Monday, April 28, 2008

  • A new home on the north campus
  • Campus had 134 fire alarms last year
  • Student teams win with 2 projects
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

A new home on the north campus

A brand-new UW building is open for business this morning, assuming that everything went smoothly in a weekend of moving and unloading by the trucks and crews of UW's central stores department. The newly built Research Advancement Centre at 475 Wes Graham Way, overlooking Columbia Lake on the north campus, is becoming the temporary home of the Institute for Quantum Computing, the School of Pharmacy, and the Canadian Water Network. All three groups have been housed at the so-called "B. F. Goodrich Building", 195 Columbia Street West, which UW sold to Research In Motion three years ago and agreed to vacate by April 30, 2008 — this Wednesday. The new building "was still a construction site up until noon-hour today", UW vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber said on Friday afternoon. Once the boxes are unpacked and the wires all connected, the building's various occupants will presumably be announcing details of their new locations. "Research Advancement Centre", or RAC, is a slightly revised name for the building that was originally to be called a "research accelerator". It's planned as a staging site for other UW activities once IQC and Pharmacy move into their permanent buildings.

As a result of the move, UW's parking services office sends a warning that the BFG parking lot will be turned over to RIM on May 1. “Individuals currently parking there that are not moving to the new RAC Building are advised to attend Parking Services to arrange alternate parking. RIM will begin enforcement on that lot in May.”

In other matters . . . there's money available this year to help faculty members and departments improve learning and teaching at UW, but things are in a hurry: “Faculty members have just over three weeks to prepare their proposals,” warns Vivian Schoner of the Centre for Teaching Excellence. The official word: "Funds to develop proposals to enhance learning through changes in instructional methods are available through the Learning Initiatives Fund. Funds to develop proposals that address learning resources and curricula developments are available through the Program Initiatives Fund. The LIF offers faculty researcher(s) up to $20,000 over a two-year period to fund research projects that enhance undergraduate student learning and support the strategic plans of an academic unit. Preference will be given to team-based proposals with a research-based approach to enhancing student learning outcomes in the proposed project, and having potential for applicability in other departments and schools. The PIF offers faculties, departments and schools up to $20,000 over a two-year period to fund projects that support instructional changes linked to formal undergraduate academic program reviews." The application deadline is May 26. More information is available on the web, or from Schoner, e-mail, phone ext. 32940.

Here’s a note of interest from the latest e-newsletter of the Graduate Student Association: “Following the Teaching Assistant Survey that was conducted in Spring 2007, the GSA Council’s Standing Committee on Grad Student Funding has identified the lack of feedback from Teaching Assistant appointments as a concern for the UW graduate student body. To help address this issue, the Funding Committee developed a sample template for providing feedback to the TA from course instructors. A copy of this template can be found on the GSA website. The form will be disseminated among the departments on campus. Please note that this form is not being promoted as mandatory for instructors to complete. What we hope to achieve is to make departments aware that graduate students are concerned with the lack of feedback they are receiving and to provide graduate students with a tool to make it easier to approach their instructors about feedback. Additionally, the GSA is not promoting that this tool be used to compare one grad student against another, but to provide a helpful tool through which grad students can receive constructive criticism. The GSA Council is continuing to work with departments with respect to the TA feedback issue, including ways that TA can receive feedback from their undergraduate students so that grad students can continue to develop their skills.”

Jack Callaghan of UW's kinesiology department and graduate student Alex Bardelcik, representing Mike Worswick of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, will be showing off UW research as part of a display from the Auto 21 consortium at this week's annual conference of the Automotive Parts and Manufacturers Association, being held in Hamilton. • "Train the Trainer" on May 1 and "Customer Service Works" on May 6 are among one-day courses coming up from UW's continuing education department. • Kinesiology student Sharon Philipose will be among the women from across the country competing in the Miss Universe Canada pageant tonight in Toronto.

And . . . where's to eat, or drink, in this week between terms? Food services has closed a number of its outlets, including the residence cafeterias, but Tim Horton's is open in the Student Life Centre, Modern Languages and South Campus Hall. There's also Brubakers in the SLC, the café in the CEIT building, the ML coffee shop, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, and the Eye Opener in Optometry.

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Campus had 134 fire alarms last year

Alarms will sound in most of the main campus buildings tomorrow for the annual fire drills, but they shrilled for real 134 times during 2007, the UW safety office reports.

“The total number of main campus alarms was an increase from 124 in 2006,” safety director Kevin Stewart says in the annual fire report, noting that the Waterloo fire department sent trucks to campus 125 times in response to the alarms going off.

“Wilful” (intentional) false alarms increased to 38 last year from 34 in 2006, the report says: more than a dozen deliberate false alarms in the residences, 10 in the Math and Computer building, 3 in the Student Life Centre and others scattered across campus.

Only 10 of the alarms turned out to be the result of actual fire or smoke, and all the incidents were small — typical would be a smouldering wastebasket, or something on a stovetop catching fire. UW hasn’t had a major fire since the disaster in the high-voltage lab in Carl Pollock Hall in March 2005. Three of the 10 actual fires were intentional (arson) and the others accidents, the safety office says.

The bulk of the fire alarms were “activated by abnormal equipment or conditions” (13), “initiated by temperature, humidity, fumes or smoke other than fire” (45), or “undetermined” (21). Among the things that can set off fire alarms are thunderstorms, water leaks, paint fumes, tobacco smoke, cooking, and “excess air movement”. Two fire alarms went off when somebody accidentally bumped into a pull-station; two were set off “to get help” in a situation other than a fire.

