Friday, May 23, 2008

  • Cree visit tests emergency response
  • Another 'green car' challenge ahead
  • Future students see UW tomorrow
  • Keystone picnic is set for June 5
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Cree visit tests emergency response

As noted in various news reports, UW's Conference Centre recently played a special role in an official Ontario emergency response. Ron Eydt Village became a home away from home for 126 members of the Attawapiskat First Nation when their settlement on the edge of James Bay was threatened by spring flooding. The native settlement is about 260 kilometres north of Moosonee, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River.

Emergency Measures Ontario helped relocate the band to various sites around Ontario, mostly in the north in places like Cochrane. However, the Region of Waterloo agreed to be an evacuation destination, and welcomed some of the band to this area. On May 12, UW became their interim home as part of the Region's evacuation plan. The 126 Cree natives arrived in three planeloads and were bused to REV, where they were accommodated for the duration of the emergency in Attawapiskat.

Waterloo Region chair Ken Seiling declared a state of emergency as part of the exercise, paving the way for special assistance from various agencies and government organizations. Included in the emergency control team were representatives of the Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Waterloo Region Corporate Communications, Waterloo Region Emergency Measures, Waterloo Region Social Services, Waterloo Region Public Health, Emergency Measures Ontario, Region of Waterloo Airport, Grand River Transit, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Township of Woolwich Fire Department, Salvation Army, UW Food Services, UW Conference Centre, UW Police, UW Communications and Public Affairs, and the Attawapiskat Nation itself.

"It was a tremendous experience for everyone involved," says Martin Van Nierop, director of UW's communications office. "Not only did the native people enjoy themselves as a result of what they themselves described as a very positive experience, the team of emergency staff from all around the region and parts on Ontario was able to use this as an exercise to test emergency systems.”

There will be a debriefing session in the next few weeks to share information and stories on what was learned. "The university was able to jump right in with residence spaces, meal plans, and assistance with social programming," he added. The native guests were given meal cards for breakfast, lunch and dinner. REV's cafeteria, which had been shut down after the students vacated, was jump-started and staffed within 24 hours to provide full service meals under the direction of Phil Bland, REV's food services manager.

Susanne Keppler, the conference centre manager, rode herd on a completely different kind of operation that had to provide space for extended families, and entertainment for little kids, including playrooms and movie selections for tots. As well, there was a need for activities for young teens who had never ventured this far south in Ontario. The Red Cross and social services arranged for bus service to malls and day trips to tourist points including African Lion Safari, Doon Pioneer Village and the Waterloo Region Children's Museum.

The evacuees presented the university and all the emergency volunteers with a thank-you card signed by the band's members. As they prepared to leave on the three-hour flight home from Waterloo Region International Airport, band elder Maurice Sutherland thanked the university and Waterloo Region for being such friendly hosts. Although they were tired and anxious to be back in their homes, "everyone really enjoyed their stay here," he said.

The Attawapiskat First Nation is located along the western coast of James Bay, 500 km north of Timmins. It has an on-reserve population of 1,498. The community can be reached by air and winter road, or by barge during the summer.

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Another 'green car' challenge ahead

The four-year Challenge X project to present a student-built alternative fuels car is over — and now a UW team gets started on the next round of challenges, dubbed EcoCar.

After two weeks of final competing and judging for 17 student teams, Mississippi State University was named the first-place winner of Challenge X on Wednesday. The teams, from UW and 16 American universities, competed to reengineer a Chevrolet Equinox Crossover SUV with advanced powertrain configurations. “The winner,” says a Science Daily news release, “achieved high fuel economy and low emissions while maintaining driver comfort and vehicle performance.”

Over the past four years, the teams, including UW’s Alternative Fuels Team, followed a development process to produce advanced vehicle powertrain technologies that increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. “Those technologies were then integrated into GM vehicles,” the release explains, “and powered by a variety of alternative fuels including B20 biodiesel, E85 ethanol, reformulated gasoline, and hydrogen. GM, DOE, and the Canadian government congratulated students from 17 participating universities at a finish line ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“Students competed in 12 events over the eight-day final competition, ranging from on-road emissions and drivability assessments to vehicle performance and consumer acceptability evaluations. The Mississippi State team designed a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle with all-wheel drive using a turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel. The vehicle demonstrated a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency over the production vehicle.”

