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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Monday, January 29, 2001

  • Co-op employment: 'more than pleased'
  • Union organizer isn't giving up
  • Students start million-dollar company
  • Beginning of a busy week

[Orange safety vest]
Jennifer Motuz of mechanical engineering, who ended up as Canadian Co-op Student of the Year last year, poses during a work term with Syncrude Canada Ltd. with one of the buckets used for mining the oil sands in northern Alberta.

Co-op employment: 'more than pleased'

A record 4,409 co-op students have jobs this term, according to figures from the director of co-operative education and career services, Bruce Lumsden.

"I am more than pleased," says Lumsden in a brief memo about the success of co-op this term. "With a record number of 4,500 students seeking employment there are less than 100 without employment!"

That's "a substantial improvement from this time last year", he says. When the winter term got rolling in 2000, there were 268 unemployed students. At that time the employment rate was 93.75 per cent, and this term, as of January 11, it's 97.80 per cent.

The highest placement rates are in the teaching option (25 out of 25 have jobs) and accounting (414 out of 415). The lowest rates are in architecture (149 out of 159, or 93.71 per cent) and science (351 out of 371, or 94.61 per cent).

"We will continue to work with the students over the next few weeks to secure employment," Lumsden said.

He called this term's high employment rate "a credit to our employers, our students and to the CECS staff. All of us need to keep building on this effort to ensure a successful co-op program for the terms and years ahead."

Union organizer isn't giving up

Although he won't say how many UW staff members applied to join the Canadian Auto Workers in response to a January 3 ad in the Gazette, union organizer Joe Szalai says he's not giving up.

"It's confidential," he said of the number of people applying for membership in the union -- officially the National Automobile, Aerospace, Transportation and General Workers Union of Canada.

Szalai, who works in the user services department of the Dana Porter Library, said that as a member of the union organizing committee -- a "small" number of staff -- he plans to run the ad again. The committee will also submit letters to the editor as part of its campaign to persuade staff to sign CAW application forms ("union cards").

"Once we have sufficient numbers, we'll go through the labour relations board and a secret vote can be held on campus," he said. While the labour board requires a minimum of 40 per cent of eligible staff to sign application forms before a certification vote can be held, Szalai is aiming for at least 60 per cent -- a number he sees as "less divisive".

How long will Szalai keep up the campaign? "Until we win," he insists. (Under Ontario law, signatures submitted to the labour board with an application for a certification vote must have been collected within one year.)

He said the organizing committee plans to step up the certification drive in the next few weeks as the annual staff performance appraisal process begins. "We'll be putting more energy into the drive," he says, at a time of year when staff dissatisfaction with the remuneration process tends to peak. "It bums a lot of people out to go through all of this for next to nothing."

Students start million-dollar company

A couple of UW students were rejoicing last week at the news that Arius Software Corporation, "a privately-owned web application consulting business", had received $1.5 million dollars in its initial round of funding.

Why so happy? Because they own the company.

Adam Zimmer (computer engineering) is president of Arius, and Mike Neame (computer science) is vice-president for product development. They started Arius early in 1999 during a co-op work term. The funding that was announced last week moves Arius beyond the gleam-in-the-eye stage and establishes it in the software business.

During their consulting engagements, an Arius news release explains, the two students "recognized a need to automate the web-application development process and designed a toolkit called ConnectedDB to address this need. ConnectedDB enables developers to rapidly generate graphical user interfaces for a variety of platforms and connect those interfaces to either current existing or legacy databases. It can generate an interface for the web, a full desktop application, or even a cellphone, without writing a single new line of code."

Since the business was started, Arius says, it has developed "solutions for a variety of clients in the financial services industry, security industry and educational market throughout North America". One example: a financial database system for Pacific and Western Trust. "The development consisted of several applications including an internal administrative system, an extranet for their brokers, and a common web-based interface to the applications."

"Some of our investors are either current or ex University of Waterloo professors, and a number of alumni," says Ted Shapiro, vice-president (sales and marketing) at Arius.

