Friday, January 4, 2002
Three volunteers with Engineers Without Borders are interviewed in the winter issue of WEAL, the alumni newsletter from UW's faculty of engineering. Among them is Matt Phillips, civil engineering student who spent a co-op term in India last winter. He tells WEAL: "I was working in Rajkot, India, with a company called ProPoor, where the local branch was part of a larger organization called The Life Project, for which I facilitated technical and technological improvement. A devastating earthquake hit the area in late January, and as a result I also aided in the relief effort for communities destroyed by the quake." Three pictures accompanying the article show the aftermath of the earthquake. Also interviewed are Greg Powell (environmental-civil engineering, working in Nepal) and Scott Griffiths (systems design, in Guinea).
The second-year student launched his company, TRD Internet Systems Corporation, in June and now is contributing $3,000 to the Enterprise Boot Camp, a new program that will help students like him find their way on the path to entrepreneurial success.
"We are proud to be a sponsor and to give something back to the UW Enterprise Co-op program," de Witt said. "We see their new boot camp as a great way to help motivated third- and fourth-year students build their business ventures into a reality."
The boot camp, to be held April 22-25, will help student as well as alumni participants assess their technical and business skills and evaluate whether they might be ready to start their own ventures. It is open to students from any academic program.
Enterprise Boot Camp participants will spend four days at intensive, hands-on workshops at the St. Jerome's University conference centre. Professional speakers from on campus and the Kitchener-Waterloo enterprise community will lead the workshops. About 30 participants are expected to register at a cost of $199 each.
Expected to become an annual event, the camp is being organized by UW Innovate, an agency launched last fall as a "pre-incubator" for ideas generated at UW, as well as the Enterprise Co-op program based in UW's co-op department. It seeks to provide students with the tools and support they need to turn their business ideas into new companies during their co-op term.
Over the past three years, 100 students have applied to Enterprise Co-op and the program has approved 15 ventures.
De Witt started his company last fall after diligently working on his business plan for more than a year. "I am delighted with the success of Tyler's company, which provides custom designed software systems for Internet applications," says John Cullen, leader of Enterprise Co-op.
The company's products include an industrial e-mail list management solution for opt-in direct e-mail marketing. The company also provides complex hosting and data management services.
"I am continually amazed by the creative and practical business ideas developed by Waterloo students," Cullen said. "I wish to thank Tyler de Witt for his vision and generosity in sponsoring UW's first annual Boot Camp."
Through Enterprise Co-op, Cullen helped Tyler craft a business plan and collaborate with experienced entrepreneurs and provided him with $1,000 a month in matching funding while he launched his business. Other Enterprise Co-op services include mentoring and pre-launch assessment; access to business planning resources; access to lawyers, accountants and other start-up expertise; and work-term mentoring and evaluation.
"There are more than 12,000 incorporated businesses in Waterloo Region," says the PricewaterhouseCoopers Techmap, "958 of which are involved in the technology sector (those companies that produce or facilitate technology). 45% of total area growth is in employment in the technology sector. The area's concentration in technology is reinforced through the region's diverse major industries of advanced manufacturing, high tech, automotive, and business services."
And then these words: "Waterloo Region's location provides access to high quality post-secondary education institutions, world-class skilled and technological talent, and a centre for research and development. More than 150 research centres and institutions are located here, as well as three universities in the region: the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, nearby University of Guelph, and the province's highest ranked college, Conestoga College."
The poster-sized "techmap" is organized like a bullseye, with the oldest businesses in the centre: Electrohome (founded under an earlier name in 1907) and Hammond Manufacturing (1917), as well as the Ontario Agricultural College, which is now a unit of the University of Guelph. In the next ring come such companies as Marsland Engineering and Hart Chemicals. The third ring is getting big, with the likes of Volker-Craig, Unitron, and Com Dev, not to mention a little box representing the University of Waterloo (founded 1957). From UW, lines fan out to dozens of more recent high-tech companies, including Open Text, Virtek and RIM.
Altogether the map includes 411 companies, the more substantial and research-oriented among the total of 987 technology companies identified by the creators of the map. Almost a quarter of them are linked to UW in one way or another.
The Techmap is sponsored by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers along with Silicon Valley North ("Canada's local technology business journal"), the Communitech Technology Association, and Canada's Technology Triangle.
Good times at Mohabbatien, the SASA formal dance last year.
The South Asian Students Association from UW is among groups from universities across Canada and the United States that are sending people to Toronto this weekend for "SASA 2002", under the theme "The Evolving South Asian Persona". The weekend includes a high-powered "Culture Show" Saturday at Roy Thomson Hall, as well as "cultural, political and business" sessions.
Note to graduate students: if you are being paid as a teaching or research assistant this term, and were not on the monthly payroll in December, you should plan to do payroll paperwork at one of two sessions next week. "Students who were on monthly payroll in December 2001 and whose banking information has changed should also sign up. Please bring your Social Insurance Number and bank account information (void cheque if possible)." If you sign up at one of these sessions, and the department that's paying you does what it's supposed to do, the first month's pay will show up in your bank account on January 25. Oh, the signup sessions: January 8 (Tuesday) from 2 to 3 p.m., or January (Wednesday) from 10 to 11 a.m. Location: Davis Centre room 1302.
We're barely into the winter term, but spring does lie ahead. It was announced earlier that class enrolment for spring courses would be starting January 14, but that's no longer the case, the registrar's office says. Spring enrolment is scheduled to run March 4 through 29, with the "appointment" system used on Quest as it was last fall. Class enrolment for the fall term is expected to take place in July, but details aren't available yet.
A series of pre-retirement workshops, titled "Bridging the Gap", will be held this winter at the Rockway Centre in Kitchener, and is being recommended by UW's human resources department for faculty and staff who are approaching that milestone. Six Tuesday evening sessions will cover such issues as financing, housing, health and "changing roles and relationships". More information is available at 741-2507.
Maybe I shouldn't have alluded to "Jesse Rodgers" in Wednesday's Bulletin without identifying him. He's getting to be widely known on campus, but for those who haven't met him yet, I'll explain that he is working as "web developer" here in the office of information and public affairs. That makes him the point man for the whole UWinfo project and the new design it's bringing to UW web pages. "Standards and guidelines" for campus web pages are almost ready, and several departments, including the whole faculty of applied health sciences, are already using the new model for their home pages.