In the first year of the program, the challenge focused on vehicle simulation, modeling and subsystem development, and testing. In the second and third years, students integrated their advanced powertrains and subsystems into the Equinox. And in the fourth year, they focused on consumer acceptability and on-road reliability and durability of their advanced propulsion systems with real-world evaluation outside of an official testing environment.

“It was pretty awesome,” said an e-mail note sent to campus by Charles Hua of the UW team following the final Challenge X judging in Washington. He reported “no big hiccups this time, only a few small ones!” And he was able to list a double fistful of awards won by UW’s team in the course of the challenge, in categories that include Technical Published Paper; Autocross Performance; Quarter Mile Acceleration; Dynamic Consumer Acceptability; AVL Drive Quality; Technical Presentation; Control Strategy Presentation; Outreach; Well To Wheels Emissions; Tailpipe Emissions; and Media Relations.

With the first competition over, the US Department of Energy, GM and Natural Resources Canada kicked off EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a competition set to begin this fall that will ask 17 university teams to re-engineer a Saturn VUE. Students will design and build advanced propulsion solutions similar to the vehicle categories utilized by the California Air Resources Board’s zero emissions vehicle regulations. In addition, they will incorporate lightweight materials into the vehicles, improve aerodynamics and utilize clean alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen.

Three Canadian teams — from UW, the University of Victoria, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology — will join 14 American challengers. "The Government of Canada is proud to see that three Canadian teams qualified for the EcoCar competition," says Gary Lunn, federal minister of natural resources. "Their participation and innovation demonstrate Canada's continuing leadership in clean energy technologies."

A news release quotes UW president David Johnston: "The Challenge X program has been a flagship of the University of Waterloo's 'green car' education and research programs, focusing on green propulsion, light weighting and automotive systems. We commend the organizers of Challenge X and the EcoCar competition, as well as our sponsors, for supporting student efforts to design a greener car."

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Future students see UW tomorrow

Tomorrow’s the big day for hundreds of UW’s future students, as they’ll see the Waterloo campus and make up their minds for sure that this is where they’ll be in September.

It’s the annual You @ Waterloo Day open house for students with offers of admission, and the organizers, headed by Kim McKee of the South Campus Hall visitor centre, are looking forward to showing students around a warm and sunlit campus.

“Our goal,” says McKee, “is to give applicants who have received an offer to UW, along with their parents, the opportunity to participate in activities that will increase their level of commitment to the University of Waterloo.

“Staff, faculty and volunteers will be working at the event to answer visitor questions, provide them with an opportunity to see residence and encourage them to accept their offer to UW. It’s our hope that visitors will leave UW at the end of the day, with a positive impression of residence, student life and academics and accept their offer of admission.”

She said about 2,000 visitors are expected. “The day officially runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.,” she says — but adds, for the benefit of staff and faculty who will be on campus helping to welcome the visitors: “Please expect to see visitors on campus early.”

The focus of the day’s activities will be the Student Life Centre, where such units as athletics, the student life office and the disabilities office will have booths. “Representatives and current students from each faculty will be available to answer your questions,” visitors are also being told on the You @ Waterloo Day website. Tours will leave from the SLC regularly until 1:30 p.m.

Retail stores that are usually closed on Saturdays this time of year — the bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx, as well as the Campus TechShop in the SLC — will be open from noon to 4 p.m. The residences will also welcome visitors, and so will UW’s School of Architecture on Melville Street in Cambridge.

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Keystone picnic is set for June 5

The annual Keystone Campaign celebration has been scheduled for Thursday, June 5, says a letter that went out yesterday along with a bright green invitation touting the day's "Viva Las Vegas" theme.

It's the same style, the outside barbecue with fun and games, that we've had in the past," says Jennifer Lorette, manager of Keystone in UW's development and alumni affairs office. The location this year: the green beside the Physical Activities Complex, between 11:30 and 1:30 on that Thursday. Lorette says she's confident the weather will be perfect.

"It is that time of year again, when the UW community joins together to celebrate the incredible success of the Keystone Campaign," said yesterday's letter, signed by UW president David Johnston. How incredible is it? "More than $7.8 million in gift and pledge designations from more than 2,200 donors between May 2000 and December 2007," says the Keystone web site. Those donors are staff, faculty and UW retirees, making their contributions toward the overall Campaign Waterloo.

