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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Monday, June 8, 1998

  • SEW, here's the training program
  • Minister holds out hope
  • Waterloo's research strengths, #2
  • Other news and events
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SEW, here's the training program

Details are being announced this week of a new computer training program for UW staff and faculty -- "SEW", meaning Skills for the Electronic Workplace. Brochures are being mailed to all staff and faculty members this week.

Bob Hicks of the information systems and technology department provides some background: "As part of its planning initiatives in 1997, UCIST recommended that a comprehensive training program be developed which would provide training in the basic skills necessary for staff and faculty members to utilize the electronic technology available in an effective manner. This recommendation was referred to the Staff Training and Development Committee where it was enthusiastically endorsed.

"IST and other UW computing support staff are now in the process of constructing a series of programs on the 'basic' skills which include electronic mail, Windows 95, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Excel, PowerPoint and Microsoft Access. The intention of these courses is to provide instruction in a comprehensive way for people who are new to the electronic workplace and to assist those who have the technology, but do not use it to its fullest potential. "

The idea is that SEW will do these things:

Says Hicks: "The first part of each course will consist of demonstration and hands-on practice. During the second part of the course, a project will be worked on. Instructors will be available as needed to complete the project. Work completed in the course will be saved on a diskette to allow attendees to take their finished project back to the office. Certificates will be given to all course attendees."

The first SEW brochure, coming out this week, will list courses being offered in July and August. On the back of the brochure, there will be a registration form. Says Hicks: "Once you have filled out the form, you will mail the form to Human Resources. The courses are filled on a first-come first-served basis. On the registration form there is a place for your supervisor's signature, acknowledging that you are taking this training and also to ensure the supervisor knows that his/her department will be charged $50 if the person registering for the courses does not show up. We expect that these courses will be very popular and we want to make sure people commit to being there."

He notes that the traditional IST courses "will continue to be offered, but there will be some changes. The first change you will notice is that the courses will be offered one month at a time (in the past it has been two months at a time). We are hoping this will cut down on no-shows. The IST courses will complement the courses being offered by the SEW program. The courses will either be on topics that are not offered in SEW (instructional computing topics, scientific software etc) or will be task oriented (i.e. Automating Document Creation in Word). As usual, the IST courses will be advertised on the Web.

Minister holds out hope

Ontario science minister Jim Wilson, visiting Waterloo on Friday, said he doesn't think the government should be "sticklers about the rules" for expansion of university programs in computer science and high-tech engineering. "Waterloo needs to see some flexibility," he told reporters.

He said he'd urge his colleagues at Queen's Park to make it possible for UW to share in $150 million in provincial funding for expanding enrolment, starting next fall. The education ministry had earlier said that universities could only join the program if they made a commitment to double their enrolment, and UW officials have said this university's programs in computer science and electrical and computer engineering are so big that that's impossible.

"I'm encouraged," said Jack Kalbfleisch, the dean of mathematics, after hearing Wilson's comments.

While he was in Waterloo -- for an "Innovation Summit" with industry and university leaders -- Wilson took the opportunity to announce several grants from the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund. Two involve Waterloo: the Bell Emergis laboratories, which UW had been told last month were being approved, and a program in cooperation with six large companies to do research into high-speed automated welding.

UW's research strengths, #2

A document submitted to the Canada Foundation for Innovation a few days ago emphasizes "four broad themes within Waterloo's research which fall under the CFI mandate", and says a little about each of them. Here's what the document has to say about the second of the four, the environment.

Strategic Objectives:

Perspective: "Environmental research at Waterloo is broadly based and has been highly successful at cutting across traditional disciplinary boundaries. At present, environmental research at Waterloo involves close cooperation between researchers in four faculties, 10 departments, and 6 research institutes. We have well-established provincial, national and international linkages with universities, government agencies, national and provincial parks, conservation agencies, and a broad range of industries. Waterloo is a world leader in groundwater monitoring, protection and remediation, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Ontario Centre of Excellence, 'the Waterloo Centre for Groundwater Research' (WCGR). University researchers now participate in both the earth and space components of CRESTech, formed from the merger of WCGR and ISTS (the Institute for Space and Terrestrial Studies). This knowledge is being applied internationally through many projects in Asia and the Americas. Waterloo also anticipates increasing its international activities through UN University's International Network for Water, Environment and Health. Private-sector interactions are particularly strong within the mining, petroleum and petrochemical industries, in Canada, the United States and overseas.

