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Thursday, November 24, 2011

  • A numbers game
  • Professor elected Fellow of American Physical Society
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

The EIT foyer was packed with over 125 career-minded science students who sought out the sage advice of 45 alumni at yesterday's Speed Networking 3.0 workshop hosted by the Faculty of Science. "The event was very informative," grinned Eric Nguyen (above, pictured with biochemistry alumna Aileen Lam of Maple Leaf Foods Ltd.), "it gave me an idea of the possibilities my future holds." The sentiment was echoed by Betty Robinson, a freelance development editor who was happy to represent as a science alum, "Speed Networking is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the sheer numbers of different career opportunities now available."

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Electrical Engineering student Dhruv Patel.
A numbers game

from an article by Andrea Banerjee, from Issue One of the Fall 2011 Inside sCo-op newsletter for Waterloo co-op students.

Organized. Proactive. Goal-oriented. Self-starter. We’re all familiar with these résumé buzzwords, and have likely used them in interviews when asked to describe our strengths.

Dhruv Patel (above) has a better idea: show, don’t tell.

The 4A Electrical Engineering student has been proving to himself and potential employers just how much he fits the bill when it comes to these tag words. He relies on tangible facts instead of rehearsed answers, providing his prospective employers with hard data they can’t argue with.

How? For years Dhruv has been tracking and charting his progress in a remarkable collection of ever-expanding spreadsheets. If an employer would like to see a specific course credit, Dhruv can produce it - along with the grade, the credit weighting and the term average. If employers ask him what his weaknesses are, he can provide a chart tracking his soft skills ratings from his first co-op term to the present. His weakest rated attribute will be listed - alongside every other category - with his improvement by term.

Dhruv has created his own type of transcript; one that measures strengths and weaknesses, details projects, maintains a contact database and tracks professional and academic progress. How did he begin to create his hyper-organized progression log? We had the same question.

Dhruv recalls advice given to him in his first round of PDEng. The course encouraged him to keep a log of his activities and progress. “The first time I heard that I thought it was a rubbish idea,” he recalls. Despite his initial doubt, he began to keep a record of his co-op progress. Over the years it has undergone new levels of added sophistication. Today his master Excel workbook contains five large spreadsheets and about 15 charts and graphs.

According to Dhruv, spreadsheets are immensely helpful for managing all areas of one`s life. He keeps databases that are personal, academic and work-related to help him track his grades, work evaluations and even spending. After all, as Dhruv points out, numbers don’t lie: keeping a database makes it impossible to ignore areas for improvement, since they stare you in the face.

“Let’s say you’re bad at math,” he offers. “Now you can [easily identify] only math courses and see what specifically you’re weak at.” The spreadsheet helps you target those areas that need work, particularly when they are colour-coded or charted, the way they are in Dhruv’s records. When you improve, the visuals change, making your progression feel substantial and measurable over time. “When you look at this you can see the bigger picture,” says Dhruv.

Dhruv encourages others to adopt his practice of logging his grades, activities and progress. “I have several first year co-op friends in Engineering and they always tell me, “You upper-years always steal our jobs.” So I tell them that there has to be something that differentiates you from the other co-op students in other universities.” This is why he brings something different to the table, in the form of his own organizational system of data. He is often rewarded with the interest of his interviewers. “Even in second year, they were really impressed,” recalls Dhruv. “They said that even the fourth years don’t present this type of thing. It really gives you an edge.”

So if you’re having trouble staying focused, take Dhruv’s advice: start recording. Get it in numbers. Numbers keep us accountable. Numbers are powerful incentive. Numbers count projects completed, evaluation scores, grades achieved, money saved - you name it. Know your numbers, whatever they may be. Better yet-be proud of them!

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Professor elected Fellow of American Physical Society

Professor Michel Gingras.Magnets. How do they work?

Professor Michel Gingras (right) of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and who is considered an expert in the field of magnetism, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

His citation reads, "For theory of geometrically-frustrated magnetic materials and the spin ice ground state in pyrochlore magnets."

