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Thursday, March 3, 2011

  • Turning the CN Tower engineering purple
  • Risk of smoking rises with women's status
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Turning the CN Tower engineering purple

A “province-wide Rube Goldberg machine” with parts at all of Ontario’s engineering schools will be set in motion tomorrow as a light-hearted salute to National Engineering Month.

[NEM logo]Students and officials in Waterloo’s faculty of engineering have several events in mind for NEM, which its organizers say is “the biggest national celebration of engineering excellence . . . volunteers in each province and territory host over 500 events that show Canadians how rewarding the career choice can really be. During the month of March, the profession strives to reach out to young Canadians to let them know what an exciting and fun career choice engineering really is.”

Some of those young Canadians were a group of grade 11 students who visited the Student Design Centre in Engineering 5 yesterday to help build Waterloo’s segment of the eye-catching “machine”. They also attended a seminar about engineering, a discipline that isn’t always easy for high school students to understand.

“Both students and parents,” a news release promises, “will be able to see some of the latest accomplishments by UW engineering students, as well as ask current students about the program, student life, or whatever else they’re curious about regarding becoming an engineer.” Plus they got to help build the machine, “to celebrate the creativity and innovation that is such a critical part of engineering.

“Now, what exactly is a Rube Goldberg machine? Like most machines, a Rube Goldberg machine is made to accomplish a task, but it accomplishes this task in the most complicated way possible. Each engineering school across the province will build their very own machine, and they will all be interconnected via cell phones or e-mails, so one machine will be able to start the other.

“The entire machine across Ontario will be run on March 4, and anyone interested in NEM is welcome to come to the unveiling of Waterloo’s machine that will also be on this day. The machine will eventually send a signal to Toronto where the CN Tower will be lit with purple lights — the colour of engineering!”

The next day, as NEM activities continue, more than 60 Girl Guides are expected to qualify for an engineering badge during the first annual Ontario Girl Guide Badge Day event. The Guides and their leaders will visit the engineering faculty and meet with women engineers while learning firsthand about engineering careers. They will also take part in hands-on activities to meet the requirements for earning their badge.

Waterloo's event is part of a provincial initiative offered through the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering and Girl Guides Ontario to provide badge day programs at six locations across the province. Organizers expect more than 350 guides and their leaders to participate this year.

"Many children do not understand what engineers do and the wide variety of ways they help make the world a better place," said Mary Wells, associate dean (outreach) in the engineering faculty. "This event will showcase the profession and grow awareness at an early age of the exciting career opportunities engineering offers."

Saturday’s event, including lab tours, will start at 9 a.m. with registration and remarks from Wells. Engineering dean Adel Sedra will present the girls with their badges as the day winds up.

Coming soon as part of National Engineering Month:

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[All in blue hoodies]

The Water Boys had "an intense weekend of singing and fun" at the International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella quarter-finals at Penn State University, says group manager Johnny Trinh. "The Boys did Waterloo and Canada proud," he adds, placing fourth overall and taking the award for outstanding choreography. "The judges approved of our song choices, really reflecting who we are, our school, and our group. We received more positive feedback for bringing in traditional and Canadian repertoire. Our final number, and ever popular, 'Diva Medley' was the big show-stopper. By far, we were the best dressed crew. All the other groups really liked the hoodies and the look. The judges thought were showed great cohesion and looked very sharp. We look forward to next year's competition."

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Risk of smoking rises with women's status

Millions of women in developing countries risk disease and early death in the coming decades as the tobacco industry exploits their rising economic and political status, according to a new study involving a prominent Waterloo researcher and one of his graduate students. It’s published this week in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, and analyses women’s empowerment and smoking rates in 74 countries.

Lead author of the study is psychology graduate student Sara Hitchman, and the second author is psych professor Geoffrey Fong, who heads the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project. He’s also a senior investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and has received multi-million-dollar grants for research around the world into such issues as the use of warning labels on cigarette packages, smoking in cars, and the health effects of laws that control smoking in public places.

Their study, titled “Gender, women and the tobacco epidemic”, reports that men are currently five times more likely to smoke than women in countries with lower measures of female empowerment, such as China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uganda. In countries with relatively high female empowerment, such as Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the United States, this gap has been closed: women smoke almost as much as men do.

“Empowerment” is measured by the United Nations Development Programme using data such as female representation in parliaments, voting rights and comparisons of male-to-female income in each country.

Says the article: “Future research should investigate what strategies may be most effective in preventing uptake among groups of women who tend to be the first to take up smoking, as shown by historical investigations of the tobacco epidemic, namely, those who are younger and more highly educated. However, as the course of the tobacco epidemic may not evolve in exactly the same way across countries, the tobacco epidemic among women should be carefully monitored.”

