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Wednesday, June 5, 2013



  • Waterloo, RBC launch water scholars program
  • At Wattpad, co-op students have the write stuff
  • Daycare celebration for new building Friday


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


RBC, Waterloo launch water scholars program

The University of Waterloo has announced a $1.75 million commitment from RBC Foundation to support development of a new graduate study program in Integrated Water Management.

The RBC Water Scholars program aims to provide students graduating with water-related degrees broader perspectives and the ability to communicate and co-operate with experts from other water-related fields.

“Waterloo offers specialist graduate degrees in a wide variety of water-related programs, but as we address increasingly complex water issues we need to train people to have an appreciation of multiple water research disciplines,” said Professor Robert Gillham, Executive Director of the Water Institute. “RBC’s generous gift allows us to establish a program that gives graduates a foundation in water science, engineering, technology and management above and beyond the specialist training they receive as part of their graduate degree studies,” said Professor Gillham.

The RBC Blue Water Project is a 10-year global charitable commitment of $50 million to help provide access to drinkable, swimmable, fishable water, now and for future generations. Since 2007, RBC has pledged over $36 million to more than 500 charitable organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean drinking water, with an additional $6 million pledged to universities for water programs.

“We’re proud to support the University of Waterloo and the Water Institute, to help protect one of the world’s most precious natural resources – fresh water,” said Dave McKay, Group Head, Personal and Commercial Banking, RBC. “Canada is considered a water-rich country, but many areas are under serious water stress, and shortages are becoming alarmingly common in municipalities across the country. Through the RBC Blue Water Project, we want to help raise awareness and fund water projects in Canada and around the world. Working together with the University of Waterloo and other organizations, we can ensure we all have safe, clean water, now and in the future.”

The RBC donation will support more than 120 scholarships for master’s and PhD students (RBC Water Scholars) over the next eight years, in addition to sponsoring high-profile program fellows (RBC Visiting Fellows) and an annual RBC Water Scholars Program student symposium.

“Waterloo and RBC have a rich history of working together and I am immensely thankful for their kind gift,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur. “RBC’s support will allow us to develop a truly unique graduate program where educators and students work collaboratively across disciplines to address local, national and international water security issues.”

Seven Waterloo departments across four academic faculties will deliver the program collaboratively. Students completing specialist water degree programs will work collaboratively with other departments and disciplines in the new Integrated Water Management program. Students who successfully complete the program will receive an adjunct qualification to their degree.


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At Wattpad, co-op students have the write stuff

by Shannon Tigert, Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA)

Ivan Yuen, co-founder of Wattpad and a uWaterloo alumnus, created a multi-million user e-reading application and contributes to the success of the co-op program by hiring Waterloo students at Wattpad every term.

Ivan graduated from Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program in 2000.  He says that the co-op program is “the best thing that I’ve ever come across.”  After four co-op terms at computer hardware jobs, he was hired at a software start-up company for his last work term and discovered his true passion for software: “I was hooked. I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

After graduating, Ivan worked for various hardware companies and software start-ups before starting Wattpad.  His idea for the program came from a personal need: “I read a lot, and there were few options for taking reading with you.  Like most engineers, I just built my own thing.” 

In 2006 he approached his friend and previous co-worker Allen Lau with the idea for Wattpad. Coincidentally, Allen had been working on something similar. They banded together to bring Wattpad into existence.  For the first couple of years they struggled to gain users because, as Ivan notes, “we were just too early for the technology to take off, but we stuck it through and I’m glad we did.”  By the end of 2007, the iPhone and the Kindle had been launched, upping user accessibility: “the fact that we were already there opened up a whole new way for people to use Wattpad.”

Canadian author and advocate for youth literacy Margaret Atwood recently became a contributor to Wattpad.  She described it as the perfect tool for youth – whom you might not associate with creative writing or being highly involved with fiction – since it is native to the digital age.  “She’s been very involved and we’re happy to have her on board,” says Ivan. 

Wattpad is in its prime, and Ivan and Allen want to help young talent get experience.  They hire five to six Waterloo co-op students each term, and encourage them to jump in the deep end from day one.  “It’s really important for software developers to know their work can reach our millions of users on a daily basis,” says Ivan.  “We tell them ‘what you’re doing has a really big impact.’”  

The co-ops at Wattpad bring ideas different from their full time staff to the work environment. Ivan attributes this to their “breadth of experience,” as a result of working multiple jobs over such a short period of time.  Students are “very receptive to change and that’s pretty rare even for people with a few years of experience.  Bringing in co-op students reminds [full time staff] that we always have to look for different ways to do things.”

