Wednesday, December 9, 2009

  • Workshop will show what ACE can do
  • Wintry notes on the first day of exams
  • UW helping promote life sciences in K-W
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[spacer][One working, two watching]

Kinesiology Lab Days this week and next week bring high school students from across Ontario to experience lab sessions such as "Cardiovascular Health on Earth and in Space", using oxygen uptake equipment and electrocardiograms to assess how body systems respond to exercise. The labs are led by current students in UW's kin department (in black T-shirts).

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Workshop will show what ACE can do

UW-ACE, the university’s online course management system, does a lot more than just calculate marks, as three instructors will demonstrate tomorrow at an end-of-term briefing for members of the ACE Instructor User Group, sponsored by the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

Meanwhile, there was much talk about ACE at yesterday’s WatITis conference for information technology staff — including a presentation on “Replacing UW-ACE” by Andrea Chappell of information systems and technology and David Bean of distance and continuing education. Chappell is director of IST’s Instructional Technologies and Multimedia Services unit, which is the home of UW-ACE.

The course management system has been under review for more than a year now, and continues to evolve. New features this year have included the Ares service connecting ACE to the library’s electronic reserves; the Turnitin plagiarism detector; and Wimba, a way of incorporating voice recordings.

Tomorrow’s user group session, says CTE, “provides an opportunity for instructors to see examples of innovative ways that other faculty members are using UW-ACE on campus. Three instructors will present activities that they have created for their students in UW-ACE. They will discuss why incorporating the activities into an online environment enhanced the learning experience for their students and share their own experiences of creating and facilitating these activities. Past topics have included how to use online polls to enhance in-class discussions, how to create student-generated self-assessment quizzes, and unique ways to enhance student communication through discussion boards.”

Tomorrow’s speakers start with Andrea Edginton of the School of Pharmacy, who reports that pharmacokinetics is one component of a larger integrated course (IPFC1) that is offered to Pharmacy students in their second year and examines how the fate of drugs in the body is influenced by physiological and biochemical processes using a mathematical description of the events which transpire following drug administration. This component is almost completely delivered online and represents seven hours of class time per week within the larger IPFC1 schedule.

Edginton will talk about how she created course modules using Camtasia and has integrated these modules with online activities and self-assessments, and a weekly one-hour face-to-face tutorial where she works through an assigned problem set and answers questions.

Second is Robert Sproule of the School of Accounting and Finance, talking about the course AFM 131, which explores the functional areas of Accounting, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Design, Leadership, Operations Management and Human Resource Management, along with the impacts of ethics and globalization on business.

Class time is used for mini lectures interspersed with engaging students in small group discussions and confirming broad-based understanding of core course concepts through the use of a course response system ( “clickers”).

Team-based course activities are very important in this course. Teams engage in interactive online discussions and work together to play an online business simulation game called “Mike’s Bikes”. Sproule will speak about how a team contract is used in his course to help teams members define the goals of the team and the team roles, as well as agree upon a team code of conduct and the process for resolving conflicts when they arise.

Finally, Bill Bishop of Electrical and Computer Engineering will report on ECE 150, a large core course in programming, where he’s involved in experimenting with several aspects of the new installation of Turnitin. The software is being applied to automatically monitor levels of document copying of program source coded and provide more consistent and faster feedback to students about their programming skills using two point-and-click GradeMark tools: the scoring rubrics tool (a detailed scoring scale) and the comments tool (to capture, share and reuse frequently needed comments, QuickMark). Bishop will present the instructors’ experience so far with the tools, and also discuss the resulting impact on teaching assistant grading, reduction in TA workload and student satisfaction.

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Wintry notes on the first day of exams

I heard a few murmurs of "Snow day! Snow day!" but the white stuff overnight, and freezing rain this morning, didn't add up to enough for a storm closing day, either for UW or for local schools. Here's a reminder that, as announced in October, UW will be making its own decisions about storm closing this year, rather than always following the lead of the local public school board as in the past. Said a memo from provost Feridun Hamdullahpur: “We understand the concerns that severe weather conditions can cause for members of our community and would stress that these new guidelines do not mean UW will never close due to such conditions. Our decisions will be informed by the first sentence of these guidelines: 'UW (and its Federated University and Affiliated Colleges) will close because of severe weather when normal operation would pose a significant danger to students, staff or faculty, or would prevent large numbers of them from coming to campus or returning safely to their homes.’” The storm closing guidelines are online, and indicate that notice of a campus closing will be posted on UW's web site, normally by 7:00 a.m. on a storm day. Local radio stations will be asked to carry the announcement.

