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Tuesday, June 6, 2000

  • Classrooms on the roof of EL
  • UW has the lowest default rate
  • Cryptography expert to receive medal
  • Past, present and future tense

[Fence and field]
The north campus remains largely empty. Today's meeting of the UW board of governors begins with a closed session that's expected to include a discussion of the long-proposed north campus research and technology park. (Photo by Barbara Elve.)

Classrooms on the roof of EL

Two of UW's SuperBuild construction projects will take a step forward today, as the board of governors is expected to approve the choice of architects for additions to Engineering III and the Engineering Lecture Hall.

The E3 project is worth about $8.2 million, and the EL project about $4.5 million.

The bulk of the money in both cases is being provided by the Ontario government, which announced the grants earlier this year along with funding for the Centre for Environmental and Information Technologies and a new co-op and career services building. Those larger projects haven't come to the board of governors yet.

The board will be asked to give the two projects to the architectural firm of Shore Tilbe Irwin and Partners. Says a report from the board's building and properties committee: "Shore Moffat, now Shore Tilbe Irwin and Partners, were the original architects for both buildings. Because of structural considerations and liability when additions are built on top of existing buildings retaining the original architect is particularly important." E3 was built in 1961 and EL in 1967.

The addition to E3 is a three-storey block that will provide about 41,000 gross square feet of space on three levels, including a narrow addition on the north side of the building (near the Davis Centre overpass) and larger area on the second floor on top of the existing flat roof. Preliminary drawings that are going to the board today show five lab areas and some 17 offices.

The addition to EL, adding an above-ground level to the "submarine", is to include five classrooms and two lecture theatres.

Other items on the agenda for the board of governors today:

The board meeting will be held in Needles Hall room 3001. It starts with a confidential session at 2:30 p.m.; the open session begins at 3:45.

UW has the lowest default rate

Waterloo boasts "the lowest overall default rate in the Ontario post-secondary sector" again this year -- that is, the fewest graduates who aren't repaying their Ontario Student Assistance Program loans on schedule.

Figures on the default rates are published each year. The current rates, posted recently, show "the percentage of students (undergraduate and graduate) who last received Ontario Student Loans in the 1996-97 academic year and who defaulted on their repayment obligations approximately two years after graduation."

The overall UW rate is 4.9 per cent. For Ontario universities as a whole, the figure is 8.4 per cent.

According to an Ontario government news release, the default rates are significantly higher for students from the community colleges (20.1 per cent) and still higher for students from private vocational schools (31 per cent). The goal is 10 per cent, minister Dianne Cunningham says, and "institutions with very high default rates" will be required to "share the cost of defaulted loans".

The default figures published by UW include a breakdown by the academic program the students came from (using government categories, rather than UW's faculties). They show, for example, that the default rate for engineering grads from UW is 2.5 per cent; for Ontario as a whole, 4.5 per cent. Similarly, the default rates for physical science students is 1.5 per cent from UW, 7.3 per cent for Ontario overall. And for the humanities, it's 7.3 per cent for UW, 11.8 per cent for Ontario.

There's a general assumption that loan default rates are related to unemployment rates, which were also reported recently as required by the government.

Cryptography expert to receive medal

An expert on computer cryptography will be this year's winner of the J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, presented annually to a Waterloo graduate. Paul Van Oorschot holds three degrees from UW (BMath 1984, MMath 1986, PhD 1988) and is now "vice-president and chief scientist" of Entrust Technologies, a Dallas-based spinoff of the Canadian firm Nortel Networks.

He's a member of the board of directors of the International Association for Cryptologic Research, has written more than 30 refereed mathematical papers, and is co-author (with UW's Alfred Menezes and Scott Vanstone) of the Handbook of Applied Cryptography.

He will receive the Graham Medal, named in honour of UW computing pioneer Wes Graham, at the June 17 session of spring convocation.

UW's InfraNet Project announced yesterday that Van Oorschot will give a lecture the previous day under the title "Public-Key Technology: Storming the World in 25 Short Years". Says an abstract:

Public-key cryptography was invented 25 years ago in the academic world. Today it is found in over 150 million web browsers. As privacy and trust top the list of concerns cited by on-line users, public-key cryptography is recognized as the only technology capable of delivering security on an Internet scale. Moreover, its true commercial relevance is only beginning to be recognized: consider recent digital signatures laws, privacy legislation, and the emergence of new business-to-business marketplaces daily. We will examine how cryptography touches everyday life as we explore its progression from academia to an increasingly technology-dependent world demanding down-loadable music, smart phones and wireless e-mail.
The talk will be given Friday, June 16, at 2:30 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1351. A reception will follow. "Pre-registering to reserve your seat is recommended," an announcement says.

