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Thursday, May 23, 2002

  • Researchers honoured during summit
  • National award for third-year engineer
  • A day in the life and work
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Today is World Turtle Day


[Walker]

Elected: Mark Walker, assistant registrar (engineering), has been elected to serve on the board of governors as a staff representative, with a term from May 1, 2002, to April 30, 2005, the university secretariat announced yesterday. "In this election, which closed at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 10, the other nominees were: Patrick Cameron (Plant Operations); Edward Chrzanowski (Math Faculty Computer Facility); Stephen Markan (Information Systems & Technology); Linda Norton (UW Graphics); and Joe Szalai (User Services, Library)." The number of votes received by each candidate wasn't announced. Walker takes over the board seat held for the past three years by Stephen Markan, who was not reelected.

Researchers honoured during summit

UW's thirteen Canada Research Chair holders will be honoured this morning as the federal "innovation summit" takes place at the J. R. Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall.

UW's Canada Research Chairs

  • David Blowes, Groundwater Remediation (earth sciences)
  • Jean Duhamel, Characterization of Synthetic and Biological Macromolecules by Fluorescence (chemistry)
  • John Heikkila, Stress Protein Gene Research (biology)
  • Elizabeth Irving, Vision Science (optometry)
  • Mohamed Kamel, Cooperative Intelligent Systems (systems design engineering)
  • Holger Kleinke, Solid State Chemistry (chemistry)
  • James Kuo, Low-Voltage CMOS VLSI (electrical and computer engineering)
  • Raymond Laflamme, Quantum Information (physics)
  • Michele Mosca, Quantum Computation (combinatorics and optimization)
  • Ian Munro, Algorithm Design (computer science)
  • Alexander Penlidis, Engineering of Polymers with Tailor-made Properties (chemical engineering)
  • Edward Sudicky, Quantitative Hydrogeology (earth sciences)
  • En-hui Yang, Information Theory and Multimedia Data Compression (electrical and computer engineering)
  • The building -- recently renovated with the help of a multi-million-dollar gift from UW alumnus Rod Coutts -- will also get its official opening ceremonies this morning.

    A ribbon-cutting is set for 10:45 at the building's south entrance. The project, which provides a new floor of classrooms, cost $5.7 million, with funding from Coutts as well as the Ontario government's SuperBuild program.

    Coutts graduated from Waterloo in 1964 with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in electrical engineering. He retired in September 2000 as chairman of Teklogix International Inc., a Mississauga-based company that produces wireless data communications systems.

    Joining Coutts in the ceremony will be Peter Harder, deputy minister of Industry Canada, who's here to chair the innovation summit; Tom Brzustowski, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and former UW professor and provost; Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo; and David Johnston, UW's president.

    Earlier, a plaque presentation ceremony will be held to honour UW's Canada Research Chair recipients. That event begins at 10 a.m. in room 201, the big amphitheatre, in the Coutts building.

    In today's "summit", chaired by the federal deputy minister of industry, local business, education and community leaders will be discussing the issues surrounding "Canada's innovation strategy". The event will open with remarks at 9:00 by Greg Barrett, president of the local Communitech group, and include "facilitated dialogue sessions on selected innovation themes" -- knowledge creation and commercialization, skills and learning, innovation policy and regulatory climate, and strengthening community capacity to innovate.

    The titan of local high-tech industry, Mike Lazaridis of Research In Motion, will give the lunchtime keynote speech, and the event will wind up at 4:30. It's not open to the public.

    National award for third-year engineer -- a release from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers

    A University of Waterloo engineering student whose commitment to helping her fellow man is exceeded only by her outstanding academic record will be honoured by her future profession June 1. Sara Ehrhardt, a third-year student in systems design engineering, has won the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers' first Gold Medal Student Award.

    One of eight Canadian Engineers' Awards CCPE will present next month in St. John's, it was established this year to recognize outstanding undergraduate engineering students who are demonstrating leadership and/or contributing to society through their extracurricular activities.

    "Sara Ehrhardt is exceptional," said Marie Lemay, PEng, CCPE's CEO. "She has not only volunteered her time and engineering knowledge to improve the lives of people around the world, and acted as a role model to her fellow students, she is near the top of her class academically. The profession is proud to count her in its ranks."

