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Friday, May 31, 2002

  • News release explains NSERC grants
  • Cultural network gives first award
  • A cool one in the open air
Chris Redmond

Manulife Ride for Heart set for Sunday

[Helmet cradled on his lap]

Off-road vehicle faces test: The students of WOMBaT -- the Waterloo Off-road Mini-Baja Team -- will be competing in Milwaukee this weekend, in the Mid-West regional competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The challenge is to design an off-road four-wheel vehicle intended for mass production. Mechanical engineering student Paul Kolk is seen testing Waterloo's Mini-Baja car on UW's north campus earlier this week.

News release explains NSERC grants

Waterloo researchers have received 149 new awards worth $17.9 million over five years from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada -- the single biggest source of funding for research at UW.

Waterloo ranks fifth among Canadian universities this year in the total value of the grants, behind Toronto, British Columbia, Alberta and McGill.

The federal government, which provides NSERC's $615 million annual budget, sent secretary of state Maurizio Bevilacqua to the University of Western Ontario campus last week to announce the annual operating grants for institutions across the country. "The NSERC research grants are awarded to both established and up-and-coming researchers," said Bevilacqua. "NSERC grants allow universities to train the skilled workforce that is essential for competing in today's knowledge-based global economy."

Locally, member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi spoke up: "University of Waterloo researchers create the advances that drive tomorrow's innovations. They are moving Canada towards its goal of becoming one of the top five R and D performers in the world."

At UW, one of the 2002 research grant awards will go to Raymond Laflamme, of physics, who will receive funding toward a project entitled, "Quantum information processing and NMR." The grant provides $60,000 a year for four years.

A UW news release tells more: "An expert on quantum computing, Laflamme said a quantum computer could solve problems that appear impossible to solve on current computers. He is helping lay the groundwork for the first functional quantum computer by elucidating the key issue of how to protect quantum information from outside interference. Laflamme's approach uses Nuclear Magnetic Resonance techniques and will help make Canada a leading centre for this research.

"The remaining 148 awards at UW will fund projects in applied mathematics, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, combinatorics and optimization, computer science, earth sciences, electrical and computer engineering, geography, kinesiology, management sciences, mechanical engineering, physics, psychology, pure mathematics, statistics and actuarial science, and systems design engineering, as well as UW's school of optometry.

"The research will pay for projects such as the quantum theory of solid surfaces and molecular electronics; geochemistry of metals at industrial waste sites; and toward reducing low back injury: ensuring sufficient spine stability.

"Each year, thousands of professors from post-secondary institutions across Canada apply to NSERC for research and equipment grants. These funds provide the core support for research in dozens of fields such as biology, physics, geology, computer science and chemical engineering.

"The professors dedicate a large portion of their grant funds to training the next generation of Canadian undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers."

It concludes: "NSERC is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. It supports both basic university research through research grants and project research through partnerships among universities, governments and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people."

Cultural network gives first award

The UW-based Canadian Cultural Research Network will be presenting the first John Meisel Award for Excellence in Cultural Research at a colloquium tonight in Toronto. The award recognizes the outstanding contribution of an academic or practitioner in the field of cultural research.

The first recipient of the Meisel award will be Meisel himself: John Meisel, the Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Queen's University. The award recognizes "his seminal work in cultural research". Today's award ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. at the Multicultural History Society, 43 Queen's Park Crescent East.

A pioneer in cultural research, Meisel is well known for his research and insights in many areas of political studies. His cultural research ranges from regulation, broadcasting, telecommunications and the information society to the role of government in supporting culture in Canada and cultural policy as a way of enhancing and transforming Canadian society.

Meisel is a former chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and was a research supervisor for the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. He has been an advisor to many federal and provincial commissions, government departments and international agencies. A Companion of the Order of Canada as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Meisel has received honorary degrees from many universities.

CCRN, which was formed in 1998 and is based in UW's Centre for Cultural Management, is a national network with members from the Atlantic provinces to British Columbia. It is intended "to promote the sharing of research and information in the cultural sector in Canada by building linkages among cultural researchers, policy makers and cultural managers and to help develop new projects in the field of applied cultural research".

Membership in the network is open to users and producers of cultural research, including academics, government researchers and policy makers, private-sector consultants and related professionals, researchers within industry and other professional associations, and researchers in cultural institutions.

[Riverside building]

Architecture announcement due today

The federal government "will announce an investment" at the future site of UW's school of architecture today, a news release says. The announcement -- scheduled for 4 p.m. at the old Riverside Silk Mills building on Melville Street in Cambridge -- stars federal cabinet minister Andy Mitchell, Cambridge MP Janko Peric, regional and municipal leaders, and Tom Watson of the Cambridge Business Consortium, formed to provide private-sector support for bringing the school to Cambridge. The Ontario government announced in March that it's contributing $4.1 million to the project.

A cool one in the open air

"As the sighting of the first robin is a sure sign of spring weather, the opening of the Bombshelter BombBQ is a sure sign of summer weather," says Dave McDougall of the Federation of Students, who maybe didn't look out at the pelting rain this morning. "Yes, the BombBQ will open for the first time tomorrow at 11:00 and be open every Fri for the term. The Bomber staff encourage you to break free from your office and enjoy the great patio." Entrance is from inside the Student Life Centre; the patio borders the volleyball courts. A new summer menu is in effect in the Bomber, including the notorious Tijuana Snakebite Salad.

Today's payday, for faculty and most staff members, and those who read the fine print on their pay slips might have noticed that it says a change in the level of pension fund contributions "is planned" as of May 1, 2002. That really should say "took place", says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services). The increase from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of the "normal" pension contribution level did go into effect with the beginning of the 2002-03 fiscal year, as planned, and pay slips will soon be updated to say so.

A few notes for the weekend:

And tomorrow brings reunions for UW engineering alumni dating back as far as 1977. Older generations will start with a "get reacquainted lunch", while grads of 1987, 1992 and 1997 plunge right into a noontime barbecue and beer garden. For both groups, there's a 4 p.m. reception in South Campus Hall, hosted by UW president David Johnston. Last-minute information -- especially for faculty and others who'd like to drop in -- should be available from the engineering alumni office.

The annual general meeting of the staff association will be held Monday at 11:45 a.m. in Davis Centre room 1302.

[Chen] Here's advance word of an important talk next Thursday, June 6. John Chen (right), chairman, chief executive officer and president of Sybase, Inc., will speak about his journey to become CEO of a nearly $1-billion company. Chen's talk, "Journey of a Successful High-Tech Businessman", focuses on what he has learned as a high-tech executive. He will address an audience of students and faculty, as well as local entrepreneurs, Thursday at 4 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1350.

And here's a reminder that the annual Commuter Challenge -- walk, cycle, take the bus or carpool to work -- is scheduled for June 4, 5 and 6. I'll say more about this event in Monday's Bulletin.

The Information Systems and Technology department (IST) is offering computing courses in June to UW faculty, grad students, and staff with instructional responsibilities:

More information and a course registration form can be found on the web.

Finally, I need to make a correction, seeing as I noted yesterday that UW has won 13 doctoral fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for the coming year, and then I listed only 11 names. The two I omitted are Gregory Andres and Baljinder Sahdra, both of the department of philosophy.



May 31, 1980: A lab refrigerator explodes on the third floor of Engineering I; it is a Saturday morning and no one is injured. May 31, 1999: The board of governors gives approval for construction of a new residence, later to be named Mackenzie King Village.

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