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Wednesday, April 17, 2002

  • The last Descartes competition
  • Top engineering honour for UW prof
  • Staff positions for this week
  • And a few other bits and pieces
Chris Redmond

Who is John Galt? Guelph marks its 175th

Custodian is mourned

Mala Vongkhamphou, who had been a member of UW's staff since 1986, died on April 13. He was 47. A custodian in the plant operations department, he is survived by his wife Hiang, and children Tookta and Jeffrey.

A funeral service was held Monday morning at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home in Waterloo.

The last Descartes competition -- by Barbara Elve

Nearly 11,000 secondary school students from across Canada and around the world are calculating the end of an era today as they write the final Descartes Contest.

Since it was introduced in 1968, the competition has challenged the mathematical problem-solving skills of more than 200,000 senior secondary school students. Administered by the UW mathematics faculty with the help of hundreds of high school math teachers, the contest, geared to the Ontario Grade 13 math curriculum, will cease with the elimination of Grade 13 in Ontario.

Peter Crippin, director of the UW Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, which runs math competitions for elementary and secondary school students, sees the Descartes as the most important influence in the Ontario math educational scene in the past 35 years. "It made teachers and students aware that mathematics is more than just mechanical calculations -- that it involves thinking and problem solving. It gave students a vision of what they could be, and what teachers could shoot for, and made the University of Waterloo a major contributor to the Ontario mathematics community."

No fanfare or formal farewells are planned to observe the demise of the Descartes. As always, some 150 secondary school teachers and university professors from local schools and from as far away as the University of New Brunswick and the University of Saskatchewan will gather on campus next Wednesday through Saturday to mark the contest papers.

"It's just a natural evolution of things," said Crippin. "Since we're losing a grade, we'll have kids write the Euclid Contest in Grade 12." Like the Descartes, the Euclid is primarily a problem-solving paper, but is based mainly on the Grade 11 and 12 Ontario math curriculum.

In the Descartes, students test their knowledge of basic calculus and concepts in linear algebra. A new revised version of the Euclid to be introduced next spring will incorporate some of that content, but will be more national in scope.


Top engineering honour for UW prof

Chemical engineering professor Alex Penlidis (right) has been elected a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering -- the highest honour in Canada for a member of the profession.

Penlidis, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Polymer Engineering at UW, was elected the academy based on "distinguished service and contribution to society, to the country and to the profession."

His official citation reads: "Alexander Penlidis is an outstanding educator, researcher and practitioner who is an internationally recognized authority in polymer reaction engineering. His fundamental and applied contributions to modeling and control of polymerization processes are used by the industrial and research communities worldwide. As an educator and engineer he has received awards for excellence in teaching, for excellence in research and for his numerous contributions to the technical literature. He has also made major contributions to the profession through his many activities in societies both national and international."

At UW, Penlidis holds a Distinguished Teacher Award, and has served as director of the Institute for Polymer Research and as associate dean (research and graduate studies). In 1994 he was elected a Fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada.

The official induction ceremony will take place May 19 in Ottawa.

With some 160,000 members of the engineering profession in Canada, the academy restricts the total number of active Fellows at any one time to 250. Other UW Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering are Mohamed Elmasry, Carolyn Hansson, Keith Hipel, Bruce Hutchinson, Ralph Haas, and Doug Wright.

While election to the academy is "extremely prestigious" for the Penlidis, said Haas, "it is also an honour for the university." It was Haas who nominated Penlidis for the appointment.

Staff positions for this week

"University Policy 18," the human resources department reminds us, "provides maximum opportunity for promotion of regular, internal staff members. Those interested in applying for an available position are invited to call Human Resources at extension 2524 for more information or are welcome to visit during regular working hours to view a detailed job description. Human Resources is located in the General Services Complex, Room 130. A current resume is required with your application.

"This list is also available for view on the Human Resources web site.

"Due to the number of applications received, we regret that we can not respond to external applicants who apply to the vacancies listed below unless an interview is scheduled.

