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Monday, June 23, 2003

  • Science flooded by double cohort
  • Research funds back below $100 million
  • Workshop honours physicist's memory
  • Pixel persons swapping shops
  • Friday, today and the days to come
Chris Redmond

Newfoundland marks Discovery Day

CS faculty member mourned

[Hjaltason] Gísli Hjaltason of the school of computer science died on Thursday, it was announced Friday morning.

"Professor Hjaltason joined the School of Computer Science in September of 2002, and had already established himself as a valued member of the School. He will be greatly missed," said CS director Johnny Wong.

Originally from Iceland, he was an expert in database systems. He earned his graduate degrees at the University of Maryland at College Park, and worked in industry in Iceland and California before coming to Waterloo. Students' memorial page | Obituary on uwstudent.org'

Science flooded by double cohort

The faculty of science is getting far more first-year students than it needs this fall, while engineering is unexpectedly short by a couple of hundred.

Those are among the figures in a memo issued by UW's director of admissions following the deadline for most applicants to say yes or no to offers of admission. It was announced late last week that UW had 5,322 confirmed new first-year students, including 4,866 from the Ontario secondary school "double cohort".

Students who weren't admitted to any of the universities they applied to can make use of a referral service operated by the Council of Ontario Universities, now through August 29.
The total was 5,324 by the time admissions director Peter Burroughs circulated his memo at the end of the week, and he's expecting it to continue to go up, as a few more Ontario applicants and many from outside the province are heard from.

He reports that science got the biggest unexpected surge of students, with 1,097 confirmed applicants where the faculty had been hoping for just 775. That's 142 per cent of the target.

Other results: applied health sciences, 119 per cent (516 students against a target of 432); mathematics, 114 per cent (1,305 for a target of 1,140); environmental studies, 106 per cent (427 compared with 402); software engineering, 90 per cent (92 compared with 102); arts, 88 per cent (1,151 compared with 1,307); engineering, 75 per cent (734 compared with 979); and independent studies, 40 per cent (2 confirmed, compared with a target of 5).

"The very high and unexpected number of confirmations to Science is of great concern," he writes, "while the relatively low numbers of confirmations to Arts and Engineering is a problem which can be addressed in the next few weeks. . . . Actions may include making further offers in Arts and Engineering, suspending further offers in most other Faculties and denying late confirmations particularly in Science."

[Towers, red barn, tent in the middle]

Fire is the theme, as Waterloo Region opened its Emergency Services Training and Research Complex on Friday. The bright red building at right is UW's new fire research facility, a laboratory for researchers headed by Beth Weckman of mechanical engineering.

Research funds back below $100 million

After a big jump in 2001-02, research funding for UW -- especially grants -- suffered a big drop in 2002-03, vice-president (university research) Paul Guild told the university senate June 16.

Total funding for sponsored research was $99,516,000 in the past year, Guild said. That's down from a record $115.7 million the year before.

[Slow rise to 2001, sharp rise, then a drop] Guild said there are several reasons for the drop, many of them outside UW's control. A big reason is that the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a major source of grant funding, runs many of its programs on an 18-month cycle and didn't issue new grants during the past year. CFI provided $23.3 million to UW in 2001-02.

In addition, a delay in the arrival of federal "indirect cost" funding, and issues around the renewal of Ontario centres of excellence funding, reduced the amount of money coming to UW during the past fiscal year, Guild said. In some cases an extra surge of income can be expected during the year that has now started.

However, the vice-president also said, the financial figures provide another reason for a close look at UW's "research intensity", an issue that already has officials concerned. Guild reminded the senate that UW has about 6 per cent of the faculty in Canada's "G10" research universities, but less than 3 per cent of the research funding.

He provided some figures on "intensity" measured as research dollars per faculty member -- ranging from a little over $20,000 in arts to more than $300,000 in science.

Total research funding in 2002-03 was $42.8 million in science, $25.0 million in engineering, $10.2 million in math, $7.8 million in applied health sciences, $4.0 million in arts and $2.8 million in environmental studies, plus $6.8 million not assigned to any one faculty.