Vaccinations against the "seasonal" flu are now available at UW's health services clinic for all students, faculty, staff and family members, an announcement yesterday said. For a few days previously, the seasonal influenza shots had been available for "high-risk" people only. That makes three kinds of vaccinations available at the little white building beside the creek: the seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu, and (because of an apparent surge in reported cases in recent weeks) mumps. Hours are 9:30 to 11:00 and 2:00 to 4:00, Monday to Friday, through December 18. Ruth Kropf of health services said a full-scale public clinic to vaccinate against seasonal flu will be held in the Student Life Centre in January.

A memo from the UW staff association has reminded its members that “feedback is needed on the proposed pension plan changes presented to the UW community on Friday, November 13. The UW Pension & Benefits Committee has proposed two changes to the benefits of the pension plan: Phasing out the option for a member to take the commuted value of their pension on retirement between ages 55 and 65 (upon retirement between 55-65 you could no longer remove the lump sum of your pension at once); changing the interest credit on employee contributions to the five-year fixed-term chartered bank deposit rates on a phased-in basis. When you retire you cannot have contributed over 50% of your pension (that is a law), so any contributions over 50% must be refunded to you. This change will impact how the interest credit is calculated, and therefore how much you may/may not be refunded when you retire. Send your comments about these proposed changes to the UW Pension & Benefits Committee via email, pensions@, before December 10. The P&B Committee needs feedback from plan members on these issues — so make your voice heard.”

UW’s Accelerator Centre, housed in a landmark building on Hagey Boulevard just north of Columbia Street, has been honoured by international experts in entrepreneurship at the recent 8th annual Incubator Conference. The event was held in Stockholm in late November. An announcement this week from the UW centre says it was awarded second place in the award categories of “fastest growth” and “best overall incubator” by a panel of judges from Germany, Britain, Sweden and the United States. The award was established by The Technopolicy Network in cooperation with the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services. “Incubator programs and organizations from all over the world took part,” says the release. “Award winners were decided upon based on an analysis of the benchmarking survey returns, combined with judgment of the expert jury.” Since its opening in 2006, the Accelerator Centre has successfully launched five start-up companies into the marketplace. “The Accelerator Centre is absolutely thrilled to be honoured by this esteemed committee of international experts,” says Tom Corr, CEO of the Waterloo Research and Technology Park Accelerator Centre and a UW associate vice-president. “We are proud of our work, our track record of success, and our growing number of graduates, and it’s terrific to have our contribution to the regional economy and to technology entrepreneurship recognized on the world stage.”

The athletics department reports that its recent Think Pink weekend raised a total of $8,745.33 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. • The university secretariat sends word that the December meeting of the UW senate, which would have been held on the 21st, has been cancelled, by decision of the senate executive committee. • Here’s a belated note of a staff retirement: Robert Drimmie, manager of the environmental isotope lab in the department of earth and environmental sciences, left as of October 1, ending a UW career that began in May 1972.

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UW helping promote life sciences in K-W

a news release from the Canada's Technology Triangle consortium

The Life Sciences Commercialization Model for the Waterloo Region report was presented Monday as the initial step toward growing the life and health sciences cluster, and the need for related wet lab space in the region.

Led by Canada's Technology Triangle Inc, in partnership with the University of Waterloo and City of Kitchener, the overall purpose of this study was to determine through research and analysis if there is enough demand for experimental laboratory space and commercialization infrastructure in Waterloo Region for the emerging Life and Health Sciences and Environmental Sciences sectors. A successful commercialization model exists for the IT sector, and stakeholders are interested in transplanting these key success drivers in place to support commercialization in the life and health sciences cluster in Waterloo Region.

"The open intellectual property policy, intensely high entrepreneurial culture, and commercialization track record at the University of Waterloo are key factors in the UW playing a central role in the development of such a cluster," commented George Dixon, vice-president (university research) at the University of Waterloo. "UW has a significant amount of research activity in applied health sciences, particularly in medical device research driven by our core strength in engineering.

“As one of the most innovative universities in Canada, we were keen to investigate the need by faculty for commercialization support for this sector and to learn how we can take existing best practices and apply them to this sector."

