Friday, February 22, 2008

  • Missed Gates? Video is available
  • Grant for wireless research celebrated
  • Prof's advice to grads: 'have a life'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Staff reject unionization

A vote by UW staff in grades USG 1 to 8 has turned down the opportunity to be represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. Official results will be posted today by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, but UW officials provided these numbers last night:

In your employment relations with your employer do you wish to be represented by the union?
Yes — 227
No — 587
Spoiled ballots — 1

Staff members voted January 24, and the ballots were counted in Toronto yesterday.

Link of the day

World Thinking Day

When and where

Warrior sports: Track and field, OUA championships at Windsor, Friday-Sunday. • Figure skating, championships at Guelph, today. • Swimming, national championships at British Columbia, Friday-Saturday. • Women’s volleyball at Toronto (OUA finals), tonight and Saturday night.

37th annual Hagey Bonspiel for faculty, staff, retirees and friends, Saturday, Ayr Curling Club, details online.

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx, usually open on Saturdays, will be closed tomorrow.

Going Green workshop on radiant flooring, sponsored by architecture students’ Grand House, Saturday morning, details online.

Network maintenance by Atria Networks resulting in service interruptions for UW locations in Kitchener and Cambridge, Sunday between midnight and 6 a.m.

Political science professor Sonny Lo speaks on “Infectious Disease in Asia and Its Policy Implications for Canada”, Monday 12:00 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Senate long-range planning committee Monday 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

UW senate Monday 4:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Canadian Computing Contest for high school students, organized by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, Tuesday, details online.

Second-year arts students “Are You on Track?” event with dean of arts Ken Coates, information, fun and food, Tuesday 2:00, Graduate House, register by e-mail slcoordinator@artsmail.

Imprint Publications annual general meeting Tuesday 2:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Senate finance committee consideration of 2008-09 operating budget, Tuesday 2:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Student exchange to Germany information session Tuesday 3:00, Modern Languages room 245, information e-mail

Arriscraft Lecture: Burton Hamfelt, S333 Architecture, Amsterdam, “New Urban Ecologies”, Tuesday 7:00, Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Arts career night with alumni from Research In Motion, Gowlings Law Firm, Joy Apparel and others, Wednesday 6:00 to 8:00, pizza provided, register by e-mail: slcoordinator@artsmail.

Health and wellness fair at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, Saturday, March 1: organic food, women’s sportswear, blood pressure management, “how to find a great spa”, free fitness classes, speakers, keynote by Chris Crowley, author of Younger Next Year, details online.

Chilly Dog Run: run or walk two loops around the ring road, then chili in the Student Life Centre, with guest speaker, hosted by Moods Assistance Through Educational Support, Saturday, March 1, 10:30 a.m., registration $10

Staff association special general meeting Tuesday, March 4, 8:40 to 9:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 1085, agenda online.

QPR suicide prevention training available March 7 (12:00), April 11 (11:30), call ext. 33528 to register.

March break open house for future students (formerly Campus Day) Tuesday, March 11, details online.

Warrior Women’s Awards Breakfast to support the Women’s Sport Initiative Fund, Wednesday, March 19, 7:15 a.m., University Club, tickets $40, details online.

Environment and business conference sponsored by fourth-year environment and business students, Wednesday, March 26, Humanities Theatre, information e-mail

PhD oral defences

Computer science. Adam Milstein, "Improved Particle Filter Based Localization and Mapping Techniques." Supervisors, Dale Schuurmans and Alex Lopez-Ortiz. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, March 5, 2:00, Davis Centre room 2314.

Computer science. Abid Muslim Malik, "Constraint Programming Techniques for Optimal Instruction Scheduling." Supervisor, Peter Van Beek. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, March 7, 10:00, Davis Centre room 2306.

Physics and astronomy. Anming Hu, "Interaction of Nanosecond and Femtosecond Laser Pulses with Carbon: Deposition of Carbon Films Having Novel Composition." Supervisors, W. W. Duley and Q.-B. Liu. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, March 17, 2:30, Physics room 352.

Statistics and actuarial science. Wanhua Su, "Efficient Kernel Methods for Statistical Detection." Supervisors, Mu Zhu and Hugh Chipman. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Thursday, March 20, 12:30, Math and Computer room 6027.

[Laptop in foreground, big screen at far wall]Missed Gates? Video is available

"To say that our speaker needs no introduction is probably the understatement of the year," UW president David Johnston said yesterday morning as he presented Microsoft founder Bill Gates to audiences in the Humanities Theatre (live), in the Davis Centre (right) by video, and over the Internet. For those who missed all three possibilities, the video of the big event is still available online (although apparently not equally accessible to all web browsers; another version is expected to be posted in UW's own webspace today).

"His presence here," said Johnston, "is motivated solely by his desire to spend
time speaking with you, the talented leaders of tomorrow, about the importance of education, innovation, and entrepreneurship."

He noted Gates's recent gift to the UW Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing: "On behalf of the University of Waterloo I would like to thank you for your vision and your generosity, and I’m happy to announce that in honour of your gift and your appearance here today we will be planting a tree in your name in front of William G. Davis Computer Research Centre."

After meeting UW bigwigs and a group of faculty who are involved in unconventional uses of technology, Gates — wearing a Waterloo sweatshirt — gave his talk to an almost entirely student audience. The world is just finishing its first "digital decade", he told them, with enormous changes and ever-expanding use of the Internet to be expected in the decade that lies just ahead. Then at midday he was on his way, continuing his annual "college tour" of half a dozen major campuses (Waterloo is the only Canadian stop).

