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Friday, March 17, 2000

  • The day of the green condoms
  • Team's in Orlando for the contest
  • Engineers are national winners
  • Other notes and events in green

[Man and computer screen]

Have a heart and don't kill a frog: that was the idea when Norm Scott, of UW's biology department, developed a simulated frog heart for use in an upper-year animal physiology course. Software for the project was developed with the support of UW's teaching resource office and its offshoot LT3 -- the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology. The full story is told in this week's Gazette.

Also in the March 15 Gazette: thoughts of a distance education student after switching to on-campus courses . . . a review of the new book by Michael Higgins, president of St. Jerome's University . . . an ad for Cultural Caravan, Monday in the Student Life Centre . . . and more.

The day of the green condoms

If you missed the chocolate-, watermelon-, cherry-, grape- and vanilla-flavoured condoms that were handed out on Valentine's Day to promote Sexual Health Week, you might want to drop by the Student Life Centre today.

To mark St. Patrick's Day, the Wellness Centre will be giving away green (mint-flavoured) condoms today in the Student Life centre. Volunteers will also be at the Bombshelter pub in the SLC with information about responsible drinking and with a treasure hunt (find a gold condom in the Bomber and win a prize).

[Green condom]
Condoms for St. Patrick's Day? "Isn't contraception illegal?" asks the Irish Frequently-Asked Questions page. Answer: no, not any more.
The condoms may be an attention grabber, but the Wellness Centre's motives are anything but frivolous. In addition to promoting safe sex and moderate alcohol use, the mandate of the centre -- the newest service from the Federation of Students -- includes promotion of general health, nutrition and fitness, as well as information on the hazards of drug use. Wellness Centre coordinator Karen Riley believes using a bit of fun to encourage healthy choices will help get the message across.

Since the centre's doors just opened in January, Riley and some 15 other volunteers have organized events for Eating Disorders Week, Single and Sandy, Sexual Health Week, and National Nutrition Month. Now they're setting their sights on promotions for orientation week in September.

A second-year psychology student, Riley has a community college diploma in drug and alcohol counselling, and a history of participation in Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving at her high school in Walkerton. It was in Walkerton that she came face to face with the hazards of high-risk behaviour when a friend, a promising hockey player, was struck by a drunk driver.

Although the Feds have sponsored BACCHUS -- Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students -- for a number of years, Jason Risley, Feds vice-president (student issues), explored the idea of expanding the health promotion services during the past year. He looked at what was happening on other campuses, and visited the Wellness Centre at the University of Guelph. The Wellness Centre at UW will focus on prevention, he said, working with other services on campus such as health services.

In addition to making high-profile appearances at events, the service will act as a resource centre, stocking a pamphlet rack in front of the turnkey desk, and maintaining a bulletin board of information near the main floor vending machines in the SLC.

The Wellness Centre, located in the student services area of the SLC, and available to everyone on campus, is open weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers can be reached at ext. 5951.

Team's in Orlando for the contest

The "smartest in the world" trophy, which proudly sits on a shelf in the office of UW's Gordon Cormack, could be Waterloo's again by tomorrow night.

Cormack, a professor of computer science, has been coaching student programming teams since 1997, and last year his trio won the prestigious 23rd annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest held in the Netherlands, beating out 62 teams. UW previously brought home the world trophy in 1994.

This week, another UW student team is defending the championship as the ACM competition -- the "Battle of the Brains" -- comes to Florida. The event is being held at the Radisson Hotel Universal in Orlando. For the past two days there have been special events and practice sessions. Today brings a luncheon, a final practice session, and the IBM-sponsored "VisualAge for Java Challenge". And tomorrow at 9 a.m. it's the actual five-and-a-half-hour contest, with results reported live on the Web.

"Although it's difficult to quantify our chances of winning again," said Cormack, "the UW team won the East Central Regional contest in November 1999 by a commanding margin. The team solved all of the eight problems posed. Only five were solved by the nearest competitor."

