Tuesday, June 13, 2006

  • 'Guru' and top accountancy lecturer
  • Fuel cell team rises to the top
  • Board briefed on workplace injuries
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • credmond@uwaterloo.ca

How to reach the Daily Bulletin


Exam schedule online

The schedule for spring term final exams (July 31 through August 12) is available online from the registrar's office.

When and where

Health Services will be closed this morning for staff training and will re-open at 1 p.m.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses now on Quest; new student appointments begin July 17; open enrolment, July 31.

Career workshops: “Business etiquette and professionalism,” 3:30 p.m., Tatham Centre 1208. Registration online.

Alumni in Vancouver after-work reception today 6 to 8 p.m., Pacific Palisades Hotel, details online.

Alumni in Victoria after-work reception Wednesday 6 p.m., Canoe Pub, details online.

Health informatics seminar: "Training Nurses Using Physiological Simulation," William Malyk (graduate student in computer science) and Jennifer Jewer (grad student in management sciences), Wednesday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

Ninety-Second Convocation Wednesday-Saturday, each day 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, detailed schedule online.

Business breakfast seminar: Margaret Cornish, Canada-China Business Council, Friday, 7:30 a.m., Renison College, tickets $10, 519-884–4404 ext. 657.


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Staff up by 160 since 2001

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Director named for health research



'Guru' and top accountancy lecturer

by Barbara Elve

For James Barnett’s students, the moment of truth comes at the beginning of each class. The School of Accountancy lecturer posts a sign-in sheet at the start of each lecture that students are only allowed to sign if they come prepared.

James Barnett, winner of Distinguished Teacher Award 2006

“The idea is that if one signs and is not prepared and it becomes evident during the length of the class, there would be adverse consequences to their participation mark,” explained one student. “At first this seemed like a very harsh measure, especially from a student’s perspective; however, it worked. The students were usually prepared for class and there was considerable participation during the class.”

Other students who nominated him for a Distinguished Teacher Award note that Barnett gives clear instructions ahead of time about what will be discussed during each class, encourages participation and, as a result, learning. They describe him as masterful at approaching concepts from the point of view of somebody who is learning tax for the first time. He often incorporates anecdotes from his years as a tax practitioner to provide a context for the theories and to keep the class involved.

Barnett is director of the Master of Taxation Program and is associate director for master’s and professional programs in the School of Accountancy. In addition to his classroom and administrative duties, he found time last summer to share his teaching skills with colleagues on campus, assisting as co-facilitator in the Teaching Excellence Academy’s four-day course design workshop. “When I was working through how to create a conceptual map for my course,” wrote one participant, “he was able to see it through the eyes of a student and gently encouraged me to clarify my goals. The end result was much stronger as a result of his assistance.”

His devoted following includes a student who places Barnett on a unique pedestal: “He is my Guru. In India, a Guru is next to a God. He is revered, loved and worshipped.”

Third in a series about Distinguished Teacher Award winners to be honoured at convocation

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Fuel cell team rises to the top

from the UW media relations office

A team of University of Waterloo students placed first in several categories of Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility, a three-year North American competition to develop a sustainable crossover vehicle.

The University of Waterloo's Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT) entry was a hydrogen fuel cell hybrid Chevrolet Equinox. UW's vehicle was unique in that it combined an alternative fuel powertrain with hydrogen and hybrid technologies to reduce emissions and environmental impact. The UW team won best control strategy presentation; first place in the GMability outstanding outreach program; best website; best K-12 educational outreach; and best community outreach.

As well, the team finished second in the freescale semiconductor: silicon on the move category and the Mathworks: crossover to model-based design category. The team also won the Spirit of the Challenge award.

During the first phase of the competition last year, UWAFT's detailed vehicle design process won eight of 10 categories and earned the team first place.

"We've worked very hard this past year," said Chris Mendes, UWAFT co-captain and lead mechanic. "The real value of this competition is the first-hand exposure we get to the advanced technologies being developed for the vehicles of tomorrow."

UWAFT's faculty adviser, Roydon Fraser, praised the team for building the first fully functional full-size, university-built fuel cell vehicle. Fraser is a professor of mechanical engineering with an interest in combustion engines and alternative fuels.

The UW team, which spent the past year integrating and refining advanced vehicle technologies into its vehicle, tested its work against 16 other teams during the second round of the competition last week, at the GM Proving Grounds in Mesa, Ariz. The UW team placed 14th overall. Full story


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Board briefed on workplace injuries

“There have been no critical injuries within the last few years” among the people who work at UW, associate provost Catharine Scott told the board of governors firmly last Tuesday.

Board members had asked for a report on workplace injuries, so two pages of summary and statistics were included in the agenda for the spring meeting, and Scott answered questions about the data. (She also defined “critical injuries” as incidents that involve broken bones or loss of consciousness.)

Most of the workplace injuries that do happen are in one of three categories, she said: slips and falls, repetitive strain injuries, and sudden strains.

The key figure in such reports is “lost-time injuries”, meaning an incident that keeps an employee from returning to work on a day after the injury happens. Total number of such injuries in 2005 was 25, among 6,290 employees covered by UW’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums. (The figure in 2002 was 42, for 5,539 employees.)

The university pays a WSIB assessment of about $700,000 a year, and can get a rebate or surcharge at year’s end depending on the safety record. Scott said UW, like other universities, is in a low-risk category, paying a WSIB premium of 33 cents per $100 of payroll — compared with, say, $1.62 per $100 for local government employees.

Departments that have the highest rate of injury are the predictable ones: plant operations, food services, and housing. But workplace injury can happen anywhere, Scott’s report noted. Last year a staff member in the library lost weeks of work because of injury (repetitive strain) and so did someone from the registrar’s office (tripping on the stairway).

“UW has a culture of requiring staff to report work-related injuries,” she also said, “and, with respect to leave, operates in a generally compassionate environment.” But “safety is everybody’s responsibility — it doesn’t reside in the safety office.”

And she noted that there’s been increased emphasis recently on getting injured employees back to work, through “accommodation” (making special arrangements or slotting people into a different job) and “ramping up” (working part-time at first to gain strength).The joint health and safety committee reviews injury reports, Scott said, and “training of supervisors continues with respect to accommodation for return to work.”

A board member asked about mental health issues and stress leave, and Scott acknowledged that “like every organization, and every other university, there is an increase in days lost to that.… It’s more prevalent than it was five years ago. There’s the complexity of work, and the amount of work that people are doing, and people just don’t have the coping skills.” Stress problems rarely lead to more than a few weeks off work, she said.

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