Thursday, January 7, 2010

  • Quantum grad programs start this fall
  • Co-op job helped her 'understand poverty'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[White coat; posing in professional practice lab in Pharmacy building]

The white coat indicates that she's a pharmacy student: Bridget Braceland, a 2006 graduate of the health studies program who's now in the class dubbed Rx2011. She is featured in "We're Making the Future", the university's 2009 donor report, and speaks about the "meaningful mentorship opportunities" that community partnerships provide to pharmacy students. A new class of first-year students joined the pharmacy school this week and will get their own white coats at a ceremony today (5:00 in the Humanities Theatre). It's part of a "Phrosh Week" orientation experience organized by the Society of Pharmacy Students.

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Quantum grad programs start this fall

by Colin Hunter, Institute for Quantum Computing

UW’s senate has approved four graduate programs in quantum information, leading to MMath, MSc, MASc and PhD degrees and promising to provide an unprecedented breadth of study in the burgeoning field.

The collaborative program was created with consultation and approval from six academic units and three faculties before gaining approval in December from the senate executive committee. It will expose students to a wide range of advanced research projects and courses on the foundations, applications and implementations of quantum information processing.

The program is still pending approval from the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies, but applications are now being accepted for the fall 2010 term.

Though a relatively new field of study, quantum information science promises to be one of the most important subjects in the near future, given its enormous potential impact on technology and communications. Learning how to harness and manipulate subatomic particles according to the rules of quantum physics is expected to allow for information processing with power unrivalled by any present-day computers.

The new graduate program is unique in the world because of its scope and breadth, encompassing both experimental and theoretical aspects of quantum information. Students will be required to take two key courses: Quantum Information Processing, and Implementation of Quantum Information Processing.

“I don’t know of anywhere else in the world that requires students to acquire this depth of background in both the theory and implementation of quantum information,” said Michele Mosca, deputy director of the Institute for Quantum Computing and chair of the committee overseeing the new graduate program.

Students will be based in an academic unit that offers a graduate degree program and will earn a Quantum Information qualification to their degrees; for instance, Master of Mathematics in Computer Science (Quantum Information), or Doctor of Philosophy of Science in Chemistry (Quantum Information).

“The breakthroughs in quantum computing will likely happen across different disciplines,” Mosca said. “We are sowing the seeds for that to happen. Big ideas tend to come from the cross-pollination of disciplines.”

He added: “The breadth of this program is really unique. We want to set the global standard for this type of program.”

Faculty who are appointed or cross-appointed to IQC will be instructors for the new courses, including Debbie Leung of combinatorics and optimization (teaching Theory of Quantum Communication), Norbert Lütkenhaus (Applied Quantum Cryptography), and Frank Wilhelm of physics and astronomy (Implementation of Quantum Information Processing).

IQC will soon be housed in a new state-of-the-art building that’s under construction at the heart of the university’s main campus: the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. The building will contain a new fabrication and metrology facility, along with a suite of laboratories for the experimental investigation of such areas as quantum optics, nuclear magnetic resonance and electron spin resonance, quantum dots, superconducting qubits, coherent spintronics and quantum cryptography.

The new building will host IQC researchers from all three faculties — mathematics, engineering and science — and will be equipped with formal and informal meeting areas designed to allow interaction and cross-disciplinary collaboration.


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Co-op job helped her 'understand poverty'

by Karina Graf, from the Inside Scoop online newsletter for UW co-op students

La Victoria, a district in Lima, Peru, is described by Wikipedia as “one of the most dangerous places in the country.” Apparently “gang violence, prostitution, drug trafficking and gunfights are very common” and tourist bureaus advise people to “stay well clear of the neighbourhood.”

Boldly ignoring the warnings, 4A planning student Renee Mak entered La Victoria in January 2009. She didn’t know a soul, but that didn’t stop her from hopping on a plane and flying solo to Lima.

[Those look like peace signs she's making]With the help of a CECS field co-ordinator, Mak (right) had found a unique position as a Group Home Assistant with CEDRO, a Students Without Borders job in Peru, for her four month work term. Upon arrival, she met the group of young males who lived at the group home. As the home is a haven for vulnerable youth, the boys came from a variety of backgrounds.

“They have abusive families or drug addition or other sort of social or behavioural problems,” said Mak. “The first week I worked there, a lot of them wouldn’t even talk to me. These boys have gone through so much and I’m just a stranger to them. It takes awhile to gain that trust.”

Although she had a bit of a rocky start, the boys eventually warmed up to her. She acted as a confidant and friend to them.

