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Friday, June 7, 2002

  • Sybase to be first north campus tenant
  • Environmental (chemical) program closing
  • Firm helps create multimedia lab
  • Hey, we made it to a weekend
Chris Redmond

Canadians want more post-secondary funding

Sybase to be first north campus tenant

With its president, John Chen, visiting the campus, Sybase Inc. announced yesterday that it will build a "state-of-the-art facility" on UW's north campus, as the first anchor tenant in the planned research and technology park.

Said a news release: "The new office location would position Sybase at the centre of research excellence and innovation, as part of a new high-tech corridor in the Waterloo area. Sybase has had a significant presence in the Waterloo area since the 1980s."

"The new Research and Technology Park will bring together leading minds in both the public and private sectors, providing Sybase with unique access to the newest technology research and opinions," said Terry Stepien, president of Sybase Canada. "With our new state-of-the-art office space, we will be able to consolidate all of our Waterloo area employees and expand our local presence."

Ken Seiling, chair of Waterloo Region, said he was "thrilled", and UW president David Johnston declared that "In making this key announcement, Sybase is showing great faith in the future of the Research and Technology Park and in our outstanding community. This is a clear sign pointing to the success of this important initiative, which seeks to expand knowledge, encourage its application, stimulate new companies and create jobs."

The hundred-acre first phase of the research and technology park offers businesses and their employees "an attractive environment that fosters technology innovation", Sybase said. "Companies can work with the university professors and students on specific research projects, sharing the ultimate findings. Ongoing ties with the university will further strengthen the company's co-op program, a key source of top tier employees. The new office space will feature the latest in office technology, including the latest in wireless communications such as 802.11 and Bluetooth."

Said the news release: "The company has long maintained close ties with the university and local community. In fact, over ninety percent of the engineers in Sybase's Waterloo offices attended the University of Waterloo and many of its employees started as co-op students.

"Sybase's Waterloo site is the major centre for research and development for its iAnywhere Solutions subsidiary and houses employees from marketing, sales, professional services, technical support and operations. In addition, the site has employees from Sybase's Financial Fusion subsidiary and other Sybase business units."

The iAnywhere subsidiary began its history as Watcom -- UW's first spinoff company, marketing some of the software that gave Waterloo its worldwide reputation, including the Watfor and Watfiv compilers.

Here's how the company describes itself: "Sybase is the enterprise infrastructure company that bridges heterogeneous technologies. With industry-leading Enterprise Portal (EP), mobile and wireless solutions, essential integration products, and high performance database management systems, Sybase is one of the largest independent software companies in the world."

"If you don't know it as a household word, you will," Johnston said in the course of introducing Chen yesterday. He spoke to a full house in one of the Davis Centre lecture theatres, talking about his own career and giving advice ("halfway philosophy, halfway management style") to would-be entrepreneurs.

The north campus park has been in the planning stages for years. During 2001-02, financing was announced by local, regional, provincial and federal governments, and a design for the park's layout was announced. Sybase is expected to take a site on the northwest shoulder of the "Great Circle" at the centre and highest point of the park, north of UW's Optometry building, for a 100,000-square-foot building (about the size of Carl Pollock Hall).

Environmental (chemical) program closing

The 35 students who enter the "chemical" stream of UW's environmental engineering program this fall will be the last ones ever to do that.

That stream is being closed, and the other existing stream, "civil", will be just "environmental engineering" in future, says Bill Anderson of the chemical engineering department, who directs the EnvEng program. The end of the environmental (chemical) program has been approved by engineering faculty council, and it's on the agenda for the UW senate shortly.

When EnvEng was created in 1994, "the intention was that both streams would grow over time to be roughly 45 or 50 students [per year] in each," Anderson says. "It's become apparent that they're just not going to grow to those levels."

Apparently, only a limited number of young people want to be environmental engineers, he said. "With the enrolment that we do have, we've already captured 40 per cent of the market across Canada. If you put the two streams together, we're actually taking in what in the context of the other universities is a huge program."

While EnvEng has had smaller classes than its sponsors hoped for, UW's regular chemical engineering program is under pressure, Anderson said -- "we've got classes of 70, 80, 90 students." So the chem eng department has decided to close its environmental stream and go back to having two streams -- each typically 60 students -- in plain vanilla chemical engineering, as it did in the days before environmental engineering was started.

In the years to come, students who would have gone into environmental (chemical) will have to choose "chemical engineering" or the program that will be called just "environmental engineering", with its civil engineering emphasis. "There will be some tinkering with their courses," Anderson predicted, "some courses disappearing eventually." But he noted that chemical and biotechnology content will continue to be important to all environmental engineers.

And he stressed that current students, and the ones who will start in environmental (chemical) this fall, are guaranteed the courses they need over the next few years as the stream is phased out.

In turn, he said, there's a definite environmental flavour to the regular chem eng program. "We have a number of courses in pollution control," for example.

Firm helps create multimedia lab -- from the UW news bureau

Leitch Technology Corporation and UW have announced that they have partnered to create a world-class multimedia communications laboratory, which will provide computing and testing facilities to support research in multimedia communications.