According to Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, “This study highlights the need to act quickly to curb smoking among women, particularly in developing countries. The tobacco epidemic is still in its early stages in many countries but is expected to worsen. Strong tobacco control measures such as bans on tobacco advertising are needed to prevent the tobacco industry from targeting women.”

Says Hitchman, the lead author: “We must pay more attention to the ways in which the tobacco industry is capitalizing on societal changes to target women, such as marketing cigarettes to women as a symbol of emancipation. Women’s empowerment must continue, but does the bad necessarily have to follow the good?”

The Tobacco Free Initiative at WHO encourages countries to prevent the spread of the tobacco epidemic by implementing policies outlined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control — including public awareness campaigns, packaging and promotion regulations and tax measures to reduce demand for tobacco products.

The Bulletin of the World Health Organization is described as one of the world’s leading public health journals, and is the flagship periodical of WHO, with a special focus on developing countries. Articles are peer-reviewed and are independent of WHO guidelines. Abstracts are available in the six official languages of the United Nations.


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[Art by Schutz]

The department of fine arts presents an artist talk for New York painter Dana Schutz tonight at 7:00 in the newly renovated University of Waterloo Art Gallery in East Campus Hall. “This presentation,” an invitation says, “acknowledges Schutz’s participation as one of three international artists who hosted graduate candidates from the MFA program during the 2010 Shantz Internship. Dana Schutz’s paintings have garnered international attention during the past decade and she is considered amongst the most influential contemporary painters. While her work is representational, Schutz explodes the boundaries of the figurative genre. Populated by recognizable and yet fantastical characters that are often juxtaposed in awkward circumstances, her images blur the line between realism and the unfettered imagination. Her paintings captures an idiosyncratic and often disconcerting world view that encapsulates horror, humour and humanity. This free presentation will be followed by an informal reception.”

Link of the day

Jean Harlow, 100 years

When and where

Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival co-sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, through Sunday. Details.

Free the Children fund-raiser sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, 7:30 to 2:00, South Campus Hall.

Career workshops today: “Exploring Your Personality Type”, first of two sessions, 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Business Etiquette and Professionalism” 2:30, Tatham room 1208. Details.

Career Café March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31: career advisor on site at Student Life Centre, 11:30 to 1:00.

Waterloo Centre for Advancement of Cooperative Education research seminar: Rocco Fondocaro, co-op education and career services, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask Employers about CUDLEing” (Co-op Undergraduate Degree Level Expectations) 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

TEDx Waterloo video and live speakers 1:00 to 8:00, Centre in the Square. Details. Will be streamed online; big-screen viewings at Student Life Centre, Accelerator Centre, other locations.

Library workshop: “Keep Current in Your Field” 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit Project public consultations, drop in between 3 and 8 p.m., Albert McCormick Community Centre. Details and other dates.

Staff career seminars: “Networking Is Not a Dirty Word” 3:30, “Job Search Solutions” 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

‘So You Think You Can Dance Waterloo’ auditions, final day; competition March 19. Details.

Innovation Series: ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ 7:00, Stratford campus. Details.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel UC, reception honouring composer Don Macdonald, 7:30, Clay and Glass Gallery, tickets $10. Details.

‘Narratives of Violence, Narratives of Healing’ conference at Wilfrid Laurier University, Thursday-Friday; keynote speech by peace activist James Loney, 7:30 p.m., Maureen Forrester Recital Hall. Details.

Adam Growe comedy and quiz show at Bombshelter Pub, doors open 8:00, $7 advance or $10 at door.

Explore Islam: exhibition on Islam, Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall; “The Advent and Revival of Islam” Friday 4 to 7 p.m., SLC multipurpose room, presented by Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Trevor Grove, “Virtual Private Networks” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” Friday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Wayne Brodland, civil and environmental engineering, “To Build an Embryo” Friday 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

Black Forest Coffee House Friday-Saturday, St. Paul’s U College, $7 one night or $10 both nights (at the door).

‘Canada’s International Image’ Global Citizenship Conference at Wilfrid Laurier University, Saturday; keynote speaker, Lloyd Axworthy, 6 p.m., WLU Arts building room 1E1. Details and tickets.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel UC, spring concert, “Chiaroscuro” Saturday 8:00 and Sunday 3:00, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener, music includes “Sunne of Grace” by Leonard Enns of Grebel. Details.

Annual staff conference April 6-7, Humanities Theatre and nearby classrooms. Details.

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