The boys attend school daily and meet with on-site psychologists. In the summer they participate in fun classes like dance and carpentry. The youths are also provided the opportunity to train in a trade to prepare for future employment. Despite the welcoming environment at the home, “Boys run away a lot,” Mak said. "New boys will come and other boys will leave. It changes all the time.” The number of boys at the house varied from 10 to 14 throughout her stay. The home itself home is very small. Fourteen boys shared a single bathroom and the bedrooms are cramped, with four to a room. “Many Canadians would find the living conditions shocking,” she says.

Hygiene standards in Peru are inevitably different from North American standards; Mak and the boys sometimes became ill from meals provided by a local soup kitchen.

Surprisingly, despite the many hardships she witnessed every day, “The hardest thing for me was the treatment of females. Every day men would holler at me on the streets. It was very difficult because I find it disrespectful. But after a while I learned to adapt because they don’t mean it as offence. You have to learn the cultural difference that they are trying to compliment you; it’s how they’ve been brought up and there’s nothing you can do about that — you just have to learn to accept it."

The best part of her term? "Just being there. Now I can say I understand poverty. I’ve learned another perspective.”

With the many warnings about the dangers of Peru, Mak admits she felt nervous before she travelled to Lima. “I was scared before I was about to depart Canada. The area was supposed to be the most dangerous place in Lima, but once I got there I wasn’t afraid. It’s important to know what areas are dangerous, avoid these areas, don’t be caught there after dark. But I think, for the most part, it’s a misconception. I think people are so frightened of poverty they believe people who are impoverished are all criminals — that they are going to get you. But by experience in La Victoria, everyone’s very kind, people would be so friendly. I never had any incidents where I was scared.”


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Thursday notes

Repair work has started on the three Laurel Creek bridges at the centre of the campus, and will continue for several months. Gary Kosar of UW's plant operations department says one bridge will be closed at a time as various stages of the work are done; this week it's the bridge closest to Health Services that's fenced off. He wishes pedestrians would use the other bridges rather than risking danger or damage by climbing the fences.

Some readers of yesterday's Daily Bulletin saw a misspelt version of a faculty member's name; the computer science professor being honoured by the IEEE Communications Society is Raouf Boutaba, with a B.

Link of the day

Orthodox Christmas

When and where

Campus recreation registration for intramural sports January 4-8, for instructional programs January 11-14, athletics office, Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Bookstore and other South Campus Hall stores open 9:00 to 7:00 today, 9 to 5 Friday, 12 to 4 Saturday. Campus Tech, Student Life Centre, open Monday-Friday 9 to 5.

Feds Used Books, Student Life Centre, open Monday-Friday 8:30 to 5:30 this week, Saturday 9 to 5.

Return-to-campus interviews for co-op students, through Friday, Tatham Centre.

Chamber Choir auditions Thursday-Friday 1:00 to 5:00, Conrad Grebel UC chapel. Details.

Baden-Württemberg and Rhône-Alpes exchange programs information session 3:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Math business and accounting programs information session about the CFA, PRM and CFP designations, 5:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 4020.

Warriors Band practice every Thursday 5:30, Physical Activities Complex room 2012.

Auditions for FASS 2010 Wednesday-Friday 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Hagey Hall room 119. Details.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo first rehearsal of the term, 7 p.m., Ron Eydt Village great hall. New players welcome; register online.

Warrior men’s hockey at Laurier, 7:30 p.m., Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre.

Philosophy colloquium: Eric Mandelbaum, University of North Carolina, Friday 4:00, Humanities room 373.

Comedian Jon LaJoie at Humanities Theatre, Friday 7:30 p.m.

St. Jerome’s University mini-course: Peter C. Erb, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Facing a Secular Age: Notes for the Modern Sceptic” January 8, 15 and 22, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall. Details.

BOT (Beginning Of Term) engineering pub, Friday 9 p.m. to midnight, South Campus Hall. Details.

Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery Bee Keeper’s Ball murder mystery and masked ball, Saturday 8 p.m., 25 Caroline Street, Waterloo, tickets $20. Details.

Work term reports from fall term co-op jobs due Monday 4 p.m., Tatham Centre.

On-campus recruitment information session organized by career services, Tuesday 11:30, or Thursday, January 14, 1:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113. Details.

‘Will Ecology Dominate the 21st Century?’ panel discussion with Thomas Homer-Dixon and Robert Gibson (UW) and Stephen Bocking (Trent U), sponsored by UW-published Alternatives Journal, Tuesday 7:30 p.m., Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, tickets $10. Details.

Co-op job postings for spring term jobs begin January 16 on JobMine.

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