Workshop honours physicist's memory

A conference under way in Florida this week is dedicated to the memory of Mik Pintar, long-time UW physics professor who died in February.

It's the 12th annual workshop on Quantum Atomic and Molecular Tunneling in Solids, a series that Pintar helped to found. He had been invited to speak at this year's event, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

"He was a remarkable man!" writes Carol Binello at Florida, one of the conference organizers, noting that a brief memorial appears on the conference web site. "At the conference itself, there will be a poster-size photo of him displayed each day outside the meeting room. The conference will be kicked off with a dedication to him, and at the front of the printed program, there will be a page dedicated to his memory."

Pixel persons swapping shops

The UW computer store and the Pixel Pub graphics outlet are undergoing some kind of biological process this month, soon to emerge as Pixel Planet and CampusTechshop.

In the meantime, says UW Graphics, "print jobs can be dropped off at the Davis Copy Centre, Graphics Express in Dana Porter Library, Engineering Copy Centre in E2, or in Main Graphics. Alternately, you may call ext. 6885 and your job will be picked up. Film can be deposited in the drop box at the former Pixel Pub location in SLC and you will be called when it is ready for pickup."
The new names are coming as the result of a deal to swap some services between the two existing outlets -- one operated by retail services, one by UW Graphics.

Also in the mix are the mathematics copy centre (Graphics) and the Student Life Centre branch of TechWorx (retail services). Techworx, where retail services sells stationery and computer supplies, closed a few days ago so renovations could start. The math copy centre will close at the end of this week.

Closed as of today is the Pixel Pub, near TechWorx on the lower level of the SLC. It's been providing digital photographic services. It will merge with the math copy centre (currently on the fifth floor of the Math and Computer building) and eventually reopen on the second floor of MC under the Pixel Planet name. "This new centre will offer both copying and photographic services," says Susan Schaefer, marketing manager of UW Graphics.

The computer store is currently in that second-floor space, and will stay there, under the same name, for a bit longer. When Techworx renovations are finished in the SLC, the store will move there, add the Techworx business and adopt the CampusTechshop name.

Friday, today and the days to come

I wrote on Friday that Janos Aczél, who was being honoured over the weekend by the University of Debrecen, Hungary, was retired from UW's department of applied mathematics. Correction: he actually served (as a Distinguished Professor, one of only a couple at UW who have ever carried that title) in the department of pure math.

Co-op students will get important news today, as job matches for the fall term will be posted by 3 p.m. in the Tatham Centre. Meetings for students without jobs, telling them how the "continuous" placement phase will work and what to do next, start at 4:30 p.m., with details again posted at the Tatham Centre.

[Safe Children poster] The human resources department will hold one of its "Knowing Your Workplace" sessions today, a one-hour briefing about the university's benefits program, for any interested staff and faculty. It starts at 12 noon in Davis Centre room 1302. A similar session will be held Thursday -- same time, same place -- dealing with the sick leave and disability program.

A video under the title "Safe Children: An Educational Guide for Parents to Teach Their Children to Be Safety Conscious" will be shown at 12 noon in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. It's produced "with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Missing Children's Registry".

Hot water will be shut off all this week in the south and east quads of Ron Eydt Village, where nobody's scheduled to be staying just now. It's an annual shutdown so the plant operations department can inspect the hot water tank.

Tomorrow, the Federation of Students will celebrate the grand opening of the "co-op student service office" in the Tatham Centre. Co-op student services is one of eight designed "services" provided by the Feds. Tomorrow's event, noon to 3 p.m., will include information about the service, an introduction for volunteers, and signups for new volunteers. "Refreshments will be served, including a cake at 1 p.m.," writes Liam McHugh-Russell, Federation vice-president (education).

And . . . the staff association social committee has organized a baseball game on Thursday evening, inviting all association members to take part. There's no charge; the game starts at 6:30 p.m. at field 5A near Columbia Lake.


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