Monday, January 19, 2009

  • Senate discusses more online teaching
  • E&CE students ready to show projects
  • Other notes for another Monday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Smiles as they stand around table]

Retired as of January 1 is Al MacKenzie (at left in the photo), director of police and parking services — formerly director of security — since 1987. He asked not to be the focus of major festivities on his retirement, but was persuaded to drop by the office of president David Johnston, where he was congratulated on his UW service and presented with a scrapbook showing some highlights of his career. The new director is Dan Anderson, formerly a superintendent of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, who started work November 1.

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Senate discusses more online teaching

A proposed commitment "to increase the number of online courses in a planned, strategic way" is on the agenda for today's meeting of the UW senate, the university's academic governing body.

"An online course needs to be considered equivalent to an in-class or blended course," both in academic standards and in the way it's calculated as part of a professor's workload, says a report from the senate long-range planning committee. It was written by a task force that included associate vice-president (academic) Geoff McBoyle, dean of arts Ken Coates, former Renison College president John Crossley, and director of institutional analysis and planning Bob Truman.

"Regardless of delivery mode, students should expect the same level of quality in learning experience from all courses," they write. "Faculty members need to be supported and compensated in an equivalent manner."

Says their report: "Online courses address changing student demographics, changing student expectations and provide several benefits to UW through advances in pedagogy and technology. . . . As the number of online courses and course offerings increase, it is increasingly likely that students will have taken at least one online or blended course as part of their degree. In fact, for the past two Spring convocations (2006, 2007), 50% of the graduating cohort had taken at least one course via DE."

Among their recommendations: "that online resources be developed to assist current and new faculty members in developing online sections of their courses . . . that each Faculty may wish to develop a 'flagship' online course to highlight its teaching and research strengths. . . .

"That preparation of a fully online course be considered equivalent to teaching two regular four-month courses on campus . . . that preparation and re-preparation of online courses be treated as part of a faculty member's work load . . . that online course offerings become part of a department's main line teaching."

At present, in many departments online (and distance education) courses are treated as extra work, with the faculty member paid a cash stipend rather than having such courses count as part of the regular job.

"Over the next five years," says the report, "where it is academically sensible, departments/schools need to consider replacing some of their on-campus offerings with online course offerings such that overall teaching commitments do not increase."

Other topics on the agenda for today's senate meeting include a report on the way graduate programs are administered in the academic departments and in the administrative departments that support them; admission requirements for new undergraduate students in September 2010; and an academic review of most of the undergraduate programs in engineering.

The senate meeting will start at 4:30 in Needles Hall room 3001.

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E&CE students ready to show projects

Students from the electrical and computer engineering program will exhibit innovative design projects, such as a wireless position measuring system for ice skates, a robot controlled over the Internet and an automated programmable greenhouse, at a symposium on Wednesday.

They will present projects covering technological developments in computing, communications, entertainment, information technology and robotics, as well as in medical, power and transportation systems. The ninth annual symposium will be held in the Davis Centre from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Visitors are welcome to browse the interactive displays and meet with students during the event.

"This is an exceptional opportunity for members of the local community to view and interact with these exciting projects first-hand and to speak with our students," says E&CE professor Bill Bishop, the fourth-year design project coordinator. "The symposium showcases the talent and innovation of our outstanding students in the electrical and computer engineering program."

More than 240 students will present 59 interactive projects in seminar format to guests from industry and the academic community. They will also display design project prototypes at a poster presentation session running the entire day. The Infusion Cup — sponsored by Infusion Angels, a company located at the Waterloo Research and Technology Park — will be awarded for the best overall design project.

Students taking part in the symposium have completed an intensive design project course sequence, winding up with a fourth-year course that challenges them to work in groups to identify and address specific design problems. Among the results that will be displayed:

• Ice Skates Physical Data Measurement and Wireless Collection System: The project demonstrates a lightweight, data acquisition system to collect and analyze the dynamic behaviour of a pair of ice skates. Using this system, a coach or an athlete can measure the acceleration, force and position of ice skates. The information can be used to improve existing power skating training techniques.

• Telepresence Robot: The project showcases a robot controlled over the Internet via a wireless interface. The robot can attend meetings, give presentations or even catch up with the latest water-cooler gossip at a remote site using a built-in microphone, camera and speaker system. The robot allows an individual to interact with co-workers face-to-face.

• Automated Programmable Greenhouse: The project demonstrates an automated greenhouse that monitors the greenhouse environment and changes the environment for optimal growing conditions. Sunlight, temperature, humidity, wind and soil conditions are monitored and controlled by the system.

• Haptic Radar: The project showcases an intelligent hard hat that senses dangerous situations and relays the information to a construction worker by vibrating the hard hat. Construction workers are instantly informed of the direction of the hazard so that accidents may be avoided.

• Golf Ball Equipped with Global Positioning Satellite Technology: The project introduces the design of a golf ball that permits position tracking using GPS technology. Using this golf ball, a golfer may easily find balls hit into hazards using a GPS-enabled cellular phone. Also, the tracking system can aid the golfer by displaying key shot statistics including the speed of the shot and the distance travelled.

