Tuesday, April 27, 2010

  • If this is Tuesday, the alarms go off
  • Teens face 'science challenge' tomorrow
  • VeloCity picks its bootcamp prospects
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Fire bell]If this is Tuesday, the alarms go off

The annual fire drills in most buildings on the Waterloo campus will be held this morning, says Douglas Dye of the UW safety office. “The Ontario Fire Code requires regular testing of fire safety equipment,” he explains. “In order to meet its regulatory responsibilities UW will be conducting fire drills on the main campus. All building occupants are required to evacuate a building when the fire alarm sounds.” Most buildings within the ring road, plus Optometry, East Campus Hall and the Icefield, are involved — but not Davis, Physics, PAS, Engineering 2 and 3, or ERC. Also not involved are any residences, the Research Advancement Centre on Wes Graham Way, or buildings in Kitchener and Cambridge.

For staff in a couple of UW departments, who worked over the weekend during the great utilities shutdown, yesterday was very much, as the saying goes, the morning after the night before. "It wasn't a very pleasant day for many of us," laughs Rick Zalagenas, director of maintenance and utilities in the plant operations department, who reported that a number of small things went wrong at various points in the 28-hour experience. However, he says, "the primary work went well, in the timeline that we wanted," namely connecting the Quantum-Nano Centre to the campus electrical grid, and installing new compact switches for a number of circuits in an electrical room in the central plant building. The job was actually finished a couple of hours early, by about 6 p.m. Sunday, though it then took a long while before everything, including computer networks, was back in normal operation. Zalagenas says this week's job of connecting the QNC will be followed by final work in August that will call for shorter power shutdowns in individual buildings; details will be announced as the time gets nearer.

The Graduate Student Research Conference continues today, with presentations that range from "Pricing Mortality Derivatives" (that's Rui Zhou of statistics and actuarial science) to "Inkjet-Printed Carbon Nano-Tubes for High Sensitivity Wireless Sensors" (George Shaker of electrical and computer engineering). The day also features three keynote speakers: Gordon Willmot of stats and actuarial science at 11:00, Dan-Eric Nilsson of Lund University's Vision Group at 1:00, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield at 5:00. A full schedule is online. The conference — mostly in the Davis Centre, though Hadfield's keynote talk will be in the Humanities Theatre — continues through Friday.

The university secretariat has announced that voting will begin Thursday (April 29) and run through May 5, as graduate students elect a representative on the university senate. Brief campaign statements are available online for the candidates who are contesting the position: James Law (environment and resource studies), Umar Shafique (electrical and computer engineering) and Helen Stubbs (chemistry). All full- and part-time graduate students of the university are eligible to vote.

And to fill another senate seat, "Nominations are requested for one faculty member of the university to be elected by/from the Faculty of Mathematics, term to April 30, 2012. At least five nominators are required in each case.  Nominations should be sent to the Secretariat, Needles Hall, room 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 11, 2010.  Elections will follow if necessary."  

Finally, some notes from the faculty association’s Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, as reported by committee chair Sally Gunz to the association’s annual meeting earlier this month: “Promotion and tenure cases typically become known to the AF&T Committee at the time reservations are first expressed by the Department Promotion and Tenure Committee in November. The Committee was notified of approximately 6 cases where concerns of some form had arisen. At the time of writing, all but two have been resolved (with the candidate either being successful with their application or other concerns being addressed). The remaining cases will proceed to the appeal Tribunal stage in the early summer of 2010 with the assistance of the AF&T Committee members as ‘academic colleagues’. . . . A key role for the AF&T is preparing faculty for important career steps including the renewal, tenure, and promotion decisions. This April, training sessions will be held for new faculty, those approaching renewal, and faculty applying either for tenure and/or promotion this year. These sessions will be backed by a new website for AF&T that will incorporate searchable policy documents and annotated commentaries for key policies. . . . Finally, there are on-going issues relating to accommodations and other concerns for individual faculty members. There also remains one external arbitration that is yet to be complete.”

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Teens face 'science challenge' tomorrow

More than 100 students from across Waterloo Region and Toronto will visit campus tomorrow to participate in the university’s first All Science Challenge — a day-long enrichment event that encourages Grades 6, 7 and 8 students to acquire science knowledge beyond their curriculum.

Designed by post-secondary science students, the All Science Challenge is part of a nationwide Let’s Talk Science program that features a stimulating question-and-answer competition and fun hands-on challenges.