"In my experience so far, it has mostly been communities with teaching hospitals that can support a life sciences incubator. However, Waterloo Region has key advantages that enhance the community including the UW's technology commercialization and their Open IP Policy, and the region itself has documented success in starting and growing successful companies in the ICT industry," commented Charles Stein, president, Strategic Development Services. "After conducting 75 interviews with a wide variety of interested stakeholders, we discovered there is sufficient demand to support the development of a wet and dry lab incubator in the Waterloo Region."

"We are very pleased the study results report significant demand for experimental lab facilities and commercialization support," said Valerie Machado, business development officer, City of Kitchener. "Kitchener is an especially business-friendly environment that is quickly leading the way to help create, support and sustain a system of innovation such as this cluster, with our investment of $30 million and donation of eight acres of land for the UW's Health and Life Sciences Campus and the School of Pharmacy, as starting points.

“We will now focus our interest in working with the UW and community partners to implement a plan for developing an experimental lab incubator facility supporting this sector."

"As our region continues to develop a Life and Health Sciences cluster, CTT Inc will continue to build strong partnerships within the community to leverage our competitive location advantage, strengths (R&D), and to attract investment and top-talent here," stated Catharine Gerhard, business development officer for CTT.


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[Three flexing, one watching]

Another laboratory in the kinesiology program for high schoolers involves electromyography and the forces generated by muscle contraction, being used here to power a muscle car.

Link of the day

When does winter begin?

When and where

Fall term examinations December 9-22; unofficial grades begin appearing in Quest December 23; grades become official January 25.

Grand River Transit initial sign-up for staff and faculty bus passes through payroll deduction, 11:00 to 2:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Federation of Students town hall forum on “diversity at UW” 12:30, Student Life Centre great hall.

Department of history celebration of faculty achievements, with remarks by six professors about their recent books, 2:00 to 4:00, UW bookstore, South Campus Hall.

Faculty of Engineering holiday reception for faculty and staff, by invitation, 3:30, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Christmas dinner buffet at University Club, today and December 16, 5:00 to 8:00, $36.95 per person, reservations ext. 33801.

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology seminar: Peter Andreana, Wayne State University, “An Entirely Carbohydrate-Based Cancer Vaccine Construct Elicits Selective Cellular Immunity” Thursday 11:00 a.m., Chemistry II room 361.

Accelerator Centre “graduation” celebration for two companies, SparkMatrix Technologies and Frozen North Productions, Thursday 11:30 a.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard, information info@

Centre for Teaching Excellence instructional skills workshop December 11, 14 and 16, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Ontario Research Funding celebration of grant recipients at UW and Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday 10:00 a.m., Chemistry II room 064, by invitation, information ext. 33580.

‘Managing Grief Through the Holidays’ workshop presented by Employee Assistance Program, December 16, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Christmas buffet luncheon served by UW Catering, December 16-18, 12:00 to 2:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, $17.95, reservations ext. 84700.

Fee payment deadline for winter term, December 17 (promissory note), December 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Weight Watchers at Work information session and sign-up for winter series, December 17, 12:00, Humanities room 373; information ext. 32218.

Eddie Goodwin, UW central stores, reception to mark retirement after 42 years at UW, December 17, 2:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP cjaray@

Payday for faculty and monthly-paid staff Wednesday, December 23; for biweekly-paid staff, December 18 and 31.

Positions available

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

• Graduate office assistant, biology, USG 4
• Recruitment coordinator, computer science, USG 8
• Food services assistants, regular ongoing and regular recurring, food services
• General cafeteria helper, regular ongoing, food services
• Online technologies consultant, distance and continuing education, USG 8-10, one-year secondment
• Web course developer, distance education, one-year secondment or contract
• Learning management system and quality assurance specialist, distance education, one-year secondment or contract

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Ho Ting Cheng, “Radio Resource Management for Wireless Mesh Networks Supporting Heterogeneous Traffic.” Supervisor, Weihua Zhuang. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, December 14, 10:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Chemical engineering. Ibrahim Hassan Mustafa, “Diffusion-Reaction Modeling, Non-Linear Dynamics, Feedback, Bifurcation and Chaotic Behaviour of the Acetylcholine Neurocycle and Their Relation to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.” Supervisors, Pu Chen and Ali Elkamel. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, December 14, 2:00 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Germanic and Slavic studies. Nikolai Penner, “The High German of Russian Mennonite Immigrants in Ontario.” Supervisor, Mathias Schulze. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Wednesday, December 16, 10:00 a.m., Humanities room 373.

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