Wednesday, March 26, 2008

  • Ontario grant for a Stratford campus
  • Math achievement and other notes
  • Student's job with the Disney Fairies
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Open house tomorrow on campus plan

An open house will be held tomorrow as part of a project to update UW’s campus master plan, issued in 1992. The study is being done “in response to increasing demands for new development and concerns for existing open space on campus”, says Benjamin Hoff of Urban Strategies Inc., the Toronto-based firm that is conducting it for the building and properties committee of UW’s board of governors.

The updated Master Plan, he says, “will provide direction to accommodate the projected demand for physical space on campus, while preserving unique landscapes, enhancing existing open spaces and creating new and vibrant places on campus.” Work is being guided by a steering committee of governors, staff, students and faculty.

Tomorrow the consulting team (including Paradigm Transportation Solutions Inc, a Kitchener-based transportation planning firm, and GSP Group, a Kitchener planning firm) will host a public open house to present their “early analysis and directions”. Members of the consulting team will be on hand to discuss issues and ideas with anyone interested. The open house will be held in the great hall of the Student Life Centre from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Link of the day

Birthday of Kuan Yin

When and where

Academic Book Sale outside UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, continuing today and Thursday.

Krispy Kreme “Free the Children” charity sale, doughnuts $8 a dozen, sales continue today and Thursday 10:00 to 1:00 at various campus locations, pickup Thursday, proceeds to Clean Water campaign in Kenya.

Environment and business conference sponsored by fourth-year environment and business students, all day, Humanities Theatre, information e-mail

Walk for Darfur: Event sponsored by UW Genocide Action Group, Muslim Students Association and others: speaker Debbie Bodkin of UN Commission of Inquiry, 12:00 noon, Student Life Centre, followed by fund-raising walk around ring road.

Free Hugs organized by Arts Student Union: “Beginning in the Arts Quad, we will infect the campus with smiles,” 12:00 to 3:00.

Free noon concert: Linda Melsted (Baroque violin) and Terry McKenna (lute and theorbo), “Divisions on a Ground,” 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

E-health information security workshop sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research, Wednesday-Friday, details online.

Smarter Health seminar: William Albino, Smart Systems for Health Agency, “Helping Improve Ontario’s Health Care Through e-Health Innovation,” 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Careers in computer science. Working grads discuss their careers and experiences as undergrads at UW, 3:30 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1304.

International Student Connection and Women’s Centre social for international students (“learn about different aspects of Canadian culture” 5:00, Women’s Centre, Student Life Centre room 2102.

‘20 Essentials in the Grocery Store’ lunch-and-learn session 5:30 p.m., TechTown board room, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Loran Scholar Award reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., University Club, by invitation.

K-W Little Theatre auditions for “The Three Musketeers” (performance is in July), continuing today 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., Math and Computer room 2034.

DesignCamp for student and professional digital designers Thursday 4:30 to 7:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, information online.

Earth Hour activities announced so far: "The Zeroes" event Friday 11:15 a.m., Student Life Centre, to begin community promotion of the Zerofootprint program; residences asking students to switch off lights Saturday 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. during worldwide Earth Hour.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings (casino night Friday, bingo Saturday; crafts; Engineering Jazz Band, Friday 10 p.m.; movies “Juno” and “I Am Legend” Saturday); details online.

Intellectual Property “from Universities to New Businesses” (“how to find a technology partner”), Wednesday, April 2, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by UW research office, C4, and other groups, advance registration ext. 33300 or

‘Your Last Lecture’ for faculty of arts class of 2008, Monday, April 7, 12:30, Humanities Theatre, celebration with UW president, dean of arts and others, register by e-mail:

Graduate Student Research Conference April 21-24, details online. Keynote talk by Thomas Homer-Dixon (energy and climate change, “the ingenuity gap”, social change) Monday, April 21, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $2 at Humanities box office.

Positions available

On this week’s list from the human resources department:

• Assistant to associate dean (graduate studies), faculty of environmental studies, USG 6
• Department head, information services and resources, library, USG 13
• Financial aid systems analyst, office of the registrar, USG 6/7
• IT hardware specialist, mechanical and mechatronics engineering, USG 7
• Teaching services coordinator, mathematics undergraduate office, USG 5
• Executive assistant to the registrar, registrar's office, USG 8
• Women's basketball coach, athletics, USG 9-11
• Undergraduate advisor/coordinator, electrical and computer engineering, USG 5
• Staff relations coordinator, human resources, USG 8-10
• WatPD administrative coordinator, academic and student affairs, USG 6

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Ontario grant for a Stratford campus

A $10 million grant announced in yesterday’s Ontario budget is a big step towards making UW’s proposed campus in Stratford, a half-hour drive west of Waterloo, a reality.