“The All Science Challenge will get kids excited and foster a positive atmosphere about science,” said event co-ordinator Jeff Perttula. “Students will test their knowledge in a range of disciplines, such as earth sciences, biology, chemistry and physics.”

At 10:30 a.m. in the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, the teams will participate in two rounds of individual and group questions, with professors and post-doctoral fellows serving as judges to gauge the correctness of their answers. During the lunch break, they'll will have an opportunity to visit a variety of displays and participate in activities such as panning for gold, a levitating train experiment and a biology film festival.

In the final preliminary round at noon, teams will compete in a design contest, where they are challenged to build an object with the materials supplied to them. In past design challenges, students have constructed objects like a rudimentary Morse code machine using only a nail, copper wire, paper clips and battery. Students will be judged on their problem-solving skills, teamwork and their design demonstration. There will be an elimination round in the afternoon where the top teams will face off in two more rounds of trivia.

“We are delighted the University of Waterloo has chosen to participate in the All Science Challenge this year,” said Bonnie Schmidt, president of the sponsoring group, Let’s Talk Science — an award-winning, national, charitable, science outreach organization. “We hope this competition will inspire our next generation of scientists and show students that many of the things we see and do every day involve science.”

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VeloCity picks its bootcamp prospects

a news release from the media relations office

Three top student teams will participate in the inaugural VeloCity Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, the first residence-based program of its kind in North America, to be held this summer at Waterloo.

Nine young Canadian entrepreneurs will come to learn how to develop their promising ideas at the bootcamp, which runs from May to August in VeloCity, a hybrid student residence and high-tech incubator at Waterloo. VeloCity has spawned several strong startup companies in mobile communications and digital media since its launch two years ago.

"We anticipate that these three teams will be the first of many in one of the most innovative summer residence programs in North America," said Sean Van Koughnett, director of VeloCity. "We had a very challenging task selecting three exciting student teams from over 40 who applied from universities and colleges from across Canada."

The bootcamp, which draws on Waterloo's widely acknowledged strengths in innovation, provides $3,000 in funding to each student to develop ideas. The students own 100 per cent of their intellectual property.

The three teams will live rent-free at VeloCity and will work out of office space provided at no charge by the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo's Research and Technology Park. The selected students will be mentored by some of Canada's most experienced and successful entrepreneurs. As well, they will attend seminars and workshops on business-related topics.

Waterloo joined forces with the Ontario Centres of Excellence's Centre for Commercialization of Research to set up VEB. Other key partners include the Accelerator Centre; Communitech, which will provide programming and access to their network of mentors; and the Impact Entrepreneurship Group, which will help promote VEB on campuses across the country.

"In aiming this program specifically at students we are helping to create a culture of entrepreneurship among young people which is really critical to the long-term development of innovation," said Mario Thomas, managing director, Centre of Excellence for Commercialization of Research.

At the end of the bootcamp, students will be ready to launch their products or services for the benefit of the Canadian economy. They will also be eligible for additional seed funding through the OCE's Centre for Commercialization of Research's new entrepreneur program.

The Group Vestor team is made up of three Waterloo students: Moe Adham, mechatronics engineering; Ahmed Shuhaib, economics; and Jason Wang, computer science. They will work on an online social investing platform, which mixes social networking, virtual stock trading, financial derivatives and real-time server side financial trading. The goal is to allow investors to connect and communicate with users who have the expertise in managing virtual portfolios. The team's target market is disgruntled mutual fund investors with a low risk aversion. They hope to increase returns for mutual fund investors.

The Altus Tech team involves two students at UW and one at Queen's University: Avi Itskovich, computer science, Waterloo; David Villarreal, computer science, Waterloo; and Mark Ally, business, Queen's. They plan to develop a new software app for Apple's new iPad. Their first product, the card framework, targets a market which wasn't as viable on small multi-touch devices, as it's preferred to play cards with life-sized cards. "The larger surface really allows card games to shine," the trio says. "The other novel part of the project is that instead of servicing the consumer as many application innovations have been doing in the web age, we are instead working to satisfy the enterprise customer." By the end of the summer the team expects to have reached the third stage of development to create a fully-working card development framework ready for sale and use by developers.