Past, present and future tense

A renovation program to improve accessibility for women with disabilities at St. Jerome's University has received a $21,000 boost, thanks to the Catholic Women's League Councils of the Hamilton Diocese. During the League's annual convention, May 26-28 at the Waterloo Motor Inn, past president Mary Van Dyk presented a gift of $21,800 to Michael Higgins, president of St. Jerome's -- the first instalment on a five-year pledge of $60,000. Higgins addressed the audience of more than 400 members who attended from 103 Parish Councils located in communities from Stoney Creek to Owen Sound. He expressed thanks on behalf of the Building Together for the Future Campaign Committee, which spearheaded the fundraising drive for the Sweeney Hall renovations. The donation will underwrite the funds expended in providing interior and exterior ramping for Sweeney Hall, the women's residence at St. Jerome's. The Catholic Women's League also funds a scholarship/bursary at St. Jerome's.

Saturday's issue of the Toronto Star included an interview with Michael Bregin, a student at Toronto's St. Basil the Great College who has, it seems, achieved a perfect score on this year's Sir Isaac Newton Physics Exam, sponsored by UW. Full results haven't been made public yet. "Only about four other students" have ever answered all 15 SIN questions correctly, says Phil Eastman, who founded the test and is now retired from UW's department of physics. "The typical student scores about 15 per cent," he told the Star. "I don't consider myself a genius," said Bregin, who stands to receive a $6,000 scholarship if he chooses to come to Waterloo to study physics.

The Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology -- LT3 -- is finally settled into its new space on the third floor of the Dana Porter Library, and will hold a by-invitation opening reception this afternoon following the board of governors meeting. Tomorrow, there's an open house to show the LT3 facility to the campus at large, including the Flexible Learning Experience lab. "This will include," says LT3 director Tom Carey, "demonstrations of projects under way with faculty across campus and more information on opportunities to work with the Centre." Tomorrow's reception will run from 3 to 5 p.m.

A luncheon is scheduled at St. Paul's United College today in honour of Dorothy Elliott, whom a full-page feature in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record the other day described as an "ordinary person of extraordinary generosity". Elliott, now 93, has been a bookkeeper, an office manager and eventually a company owner, and also a life-long supporter of local musical activity, the United Church (and St. Paul's), and other causes.

Tonight brings "a brief presentation on the current Cuban situation and the necessity of solidarity work with Cuba as well as the creation of an action plan". The event is sponsored by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group; the speaker is David Warner of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association. The event starts at 7:00 in Davis Centre room 1304.

Communications and Information Technology Ontario, a "centre of excellence" with much UW involvement, has a special event scheduled for tomorrow in Toronto. It's a "Tech Talk Workshop" focusing on telephone applications using web technology. Says a CITO announcement: "Building telephony applications has long involved significant levels of technical expertise, proprietary technologies, and an in-depth understanding of telephony platforms. Web applications, by contrast, have simplified and standardized interfaces to building what are effectively, client-server applications; so much so that much of the software that is created by industry is either for web applications, or in support of web applications. The web is definitely riding the software curve. The advent of languages, like VoiceXML (the Voice eXtensible Markup Language) leverage web technology to build telephony applications as easily as people now build visual web applications. This seminar will discuss the main aspects of building telephony services using this approach. Starting with the business rationale for VoiceXML, the attendees will be introduced to the language itself, presentations for those experienced in building production quality services using web-based telephony, and broader issues in building effective web interfaces, and high availability, scalable web applications." More information is available on the CITO web site.

The health services clinic will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday) in the morning, to allow staff to attend a workshop; it'll open at 1 p.m.

Finally, a note from the local Volunteer Action Centre: "Do you enjoy meeting interesting people? Volunteers are needed by Youth for Understanding International Exchange. They operate the information booth in St. Jacobs Outlet Mall. Volunteers provide information to tourists, answer phone lines and are involved with Lottery/Nevada sales. Excellent training is provided. Interact with the public and learn about global education by volunteering a few hours a week." For more information about this opportunity and others, the VAC can be reached at 742-8610.


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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