    As a volunteer, Ms. Ehrhardt has led construction and community development projects in Guyana, helped new Canadians to learn English and computer skills, taught math and reading to indigenous children in Mexico, and played a key role in the creation of Engineers Without Borders -- an organization that undertakes humanitarian projects in the Third World.

    Ms. Ehrhardt began volunteering at 14, helping out at the Moncton YWCA where her mother is executive director. The work involved everything from stuffing envelopes and minding the building when a meeting was underway, to offering a smile of greeting and a friendly face to women seeking help to deal with eating disorders and spousal abuse.

    In Grade 10, Sara participated in the Canadian Robotics Championships. That experience, combined with a love of math and science, would ultimately lead her to study engineering at Waterloo. It also instilled a desire to make robotics competitions financially feasible for high schools in eastern Canada. Sara achieved that goal in Grade 11, when she helped organize the Robots East Atlantic Championship.

    Despite her rigorous academic program, Sara quickly found new opportunities to volunteer -- acting as a class and environmental representative to the engineering student society and working for the Green Party on campus, while holding down a part-time job. "Three nights a week I'd work at Zellers and two nights a week I'd work at the multicultural centre doing volunteer work, after my day job, so that I could save enough money to do a full volunteer term my next (co-op) work term," said Ms. Ehrhardt.

    [Wielding a mattock]

    Sara Ehrhardt at work in Guyana -- photo from the Iron Warrior web site.

    She saved more than $4,000 to pay for a development project in Guyana, where she supervised an all-male construction team which had never worked with a woman before or been supervised by one. The project received no funding from Guyana's government. Ms. Ehrhardt not only saw it through to completion, she earned her team's respect and acted as a role model to women in the community.

    As a volunteer with EWB, Ms. Ehrhardt built an internship program that has seen Canadian engineering students enhance the lives of people in the developing world -- including bringing affordable community lighting systems to Nepal. She contacted other NGOs, developed criteria and screening procedures for interns, dealt with travel arrangements, and whatever else was necessary to make the program a lasting success.

    Ms. Ehrhardt plans to continue her volunteer efforts after graduation, and hopes to find employment that will allow her to help her fellow man. "I definitely want to use my engineering for the common good, in a way that is going to benefit others," she said. "I've thought about perhaps working in the non-governmental community doing engineering work." For the short term, however, she plans to spend the summer volunteering full time for EWB.

    A day in the life and work

    UW ombudsperson Marianne Miller will give a talk at noontime today on "Renting to Students: What You Need to Know". She's sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program, and the talk will be given in Davis Centre room 1302.

    The senate graduate council will meet 1:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

    The career development seminar series continues, today with "Interview Skills: Selling Your Skills", at 2:30 p.m. On Saturday, career services wraps up the whole seminar series into a day-long package, "The Whole Kit 'n' Kaboodle", running from 9:00 to 4:30. The career resource centre in Needles Hall has more information.

    At 3:30, by Ian Manners of the University of Toronto, visiting the Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry under this year's Karasek Lectureship, will speak on "Supramolecular Organometallic Polymer Chemistry". A flyer explains: "During his tenure at Toronto, Dr. Manners's research efforts have been directed towards the synthesis of novel inorganic polymer systems. Some of the polymers are based on purely inorganic backbones . . . but more notable has been his elegant work on organometallic polymer based on ferrocene units linked by heterogroups. His major contribution here has been the understanding and control of the ring-opening polymerization process via thermal and anionic initiation. This has been an elegant and outstanding achievement." Manners will speak in Davis Centre room 1302.

    The Classical Dance Conservatory has its spring recital in the Humanities Theatre tonight at 7:00.

    And I'm told that the UW Muskoka Club ("Waterloo's Official Party Club") is hosting a toga party at the Bombshelter pub in the Student Life Centre tonight, starting at 8:00. Admission is free, DJ BadWeather will be spinning "a set with a bit of everything", and there are prizes for the best togas.

    CAR

    TODAY IN UW HISTORY

    May 23, 1968: Senate approves offering four physics courses by correspondence. The Math and Computer building is officially opened.

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