Tuesday, February 10, 2009

  • Co-op job with 'a really cool brand'
  • Events promote UW-linked solar house
  • Leading up to reading week
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Shahidy with her Xbox]
Co-op job with 'a really cool brand'

from an article by Adrienne Raw in the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students

In August 2008, fourth-year Science and Business student Neima Shahidy completed an eight-month co-op work term as an Xbox marketing assistant for Microsoft. “Entering unfamiliar territory was a great idea,” she says, “and it gave me to opportunity to learn about a product and industry that I would have had limited knowledge on otherwise.” You just want to be a sponge when you’re on co-op, because there’s so much going on all the time.”

In addition to her regular responsibilities as support to the Xbox functional and product managers, she says, “one of the best things about my job was that 40 per cent of what I worked on was out of personal interest, so while helping the team with anything they needed, I could pick out projects that were really exciting to me!”

Shahidy (pictured above) had the opportunity to take the lead on three major programs, all of which were very successful: Family Day, Xbox Live Summer of Arcade, and a market analysis. Because it was the first time Family Day had ever happened in Ontario, she began that project with a blank canvas and the direction that she had to do something to acknowledge the newly-created holiday. Shahidy worked with product and functional managers, the sales team, a major retailer, and several agencies to introduce a national scan-and-win card program. This initiative encouraged families to spend quality time together at family-friendly venues like the Toronto Zoo and the London Children’s Museum while giving them the chance to win prizes including games, controllers, and even free consoles. The result was a program designed to increase awareness of Xbox being family-friendly.

“This was the first project I worked on when I joined the team, and it was a great intro to the business,” Shahidy says, “because it introduced me to the family of products that fall under the Xbox brand, gave me the opportunity to work with some really awesome agencies, and also to get a better understanding of how to roll out an integrated program.” Shahidy’s work on the Family Day initiative led into several other projects, including various events and promotions, other pilot projects, and a Children’s Miracle Network project called Badges of Honour.

The Xbox Live Summer of Arcade Initiative was a five-week program to encourage users to download more of the arcade-style games that Xbox Live offers. By this time, Shahidy had become very familiar with the business and “was able to manage 100 per cent of the Canadian roll-out.”

In addition to being actively involved in her own team’s projects, she enhanced her work term experience by taking on projects with other teams. One of these was the pre- and post-launch activities for Microsoft’s digital media player, Zune, where her contribution was a competitive analysis of the digital media player industry. “It was just really interesting,” she says, “to dissect the market and analyze it with different metrics. This allowed us to gain a better understanding of how different brands operate at retail during the holiday season, and allowed us to develop a correlation between ad trends and sales.”

The best part of her whole experience, she says, was the people. “Marketing is definitely my passion, and Xbox is a really cool brand to be working on,” she says, “but I don’t think it would have been the same without the team I was working with. They’re really cool about integrating you into the team. I never felt like I was ‘just the intern’ and they were the full-time employees. They gave me the opportunity to really learn, function and perform like a full-time employee from day one.

“The great thing about co-op is that you’re around people that are experts in the field you want to be an expert in. What you learn during a work term, I feel, can add so much more value than reading a single textbook.”

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Events promote UW-linked solar house

a release from UW's media relations office

North House, an advanced solar-powered home being developed by Team North, will hold two receptions this week in Cambridge and Toronto to launch the next phase of this timely project.

Team North, which involves students and faculty at UW, Ryerson University and Simon Fraser University, along with industry partners, is one of only two Canadian entries selected to participate in the prestigious 2009 Solar Decathlon competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The decathlon will be held October 9-18 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., drawing 20 university teams with prototype solar homes from around the world. The teams will each build a full-scale house to compete in 10 categories measuring quality and performance.

Team North will develop North House — a marketable solar-powered home for people with active lifestyles. The team aims to combine green building, solar and interactive technologies in order to reduce energy demand, foster a conservation ethic and boost the quality of life for Canadians.

Guest speaker at both gala events this week will be Richard King, director of the Solar Decathlon. On Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., the location is the Bulthaup Showroom, 280 King Street East, Toronto. On Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. it's the UW Architecture building on Melville Street South in Cambridge.

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Leading up to reading week

The countdown is under way, as we're approaching a long weekend and the traditional winter term reading break. Monday, February 16, is Ontario's second annual Family Day, and UW is among workplaces that will be pretty much closed. (The libraries will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Monday; and the usual 24-hour-a-day services such as the police and the Student Life Centre continue uninterrupted.) All next week, classes are cancelled while students, presumably, work on readings and projects; most UW services will be in operation for their usual hours February 17-20. And then it's back to class on Monday the 23rd.

Four Waterloo student teams placed third in the Ontario Engineering Competition, held over the weekend at the University of Guelph. Says the engineering faculty's news site: "The wins came in the categories of parliamentary debate, consulting engineering, innovative design and engineering communications. Systems design engineering student Tom Haylock, the third-place winner of the engineering communications category, will represent Waterloo at the Canadian Engineering Competition to be held in March at the University of New Brunswick."

