Tuesday, July 22, 2008

  • Grants come for 'early researchers'
  • Systems design projects seen in Davis
  • Food, wireless and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

Grants come for 'early researchers'

Nine “early researchers” at UW (and one at Wilfrid Laurier University) will receive a total of $1.4 million from the provincial government as a step towards what it calls “building Ontario’s innovation-driven economy”. The grants were announced yesterday on a visit to campus by Leeanna Pendergast, the Liberal MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga.

In total, 66 projects across the province worth $9.24 million will receive funding from the Early Researcher Awards program. The goal of this program, says a news release, is “to improve Ontario's ability to attract and retain the best and brightest research talent from around the world. Today's investment will ensure that leading Ontario researchers have the resources they need to build their research teams of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and associates from across Canada and abroad.”

"Kitchener-Waterloo is home to many of the world's leading scientific and innovative minds, determined to solve the most pressing challenges of our time,” Pendergast declared. Winners of the grants announced yesterday, and project summaries provided by the government:

William Epling, chemical engineering, “Reducing Vehicle Emissions”: Significantly improved vehicle fuel economy can be realized with known, slight modifications to today's engines. Reducing certain emissions in the exhaust, however, is impossible with today's catalytic converters. Epling and his research team will focus on developing advanced catalyst components for the reduction of these emissions in the more fuel-efficient engines. New catalyst chemistry will be used to improve emissions control performance. The project will result in improved air quality in Ontario via decreased vehicle emissions, which for the first time would also include carbon dioxide.

Liang-Liang Xie, electrical and computer engineering: “Energy Efficient Communication for Wireless Sensor Networks”: Wireless sensor networking is an emerging technology that has a wide range of potential applications including environment and habitat monitoring, as well as traffic control. These networks normally consist of a large number of distributed sensor nodes, each operating on a battery. In many applications it is difficult to change or recharge batteries for these nodes. Prolonging the network lifetime by efficiently using battery energy is a critical issue in the operation of wireless sensor networks. The research team will develop energy-efficient wireless communication schemes for sensor networks.

Kaan Erkorkmaz, mechanical engineering, “Virtual Prototyping and Control for High-Tech Manufacturing”: Ultra-precise motion delivery is a technology that is crucial in high-tech manufacturing sectors. The ability to fabricate or assemble parts within micron to nanometer level tolerances at higher speeds will lead to higher productivity rates, lower costs, and better product quality, all of which benefit the Ontario economy. Erkorkmaz and his research team are working to develop new ultra-precision motion delivery technologies for high-tech manufacturing applications. New machine concepts, virtual prototyping techniques, and computer control theory will be investigated.

Myra Annette Fernandes, psychology, “Memory and Brain Changes Associated with Aging”: Many older adults in Ontario report concerns regarding memory loss. Fernandes and her team will develop a model of how memory works in young adulthood, how it breaks down as we age, and how senior citizens cope with multiple stimuli in today's fast-paced environments. Her research will identify how memory deficits associated with normal aging can be lessened, or even improved. The team will use neuroimaging, and cutting-edge techniques in the analysis of network patterns of brain activation.

Joseph Emerson, applied mathematics, “Assessing and Improving Quantum Information Processing Devices”: Quantum mechanics describes the novel ways in which energy and matter can interact at very small scales, for example, in atomic and sub-atomic systems. Quantum information science is based on the discovery that quantum mechanical effects in small scale systems can revolutionize information technology, leading, in particular, to quantum computation and quantum communication devices which can vastly outperform their conventional counterparts. Existing small-scale systems are very sensitive to noise and do not perform reliably. Emerson and his research team will develop methods for assessing and improving the performance of quantum information devices in the presence of noise, with the long-term goal of making commercially viable quantum information processors a reality.

John Chun-Han Lin, earth and environmental sciences, “Improving our Understanding of Ontario's Climate”: Climate change is taking place and becoming more pronounced in the higher latitudes, within which Ontario's borders are found. As a province with a large number of farms, Ontario critically needs accurate predictions of future climate conditions to help resource managers and policy makers better manage risks arising from climate change. The research team will work to improve the understanding of the current-day climate conditions with observations and cutting-edge computer models, and enhance Ontario's capability to predict future climate conditions.

Pascal Poupart, computer science, “Understanding Rich Sensor Data”: The proliferation of affordable sensors such as video cameras, microphones, sonar, accelerometers, and heat/temperature/pressure sensors, creates an opportunity to design better processing systems such as in health care delivery and business. However, the information provided by those sensors is often difficult to use since it consists of a stream of numbers that are often noisy and have no obvious interpretation. Poupart and his team will develop new algorithms to combine sensor processing with high-level decision-making.