The Waterloo visit and Gates's talk were covered by, among other media, the Globe and Mail, the Record and MTV, and the Communications and Public Affairs office has a website with photos and links to coverage.

During his visit, Gates officially announced that Canadian university and college students will have access to the latest Microsoft developer and designer tools at no charge as part of its global Microsoft DreamSpark student program, launched a few days ago when the Microsoft executive visited Stanford University at the beginning of his tour.

“We want to do everything we can to equip a new generation of technology leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to harness the magic of software to improve lives, solve problems and catalyze economic growth,” Gates said. “Microsoft DreamSpark provides professional-level tools that we hope will inspire students to explore the power of software and encourage them to forge the next wave of software-driven breakthroughs.” The program covers Visual Studio (“the Swiss Army knife of computer programming"), Expression Studio, and SQL and Windows Server. The program is already available to more than 35 million students in ten countries, with more countries to come, Microsoft says.

[Lots of out-of-date haircuts]

And . . . publicity for the Gates visit has been saying it's his second time on the Waterloo campus, following a visit in 2005, but the reality is that it's third time lucky for the Microsoft magnate. As the photo confirms, he first came to UW in 1989 to speak to members of the Computer Science Club about the early years of Microsoft and its state-of-the-art MS-DOS and OS/2 operating systems. That talk, too, is available online, but only in audio.

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Grant for wireless research celebrated

from the UW media relations office

Researchers and officials will gather in the Davis Centre this morning to celebrate a multi-million-dollar grant from the Ontario Research Fund for work on the future needs of wireless communications.

[Khandani]Working with colleagues on campus and at two other Ontario universities, Amir Khandani (left), UW professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received $4.3 million from the ORF, established by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Khandani heads the $13.3 million project, including support from other sources.

"This research with my colleagues — Sujeet Chaudhuri, Catherine Rosenberg, Ali Safavi-Naeini from UW, Jamal Deen from McMaster University and George Eleftheriades from the University of Toronto — explores the creation of new multiple antenna systems that can deliver great improvements in the power and bandwidth efficiency of wireless systems at an affordable cost," says Khandani.

In Ontario, wireless telephone and data communications continue to grow at an explosive rate. However, spectrum and battery life limit that growth in wireless markets. Intelligent antenna structures are seen as the main technique to overcome those limitations.

The research team aims to develop a networked multiple antenna system where wireless devices share the same spectrum to reduce cost and cell towers consume less electrical power to enable environmentally friendly wireless networks. It relies on a multi-disciplinary approach for designing multiple antennas, base-band algorithms and the underlying network structure.

The project involves three wireless companies with complementary markets — Bell Mobility, Nortel and Research In Motion — as founding partners. As well, it seeks more partnerships and has recently attracted a new industrial partner, Atria Networks. The team also includes researchers from Communications Research Centre Canada and Defence Research and Development Canada.

Khandani, director of the Nortel Networks Institute for Advanced Information Technology at UW, is the principal investigator of the project, entitled Intelligent Multiple Antenna Structures for Adaptive Wireless Systems. "Dr. Khandani is a world-class expert in wireless communications with an impressive track record of successful collaboration with industry," says Adel Sedra, dean of engineering.

Khandani holds a senior Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Nortel Industrial Research Chair in Advanced Telecommunications Technologies and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Wireless Systems. His research interests include the physical layer of wireless systems with emphasis on source/channel coding, multiple antenna systems, co-operative transmission in wireless networks and information theory.

The by-invitation event today, featuring UW president David Johnston and universities minister John Milloy, will start at 9:45 in the Davis Centre lounge.

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Prof's advice to grads: 'have a life'

one of half a dozen features in UW’s new graduate student recruitment brochure

When Wendy Mitchinson, history professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Waterloo, isn’t teaching, researching or writing, she’s tending to her immense, stunningly fragrant garden that winds peacefully around her country farmhouse.

Fostering interests that fall outside her academic expertise — the history of women’s medical treatment — was something she learned from her own mentor, the illustrious historian Ramsay Cook, an avid bird watcher and music aficionado. “It’s something I’m very clear about with my own students. They have to have a life,” she says.

[Two women]Fortunately for Renée Bondy, who recently completed and defended her dissertation on reform in Canadian women’s religious communities, she was able to reap the rewards of Mitchinson’s philosophy – and her student-friendly attitude. In fact, after hearing such positive things about Mitchinson back in 2002, she was thrilled Mitchinson could take her on. (Photo shows Mitchinson, left, with Bondy.)

“If I were to make a list of people I wanted to work with, she certainly would have been at the top of the list for name recognition alone,” she says.

While there were some similarities between their study topics, what Bondy really required was an advisor – a mentor – who could partner with her, help set deadlines and keep her on the right track.

“I was always worried about how I was going to pull it all together,” Bondy says. “Wendy gave me the big picture.”

For her part, Mitchinson, who was nominated for an Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision, says mentoring is a two-way street — and Bondy made it easy. “With someone like Renée, it’s a joy simply because she writes beautifully,” she says.

Writing is Bondy’s passion and she took Mitchinson’s advice to live large to heart, writing for the popular media and travelling south. “If I hadn’t taken a holiday, or written something fun, I would have been bogged down and spun my wheels with the research,” she says. “It was probably the best advice I could have been given.”


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