“With growth, it is just a challenge maintaining the campus,” Stewart says. “However, UW also has been updating and improving the fire systems and programs. I recently reviewed the 2007 report with the chief of fire prevention, Waterloo Fire Rescue, and there were no outstanding issues or concerns.” One achievement in the past year, he adds, is the creation of an e-learning program about fire safety for dons in the UW residences.

The fire drills that will be held tomorrow happen every year in the days between the winter and spring terms. Alarms will go off, and volunteer fire wardens will see that everybody troops out of the building, on the following schedule: 8:30 to 10:15 at Health Services, Optometry, the PAC, BMH, Tatham, SCH, PAS, HH, ML and Needles Hall; 10:15 to 11:45 at CEIT, Physics, ESC, Biology I and II, C2, GSC, Commissary, ECH and Davis; 1:30 to 2:00 at Engineering II and III.

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[Six proud faces]
Student teams win with 2 projects

Two teams of Waterloo engineering students took part in the 18th annual International Environmental Design Contest held April 6-9 at New Mexico State University and came home with awards, says a memo from their proud advisor, Neil Thomson of the department of civil and environmental engineering.

Held annually since 1991 in Las Cruces, the contest draws hundreds of university students from around the world. The student teams design solutions for real-world problems while developing fully operational bench-scale solutions that are presented to panels of judges comprised of environmental professionals. The teams prepare four different presentations: written, oral, poster and bench-scale model.

One team (pictured above) was made up of environmental engineering students Indre Chimoutite, Ashley Mathai, Ringo Ka Long Ng, Sumera Yacoob, Scott Dilling, and Hector Ruiz, who designed a comprehensive system to desalinate brackish groundwater for use by small rural communities located in the southwest United States. This team won a United States Environmental Protection Agency Science Forum Innovative Technology Travel Award. This will enable them to showcase their technology to a gathering of the world’s leading environmental scientists and policy-makers at the 7th annual EPA Science Forum in Washington, D.C., in May.

The other team (below) was made up of Katie Chakhova, Loreta Brazukas, and Tracy Page of the environmental engineering program, as well as Chris Carrasquilla and (not pictured) Elisa Jansen of the School of Architecture. This team designed an innovative retrofit solution to implement green technologies in existing office buildings to reduce energy consumption and the environmental footprint. They received the Ecologic Friendly Innovative Design Best Paper Award.

[Four in black UW T-shirts]


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Link of the day

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

When and where

Travelling exhibition: “Aga Khan Historic Cities Program”, Architecture building, Cambridge, ends today.

The myHRinfo system is down for system maintenance until Tuesday morning.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is today (cheque, money order, promissory note) or May 1 (bank payment or international wire transfer), details online.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents Shirley Fenton, managing director of WIHIR, “Trade Missions: A Framework for Initiating Multinational Collaboration”, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

‘Financing and Purchasing a Vehicle’ seminar sponsored by Education Credit Union, speaker Tony Verbeek, Tuesday 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

UW Alternative Fuels Team “Ride Green, Drive Clean” demonstration Wednesday 9:00 to 6:00, Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto, keynote speakers 11:00, opportunity to drive AFT vehicle on a test track, details online.

UW bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx and Campus TechShop closed for inventory Wednesday, April 30.

Internet outage: interruption in external network connections to UW, Wednesday 7:00 to 8:00 a.m., to install new border router.

Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research presents David Koff, Hamilton Health Science Centre, “Managing the Medical Image Tsunami”, Wednesday 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302, webcast available, register online.

‘Cinema and Social Change in Germany and Austria’ conference hosted by Germanic and Slavic studies department, May 1-3, details online; “Kinofest: New Films from Germany and Austria” festival begins April 30 at Princess Cinema.

Military History Colloquium hosted by UW department of history, May 1-3, including public lecture by Michael Neiberg, University of Southern Mississippi, “The Second Battle of the Marne: Turning Point of 1918”, full schedule online.

‘The (Long) Tail of Waterloo Region’ leadership conference sponsored by Communitech, Thursday, details and registration online.

Open house at English Language Institute, Renison College, Thursday, May 1, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls engineering alumni reception Thursday 5:30 to 7:00, Fallsview Casino, information online.

‘Reaching for Nothing: Water’s Thirst’ interdisciplinary work by composer Peter Hatch, visual artist Dereck Revington (UW school of architecture) and dance choreographer David Earle, May 1 and 2, 8:00 p.m., Perimeter Institute, tickets $29 (students $19), 519-883-4480.

Welcome reception for new students Monday, May 5, 4:30 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room, with information about UW services and a chance to meet other new students, information ext. 35643.

Graduate Student Association reception for graduate students to meet new GSA executive, Monday, May 5, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Graduate House.

You @ Waterloo Day open house for students considering offers of admission from UW, Saturday, May 24, displays and booths in Student Life Centre 9:00 to 2:00, welcome session 10:00 at Physical Activities Complex, campus tours until 4 p.m.

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Amélie Bélanger, “Numerical Methods for Long-term Impulse Control Problems in Finance.” Supervisors, Peter Forsyth and George Labahn. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, May 7, 2:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Electrical and computer engineering. Xiaodong Lin, “Secure and Privacy-Preserving Vehicular Communications.” Supervisors, Sherman Shen and Pin-Han Ho. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, May 8, 10:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Computer science. Yingbin Liu, “Triangular Bezier Surfaces with Approximate Continuity.” Supervisor, Stephen Mann. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, May 8, 1:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Psychology. Lance Ferris, “Core Self-Evaluations and Hierarchical Model of Approach/Avoidance Motivation.” Supervisor, Doug Brown. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 10:00 a.m., PAS (Psychology) building room 4288.

Electrical and computer engineering. Flora Li, “Organic Thin Film Transfer (OTFT) Integration.” Supervisors, Arokia Nathan and Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 10:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

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