Ihab Ilyas, computer science, “Effective Retrieval and Cleaning of Uncertain Databases”: Data integration from multiple sources, object tracking, health informatics applications and sensor networks generate data that involve missing values, duplications or inconsistency. Ilyas and his research team will seek to enable users and applications to efficiently handle uncertain data sets by specifying quality requirements that will be used to guide the exploration, cleaning and processing of the underlying data. Their research will have a significant impact on a large class of emerging computer applications, and will allow efficient handling of large volumes of non-traditional data.

Karim S. Karim, electrical and computer engineering, “Smart Pixels for Biomedical Imaging Applications”: Active-matrix flat-panel imagers comprise the majority of large hospital-grade digital imagers today and are used in chest and breast x-ray imaging. Karim's team will develop large area digital imagers based on intelligent pixel technology. The improvements that result from using intelligent pixels will help enable 3D imaging, mechanically flexible imagers and highly sensitive optical imagers in the ultraviolet region. These new technologies will usher in a new generation of large area digital imagers for medical imaging, biometric devices for security, and devices for pathogen detection in agriculture.

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Systems design projects seen in Davis

a release from the UW media relations office

Engineering students will display product designs tomorrow to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible, focusing on healthy aging and harvesting ambient energy for mobility, living and communications. Nine student groups in a third-year systems design engineering course will present an exhibition on product design. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday in Davis Centre room 1301.

"The two topics are timely given the world's preoccupation with energy needs and an aging demographic," says John Zelek, exhibit organizer and a professor of systems design engineering. "As people age, they get slower physically and mentally, so how do we improve the quality of life for them?"

Energy harvesting makes use of energy produced around people that is not used. The human body gives off heat and produces energy to move. So some of that energy can be used to power mobile devices, for instance. The student groups in Zelek's course, Systems Design 361, were required to select a problem area, identify a design-problem objective and solicit needs from an associated demographic Ñ all to lay the groundwork to develop innovative concepts, which are prototyped for display at next week's exhibit.

Energy harvesting designs include: extracting energy from weightlifting machines to cool the weight lifter, using a hiker's motion to cool a water bottle, minimizing energy use for refrigeration during the winter by making use of the cold weather, warming the bathroom floor using the warm outflow from the shower, using rainfall kinetic energy to power the home, and using wind pressure in road tunnels to power street lights.

Healthy aging designs embrace innovative dental hygiene devices, a spatial memory reminding system and a device to assist elderly drivers in backing up.

The course and theme meet several engineering design learning objectives. It exposes students to relevant world issues which may lead to cost effective solutions. It also shows that engineering plays a key role in society, improving the quality of life for all.

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Food, wireless and other notes

The UW-published magazine The New Quarterly is running a bus tour this Saturday, in cooperation with the “One Book, One Community” project. “In the tradition of past TNQ/OBOC bus tours,” says a news release, “this year we will be exploring a question of local, global and, yes, literary significance: what’s for dinner? Join us as we follow the trail of local eating into the heart of Ontario farm country in celebration of The 100-Mile Diet, Waterloo Region’s OBOC selection for 2008. We’ll be exploring the rich network of farms, gardens, and dairies that feed our region. Fill your belly and nourish your mind at every stop with talks by local farmers, organic producers and local-eating experts. Learn more about authors Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon and their award-winning account of how they spent a year eating only food grown within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment meaning no sugar, no pineapple, no coffee! Get inspired to try new recipes with local ingredients with tips from our on-board chef. Stops include Pfenning’s Organic Farm, Mapleton’s Organic Dairy, Shepherd’s Watch Dairy and Sheep Farm, and the Canadian Organic Growers of Perth-Waterloo-Wellington’s Diversity Gardens. Be sure to bring your grocery bags, small coolers and empty stomachs. Tickets are $70 and include lunch at Mapleton’s with vegetarian options available.” More information: ext. 28290.

And speaking of the 100-mile-diet idea: the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will sponsor a talk tomorrow under the title “Toward a Healthy Food System in Waterloo Region”. Mark Xuereb of Waterloo Region Public Health will touch on issues of local food as part of his presentation, scheduled for 5:30 Wednesday in the lower atrium of the Student Life Centre.

“Wireless authentication” — the mysterious process that happens when you fire up your laptop on campus and hope to be connected to the Internet — is rapidly being moved to the new Aruba hardware, says the information systems and technology department. Work started in the winter, and users in some buildings were switched to the new system a few days ago, says IST, with more to come shortly. Buildings covered so far include Math and Computer, Davis, and the Dana Porter Library. IST expects to replace a total of 650 wireless access points as well as related hardware and software. “Approximately 100 additional APs will be deployed later in the year to improve indoor coverage,” says Bruce Campbell of IST. “Subsequent phases will include adding outdoor coverage, expected to become more important as the number of wifi handheld devices increases. Once the existing wireless infrastructure is replaced, some of the new features of the Aruba system will be made available. These include seamless roaming across campus (without requiring a re-login).” A progress report is available online.