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Other notes for another Monday

[Desktop computer]First of all, some information about buying computers for use in UW departments. "During the fall term," writes Bob Hicks of information systems and technology, "Metafore was chosen as our preferred supplier of Lenovo computers. A web page is now available for UW departments to purchase Lenovo computers. Please note that academic support departments that are eligible for the rollover program need to contact Bob Hicks to order machines. Questions about the webpage should be directed to either Michelle Cheung (mpscheun@ or Donna Foreman-Braun (deformen@"

Somehow there wasn’t a lot of publicity this year for UW’s involvement in the annual ACM Collegiate Programming Contest, but it turns out that things went very well at the East Central North America regional competition, held in November. The Waterloo Black team, consisting of Andy Kong, Konstantin Lopyrev, and Malcolm Sharpe, finished in third place out of 124 teams, edged out by two teams from Carnegie Mellon University. UW’s Red Team, consisting of Chris Chu, Bo Hong Deng, and Yin Zhao came fifth, followed by the Gold Team of Michael Druker, Guru Guruganesh, and Darin Tay in sixth place. These results qualify Waterloo to send a team to the world finals in April in Stockholm. Coaches for UW’s ACM teams are Ondrej Lhotak, Gordon Cormack and Richard Peng of the school of computer science. “Waterloo has a history of doing very well in the contest,” a note from the math faculty adds, “having won gold in 2005, 2000, 1999, and 1994.”

[Munro]More about the ACM — the Association for Computing Machinery, whose old-fashioned name reveals that it's the early and established professional body in the field of computer science. The association has announced 44 new Fellows around the world, recognized "for their contributions to computing technology that have generated a broad range of innovations for industry, commerce, entertainment, and education . . . the inventors of technology that impact the way people live and work throughout the world". Among them is Ian Munro (right) of UW's Cheriton School of Computer Science, whose fellowship is an acknowledgement of his "contributions to algorithms and data structures". The new Fellows will be honoured at a banquet June 27 in San Diego.

The UW library’s online newsletter announces that “in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and reduce costs, date due slips will no longer be printed at any of the Library’s circulation desks unless requested. Reminder notices will still be sent for 2-week and term loans, and you may check due dates from ‘Your Account’ in Trellis or from ‘My library card’ in Primo Beta.” Also from the newsletter: “Staff at the Map Library are now offering chat reference 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, to assist you with your cartographic and GIS questions. The chat reference service is available via the Map Library home page and is being implemented on a pilot basis for the winter term, with the potential for continuation in subsequent terms.”

I haven’t actually been into the Math and Computer building in the last few days, but I presume it has come to pass as announced, that the elevators are being taken out of operation one by one for an upgrade; the process is expected to last through the end of March. • The UW Stage Band, which rehearses on Monday evenings, is looking for more players, “especially bass, guitar, trumpet and trombone”; director Michael Wood can be reached at percwood@ • "New policies mustn't be premised too heavily on the assertion that small is always better," writes Carleton University researcher Peter Andrée in the new "Size Matters" issue of Alternatives magazine, published in UW's Faculty of Environment.


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Brochure lists courses for staff

The Organizational and Human Development office has announced that its E.D.G.E. brochure listing winter 2009 courses is now available online. “Highlights of the Winter 2009 course offerings include Minute Taking, Financial Planning, and Email as a Second Language. A new course offering for this term is Report and Proposal Writing, brought to you by Ron Champion, facilitator of Guerrilla Grammar. Hard copies of the brochure have been mailed out to those staff that do not have access to e-mail. As well, hard copies of the brochure are available upon request.”

Link of the day

King's speech in the CBC archives

When and where

Used book sale in support of Renison College library, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hallway outside library.

Blood donor clinic today and Tuesday 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

UW Sustainability Project general volunteer meetings Monday and Tuesday 12:00 noon, Student Life Centre room 3103. Details.

Recreation and leisure studies professor Troy Glover, “Using Photographs to Understand How Citizens Value the Landscapes of Downtown Kitchener”, 12:00, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Philosophy colloquium: Brad Majors, University of Wisconsin at Madison, “Epistemic Entitlement”, 3:00, Humanities room 334.

United Arab Emirates campus information session with director Magdy Salama, originally announced for today, cancelled.

Soirée Ciné: “Persépolis” (2007), 6 p.m., St. Jerome’s University room 3027.

Banff Mountain Film Festival 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $15.

Faculty of Science presents Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize winner 2002, and John Bell, University of Oxford, “The Architecture of Biological Complexity,” Tuesday 10:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free.

UW Recreation Committee presents Michele Cadotte, Higher Vision Lifestyle Coaching, “Making 2009 the Best Year Ever”, Tuesday 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

‘Are You Thinking about an International Experience?’ workshop organized by Career Services, Tuesday 3:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture: Chris Reed, ‘stossLU’, Boston, Tuesday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Volunteer/Internship Fair Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Parents of Grade 10 students invited to an information session about planning for university application, organized by marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, Wednesday 6:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

President’s New Year’s Luncheon for tenants in the Research and Technology Park, Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, remarks 12:15, raffle prizes to support R+T Park Tenants Fund.

UW board of governors meets Tuesday, February 3, 2:30 p.m.

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