"If there are no qualified internal applications, a decision may be made, no earlier than seven working days from the job posting, to seek external candidates. All applications received after this decision will be treated on an equal basis, without consideration of the internal status of the candidate."

And now, this week's positions:

Says HR: "The University welcomes and encourages applications from the designated employment equity groups: visible minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and aboriginal people. For more information call University of Waterloo 885-1211 ext. 2524."

Enrolment for fall courses

Electronic "appointments" for enrolment in fall term classes will be posted on the Quest system on April 26, the registrar's office says. Appointments begin June 10, with open enrolment following as of July 2.

A note from the registrar: "If you want to change plans or add a minor or option, please complete a Plan Modification/ Application for Internal Transfer Form, available from the Registrar's Office or on the web. This should be completed before your enrolment appointment."

And a few other bits and pieces

I have word of another UW person who ran the Boston Marathon on Monday: chemistry professor Terry McMahon. His finishing time of 3 hours 3 minutes 41 seconds put him 1,463rd overall in the race -- and 45th in his division.

Carolyn Vincent in the human resources department reminds staff members that the spring Get Up & Grow "training and development" brochure is out. Says her note: "We will be offering a new updated version of the popular Leadership 2000 program, Leadership for Results. This program is more interactive than Leadership 2000. This highly interactive and participative program provides the necessary information and skills required to set day-to-day priorities, work in cross-functional and team situations, set and meet performance objectives, demonstrate personal initiative and self-reliance, adapt to change constructively, and help clarify each person's role in supporting the organization. Leadership for Results provides the skills required to foster a collaborative environment -- where employees and managers share decision-making, and where every person needs to take initiative." Also on the schedule this summer is the popular Who Moved My Cheese? program, which deals with handling change.

Vincent also notes that the May-June Skills for the Electronic Workplace brochure is out, with courses ranging from "Getting Ready for Windows 2000 and Office XP" to "Creating Drop-Down Menus Using Dreamweaver and Fireworks".

Some statistics of possible interest, extracted from an exchange in the newsgroup uw.network the other day: "There are now," writes Roger Watt of information systems and technology, "4,083 ResNet connections (all of Conrad Grebel, St. Paul's, Minota Hagey, Columbia Lake, Mackenzie King, Ron Eydt, and Village I; part of UW Place). This term, just over 3,350 of them are in use. Last year this time, there were 2,412 connections and 1,570 were in use. . . . This fall, around 700 additional ResNet connections will be in place -- Renison plus more of UW Place."

When reports on the Putnam Math Competition came out a few weeks ago, I quoted Christopher Small, coach of the UW team: "Two of the top Putnam students this year, David Arthur and David Pritchard, who ranked in the top 25, are Canadian. However, both students represented American universities, where they study at present." Well, there was another Canadian in the top 25, as it turns out: Jimmy Chui of the University of Toronto, who wasn't too pleased at being overlooked, apparently because he's a Canadian at a Canadian university. And I'm happy to set the record straight.

Today brings the next presentation of the seminar series on "Smarter Health: The Value of IT in the Health Industry", sponsored by the InfraNet Project and the Education Program for Health Informatics Professionals. Today's speaker is Robbie Campbell of the Lawson Health Research Institute and the University of Western Ontario. Campbell will describe Project Outreach, a tele-psychiatry network project proposed by a consortium of hospitals, medical school psychiatric departments, a First Nations organization, and an addiction and mental health treatment centre led by St. Joseph's Health Care in London. This project proposes to integrate four psychiatric centres with 25 remote municipal sites and 25 First Nations sites to deliver psychiatric services by video-conferencing. The project will use "an integrated open architecture" to help universities, hospitals and remote community facilities work together to deliver secure, reliable psychiatric services in under-serviced communities. The seminar starts at 4:00 this afternoon in Davis Centre room 1302.



April 17, 1996: Voting begins on union certification for faculty members and librarians.

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