June 16, 12:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Electrical and computer engineering. Henghua Deng, "Design and Characterization of Silicon-on-Insulator Passive Polarization Converter with Finite-Element Analysis." Supervisors, D. Yevick and S. K. Chaudhuri. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Wednesday, June 22, 10:30 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Management sciences. Anne Banks Pidduck, "Partner Negotiation and Selection." Supervisor, T. Carey. On display in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, June 23, 9 a.m., Engineering II room 1307G.

Kinesiology. Linda Rohr, "Exploring Gender Differences in Rudimentary Motor Tasks." Supervisor, Fran Allard. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3120. Oral defence Monday, July 4, 10 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

'The Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History Project' presentation sponsored by Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, 3:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 308.

'The Future of Hydrogen' panel sponsored by UW Alternative Fuels Team, 5 p.m., Davis Centre room 1350.

UW Stage Band rehearsal 7:00, Conrad Grebel University College great hall, players still needed including trumpet, trombone, baritone, tenor.

Academy of Dance spring recital today through Saturday, Humanities Theatre.

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System training session Tuesday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1304, information ext. 5613.

Staff association annual general meeting Wednesday, 9 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Perimeter Institute "audience night" with a panel of researchers, Wednesday 7 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, ticket information online.

Engineering reunions for classes of 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, Saturday, details and registration online. All faculty members who taught engineering students are especially invited.

From here and there on campus

The co-op cycle continues: employer interviews begin today for the thousands of students intending to go on work term for September through December. The current phase of interviews runs through June 15, with rankings following on June 17-19.

The second of two Imperial Oil Computer Science Seminars for Young Women is under way on campus this week. "This seminar," explains graduate student Celine Latulipe of the school of CS, "is aimed at sparking interest in computer science (and fighting the geek stereotype) among young women in grades 9 and 10 from across Canada." Seminars, lectures and workshops run all week, and there's a banquet on Friday night -- not to mention a rock-climbing outing. A web site notes that this year 379 girls applied for a total of 96 spaces in the two week-long seminars.

Some small-scale office moves have been taking place on the third floor of Needles Hall, and the space information and planning office announces (with some relief, I suspect) that it's settled into its permanent location in NH room 3042C. That's part of the space where the institutional analysis and planning office used to be. IAP in turn has moved next door to NH room 3041, the former home of us here in communications and public affairs, who made our move to NH 3021 last summer. About the space office, anyway: manager Marita Williams notes that the phone numbers remain the same, ext. 2525 and ext. 7155.

Friday is the deadline for applications and nominations for the next head of the teaching resources and continuing education office, or TRACE. As announced a few weeks ago, TRACE will be getting a "co-director" for the coming year, as Barbara Bulman-Fleming of psychology finishes her term as director, and the new co-director will then take over the directorship starting in September 2006. The job "is normally a 50% time secondment" for a faculty member, says the associate vice-president (learning resources and innovation), Tom Carey.

[Vogt] Carol Vogt (left) has been working in information systems and technology (and its predecessor organization, computing services) since 1967, but apparently all good things must come to an end. She's retiring as of the first of July, ending a career that ran from the punch-card era to her current responsibilities as head of IST's "Electronic Workplace" group and chair of the Web Operations Committee. A reception in her honour is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, from 3:30 to 5:00 at the University Club; RSVPs go to Patty Bourke, pbourke@ist.

An upgrade to the CallPilot voicemail system was successful on Thursday night, after difficulties earlier last week, says Bruce Uttley of information systems and technology. . . The UW staff association (ext. 3566) is offering the usual summer discount tickets for such attractions as the African Lion Safari, Paramount Canada's Wonderland, Sportsworld and Bingemans. . . . . The school of architecture will run its second annual "Grand River Expedition" next Sunday, including a canoe trip from Cambridge to Paris and "a spectacular riverside gourmet picnic" with a $100 ticket price. . . .


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