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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, June 3, 1998

  • UW lists some research strengths
  • Minister comes to talk innovation
  • Summer comes to the campus
  • A major change in New York
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Some of UW's research strengths

A "strategic research plan" for UW, submitted this week to the Canada Foundation for Innovation, lists "four broad themes" of research at Waterloo that fit with the CFI's goals. The CFI was created by the federal government this year to spend several hundred million dollars on research that will "support economic growth and job creation" and "lead to improvements in health, the environment, and quality of life".

Says the UW plan, submitted to CFI for its June 1 deadline:

Waterloo has a long history in computing, both as an object of research and as an enabling tool in its research and teaching agenda. A priority is to remain a world leader in the development and exploitation of new information technology, as well as a leading supplier of information technology professionals at all levels. . . . Waterloo's record of interaction with industry is particularly well-known and respected. . . .

Four broad themes within Waterloo's research which fall under the CFI mandate have been identified as areas in which the University has particular strengths and has made a significant commitment. These areas, Information Technology, Environment, Health, and Materials & Manufacturing, are not independent but overlap and feed on each other to varying degrees. For example, the continued development of Information Technology at Waterloo not only advances the discipline, but also provides the context that promotes and enables its exploitation by other researchers across the University. . . .

Research at Waterloo has always sought to be at the leading edge, setting standards and goals that are measured by national and international levels of excellence. Research initiatives at Waterloo have created an environment that has sought answers beyond the academy in partnerships with industry and government and this has traditionally included within it a "mentoring program" for graduate students. While recognizing the need to maintain a strong commitment to both pure and applied research projects, Waterloo also has striven to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse graduate student population that is international in scope with research initiatives that are equally broadly based.

It briefly summarizes the kind of work done at UW in the four areas -- noting, for instance, that "environmental" research ranges from the role of arctic sea ice in world climate to the migration of underground pollutants.

Carolyn Hansson, vice-president (university research), stresses that the brief document sent to Ottawa this week "is in the context of CFI only and is not intended to be a summary of the university's research strategy as a whole. We are contemplating that the Senate Research Council should perhaps strategise more broadly at some point."

Along with the plan went applications for CFI funding of some $28 million to support 15 projects. Earlier, UW asked CFI for $2.3 million in "new opportunities" funding for 14 clusters of recently appointed faculty members.

Minister comes to talk innovation

The first of four "innovation summits" organized by the Ontario ministry of energy, science and technology is to be held at UW on Friday. UW isn't involved in organizing the event -- the ministry just rented the Ron Eydt Village conference centre -- but some UW people have been invited to take part. Three other "summits" will follow, in Sudbury, Ottawa and Toronto.

"You'll be helping the government create a winning strategy for economic growth in the new millennium using science and technology," says a letter to participants from science minister Jim Wilson. "I'm also looking for ideas on how to foster a 'culture of innovation' in the province. Our consultation is part of a larger process to develop an economic strategy for the province."

Wilson himself will open the Friday morning event, and then there will be a panel with two people from high-tech companies, the president of Waterloo's Region's Communitech, and a technology transfer expert from McMaster University. Discussion will follow on "innovative technology development" and "the application of science and technology in the marketplace". The minister will make closing remarks at 12:45.

A background paper for the event, "Creating an Innovation Culture", notes that the ministry, organized just last fall, "has a vision which positions Ontario as the 'Province of Innovation'", basing its plans on "three pillars: encouraging innovation, preparing people for tomorrow's jobs, and creating an infrastructure that supports jobs and growth".

The government is putting much of its confidence in a new Ontario Jobs and Investment Board, "comprising some of the brightest leaders in business and the community", to make that happen. "For the purpose of the Summit discussion," the working paper says, "the following definition is proposed: Innovation is the process by which ideas are turned into knowledge and new products, processes and services are developed and introduced to the marketplace."