He sounds proud of Zimmer and Neame: "That they were able to attract $1.5 million from some very technology savvy investors, before they've even graduated, is a great endorsement of the tools we've built, their talent, drive and professionalism. "

Arius is just the latest high-tech spinoff from Waterloo, he notes, pointing to some well-known names such as RIM and Pixstream. "There's a lot of exciting local technologies. We believe that Arius Software may be next on the horizon. We're in a very hot technology sector -- eB2B solutions and web applications."

And the people behind the company are staying local, he adds: "Adam and Mike were recently interviewed on the CBC, as skilled entrepreneurs that are staying here in Canada. They're building a profitable business and already provide employment for 10 others and growing. Each work term, Arius employs about 7 or 8 co-op students, who are helping us build our products and marketing materials. As we grow, we're certain to want some of those talented people back when they graduate."

Teaching awards deadline

Friday is the deadline for nominations for this year's Distinguished Teacher Awards.

Brief information from the teaching resource office, which handles the paperwork for the DTAs:

"A nomination can be made in a typed or legible handwritten letter, approximately 1 to 2 pages in length, addressed to: Chair, Selection Committee, Distinguished Teacher Awards, c/o Teaching Resources and Continuing Education (TRACE) Office, Math and Computer Bldg. Room 4055, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1. Nominations may be mailed, hand delivered or faxed (519-746-0029) into the office. We cannot accept nominations that have been e-mailed; a letter must include a signature. If a return address is appended to letter, an acknowledgment letter will be provided. It is important to note that if a number of people intend to sign a single letter, a comment must be included by each person who signs the letter in order to verify his/her support for the person being nominated for the Distinguished Teacher Award. A sample letter is not available as every professor and experience are unique."

Beginning of a busy week

The once-a-term Imaginus poster sale runs today through Friday in the Student Life Centre. . . . David Seljak of St. Jerome's University is the noontime speaker today at the Kitchener Public Library, addressing "The Spirituality of Hope". . . . An information session on Logan College of Chiropractic, its program and admission requirements, will be held at 5:00 today in Matthews Hall room 1040. A representative from Logan, in Missouri, will be in the Matthews Hall foyer from 2:30 to 4:00 to provide information and answer questions.

There will be a Speaking Circle in Math and Computer room 5136, at 1:30 today. Alastair Farrugia, a graduate student in combinatorics and optimization who's organizing the event, explains: "A Speaking Circle is a group of people who alternate as audience and speaker -- everyone gets to speak for two minutes first, then everyone gets another five minutes. If you feel more comfortable, you can read from a book instead of speaking. The aim isn't so much to practice speaking, as it is to practice connecting with the audience. Various people have claimed that this helped them to be more comfortable and effective when speaking in front of groups or classes. You can attend as many (or as few) Circle meetings as you like." Plans are for gatherings every other Monday, "but contact afarrugia@math to make sure."

A colloquium of some controversy is scheduled for 4:00 this afternoon at Wilfrid Laurier University, sponsored by UW's biology and psychology departments and the K-W Food Action Group. The event is a talk by Brewster Kneen, "Canada's foremost author and commentator on food and agriculture issues", under the title "Farmageddon: The Future of Farming". His remarks will touch on "biotechnology, its assumptions and its objective", and "restructuring life for corporate profit". The 4:00 talk will be held in room N1002 of WLU's science building. Kneen will also speak at 7:30 tonight at the Kitchener Public Library.

Public planning for UW's 2001-02 budget will start tomorrow, as the senate finance committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. (Needles Hall room 3001).

A teaching workshop under the title "Understanding the Learner", scheduled for Wednesday morning, is now full, the teaching resource office says. More information about teaching and learning workshops is available on the teaching resources web site.

The relationship between hockey and the essence of being Canadian is a subtle yet profound concept, says Ken Dryden, goalie, lawyer, and now president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will be speaking at UW on Wednesday night. Dryden's talk is scheduled for 7:00 in the Theatre of the Arts, as part of the student-organized "2020" lecture series. Admission is free.

And here's advance warning that FASS 2001: "A FASS Oddity" will hit the Humanities Theatre stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I generally catch flak for warning people about the bad puns, ham acting, topical satire and contagious enthusiasm that are de rigueur for FASS every year, so let me just say that it can be a dangerous show to miss.


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 Friday's Bulletin
Copyright © 2001 University of Waterloo