The Leitch-University of Waterloo Multimedia Communications Laboratory will be the largest and most advanced multimedia communications research lab in Canada and, combined with expertise and research excellence, will be the leading facility of its kind in the world. The lab will be a magnet for the most talented researchers in the area of multimedia communications from around the world.

[Arm around shoulder]

UW president David Johnston celebrates yesterday with E&CE chair Tony Vannelli

Multimedia communications, which involves the seamless integration of the telephone, television and computer, is predicted to dramatically change everyday life and the world economy for many years to come. However, before this seamless integration can be realized in wireless and mobile environments, there are still many challenges to be resolved. The new Leitch-UW lab will address these challenges through research in areas such as advanced data compression techniques.

"We are very pleased to launch this joint venture between Leitch Technology and the University of Waterloo," said Tony Vannelli, chair of electrical and computer engineering. "The development and practical implementation of compression algorithms by the lab's lead professor, Canada Research Chair in Information Theory and Multimedia Compression Dr. En-Hui Yang, and his colleagues will strongly accelerate the research in multimedia technologies."

Sujeet Chaudhuri, dean of engineering, said: "It is very exciting to note that, through this partnership, one of the industry leaders in the area of multimedia communications is supporting the forward-looking, cutting-edge work of a leading researcher in this field."

Leitch contributed more than $330,000 to the project, with the total consisting of a combination of cash and equipment. The company is providing much of the lab's infrastructure, such as audio and video conversion and interface equipment, test generators and a sophisticated 3D non-linear editing system.

"This partnership is a demonstration of Leitch's commitment to serve as a positive force within our community, as well as a solid investment in the future of our industry and our own company," said Terry Cribbey, Leitch's director of sales, Canada. "The Leitch-UW lab will conduct research to create leading-edge technology, develop ideas that could open up new markets for growth and help train highly qualified personnel that will be well acquainted with our company and our equipment."

The lab, which temporarily occupies 650 square feet in the department of electrical and computer engineering, will be expanded to more than 1,100 square feet and is scheduled to open in the new Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (CEIT) building in September 2003.

Leitch Technology Corporation provides leading-edge solutions to store, switch, distribute, convert and otherwise process high-quality audio and video signals. Applications for Leitch products span the broadcast, telco, cable, post production, Internet and business-to-business markets. The company is headquartered in Toronto, with other key offices in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Japan and Hong Kong.

Hey, we made it to a weekend

It's a bright, still morning, and to make it more perfect, out of a blue-and-white sky came two great hot air balloons, advertising local media, which settled down on the meadow above Columbia Lake, while a man with a dog watched them. Conditions should be great for the annual "child care festival", a field day planned this morning by UW's four day care centres. Children, caregivers and parents will be gathering between Matthews Hall and Math and Computer from 9;30 to 10:30 this morning for activities and music by children's performer Erick Traplin. "We are asking our families to wear Waterloo colours, red, yellow and black," says Val Rozon, director of the early childhood education centre in the psychology department. Some campus VIPs are expected to join the kids.

About time! We're anticipating warm weather this weekend. But we don't get advice on "summer living" until next Wednesday; that's the date for a noon-hour session sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program. Linda Brogden of health services will be speaking on "to tan or not to tan", hydration, summer food, air quality and exercise, heat exhaustion and similar topics. Registrations for Wednesday's session go to Johan Reis in the health services department.

Co-op students in the teaching option should pick up their ranking forms in Needles Hall after 10:00 this morning and return them by 4 p.m. For students in other programs who are looking for fall term jobs, interviews continue.

Today brings a "trade show" of what's available from Basics, the people who provide business products for offices across campus. It'll run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Davis Centre lounge, and include a demonstration of Basics on-line ordering.

"Let's Dance" has its spring recital tonight (6:30) and tomorrow (1:00 and 6:00) in UW's Humanities Theatre.

Tonight brings a retirement party for Dick Steffy of UW's department of psychology, at the University Club. I understand some 85 people have bought tickets for the dinner, but there should be room for more well-wishers at the reception that precedes it, from 4:30 to 6:30. Kathy Blom in the psych department, phone ext. 5099, has last-minute information.

And if that's a sedate affair, the Bombshelter pub is planning a Motor Booty Affair tonight: the band of that name performs as part of the summer Friday night concert series. Information: 888-4082.

Alumni activities are planned this weekend in Chicago and Saskatoon. In the windy city, tonight brings the annual "all-Canadian alumni dinner", this year hosted by the University of Alberta. In Saskatoon, it's pub night Saturday night at The Publican on 3rd Avenue South.

The University of Waterloo Legal Resource Office is hosting a "mock" Law School Aptitude Test, or LSAT, tomorrow (5 to 9 p.m., Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture room 306). Says electrical engineering student John Vellone: "The test is open to anyone interested in writing the LSAT. The test is free for UW and WLU students who bring their student ID's and register in advance (email uwlegal@hotmail.com). A $2 charge applies to any students who show up on the day of the test to write, and a $4 charge applies to any non-UW or WLU students who wish to write. Please bring cash on the day of the test."

And here's a reminder that Monday brings an open house for discussion of the planned "directions statement" from the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology (Davis Centre room 1302, starting at 11:30 a.m.).



June 7, 1967: The school of physical and health education holds a "sports celebrity citation dinner" at the Walper Hotel.

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