And from the same source: "Waterloo’s Engineering Science Quest program will receive a PromoScience grant of $18,000 a year for three years to expand its summer camp to locations outside of Waterloo, including Orangeville, Chatham and Leamington, where a similar type of program isn’t offered. The funding will help cover expenses in running the program intended to strengthen rural students’ interest in science and engineering, as well as higher education. Mary Wells, associate dean, outreach, believes this is the first time ESQ has received an NSERC grant."

The web site of UW's co-op education and career services department is currently featuring a tribute to a major local employer, declaring that CECS "applauds one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs in mobile technology, President and Co-CEO of Research in Motion, Mr. Mike Lazaridis for a 25 year involvement with the University’s leading co-op program. Current Chancellor of the university, honorary alumni Mr. Lazaridis has donated $75 million to UW for the development of the future Institute of Quantum Computing, and has remained a dedicated employer in collaboration with CECS. Additionally, he has provided funding of $150 million for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) where many UW students find opportunities to further their experience. Peggy Jarvie, Executive director of Co-operative Education and Career Services, extends congratulations to RIM for their milestone. 'You’ve made a difference in the educations and lives of almost 4,000 students in your 25 years of hiring UW co-op. You’re a wonderful partner and champion of co-operative education, and we wish you continued success'."

[Sports report] [Athletes of the week]The human resources department will be largely closed on Friday for a professional development session, though someone will be on hand to answer general inquiries, and cheques will be available for pickup. • Olinpia Moise, who has been a custodian in UW's plant operations department since 1984, officially retired as of February 1. • February 20 — Friday of next week — is the last day students can get a 50 per cent tuition fee refund for winter term course withdrawals.

And . . . I've just been glancing at the menu for Friday evening's Valentine dinner at the University Club. (There's also a special meal at lunchtime on Friday.) It's very romantic indeed, beginning with the cosmopolitan "Togarashi Beef Charpaccio" and moving on to quail, pheasant, "heirloom beef risotto", and a dessert called "Ménage à Trois" that unaccountably serves just two. (Or, if you prefer, there are peppered strawberries and warm mango tart.) Prices are a la carte; the number to call for reservations is ext. 33801. It's just too bad that all this glamour happens on Friday the 13th.


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Link of the day

Windows 7 beta

When and where

Federation of Students election polls open 7 a.m. Tuesday to 7 p.m. Thursday; results announced noon Friday, Student Life Centre.

Institute for Computer Research presents Uwe Assmann, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, “Collaboration-Based Composition of Languages”, 11:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Applied Complexity and Innovation seminar: Frances Westley, Social Innovation Generation, on “disruptive” social innovations, 12:00 noon, University Club.

Women of Influence Luncheon honouring female scholar-athletes from Ontario universities, 12:00 noon, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

Senate undergraduate council 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop on Camtasia screencasting software, 3:00, Dana Porter Library room 329. Details.

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

Arts faculty council 3:30, PAS building room 2438 (new conference room).

Censorship in children’s literature: “The ‘Bare Naked’ Talk” open discussion with author Kathy Stinson, 5:00 p.m., Sweeney Hall, St. Jerome’s University, book signing follows.

Heart Health nutrition seminar sponsored by Healthy Active Promotion Network, with jump rope contest, carbon monoxide test, information on healthy eating, admission $6, 5:00 to 7:00, Rod Coutts Hall room 308.

Engineering alumni reception during IEEE conference in San Francisco, 5:30 p.m., San Francisco Marriott. Details.

Live and Learn Lecture: Aimee Morrison, department of English, “Online Diaries and New Communities”, Waterloo Public Library main branch, 7:00 p.m.

Italian movie night hosted by department of drama: Fellini’s “8 1/2”, pay what you can, 7:00, Theatre of the Arts.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, workshop, “Project Management”, Wednesday, St. Jacobs.

Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership information session, Wednesday 10:00, Needles Hall room 1101.

Département d’études françaises présente une lecture-conférence de l’écrivaine québécoise Hélène Dorion, mercredi 10h30, Modern Languages salle 354.

Apple iNteractive: iWork 09 and iLife 09, demonstration at Campus TechShop, Student Life Centre, Wednesday 11:00 to 2:00.

Health informatics seminar: Dominic Covvey, Waterloo Institute for HI Research, “Building the eHealth Edifice from the Second Storey Down?” Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 3333.

Heritage Resources Centre lunch-and-learn series: Jody Decker, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Introduction to Cultural Heritage Landscapes”, Wednesday 12:00 noon, Environment I room 317.

Climate change seminar: Linda Mortsch, Environment Canada, “Accessing Vulnerability to Flooding: Case Study of London, Ontario,” Wednesday 12:00 noon, Environment I room 221.

Free noon concert: Digital Prowess (piano, percussion, bass clarinet, double bass, drums) Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Cesar Forero, Thunder Bay artist and UW fine arts graduate, speaks about his work Wednesday 1:00, East Campus Hall room 1219.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information session Wednesday 4:00 p.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard.

Engineering alumni reception at Facebook headquarters, Palo Alto, California, Wednesday 5:30 p.m.. Details.

Lifestyle Learning: “Medical Weight Loss Management” Wednesday 5:30 p.m., TechTown boardroom, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Graduating students session at St. Jerome’s University, discussion with alumni about next steps, Thursday 7:00 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Loving to Learn Day sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Friday. (Deadline for “education quotation” contest, Thursday 7 p.m.) Details.

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