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Tuesday, May 16, 2000

  • Work starts on co-op's computer system
  • Back to normal after kitchen fire
  • A little of this and that

[Bouquets in field]
Flowers from family and friends mark the spot on the north campus where first-year engineering student Aileen Proudfoot died late on Friday night. She drowned in a usually dry ditch that briefly became a rushing river in the weekend's rain.

Work starts on co-op's computer system

Work officially began this month on a new computer system for the co-operative education and career services department, and while staff aren't quite starting from scratch, the team expects it will be two years before the system is up and running.

A new Web-based system was to have been piloted in January, with implementation this month, but last fall -- after two years of development work -- the software vendor, Academic Software Inc., pulled out of the CECS.online project. Following the surprise move, CECS and the information systems and technology departments decided to develop a new system themselves, using PeopleSoft tools along with CECS.online concepts.

Dave Kibble of IST is project manager of the team working on the as-yet-unnamed project, along with Lynn Tucker of IST and Dave Thomas and Rick Roach of CECS. Steve Sangster, a computer science co-op student, is assisting the team on his first work term. IST is looking for two developers to build the applications, with job openings for PeopleSoft experts announced last week. Kibble expects students will be continue to be involved as the project proceeds, and students will also participate in the testing and training for the new system.

For now, co-op students will continue to use the rejuvenated Access system -- pepped up with a new server last term -- which will become Web-based sometime this summer. Although the changes provide no additional functions for the system, the upgraded server has improved speed, and the Web will give it "a better look and feel," says Kibble.

While Access lets students view job postings, interview schedules, and updates on the status of their job applications, it is essentially a system "for transmitting information to students", he said. The new system, which will incorporate the same features as the defunct CECS.online project, will provide more interactive applications. Students will be able to post resumes on the Web, as well as update them as required. They will be able to both view and apply for jobs on the Web, check out interview schedules, rank their jobs, and view their personal co-op records.

Not only co-op students, but graduating students looking for jobs and regular students seeking part-time or summer employment will use the system.

As well as benefits for students, the new system will replace Cervis, the system now used by CECS staff to keep records. Employers, too, will have the option of posting jobs online, receiving applications for positions (with pre-screening functions), and ranking applicants.

Although some form of the new system is expected to be up and running in about two years, it won't be a finished product, says Kibble. The system will be designed as an ongoing project, with the capacity to accommodate upgrades and enhancements.

Back to normal after kitchen fire

Talking fire, smoke and air

I'd bet there will be some mention of Sunday's fire when the UW joint health and safety committee meets today (1:30 p.m. in Needles Hall room 3001).

Agenda items certainly include a year-to-date fire alarm report, as well as discussion of workers' compensation claims, smoking areas outside Engineering II (where cigarette fumes have been drifting in through open windows), air quality in Needles Hall, and other issues of safety and health.

Ontario law requires each large employer to have a joint health and safety committee. UW's committee is described as "an advisory group of worker, management and student representatives who meet regularly to discuss health and safety concerns". This year the committee has been co-chaired by Bill Anderson of chemical engineering and Nancy Gibson of psychology.

The official damage estimate was $10,000 after Sunday morning's fire in the South Campus Hall kitchen, but much of that is the cost of things like cleanup and recharging fire extinguishers rather than actual destruction, says UW safety director Kevin Stewart.

Very little seems to have been damaged in the fire, he said yesterday -- just a few plastic trays that were near the grill where there fire started, and plastic light fixtures above it. "There were some buns," he admitted, "and they were long gone!"

The kitchen had been in use Saturday evening as the food services department was cooking for a function in the Optometry building. (All the department's catering services are based in the SCH kitchen, says food services director Mark Murdoch.) The last cook went home about 8 p.m., the safety director said, and a burner apparently was left on. The alarms went off about 3:30 Friday morning, and staff in UW's central plant called the Waterloo Fire Department. A crew put out the fire with extinguishers, Stewart said.

"Something like that causes a fair amount of smoke," he said. Food services staff were brought in Sunday to do the cleanup, and Murdoch said his staff couldn't fill an order for a large supply of coffee at the optometry conference on Sunday, because all the coffee-makers were out of commission. Conditions were "pretty well back to normal" by Monday morning, although the grill itself still hasn't been tested for damage.

None of the smoke reached other departments in the building, which include the development and alumni affairs office, the bookstore and UW Shop, and the visitors' centre.

Stewart said the incident shows the value of smoke and heat alarms. "That's why we have fire systems!"

A little of this and that

In yesterday's Bulletin I made mention of a noon-hour workshop on "Assessing Group Work", to be held tomorrow, and said it was aimed at teaching assistants. Only partly true, I'm reminded by the teaching resource office, which organizes many such workshops: "The workshop is open to anyone who teaches UW." This one will be held at 12:00 Wednesday in Math and Computer room 5158.

The career development seminar series is rolling again. Today at 10:30: "Career Resource Package". Tomorrow at 1:30: "Interview Skills, the Basics", followed by "Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions" at 2:30. All the seminars are held in Needles Hall room 1020.

And also on the subject of jobs comes this note from Olaf Naese in the co-op and career services department: "Where employer information sessions have been few in number in past summers, this year employers seem to have discovered the sessions as a way to market themselves on campus. So far, there are fourteen sessions booked over the next month." Among the employers expected: Nortel (Wednesday, 5 to 7 p.m., Davis Centre room 1301) and Microsoft (Thursday, 7 p.m., DC room 1351).

A conference on environmental and protected natural areas continues with a speech today by Steve Woodley, forest ecologist with Parks Canada. Topic: "The Changing Role of Ecosystem Science in Management." Also speaking are Tom Nudds, zoologist, University of Guelph, (on "Adaptive Management: Evolution of Science and Management at the Ecosystem Level") and Tom Hoekstra, director of the Inventory and Monitoring Institute, on "Management and Sustainability of Ecological Systems". The conference continues all week.

The monthly series of lunchtime forums on intellectual property issues continues with a session tomorrow on "Intellectual Property Rights and Ownership Arising from Sponsored Research". It starts at 12 noon in Needles Hall room 3001. The forums are sponsored by UW's technology transfer and licensing office.

A note from Carol Podedworny, curator of UW's art collection: "The UW art gallery has had a number of recent requests to borrow works of art from the permanent collection. Since most of the collection is currently displayed in offices or public spaces on campus, very few works remain in storage. The gallery is asking those who have had works of art in their offices for more than three years -- or if there is a work from the collection in a public space in their area -- to notify the gallery office at ext. 3575 to return to works to storage to satisfy the recent demand for art."

And one from the Volunteer Action Centre: "Saint Monica House needs reliable volunteers to provide child care for infants and toddlers while their moms are in programs. Volunteers provide a variety of stimulating play and individual time to promote children's development and well being. Energetic volunteers who enjoy infants and toddlers and have an interest in young single mothers will enjoy this opportunity. If you can give 4-5 hours a week either during the day or the evening, please call." 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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