The American Physical Society has more than 48,000 members, and only one-half of one percent of those members can be elected to the fellowship.

Professor Gingras's name and citation will appear alongside the others elected to the Fellowship in the March 2012 issue of APS News. Founded in 1899, the American Physical Society, according to its mission statement, "strives to be the leading voice for physics and an authoritative source of physics information for the advancement of physics and the benefit of humanity."

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Link of the day

US Thanksgiving

When and where

Staff association craft sale (18th annual) November 24, 10:00-4:00 p.m., DC 1301. Continues Friday, 9:00-3:00.

myHRinfo Test Drive Centre: staff invited to drop in and ask questions about the upgraded system, Thursday, November 24, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., MC1078.

History Speaker Series, Dr. Andrew Burtch, Canadian War Museum, presents, "Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada's Cold War Civil Defence, 1945-1963." 3:00 p.m., DWE 3516.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, November 24, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Alumni outing to see “Rock of Ages” at Centre in the Square, with pre-show reception and talk-back session, Thursday, November 24, 6:30 p.m., tickets $68. Details.

Eat and Speak with Professor Stu McGill. Thursday, November 24, 6:00 p.m. at the Mongolian Grill in the University Plaza. Details.

Green Movie Night, featuring 'The Revenge of the Electric Car,' 7:00 p.m., Princess Twin Cinemas, with a second show at the original Princess at 9:05 p.m. Contact info@ for more details.

Bridges Lecture: Carol Acton (English) and Steven Furino (mathematics), “Breaking Codes: The Invasion of Normandy” Thursday, November 24, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

Mid-Cycle Review session for mathematics, arts, and science faculty and staff, Friday, November 25, 10:00 a.m., Village 1.

Getting Started in Desire2Learn workshop for instructors, organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Friday, November 25, 10:30, and other dates, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

International Spouses meeting, "Talk & Learn about UW and Canadian Health Service," Friday, November 25, 12:45 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Gordon Vala-Webb, PwC Canada, “Making sheep - and organizations - fly: a knowledge management and integration journey”, Friday November 25, 2:30pm, St. Paul’s University College, room 105. Details.

United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area presents Lisa LaFlamme, “Tales of a TV Journalist”, Friday, November 25, 7 p.m., Federation Hall, tickets $125. Details.

The Wizard of Oz: UW Recreation Committee outing to family musical, St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, Saturday, November 26, 7:30 p.m. Details.

Craft and toy fair in support of Hildegard Marsden Nursery, November 28-30, 9:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, includes toys, books, jewelry, crafts, clothing.

Waterloo Region Museum presents Ken McLaughlin, St. Jerome’s U, “The Coming of the Electric Age to Waterloo County” Monday, November 28, 1:30, Christie Theatre, 10 Huron Road, tickets $8, 519-748-1914.

‘Making Sense of the Post-Secondary Application Process’ presentation for alumni and future students, by staff from marketing and undergraduate recruitment, Monday, November 28, Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, “information concourse” 4:30, presentation 6:00. Details.

PhD Oral Defences

Planning. Mohsin Farooque, “Transforming Theory and Practice of Environmental Governance — A Case Study of Ayubia National Park, Pakistan.” Supervisor, Larry Swatuk. On display in the faculty of environment, EV1 335. Oral defence Wednesday, November 30, 1:00 p.m., Environment 2 room 2021.

Biology. Joel Harrison, “Effects of Nutrients, Photoinhibition and Photoacclimation on Photosystem II Function of Freshwater Phytoplankton Communities.” Supervisor, Ralph E. H. Smith. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, December 5, 1:00 p.m., Biology 1 room 266.

Physics and astronomy. Michael M. M. Gad, “Ring Resonators for Integrated Optics Applications.” Supervisors, David O. Yevick and Paul E. Jessop. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, December 5, 3:00 p.m., Physics room 352.

Electrical and computer engineering. Noman Hai, “Energy Efficient Techniques for Algorithmic Analog-to-Digital.” Supervisors, David Nairn and Adel Sedra. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, December 6, 9:00 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

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