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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Wednesday, June 9, 1999

  • Don't tell the cabinet minister
  • More help for graduate TAs
  • Making better military helmets
  • Other things worth knowing

Don't tell the cabinet minister

[Boudria] Don Boudria, pictured at left, is a Member of Parliament for a riding in eastern Ontario, and the government leader in the House of Commons. And this month he becomes a UW graduate, the first person with a Waterloo degree to be a member of the federal cabinet.

And his staff, family and colleagues are making sure he doesn't read this announcement, because he has a surprise in store.

Boudria thinks that after the convocation ceremony on June 17, when he'll receive his BA degree in history, he's going to celebrate with a few friends, including Andrew Telegdi, the MP for Kitchener-Waterloo, and John English, former MP for Kitchener Centre and now back in his office as a UW history professor. But Telegdi and English have bigger ideas.

They've booked Federation Hall for that evening and are throwing a not-so-little party in Boudria's honour. After all, "while the Hon. Don Boudria has met all the academic requirements for receiving his degree, as an extension student he has a shortcoming in campus life -- attending Thursday night pub nights."

"A number of MPs and ministers will be in attendance," says Telegdi. Tickets are $20 per person, which includes "two drinks, snacks and expenses", with the net revenue going to an emergency student loan fund. "We will rock to the music of the sixties and seventies." And Telegdi adds: "We're going to smuggle Don's musical instruments down," since Boudria is a vital player in the True Grit Band, which is expected to perform.

Tickets for the June 17 party are available from John English on campus (phone ext. 2765) or from Telegdi's constituency office in downtown Waterloo (746-1573).

Being able to say he is a university graduate gives "a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction," said Boudria, 49, who took eleven years to earn his BA. And he isn't through with UW yet. He's currently enrolled in a spring term distance course as a post-degree student.

"Something was missing from my dream," Boudria told the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in a highly personal speech this winter. "Eleven years ago, I realized that what was missing from my dream was my education. Eleven years ago I began to work my way toward a university degree. And two weeks ago, after eleven years of weekends spent listening to courses on tape, writing essays and cramming for midterms, I just wrote my final exam.

"In a few weeks I will be the proud holder of a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Waterloo.

"You know, it is sometimes easy to take education for granted. Often, the most valuable gifts we take from our studies are not the facts and dates we have to remember for our exams. Often, the most valuable gifts we take from our education are the depth of thought and the diversity of perspectives and the discipline we gain from the experience. As student leaders it is not only our advantage, but also our responsibility to harness the power of education to make a difference."

More help for graduate TAs

Since the introduction of the Certificate in University Teaching at UW, demand for workshops and classroom observations by Teaching Resources and Continuing Education TA developers has grown significantly.

To meet the needs of graduate teaching assistants enrolled in the certificate program, TRACE has two TA developers on board for the first time this year. Previously, one person working 10 hours per week filled the post.

Donna Ellis, advisor on teaching and learning for TRACE, said the demand for classroom observations is one area that has grown "phenomenally" -- most from teaching assistants in the certificate program, for which the observation is a requirement.

Each observation takes at least five hours, she said. The TA developer meets first with the TA, then observes the TA in the classroom, writes a report based on the observations, and holds a follow-up session with the TA. During the fall term, 18 classes were observed, and in the winter, 21 observations were done.

Although Ellis assists with the observation program if necessary, "it's important to have grad students working with grad students," she said. "It's less intimidating for them."

Kelly Pryde, a PhD student in psychology, began a one-year term as a TA developer in January; Penny Light, a PhD student in history, started in May. Both are enrolled in the Certificate in University Teaching program themselves and plan to pursue careers in academe.

"I think it's so important for graduate teachers to access the workshops and programs we offer here," said Light. "It helps them think about teaching in different ways, which is important for professional development.

"I don't think there's anything more rewarding than to inspire your students to learn more about your field," she added. It was a professor at York University who awakened Light's love of history. "That's what I want to give to my students."

Making better military helmets -- reported by Bob Whitton

An "Impact Research Group" in UW's mechanical engineering department is involved in research intended to lead to better helmets for members of the Canadian armed forces -- and presumably save lives of Canadian peacekeepers. The principal researcher is Michael J. Worswick, who is working with research engineering Jack van Hoof and a group of technologists and graduate students. Their funding is from the Canadian Defence Research Establishment Val Cartier (DREV).

The group is not concerned with heavy steel helmets of the kind used in World Wars I or II. They are investigating lighter and stronger designs using woven kevlar fibres and a phenolic rigid resin matrix that the fibres reinforce.

Even if a kevlar helmet stops a projectile or a piece of shrapnel from an exploding shell, death or a severe head injury could occur if the deformation on the inside of the helmet is too great. Designers have to be able to predict the forces the helmet must protect against. Van Hoof's research involves the development of a computer model that will predict the helmet response and the potential impact forces against the skull of the wearer.

"Theoretically, one can design a helmet that will stop virtually anything, but it would be so huge and heavy a soldier would not be able to walk around with it on," Worswick notes, "and thus in addition to providing protection, the helmet must also permit mobility -- it must be reasonably small in size and low in weight."

He says at one time military helmets were tested simply by mounting them on a post and shooting at them with a rifle. Today, Worswick makes use of special facilities including a gas gun with a high-speed camera that can photograph -- in a microsecond -- the impact of a projectile striking a helmet.

Worswick says a kevlar helmet works by "catching" a projectile and absorbing its energy. However, the faster the projectile is moving when it hits the helmet, the more likely it is to cause deformation and delamination of the layers of woven kevlar. If this deformation bends the inner part of the helmet in too far, it will of course collide with the skull of the wearer. There is also concern over "whiplash" effects causing neck injury.

"It's a matter of optimizing the materials (resins and fibres) and the distances between the inside of the helmet and the wearer's skull," Worswick concludes. Translating the data from impact studies into CAD models is just getting under way. Worswick has a $100,000 contract from DREV to develop a new model that combines the existing helmet model with a detailed finite element model of the skull, brain and neck.

Other things worth knowing

It happens two months from today: Student Life 101, the annual event to give first-year students (and their parents) a preview of UW life. "We are expecting approximately 3,000 students and family, and would very much like any volunteers who would like to help," says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services). Anybody who might like to get involved can be in touch with Pam Charbonneau, first-year student life coordinator in Scott's office, at ext. 6876, e-mail pkcharbo@nh3adm.

The Co-op Student Advisory Group will meet today at 4:30 in Student Life Centre room 2134. "Free food," publicity coordinator Amber Christie promises.

"We have now posted a website for our summer promotions," marketing manager Joanne Buchholzer writes from the food services department. So let's see: a "Coke Card Promotion" at Mudies in Village I; a "Numbering Contest" at the Modern Languages coffee shop, with two $50 prizes; and Bingo at Brubakers in the Student Life Centre, with two numbers to be drawn each day and a $100 prize for the winner. ("Come join us for lunch or dinner. Receive one free Bingo card, while quantity lasts.")

Note for early shoppers tomorrow: the Computer Store, Techworx (in the Student Life Centre and South Campus Hall) and the UW Shop won't open until 10:45 a.m. on Thursday -- staff meeting, I understand. The bookstore will be open at the usual hour.

The local Volunteer Action Centre has a number of opportunities this week as usual:

The VAC can be reached at 742-8610 for more information.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
http://www.bulletin.uwaterloo.ca | Yesterday's Bulletin
Copyright © 1999 University of Waterloo