Adam Fischler, who was a custodian in UW’s plant operations department from November 1976 to his retirement in March 1987, died May 26, the human resources department reports.

Here’s news from Richard Vollans, who works as recruitment and marketing coordinator in UW’s faculty of science, but clearly keeps busy in his spare time too: “My wife and I operate a summer camp for youth aged 6-15 in Guelph (it’s been our summer hobby for the last seven years) and we have expanded to Waterloo this year. July 21 to August 1, we will be operating from the Waterloo Pentecostal Assembly; August 5-15, at The Cedars (Westminster United Church); August 18-29, back in Guelph at the Guelph Youth Music. Bringing together theatre games, improvisation, a professional rehearsal process and performance, this camp offers each participant a chance to improve communication, self-awareness and confidence in a safe and fun environment. Registrants will be separated into a Junior (6-10) or Intermediate (11-15) group where the activities will be tailored to the specific needs of each age group. Each day will combine a focus on the upcoming performance, as well as preparing the necessary props, costumes and sets. Each two-week session will end with a student performance for family, friends and the community.” There’s more information online.


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[YouTube screen capture]

WARG video is back

The maiden flight of Hyperion, the craft designed and built by the Waterloo Aerial Robotics Group in preparation for next week's international competition, can be seen online again. The video of the first test flight disappeared from YouTube just as yesterday's Daily Bulletin was reporting on the robotics project, but it's now available to viewers at a new location on YouTube.

Solar race ends today

Student-built cars in the American Solar Challenge, including UW's Midnight Sun IX, are on the final leg of their race today, travelling from Medicine Hat to the finish line in Calgary. At last report, as of Sunday night, the Midnight Sun was in fourth place among the 15 cars in the race.

Link of the day

Day for rat-catchers

When and where

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: new students, through July 27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Library hours extended for exam season, through August 16: Dana Porter Library, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; Davis Centre library, 24 hours a day except Sundays 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Blood donor clinic continuing through Thursday (10:00 to 3:00) and Friday (9:00 to 2:00), Student Life Centre multipurpose room, appointments phone 1-888-236-6283.

International Student Connection end-of-term dinner Tuesday 6:30, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre, information from the ISC office, SLC room 3107.

Reuse Fair sponsored by UW Sustainability Project, Wednesday 10:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre: drop off unwanted items at free pickup and swap tables for clothing, books, CDs, games, sports equipment, etc.

‘What Is Your Carbon Footprint?’ brown-bag session with Mike Greulich, plant operations, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Music student recitals Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Career workshop: “Successfully Negotiating Job Offers” Wednesday 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

UW Toastmasters meets Wednesdays 5:30, Math and Computer room 4042, e-mail uwtoastmaster@gmail.com.

‘Mock wine and cheese’ semi-formal event sponsored by Science and Business Student Association, Wednesday 8:00 to 10:00, Math and Computer room 4040.

University Choir spring concert Wednesday 8 p.m., The Cedars, 543 Beechwood Drive, tickets $10 (students $8) at door.

Farm market Thursday 9:00 to 1:00, lower level, Student Life Centre.

Shad Valley program open house to show off high schoolers’ work from the past month, Thursday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., great hall, Conrad Grebel University College.

Career workshop: “Getting a US Work Permit” Thursday 4:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Rogers Cup men’s tennis tournament at York University, UW Alumni Night this Thursday, details available online.

Residence Council Charity Ball Friday, Federation Hall, tickets on sale at residence front desks.

Engineering Jazz Band concert Saturday 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre (note date changed from Tuesday).

Greg Frewin Magic Show Sunday 12:30 and 3:30, Humanities Theatre.

Instrumental chamber ensembles spring concert Monday, July 28, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel, admission free.

Last day of classes for spring term: July 30. Exams August 5-16 (schedule online).

Graphics Courseware deadline for orders for fall term material to arrive before classes begin, July 31, details online.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Understanding the Learner” Thursday, July 31, 9:30 to 12:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Civic Holiday Monday, August 4, UW offices and most services closed.

Fee payment deadline for fall term is August 25 (cheque, money order, fee arrangement) or September 3 (bank transfer), details online.

Warrior men’s golf fundraising tournament Tuesday, August 26, Whistle Bear Golf Club, Cambridge, information e-mail davehollinger@rogers.com.

‘Single and Sexy’ preview performance Thursday, August 28, 1:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free, all staff and faculty, family, friends and community members welcome. Followed by reception at 2:30 marking 20th anniversary of the play.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin