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Wednesday, May 8, 2002

  • Award for students who teach
  • Memorial service today for Tutte
  • And a little of this and that
Chris Redmond

How about those Leafs, eh?


Friends lecture at noon

Christine Cheng, a 1999 graduate in systems design engineering, will give this year's Friends of the Library lecture, starting at 12 noon today in the Theatre of the Arts. Admission is free.

Cheng's lecture is titled "Transforming Technology: A Social Dilemma". Says Cheng: "From climate change to the provision of clean water, technology has often been put forth as the solution to many of the world's problems. The reality is that access to technology is unequal and that technological solutions may never reach the people who need them the most. In light of this dilemma, what is the role of scientists, engineers, and research institutions in ensuring that technology is developed and used in a socially responsible manner? The answer lies in assuming individual, institutional, and national responsibility -- to recognize these inequalities and to take action against them."

A correction: in yesterday's Bulletin, I said Cheng had been president of the Federation of Students in 2000-01. In fact it was 1999-2000.

Awards for students who teach -- abbreviated from today's Gazette

Three winners of this year's Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student Award were presented with certificates and $500 cheques by the graduate studies office at an awards luncheon last week.

Vincent Hui, a graduate student in architecture, came to Waterloo as an undergraduate in 1996. In the fall 2001 term, he was the teaching assistant for ARCH 172 and 173 (Building Construction). Last term, Hui was an assistant in the first year design studio. He has also held the position of president of the Architecture Student Association, and as an undergraduate, held TA positions in his third and fourth years.

A colleague reports that "Vincent knows each student by name and can identify their strengths, weaknesses, problems and potentials -- on an individual basis." And another colleague states that Hui "is not attached only to the strong students, but is particularly effective as a teacher of and an advocate for students who are not the academic or creative leaders." Students praise him, saying "Quick with solid advice for both the academic world and beyond, Vince has helped to create a better sense of community both within our class and also within the entire School of Architecture."

Steve Engels, a graduate student in computer science since fall 1999, has held several teaching assistantship positions. In CS 130 (Developing Programming Principles), Engels explained complex problems using basic day-to-day examples and visual models that helped to clarify the concepts. One student pointed out that Engels would "visit the computer labs the night before the major assignments were due just to see if he could be of any last-minute help." He is currently completing a sessional lecturing assignment for CS 134 (Principles of Computer Science).

Supporters said his interactive teaching style encourages students to contribute their ideas and to participate in the day's lecture. Students recognize "his patience, his positive attitude, his listening skills as well as his ability to explain a concept in many different, creative ways" and his ability to demonstrate how it all interconnects within the broader picture. He is constantly smiling and encouraging students to do their best.

A colleague notes that Engels's "innovative methods and personalized approach are making a great difference not only to his students9 understanding of the material, but also to their adjustment to university education. He is an inspiring example to his students that learning deep, difficult material cannot only be challenging, but also great fun."


There are annual awards for "distinguished" UW faculty and teaching assistants. Should there be a similar award for staff members?

  Yes, great idea
  No -- it would seem patronizing
  No -- there aren't enough worthy candidates
  No -- there are too many worthy candidates
Martha Roberts is a PhD student in psychology, and was a teaching assistant in Psych 292 (Basic Data Analysis) last winter. Last term she was a teaching assistant in PSYCH 311 (How do Babies Communicate with the World?) and she volunteers as a TA for the graduate statistics courses 645/630.

Because of her knowledge and interest in teaching methods, her dedication to students, and her commitment to teaching excellence, Roberts was assigned as a second TA to PSYCH 311 when the enrolment rose from 20 to 73. To address the issue of group meetings, she learned and implemented the Blackboard software to create "chat rooms" for each of the 12 groups and for each section.

Students report that Roberts "always makes students feel like their questions are valid, and she really cares about us and how we do." She is very approachable, well prepared, calm, friendly, patient, and teaches at a level appropriate to the class.

Roberts also supervises the cognitive psychology lab. In her lab role, she shows students how things done in the lab are applicable to various areas of research and to the understanding of psychological phenomena. She is currently a TA developer for the teaching resources and continuing education office.

Memorial service today for Tutte -- from the UW news bureau

A memorial service will be held today to celebrate the life of William Tutte, one of just two people to hold the rank of Distinguished Professor at the University of Waterloo. He was a pre-eminent combinatorial mathematician and master codebreaker.

The flags at UW's main entrance are flying at half-staff today in mourning for Tutte, who died last Thursday at the age of 84 of congestive heart failure, complicated by lymphoma of the spleen, both diagnosed within six weeks of his death.

The service begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Great Hall in the academic building of Conrad Grebel College. A reception will follow.

Last October, Tutte was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada in a ceremony held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The citation read: "He is internationally renowned for his seminal work in the area of graph theory. As a young mathematician and codebreaker, he deciphered a series of German military encryption codes known as FISH. This has been described as one of the greatest intellectual feats of World War II. Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Honorary Director of the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research at the University of Waterloo, he remains one of the most influential figures in combinatorics."

Tutte was a graduate student in chemistry at Cambridge University in England when, in January 1941, he was asked by his tutor to go to Bletchley Park, the now-legendary organization of code-breakers of Britain. Many have read of the successes they had deciphering the codes produced by the machines called Enigma.

In fact, that success was with the naval and air force versions; the army version of Enigma proved to be more resistant to analysis. Since they could not always read army Enigma, they tried to read the machine-cipher named FISH, which was used only by the army High Command. Tutte's great contribution was to uncover, from samples of the messages alone, the structure of the machines that generated these FISH ciphers. This led to the decipherment of these codes on a regular basis.

At the end of the war, Tutte resumed his studies at Cambridge, this time in mathematics. His thesis takes two strands, one of algebra and one of combinatorics, and spins them into one thread -- matroid theory. Upon receiving his PhD, Tutte came to Canada to join the faculty of the University of Toronto. In his 14 years there, he rose to world pre-eminence in the emerging field of combinatorics.

In 1962, Tutte joined the faculty of UW, which was founded only five years earlier, and made a major contribution towards its identity and reputation. His presence was a magnet for combinatorialists from throughout the world. It was not only the recognized stars of the field that came to UW, but those who were destined for future prominence. Tutte was an important ingredient of the recipe that produced the Faculty of Mathematics in 1967.

Tutte has received significant honours and prizes in recognition of his accomplishments. Before receiving the Order of Canada, he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and then to the Royal Society of London.

Gifts in his memory can be made to the William Tutte Postgraduate Scholarship, through UW's office of development.

And a little of this and that

Hundreds of high school science students will settle down today to write the Chem 13 News exam, conducted by UW's chemistry department as "a selection mechanism for assistantships and scholarships . . . not used as a criterion for admission to university studies." The 40 multiple-choice questions on the test "will cover material that a well-read senior high school chemistry student is likely to have come across in the course of studies. Students may expect to find a few probing and demanding questions on some of the main topics of high school chemistry. Certain mathematical skills closely related to the study of chemistry will be tested, and there will be a few questions on chemical topics not normally covered in high school."

Clubs days continue (10:00 to 4:00) in the Student Life Centre. . . . Work reports are due today for most co-op students who were on work term January to April. . . . School buses and little people converge on campus for Touring Players performances of "Jillian Jiggs" in the Humanities Theatre at 10:00, 11:45 and 1:30. . . .

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents a video showing tonight: "In the Company of Fear", a report about Peace Brigades International, "foreign volunteers offering human-rights activists in Colombia the unarmed protection of an international presence". the event starts at 7 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1304.

The gay and lesbian discussion group tonight (7:00, Humanities room 373) will talk about "I'm Out -- Now What Do I Do?"

Reminder: books borrowed on term loan from UW's libraries over the winter are due today.

On the schedule for tomorrow:



May 8, 1979: The arts faculty council approves the "principle" of a new kind of co-op program, later to be dubbed "applied studies".

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