Summer comes to the campus

Well, yeah, it's on the chilly side today, but the sign outside Modern Languages says "Enjoy Your Summer", and the hot dog wagon is parked by South Campus Hall each day, so summer it must be. An announcement is at hand that the bookstore and UW Shop are now on summer hours, meaning they won't be open on Saturdays again until after Labour Day.

Preregistration starts today (and runs through Friday) for undergraduates who will be back on campus in the winter 1999 term. "Students should see their faculty advisor to preregister," says a note from the registrar's office. (And this would be a good time for a reminder that fee payment deadlines and registration procedures next fall and winter will look much different from what they've been in past years.)

If you see lots of people around the Humanities building this morning, it'll be because Manulife Financial has rented the Humanities Theatre for its corporate "town hall meeting" starting at 10:00.

The WATMIMS research group (that stands for Waterloo Management of Integrated Manufacturing Systems) holds its fourth industry workshop on supply chain management today in the Davis Centre. That's nothing to do with literal chains; it's the business of moving parts and materials along to where they're needed when they're needed. Speakers today come from the likes of Canadian Tire and Ernst & Young, on topics such as "Materials Handling and Information Requirements in Today's and Tomorrow's Warehouse".

The career development seminar series continues tomorrow with "Career Decision Making" at 11:30 and "Gain the Competitive Edge, Know the Employer" at 1:30, both in Needles Hall room 1020.

A workshop on "Creating Interactive Courseware Using Matlab" is scheduled for next Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:30. ("Matlab is a mathematical programming language with several features that make it attractive for developing interactive courseware, particularly where scientific computations play a key role.") More information is available from the IST web site.

"Department heads and other interested customers" are invited to a presentation next Thursday about new fax machines. It's sponsored by Pitney Bowes, which sells many fax machines to UW and which wants to show off its latest machinery and software. "Customers will be given demonstrations upon request," says Elizabeth Brenner of Pitney Bowes. "Hydrafax software will be demonstrated as well. This software allows any of the above facsimiles or facsimile/copier to be connected to a PC/network and used for scanning, printing, copying, manual faxing and PC faxing." The session will be held from 9:30 to noon on June 11 in Davis Centre room 1304.

The dean of engineering office sends proud news: "The Formula SAE racing car competition was held this weekend. One hundred and ten institutions registered for the competition. UW's team was 5th in the design competition. Sixty-nine cars raced and UW came in 7th overall. They also won an award at a banquet Sunday evening for 'safety and crash worthiness'."

And Milton Chan at the Federation of Students advises that a list of all recognized student clubs and similar organizations is now available on the Feds' web site.

A major change in New York

One of the biggest universities in North America has made one of the biggest changes in its history. The City University of New York, famous for its "open admissions" policy, is dropping most of its "remedial education" programs next year.

"The plan will end remedial classes at the four-year, or senior, colleges, except during the summer and for some students whose native language is not English," the Academe Today news service explains. "Applicants who fail one or more university tests in mathematics, reading, or writing will have to attend a CUNY community college or go elsewhere." CUNY, which describes itself as the third largest public university in the United States, has some 200,000 students on 21 campuses across New York City, including the City College of New York, Hunter College, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The CUNY trustees voted 9-6 to eliminate the remedial programs, a step urged by New York's Republican governor and the city's Republican mayor. Supporters say the change will raise academic standards at CUNY.

But opponents say it's undemocratic and will keep out as many as half of the first-year students who would be entering CUNY in 1999 under current rules. Two-thirds of the university's undergraduates are black, Asian or Hispanic. Says the left-wing magazine Workers World: "Like the move in California to end affirmative action, this vote can deny many tens of thousands of working-class students, most of them people of color, the right to a college education at a time when many jobs only accept college graduates. . . . Most CUNY graduates have had to do some remedial work. Many didn't learn English as their first language. They begin their education after they've already started a family and worked for years. They had poor preparation in high school. Remediation is essential. Ending remediation will exclude 50 percent to 60 percent of students from oppressed communities, according to David Lavin, a sociologist at CUNY. Some 35 percent of white students will also be affected."

CAR


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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