Friday: information technology
Today: environment
Tuesday: health
Wednesday: materials and manufacturing
"The range of research issues covered is very wide, embracing the atmosphere, the earth's surface and the subsurface, with focused efforts within each of the research clusters. For example, in atmospheric studies, researchers are using information technologies and modeling to investigate the role of arctic sea ice in the earth's climatic system. Air quality is being studied with respect to issues of ozone depletion and contaminant transfer. Paleoclimate studies are underway to unravel the earth's past climate with an aim to predict future changes. The effects of aerosols on atmospheric chemistry, physics and radioactive transfer are being investigated as they can have considerable influence on human health.

"With respect to the earth's surface, researchers are addressing the quality and quantity of water resources, and the ecosystems they support, which will be critical global issues in the 21st century. Contamination problems are being analyzed at all levels of biological organization and at all hydrologeological spatial scales; remedial measures are being developed using novel environmental biotechnologies. Through novel developments in information technology, the Earth and its resources are being mapped and monitored using satellite images, and analyzed within geographic information systems to support plans for urban development and watershed management. Sophisticated mathematical models are being developed and applied for the study of integrated surface and groundwater systems. Cost-effective techniques for detecting and remediating subsurface soils and groundwater contaminated by industrial and agricultural chemicals are being sought. Researchers at Waterloo are playing a leading role in using stable isotopes to trace contaminant migration pathways and natural biogeochemical cycles.

"The ultimate goal of most of this work is to provide information for wise decision-making in order to maintain quality of life in concert with sustained economic growth, and to enable Canada to play a leadership role in resource management and environmental protection."

Other news and events

The Faculty Computing User Support Group, or FACCUS, will meet tomorrow morning. First comes a general meeting (10:30, Math and Computer room 2009) to talk about the recent Computing Directions Statement and especially how it affects user support, which is at the heart of what FACCUS folk do. Also on the agenda: an update on site-licensed software, and other matters of interest. Then at 11:15, Scott Nicoll of the chemistry department will lead a tour of computing facilities in the faculty of science.

This morning's Globe and Mail says British Columbia is looking seriously at imposing higher fees for out-of-province students: "In what would represent a serious blow to the principle of interprovincial mobility, the B.C. government says its hand is being forced by Ontario's recent decision to increase undergraduate tuition fees and deregulate fees for professional and graduate programs. British Columbia, which has frozen user fees for three years in a row, is worried that its universities could be swamped by Ontario students looking to save money." Québec already has a separate fee schedule for students from other parts of Canada (and has raised those fees by another $300 for 1998-99).

The career development seminar series continues tomorrow -- that's Tuesday -- with "Resume Writing" at 1:30 and "Letter Writing" at 2:30, both in Needles Hall room 1020.

A workshop for teaching assistants is scheduled for this Friday, sponsored by the teaching resource office (TRACE). Topic: "Visual Aids: Design and Use". "We will focus on blackboards, overheads, and computer presentations," says William Hamlin of TRACE. The event starts at 12 noon Friday in Math and Computer room 5158; participants should preregister by e-mail (trace@watserv1) or calling ext. 3132.

An open house on Year 2000 Preparations at UW is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302. The next in the series of open house events sponsored by information systems and technology, this one will deal with the tough and much-publicized issue of making computer systems able to cope with the year 2000 right after 1999. "The presentation is intended for a non-technical audience," IST says.

A reception honouring Jack Kalbfleisch, who finishes his term as dean of mathematics on June 30, is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23, at 3:30 p.m. in Math and Computer room 5158. RSVPs should go -- by next week -- to Wendy Zehr at ext. 6508 (wazehr@math). The other dean whose term is ending June 30, David Burns of engineering, will be honoured at an event in September.

Today is a Day of Action in Kingston, latest in a series of protests against the social and economic policies of the current Ontario government. Queen's University says it's open as usual -- staff who want to help protest can take vacation time or an unpaid day off.

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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