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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Monday, March 2, 1998

  • UW third in programming contest
  • The mess in the Physics building
  • Engineers triumph; chemist wins fellowship
  • Staff association faces a new year
  • Preregistration, and other happenings
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UW third in programming contest

UW's team finished third -- and first among North American teams -- in the finals of the world's largest computer programming competition, held Saturday in Atlanta.

First place went to Charles University of Prague, Czech Republic, which solved the six programming problems in 919 minutes. Russia's St. Petersburg State University took second, solving the six problems in 1,021 minutes. UW solved the six problems in 1,026 minutes for third spot.

This is the sixth consecutive year that a UW team has competed in the World Finals of the Association for Computer Machinery's International Collegiate Programming Contest. In 1994, a UW team won the championship.

UW's team was made up of Derek Kisman, Chris Hendrie, and David Kennedy.

The two other Canadian universities in the finals were Alberta, which placed eighth, and McGill, which placed 17th. The top American team was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, placing fifth. A total of 54 teams competed in the finals.

The mess in the Physics building

They're doing lots of work to UW's second-oldest building this month, but at the heart of it is replacement of two chillers in the basement, as part of a program to phase out chloro-fluorocarbon (CFC) chillers on campus. The two old-style chillers are being replaced with one non-CFC unit. The chillers are part of a campus-wide system that provides air conditioning and equipment cooling.

During part of the changeover, all this week, the cooling loop will be shut down and chilled water will be unavailable. The new chiller is expected to arrive the second week in March, and after installation, piping modifications and replacement of pumps, should be up and running by the end of May, says Rick Zalagenas, plant operations manager of utilities and maintenance.

Most of that work is being done in a large hole excavated on the east side of Physics, but a number of other projects are underway inside the building, he added, including modifications to the chilled water system and upsizing of cooling loop piping for the labs, which has required most of the ceilings to be ripped out. As well, a cooling tower on the roof -- the heat sink for the chiller -- is being replaced.

Major disruptions to the building, apart from the chiller work, should be completed by the end of March, said Zalagenas.

Last year, a CFC chiller under the biology greenhouse was replaced. Six more will be phased out "as they break down or as we run out of refrigerant," said Dave Churchill, director of technical services for plant operations.

In the meantime, the chillers have been made as environmentally friendly as possible, he added, by making them leak-tight to avoid CFC pollution. The CFC from decommissioned coolers, which is considered a hazardous chemical, is being disposed of in cooperation with the UW health and safety office.

Engineers triumph; chemist wins fellowship

UW students swept the awards at the Ontario Engineering Competition, held over the weekend at UW. Waterloo students took first place in all six categories, says a quick note from John McPhee of the systems design engineering department. He calls it "an incredible accomplishment. They also won or shared in the three auxiliary awards. I can't imagine that this has ever happened before in the history of the OEC." I'm awaiting details and the names of the winners.

In another achievement, Peter Bernath of UW's chemistry department is a winner this year of a Killam Research Fellowship, a major national award from the Canada Council. Nine new Killams were awarded for 1998, and seven from last year were renewed, including one for Paul Thagard of UW's philosophy department, the Council has announced.

Killam Research Fellowships "enable Canada's best scientists and scholars to devote up to two years to full-time research and writing," the Canada Council explains. "The recipients are chosen by the Killam Selection Committee, which comprises 15 eminent scientists and scholars." There were 115 applications for the nine Killams awarded this year.

Bernath will do his research on "Astrochemistry of cool stars and the interstellar medium", the announcement said.

Staff association faces a new year

The annual general meeting of UW's staff association will be held at 11:45 today in Davis Centre room 1302. Light refreshments -- "coffee, juice and cookies and door prizes" -- start at 11:30.

The meeting marks the end of Karen LeDrew's year-and-a-bit as president of the staff association. Taking over from her is Charlene Schumm, who, like LeDrew, works in the registrar's office. President-elect for the next year, and president in 1999-2000, will be Paul McKone of engineering computing.

Today's meeting will be voting on proposed changes to the staff association constitution, including a revision to the way the association's purpose is stated. It will also hear reports on the activities of the past year, from social events to salary negotiations. Rita Cherkewski, who chaired the members' advisory committee, will have something to say about the association's new involvement in the University Conflict Resolution Support Program.

According to the membership committee's annual report, there are 754 UWSA members this year, out of 1,484 eligible staff -- just a hair over 50 per cent of the total. "The more people who become members and who bring their special skills and insight to the Association, the stronger and more representative the Association will be," says membership committee chair Gail Clarke.

Preregistration, and other happenings

Mercer report on line

The "Mercer report" -- the adjudication by Peter Mercer of an appeal by sociology professor Ken Westhues -- is now available on line. Mercer ruled against disciplinary measures imposed on Westhues by UW's provost after Westhues did not cooperate fully with an ethics committee hearing. The provost, however, set aside the penalties that the ethics committee had recommended against Westhues.
Undergraduate students who are on campus now, and who will be back in fall 1998 and winter 1999, can (and should) preregister for their courses, today through Friday. The undergraduate calendar is available, and academic advisors in the faculties and departments have the information that's needed.

Students who are here now but aren't going to be back, because they're finishing their university careers, need to do a different piece of urgent paperwork this week. The last day to file "Intent to Graduate" forms for spring convocation is this Friday, the registrar's office says. (Convocation ceremonies will be held May 27-30.)

Among the many other things keeping the campus pot boiling:

Lastly, I'll just note that copies of last week's federal budget are available free, while they last, at the UW bookstore in South Campus Hall.


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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