With 15 million users every month, Wattpad does not show any signs of slowing down and has big plans for the future.  “We want to make Wattpad a place for everyone: synonymous with reading AND writing,” says Ivan.  “To have the social and cultural impact that we envision, we want that [number] to be 100 million to 500 million people.  This is only the first step on our way.”  

Ivan and Allen were recently named as one of seven Canadian tech stars to watch by the Financial Times due to their overwhelming success with Wattpad.


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Daycare celebration for new building Friday

Waterloo's three child care centres are inviting members of the university community to join their annual celebration of child care on campus this Friday, June 7.

This year's celebration also marks the ground-breaking and continuing construction of the new consolidated child care facility on the university's north campus, Bright Starts Co-operative Early Learning Centre. Located behind the Optometry building between X and O lots, the facility will amalgamate three existing child care centres: Hildegard Marsden Co-operative Day Nursery, Paintin' Place Co-operative Day Care Centre, and the Klemmer Farmhouse Co-operative Day Nursery.

The new 18,000 square foot building is scheduled for completion this fall and will accommodate 160 children, adding 10 new infant spaces and 16 new toddler spaces to the current offerings. Recent construction photos are available on the Wonderful Waterloo website.

The celebration will feature a performance by children's entertainer Erick Traplin.

The event will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the green space between the Math & Computer building and the Student Life Centre. All are welcome.


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Link of the day

RFK's assassination, 45 years ago today

When and where

Campus Walk 2013, Tuesday, May 21 to Friday, June 14. Details.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Dr. Alaaeddin Alsbaiee, Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, “Towards Bioactive Rosette Nanotubes for Biomedical Applications” Wednesday, June 5, 2:30 p.m., C2-361. Details.

VeloCity Campus event: Business Model Generation featuring Aditya Sharm, Wednesday, June 5, 7:30 p.m. EV3 4412, FREE pizza! Register online.

Retirement celebration for Anna Gerard, Thursday, June 6, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Health Services conference room. RSVP to Chris Strome.

The Library presents Find Books and More, Thursday, June 6, 2:00 p.m., FLEX Lab. Details.

Public Lecture featuring David Levy, "A Night Watchman's Journey," Thursday, June 6, 7:00 p.m., OPT 347. Details.

Keystone Picnic, Friday, June 7. Details.

Society of Technical Communication presents "Progress to Success," Saturday, June 8, 1:00 p.m., DC 1301. STC members $10, Non-STC members $20. Register online.

Public Lecture, "Black Holes: Into the Heart of Darkness," Monday, June 10, 7:00 p.m., OPT 347. Details.

Career Exploration Workshop, "Leverage your strengths for career success," Tuesday, June 11, 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., TC 1112.Register online.

Spring 2013 convocation, Tuesday, June 11 to Saturday, June 15. Details.

Cheriton School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Frans Kaashoek, "The multicore evolution and operating systems," Tuesday, June 11, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Child Vision Research Society Conference 2013, Monday, June 17 and Tuesday, June 18, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., School of Optometry and Vision Science. Details.

Senate meeting, Monday, June 17, 3:30 p.m., NH 3001.

25-Year and 35-Year Club Recognition Reception, Tuesday, June 18, 6:00 p.m. Physical Activities Complex.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• Job ID# 2127 – General Cafeteria Helper – Regular Ongoing – Food Services (3 positions)
• Job ID# 2126 – Cook – Regular Recurring – Food Services
• Job ID# 2125 – Kitchen Porter – Regular Recurring – Food Services
• Job ID# 2124 – Food Services Assistant – Regular Ongoing – Food Services
• Job ID# 2123 – Food Services Assistant – Regular Recurring – Food Services
• Job ID# 2121 – Salesperson – Regular Recurring – Food Services
• Job ID# 2122 – General Cafeteria Helper – Regular Recurring – Food Services (3 positions)
• Job ID# 2119 – Marketing Co-ordinator – Retail Services, USG 7
• Job ID# 2131 – Assistant to the Dean – Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, USG 5
• Job ID# 2118 – Administrative Assistant – Psychology, USG 6
• Job ID# 2120 – Communications Officer – Dean of Environment, USG 10
• Job ID# 2129 – Associate University Secretary – Secretariat, USG 11/12
• Job ID# 2112 – Assistant Director, Technical Facilities – Institute for Quantum Computing, USG 12

Secondment opportunity, viewable on myCareer@uWaterloo

• Library Office Assistant – Library, USG 4

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