"I hope you will join me for the 2008 annual event," Johnston writes. "This year's celebration will feature games and activities in line with the atmosphere of entertainment and excitement that Las Vegas is known for. Organizers have line dup another great event for the campus community. As always, UW staff, faculty, and retirees will enjoy a complimentary lunch, a variety of games and activities, entertainment, and more. I hope you are able to attend this popular annual event, where we celebrate the contributions that our dedicated faculty and staff make each day." The two-hour time period "has been designated as paid time off for all faculty and staff", says a footnote to the president's letter.

The green invitation includes a door-prize coupon, and notes that anyone who needs "assistance getting to the event or any other information" can call ext. 37581.


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Learning innovation proposals due soon

Funds to develop proposals to enhance learning through changes in instructional methods are available through UW's Learning Initiatives Fund. Funds to develop proposals that address learning resources and curricula developments are available through the Program Initiatives Fund. Applications for both kinds of grants are due by May 28 — a deadline slightly delayed from the one originally announced.

Link of the day

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

When and where

Dropping courses: no-penalty period ends (last day to withdraw with 100 per cent fee refund) is today.

Bike Maintenance 101 workshop (bring your own bike) 1:00 to 6:00, Student Life Centre room 101A, $15 deposit, information ext. 84882.

Centre Stage Dance Friday-Saturday, Humanities Theatre.

Waterloo Space Society general meeting 7:00 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 308.

CD release event for “Notes Towards”, which includes work by Leonard Enns of Conrad Grebel University College and the DaCapo Chamber Choir, 8 p.m., Music Plus, 5 Michael Street, Kitchener.

Spring into Song fundraiser for UW Well-Fit, with the Twin City Harmonizers and Grand Harmony, Sunday 2 p.m., Humanities Theatre, details online.

Phoenix Lander party as Waterloo Space Society celebrates the meteorological station landing on Mars, Sunday 6:30 to 11:00 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Career workshops on Monday: Basics of Starting a Business 4:30, Accelerator Centre second floor; Networking 101, 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; registration online.

Alumni reception in Hong Kong Monday 6:00 p.m., Excelsior Hotel, details online.

Symposium on GPU and CELL computing hosted by Sharcnet, Tuesday, information online.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Tuesday 1:30, Commissary building room 112D.

Mathematics alumni reception at Statistical Society of Canada annual meeting, Tuesday, Ottawa, details online.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session Tuesday 4:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Education Credit Union presents “Estate Planning 102”, Wednesday, May 28, 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Steve Breen, IST, retirement party honouring 37 years at UW, Wednesday, May 28, 3 to 5 p.m., University Club. RSVP to or ext. 38018.

UW Safety Awareness Day, sessions on safety at work, details online. May 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

UW Board of Governors quarterly meeting Tuesday, June 3, 2:30 p.m., Architecture building, Cambridge.

Anne Harris, faculty of arts, retirement celebration Wednesday, June 4, 3:30 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP; donations invited for a bursary in her honour.

Penny Pudifin, graduate studies office, retirement celebration Wednesday, June 4, 4:00 to 5:30 p.m., University Club, RSVP

Long weekend: UW holidays Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1, for Canada Day; classes cancelled, offices and most services closed.

Canada Day celebrations Tuesday, July 1, on the north campus: children’s fun-fest, arts and crafts fair, food, stage performances and other activities, 2 p.m. until evening; fireworks 10 p.m.; details and volunteer information online.

PhD oral defences

Geography. Julia Maggie McCleave, “The Regional Integration of Protected Areas: A Study of Canada’s National Parks.” Supervisor, S. Slocombe. On display in the faculty of environmental studies, ES1 335. Oral defence Tuesday, May 27, 1:30 p.m., CEIT room 2053.

Computer science. Matthew Adam Skala, “Aspects of Metric Spaces in Computation.” Supervisor, Ian Munro. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, May 28, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Earth and environmental sciences. Renjina Rahman, “On the Implications of Various Approaches to Groundwater Source Protection.” Supervisors, Emil O. Frind and David L. Rudolph. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Tuesday, June 3, 9:00 a.m., CEIT room 2053.

Psychology. Dessislava Marinova-Anguelova, “Dynamics of Parent-Child Relationships and Conflict in Chinese, Eastern European and European Canadian Families.” Supervisor, Hildy Ross. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Tuesday, June 3, 9:30 a.m., PAS (Psychology) room 3026.

Management sciences. Gordon Adomdza, “The Role of Affect in Commercializing New Ideas.” Supervisors, Scott Jeffrey and Tom Astebro. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, June 11, 10:30 a.m., Engineering II room 1307G.

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