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Thursday, April 5, 2001

  • UW snowmobile first at Yellowstone
  • Witmer to announce research funding
  • Extra fee set for some applicants
  • All's well at the grad house
  • Some notes and some events

[In front of snowy trees]
Team members, front: May Leung, Andrew Ma. Rear: coach Roydon Fraser, Jason Hanam, Andy Punkari, Jason Halayko, Mike Burtch, Brad Roth, Mike Kuntz, Bill McMaster.

UW snowmobile first at Yellowstone

A two-stroke machine designed by a UW team has placed first in an event that challenges engineering students to design a cleaner and quieter snowmobile.

A year after the University at Buffalo used a modified 4-stroke snowmobile to run away with the first Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) Clean Snowmobile 2000 competition, twelve of the 13 entered schools prepared 4-stroke entries. Waterloo and one other team brought along their 2-stroke powered sleds to the competition as backups, and it was the two-stroke machine that won the day.

Says a news release: "When weeks ago it became apparent to the Waterloo team that their new 4-stroke sled needed more testing and development time, they made improvements to the injection and exhaust systems of the trusty 2-stroke sled that placed second overall to Buffalo in last year's event. Those improvements paid off nicely in an overall win in this year's challenge." The event was held at the end of March at Jackson, Wyoming, in the Yellowstone National Park area.

The event started off well for the Waterloo team -- coached by Roydon Fraser of the mechanical engineering department -- when they posted 60 per cent or better reductions in CO, NOx, and unburned hydrocarbons in the rigorous emissions test against a "control" snowmobile.

Two-stroke engines have an advantage in weight, simplicity and high horsepower-to-weight ratios that has made them popular for high performance off-highway applications, but they typically suffer from incomplete combustion resulting in high hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions. Both 2-stroke teams used metered fuel injection and a three-way catalytic converter to clean up their exhaust emissions without adding significant weight.

In response to the traditional problem of noisy snowmobiles, all teams had to post a measurement of less than 74 decibels when measured at full throttle from 50 feet away. Buffalo posted the lowest noise measurement (67dB), but barely missed the 12-second acceleration mark needed to qualify for the "quietest snowmobile" award.

In addition to running smoothly through the scenic Yellowstone course, the Waterloo sled turned in fuel economy of almost 20 miles per gallon (11.8 litres per 100 kilometres) -- five mpg better than the control sled. Four inches of new snow made the Yellowstone course a tough mileage test for the teams -- snowmobiles on groomed trails regularly get 25 mpg or better.

The $5,000 award received by the UW team for its first-place finish comes from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Other cheques come from the US department of energy ($2,000 for best fuel economy), Teton County in Wyoming ($2,000 for best performance), and the Wyoming department of environmental quality ($2,000 for "most practical solution"). The team also came home with a commemorative belt buckle from Jackson Hole Snow Devils for the snowmobile's hill-climbing prowess, and with the award for best design paper.

Witmer to announce research funding

Ontario environment minister Elizabeth Witmer will visit campus today to help celebrate "new provincial investments in research technology and infrastructure" -- a $1.2 million grant to help pay overhead costs, and some sixteen projects supported by the Ontario Innovation Trust.

After the announcement, Witmer, who is MPP for Waterloo, will tour the research laboratory headed by chemistry professor Tong Leung, which houses Canada's first and only Imaging Microprobe.

"This technology," says a news release, "is leading to a number of breakthrough discoveries in environmental protection. These include removing smog from industrial emissions and car exhaust, removing toxins from groundwater and creating the next generation of environmentally safe alternative battery sources."

The "research performance" grant Witmer will speak about -- UW is getting $1.2 million this year -- is a new component of operating support for universities, designed to help recognize the indirect costs of maintaining research labs. It was first promised in last year's provincial budget.

She'll also celebrate sixteen awards given under the Ontario Innovation Trust program, which provides funds to match Canada Foundation for Innovation grants. The most recent three projects receiving OIT support were announced in February.

Today's celebration will start at 1:30 in Chemistry II room 064.

Extra fee set for some applications

People who apply for admission to UW from other countries and other provinces, or even from within Ontario if they aren't riding the regular school-to-university conveyor belt, will have to pay a $50 "admissions evaluation fee" starting next fall.

The fee was approved by the board of governors on Tuesday and "will provide the necessary resources for the timely review of applications", registrar Ken Lavigne told the board.

He said the fee -- similar to fees already charged by most other Ontario universities -- might reduce the number of "frivolous" applications to UW but isn't likely to deter students who actually want to come here and are qualified.

If students apply through the Ontario Universities Application Centre, they'll pay OUAC's fee as well, the registrar said. If they apply directly to UW, as students typically do when they're beginning part-time or distance education study, only the UW fee will be collected. Lavigne added that staff and faculty members who want to register for a course will not be charged the new fee.

Since 1997, he told the board, the number of applications from "non-OSS" would-be students has gone up by 30 per cent, to 7,218, but the number of those people who actually qualify, are admitted and register as students has gone up only 13 per cent, to 946.