The all-star problem solvers on this year's finalist team are undergraduates: Donny Cheung of Winnipeg, a previous regional team member, is a combinatorics and optimization student; Ondrej Lhotak, of Burlington, a member of the 1999 finalist team, is a computer science student; and Jeff Shute, of Belleville, a previous regional team member, is also in CS.

Co-operation in the contest is essential, Lhotak said, noting that teams are only allowed one terminal on which to code, which makes deciding who types a difficult decision. The trick is to determine which problems are easiest to solve, with the team members individually working on coding and debugging them until they work, Shute said. They then regroup to tackle the big problems together.

From a field of more than 2,400 worldwide teams, the top 60 -- some of the world's best and brightest students of computing -- advance to compete for the coveted cup, bragging rights, scholarships and IBM hardware and software. Working in three-person teams, students rely on their programming savvy, creativity, time-management and teamwork to solve problems, as they race against the clock in a five-hour battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance. The team solving the most problems in the fewest attempts and least amount of time takes home the prize.

News from across Canada

  • Report advises prime minister on skills development
  • Professors sceptical about the emphasis on technology
  • Strike continues at University College of Cape Breton
  • Faculty also on strike at Université de Moncton
  • Clinton and Blair call for free access to genome data
  • Executive MBA offered by 'virtual university'
  • Engineers are national winners -- from the UW news bureau

    Waterloo engineering students won top prizes at the 16th annual Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) held recently at London Hilton Hotel in London, Ontario.

    "The University of Waterloo students excelled," said Fakhri Karray, systems design engineering professor. They won the corporate design and best exhibition awards and placed second in explanatory communication. "These are very encouraging results given that each region in Canada have competed with its best selected teams after regional runoffs."

    The national competition, administered by the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students and organized by students, attracted about 200 top students from 34 universities across the country. It was hosted March 9-12 by the Faculty of Engineering Science at the University of Western Ontario and Nortel Networks.

    The competition gave students an opportunity to test and develop their skills in practical problem solving, design and communication, as well as to promote a better understanding of engineering profession among students and the public. The students were finalists from regional competitions across the country.

    They competed in six categories: corporate design, explanatory communication, debate, entrepreneurial design, editorial communication and team design. All categories were judged by industry representatives, with top prizes of up to $2,500.

    This year's UW winners at the CEC:

    Other notes and events in green

    St. Patrick's Day naturally brings thoughts of Irish music and, I regret to say, green beer, and there are a number of places on campus to party today. In particular: For those whose musical tastes are perhaps a little less ethnic, the Black Walnut Folk Club has its monthly session tonight in the Laurel Room of South Campus Hall. It's an open stage event, from 8 p.m. to midnight.

    And in other matters . . . here's an important announcement for co-op students: "Co-op students still requiring employment for the May-August work term should hand in 15 résumé packages along with completed Continuous Phase Registration Form to the paging desk, main floor, Needles Hall. Co-op students still requiring employment who have not handed in a form and résumé package by today will have their status changed to "On Own, Self Imposed" unless employment is obtained by April 28."

    Continuing in the Student Life Centre are the Circle K food drive -- booth open from 9:30 to 5:30 today and again tomorrow -- and the Egyptian Student Association exhibition in the multipurpose room.

    The Kiwanis Travelogue series returns to the Humanities Theatre at 8:00 tonight; I have no word on this month's topic.

    Finally, the drama department production of "Spring Awakening" continues tonight and Saturday night at 8:00 in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. "The story of the play," a flyer reminds us, "features the suicide of a pupil who fails to cope with the exacting academic standards of his school, and the death of an innocent schoolgirl at the hands of a back-street abortionist, the victim of her own ignorance and her mother's prudery. 'Sexual Awakening' shocked the contemporary public" -- it was first staged in 1891 -- "and it may well still startle audiences today with its scenes of pubescent angst, sexual outspokenness and its frank representation of adolescent love, both hetero and homosexual." Watch for a review in next Wednesday's Gazette.


    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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