UW president David Johnston and dean of arts Ken Coates were in the gallery at the Legislature yesterday afternoon, along with Stratford mayor Dan Mathieson, to hear provincial finance minister Dwight Duncan present his budget. The minister didn't speak of UW in the speech itself (though Mathieson got a mention in connection with a whole different matter, the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review).

But the printed budget, a much bigger document, included "$10 million in 2007-08 to the University of Waterloo at Stratford for a new digital media institute", among a list of college and university construction grants. Also among them: $9 million to the Ontario College of Art and Design, also for space for digital media.

A budget news release mentions the UW grant twice, under headings ("Building Places to Learn" and "Strengthening the Environment for Innovation") that sum up the themes of the Liberal government's budget. "The McGuinty government," it says, "is providing capital investments of $970 million over three years to build places where students learn."

A Stratford branch for UW is not a done deal, with many approvals still needed and additional funding to be found. But officials are bound to be happy today. They’ll hold a “milestone celebration event” at 7:00 tonight at Stratford’s historic city hall, with guests invited to enjoy nibbles and hear speakers. Among them: John Wilkinson, who is MPP for Perth-Wellington (the riding that includes Stratford) and also provincial minister of research and innovation. The faculty of arts has invited UW arts alumni to attend the event as well.

Yesterday's budget repeated a familiar boast: "Under the Reaching Higher Plan, the Ontario government is investing more than $6.2 billion in postsecondary education by 2009-10, improving quality, access and accountability. Grants for university and college operating costs increased by over 40 per cent between 2003-04 and 2007-08, supporting the hiring of new faculty, increasing student-faculty interaction, and improving student services and libraries."

Also promised in Duncan's budget: "$385 million over three years for a new Textbook and Technology Grant. It will help lower costs for every full-time college and university student annually, with grants of $150 per student this fall, $225 in the fall of 2009 and $300 in subsequent years . . . $27 million over three years for a new, annual Distance Grant to assist with transportation costs for students from rural and remote areas attending college or university . . . more than $16 million to enhance the successful Pathways to Education program and increase the number of at-risk youth finishing high school or proceeding to postsecondary education or directly to the workforce . . . more than $7 million over three years for an International Ontario Strategy to attract talented postsecondary students from around the world, raising the level of research excellence in Ontario's universities and contributing to economic prosperity."

Back to top

Math achievement and other notes

Tenth in the world: that’s where a team of UW mathematics students wound up in this year’s William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition. “UW's team of Michael Lipnowski, Dong Uk (David) Rhee and Xiaoheng (Jerry) Wang finished 10th overall,” says Ian VanderBurgh, director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. “This team was coached by Stephen New from the department of pure mathematics. Individual recognition goes to Anjie (Eric) Guo for finishing in Group N2 (that is, between 15th and 24th overall), and to Michael Lipnowski and Yin (Jack) Zhao on receiving Honorable Mentions (finishing between 25th and 74th overall). Congratulations to all who participated!” He adds that 561 colleges and universities from Canada and the United States participated in this year’s competition. “The UW team's 10th place finish overall shows, once again, that our students can count themselves among the very best!” The problems from the 2007 competition, as well as the official results, can be found online.

Catalyst, a 24-page publication all about entrepreneurship at UW, is being launched at a by-invitation event this evening — 5 to 7 p.m. at the Accelerator Building in the Research and Technology Park. The event features appearances by UW president David Johnston as well as Dana Robbins, publisher of the Waterloo Region Record. “Catalyst is about UW innovators, be they students, researchers, alumni,” says Jenn Zehr, communications and alumni officer for the Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, who is co-managing the magazine with Geoff Malleck, CBET’s associate director of student development. “The intent is to write about those who serve as inspiration and have real lessons to share.” Staff, faculty, students, and alumni may submit articles. “We are currently looking for staff and students to join the Catalyst leadership team for a variety of roles — editorial and photography, circulation, community partnerships and marketing,” says Zehr. Catalyst will come out three times a year, a joint venture between CBET and the Record, which will handle advertising. UW Graphics will do the layout and design. More information and article submission forms are online.

The Federation of Students gets formal on Thursday night with the annual Executive Awards Gala, an opportunity to dine (chicken, salmon, beef or "garden valley timbale"), dance and see some honours handed out. There's also an opportunity to hear CTV's iconic Mike Duffy, who will give the keynote speech. Melissa Onn of the Fed office explains: "Essentially, the evening will honour great student leaders on campus this past year by presenting 10 students with a Feds Leadership Award, and offer a great opportunity for students to support their peers and enjoy a great night out to end the winter term. The evening will be made up of a gourmet four-course meal, a keynote speaker, the presentation of the awards, and a dance. The meal alone makes this event more than worthwhile for students." It all happens at Federation Hall, of course, starting at 7:00 Thursday night; tickets are $15 (or $2 for just the dance) at the Feds office in the Student Life Centre.