About a quarter of students who apply for full-time first-year admission to Ontario universities come from "non-OSS" sources: other countries, other provinces, transfers from community colleges, people returning to education after some time in the work force.

For this year, as of March 19, the OUAC was showing a total of 5,148 non-OSS applicants to Waterloo, up from 4,099 last year. That includes 1,933 who listed a UW program as their first choice (up from 1,411 last year). By comparison, OUAC had received 17,250 applications to Waterloo programs from current Ontario secondary school students, including 5,759 first-choice applications.

All's well at the grad house -- from yesterday's Gazette

The Graduate House -- recently on the brink of financial disaster -- is continuing its recovery, outgoing Graduate Student Association president Bill Bishop reported at last week's GSA annual meeting.

In the 2000 Annual Report, entitled "It's All Good . . .", Bishop noted that Henry Ensley had been hired as Grad House head cook, and "substantially improved the variety and quality of menu items offered at the facility." Sales at the Grad House increased by 6.5 per cent between September 1999 and August 2000 over the previous fiscal year. The Grad House has been smoke-free since May 2000.

"The operation of the Graduate House continues to place a heavy financial burden on the organization. However, the immediate financial crisis (which threatened to close the Grad House in 1998) has been averted," said Bishop in his report. The facility continues to carry an operating deficit of about $14,000, which Bishop suggests "could be eliminated through the introduction of another small Graduate House fee increase." The fee increased from $10 to $11 per term last year.

During the past year, the GSA established the position of special project coordinator. Catharine Bonas, employed in the position on a part-time, contract basis, has developed a GSA handbook to provide students with information on the GSA, and a separate handbook for the GSA board of directors.

"Tuition fees and affordable housing are the primary academic issues of concern" to graduate students at UW, said Bishop, who, with help from the GSA executive, represents the association members on more than 30 campus committees. "A mutual agreement negotiated by the organization ensures that large tuition fee increases will not occur for the foreseeable future," he reports. "Ceilings have been placed on the tuition fee increases for graduate students," approved by the board of governors last year.

"The university has not yet adequately addressed housing concerns," he adds.

After the unexpected resignation of GSA vice-president operations Tim Lahey, Marc Aucoin, a chemical engineering graduate student, has assumed the position on the executive. He previously served on GSA council.

Although the GSA is currently reconsidering its affiliation with the Canadian Graduate Council, a national lobbying organization, the GSA will be hosting the council's annual meeting in Waterloo on April 22 to 24. Some 25 executive members from across the country are expected to attend the meeting at the Waterloo Inn. According to Bishop, "the Canadian Graduate Council has encountered substantial difficulties in fulfilling its mandate," resulting in several high-profile member schools recently renouncing their membership. While the GSA is still considering its options in terms of affiliation with other lobby groups, on campus, it will be "developing stronger partnerships with the Federation of Students and the International Students Association."

Some notes and some events

The pension and benefits committee is meeting this morning (Needles Hall room 3004, starting at 8:30) and continuing its discussion of "benefits costs and principles".

A workshop on course design is being held this morning by the teaching resources and continuing education office; Donna Ellis, associate director of TRACE, will be the facilitator. The workshop will be repeated Tuesday, April 17. TRACE at ext. 3132 can provide more information.

People interested in the Ontario Premier's Research Excellence Awards, of which UW has had some already, may want to attend a meeting today at 1:30 p.m. Andrew Tomingas, manager of the PREA secretariat, is on campus to meet with deans, department chairs and interested young researchers, says Andrew Barker in UW's office of research.

Bob Hale of the University of Glasgow will speak on "Basic Logical Knowledge" in a philosophy colloquium at 3:30 this afternoon in Humanities room 334.

The English Language Proficiency Examination, for students who still need that qualification, will be offered at 7:00 tonight in the Physical Activities Complex. (And need I add that winter term exams begin tomorrow?)

A Classical Dance Conservatory production of "Cinderella" is scheduled for 7:30 tonight in the Humanities Theatre.

The Canadian Improv Games continue tonight (and Friday and Saturday) at 7:30 in the Theatre of the Arts; and a student production of "Thanks for Caring" continues those nights at 8:00 in Studio 180 in the Humanities building.

Reminder of one of the big events of the year: the annual used book sale sponsored by the local chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. People with books to donate can drop them off today at First United Church -- I know I'll be making a quick stop there -- and the sale runs at the same location tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds of this 37th annual sale go to support the CFUW scholarship program.

A note from the audio-visual department: "A-V has a 16-mm (flatbed) film editing suite that we no longer have use for and would like to make it available to anyone on campus. For information, call ext. 4001 by April 15."

Finally . . . I want to make clear that when Tuesday's Bulletin referred to an electronic petition censuring Chris Farley, president of the Federation of Students, I wasn't endorsing the attack on him -- just reporting that it had been launched. Farley feels aggrieved, quite reasonably, that I didn't ask for his comments before mentioning the campaign in the Bulletin. "There is certainly not a large scale movement to remove me as president," he said yesterday, and indeed I have no way of knowing how large a group is behind the protest, or what their motives are. I'm sorry if the way I described the situation gave an inappropriate impression.


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 © 2001 University of Waterloo