The Aetas Solution team is made up of three students at the University of British Columbia: Chris Hughes, computer science; Alexander Jettel, computer science; and Lars Peterson, commerce. They have developed a technology that aims to provide easy access for business owners to schedule appointments and to access their customer database from any online device. A business with this software can access, synchronize and make changes to all the data with mobile devices via a native app (application). Targeting the small business owner, or organizations that work on a collaborative team environment where calendar, appointments and contact numbers need to be shared with a group of colleagues, the team expects to create a set of services and products that provide convenience and simplicity to customers.


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Link of the day

Freedom Day

When and where

UW-ACE upgrade to Angel version 7.4: system will be down 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

‘Making Assessment Meaningful’ annual symposium on “learning about teaching”, second day: faculty workshops 9:00 and 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Graduate Student Research Conference through Friday, Davis Centre. Details.

Biochemistry and molecular biology seminar: Stephen G. Withers, University of British Columbia, “New Approaches to Enzymatic Glycoside Synthesis” 10:30, CEIT room 1015.

UW Recreation Committee presents Chloe Hamilton, Warm Embrace  Elder Care, “Brain Fitness” 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Opportunities and New Directions conference on post-secondary teaching and learning, sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday. Details.

Microsoft speaker: Allen Stewart, Windows Server and Solutions Group, “Windows Server Platform Strategy” Wednesday 10 a.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

Health services closed for staff training Wednesday morning, will open 1 p.m.

Advances in Health Informatics Conference 2010 hosted by NIHI, WIHIR, and schools of optometry and pharmacy, Wednesday-Friday, Health Sciences Campus, Kitchener. Details.

Accelerator Centre “graduation” for client company Karos Health, Wednesday 10 a.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard.

Holocaust Education Committee and Waterloo Region District School Board diversity event, Wednesday 11:30, Humanities Theatre.

‘The Quantum Tamers’ documentary film, question period with Institute for Quantum Computing director Ray Laflamme, Wednesday 6 p.m., Minto Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa.

Fee payment deadline for spring term is April 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference April 29-30, Ryerson University, Toronto. Details.

UW International Spouses potluck lunch Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Water Institute hosts researchers from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany, for presentations and signing of a memorandum of understanding,  Thursday from 1:30 p.m., CEIT room 1015, concluding with reception 5:15 p.m.

Centre for International Governance Innovation presents Bruce Riedel, terrorism expert and White House advisor, “Obama’s War: Prospects for the Conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan” Thursday 7:00, 57 Erb Street West.

Bookstore and other retail services outlets in South Campus Hall and Student Life Centre closed Friday, April 30, for inventory.

‘European Integration: Past, Present and Future’ conference at Wilfrid Laurier University, April 30 and May 1. Details.

Ontario University Athletics “Women of Influence” luncheon honouring top female student athletes, Friday 12 noon, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

Bookstore and other retail outlets in South Campus Hall open Saturday, May 1, 12 noon to 4 p.m. for beginning-of-term purchases. Next week: Monday-Friday 9 to 5, Saturday (May 8) 12 to 4.

Gourmet Trail 2010 tour of local restaurants in support of KidsLink, beginning with champagne reception at Federation Hall, Saturday, tickets $100. Details.

OUA women’s basketball all-star game Saturday, May 1, 7:30 p.m., WLU athletic complex, admission free.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel University College, spring concert Saturday 8:00, details to be announced.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 3.

Weight Watchers at Work spring series begins May 6, 12:00, Humanities room 373; call ext. 32218 to register.

Canada 3.0 digital media conference sponsored by Stratford Institute and Canadian Digital Media Network, May 10-11, Stratford. Details.

Gauss Mathematics Competition for grade 7-8 students, organized by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, Wednesday, May 12. Details.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Mohammad Reza Nezhad Ahmadi Mohabadi, “Integrated Circuit and Antenna Technology for Millimeter-Wave Phased Array Radio Front-End.” Supervisor, Safieddin Safavai-Naeini. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, April 30, 2:00 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Civil and environmental engineering. Khaled Sherbini, “Decision Support System for Value-Based Evaluation and Conditional Approval of Construction Submittal.” Supervisors, Tarek Hegazi and Carl Haas. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, May 3, 1:30 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Recreation and leisure studies. Lisa Sailor, “The Conditioning of Community: A Look at the Decision-Making in Transitioning an Industry-Based Community. A Case Study of the Port of Nanaimo Centre.” Supervisors, Heather Mair and Bryan Smale. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Tuesday, May 4, 9:30 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

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