Tickets went on sale this week for the keynote speech to be given at this year's Graduate Student Research Conference, which runs April 21-24. The speech itself happens on the first day, a Monday, at 3 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre, and the speaker is Thomas Homer-Dixon, peace and environment guru who recently joined UW's faculty, and who incidentally is also speaking at today's Environment and Business Conference. Tickets for the April event are $2 apiece at the Humanities box office, says a memo from the graduate studies office, where arrangements for the conference are being handled. "Students registered to present at the conference can pick up one complementary ticket at the Grad Studies Office. The keynote talk will be focused on energy and climate change, The Ingenuity Gap and how to effect social change. The talk will be followed by a book sale and signing organized by the UW Bookstore." An additional note: information is now on the website about how those who aren't presenting papers at the conference can still take part. "All students, faculty and staff are invited to register and attend sessions and all of the other Conference events."

Lifeguards from UW took second place, behind a Queen’s University, team, at the 100th Anniversary Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championship held in Toronto early this month. Some 100 lifeguards from across the country competed in three technical events designed to simulate the types of emergencies a lifeguard may encounter, teamwork and physical fitness. “After competing in preliminary rounds of first aid, water rescue and priority assessment, teams are ranked according to their scores and the top 16 teams move on to finals,” reports Rebecca White of the UW campus recreation program. “The four UW teams made finals in 11 of 12 opportunities. Highlights include the stellar performance by Peter Whittington, a PhD candidate, and his team in the Priority Assessment event final, designed to test lifeguards mettle in dealing with 17 victims in two minutes with only two oars and a small boat to use for rescue. This performance resulted in a gold medal placing in the Priority Assessment event for this team. Carly Gasparini and Jordan Andersen’s team took second in Water Rescue, a real test of all the lifeguarding skills. . . . In Line Throw, Gasparini and her partner set a new Canadian record of 12.92 seconds, shattering the old record of 13.43 seconds, and took gold. In the men’s event, Andersen and his partner came close to setting a new Canadian Line Throw record, finishing eighth.”

Back to top

Student's job with the Disney Fairies

by Brandi Cowen, from the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students


Meeting Mickey and Minnie, hanging out with the Power Rangers and attending early screenings of the latest blockbuster movies may sound like a dream come true for kids of all ages, but for Neima Shahidy (left), a 3B Science and Business student, it’s just another day at the office.

For her last work term, Shahidy arranged her own job with the Walt Disney Company. Her story is proof positive that networking opens doors. “I met some of the senior staff at Disney Consumer Products while I was [on a work term] at Centura and I knew they frequently hired interns,” she recalls. “When I was looking for a job for my next work term, I e-mailed one of my contacts to see how I should go about applying for the position. She passed my resumé on to the right people and that’s where it all started.”

Before long, she was hired by Disney as a national marketing associate, working to develop marketing programs for one of the company’s newest franchises, Disney Fairies. “This included everything from working with global partners to training staff for our events,” she explains. “In addition, I also worked with a PR team to host a press launch and I organized the first semi-annual National Sales Meeting with all our licensees. I was responsible for preparing relevant and up-to-date marketing materials for the Disney team, as well as external parties such as retailers and licensees.”

But don’t be fooled by the awesome perks; a work term with Disney isn’t all fun and games. Like any job, her position presented Shahidy with challenges she had to overcome. “The biggest challenge I faced while working at Disney was having to balance projects from my direct supervisor, as well as various Lines of Business, Key Account Managers and other members of senior management.”

How did she handle the pressure? “I dealt with it the only way I knew how; I stayed organized, wrote everything down and prioritized daily. If I ever reached a point where I was unclear or unsure about my priorities, I would consult with my manager to make sure that I was focussing my attention on the right things.”

Beyond providing her with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, her work term was a valuable learning opportunity. Shahidy picked up a ton of great tips throughout the term, including this one that everyone would do well to remember the next time things don’t go as planned: “Stay calm and learn as much as you can from the people around you. There are bound to be times when you make mistakes, or things go wrong. The only way to fix the situation is to be proactive, move forward, and come up with a new strategy.”

With three work terms already under her belt and a fourth one starting in January, she believes that co-op has played a significant role not only in making her more marketable to employers once she graduates, but also in helping her define her career aspirations: “I think that co-op is the most valuable portion of my degree. I chose co-op because I knew that regardless of how hard I studied and how many ‘important’ courses I took, there are certain things that you can’t learn from a book.” Her advice for other students looking to arrange their own work terms? “The best thing you can do is ask for help. Use your resources to network effectively and find the position that you think is best for you, because the right co-op term can turn into an amazing career.”


Back to top

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin