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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

  • Summer time, and the breathing is wheezy
  • Engineering dean is moving on
  • Funding received for young researchers
  • What's happening on a Tuesday
Chris Redmond

Soyez de la fête nationale!

[Little kid and maple leaf box]

Canada's future takes a peek: a scene from children's activities on the north campus during Canada's birthday party last year. UW's annual Canada Day celebrations will run from 2 to 10 p.m. next Tuesday, July 1, on the fields north of Columbia Street. A day of music, games, food and craft vendors will wind up with fireworks over the lake at nightfall.

Summer time, and the breathing is wheezy

You can tell it's summer, in this week leading up to the Canada Day long weekend -- you can tell because the air is hot and heavy, and plant operations machinery has fallen silent.

That's what happens when the provincial ministry of the environment issues a smog advisory, something that happened yesterday, continues today, and could well stretch on for most of the week.

"Smog," the government explains, "is a general term used to describe a mixture of air pollutants, dominated by ground-level ozone and particulate matter. . . . Smog dominated by ozone is primarily a summer phenomenon in Ontario."

It's hard on the lungs ("typical short-term symptoms of over-exposure include tightness of the chest, coughing, wheezing, pain and breathing difficulty") and is particularly a threat to elderly people, those with chronic heart or lung disease, young children and adolescents, and people who are outside for most of the day, working or exercising.

"Listen to your own body," says smog advice from the Ontario Lung Association. "If you experience symptoms, slow the pace of your activity or stop it altogether. . . . Schedule outdoor exercises at another time when air pollution is lower."

Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator, says the same arrangements as in past years are in place with the plant operations department, including a shutdown of lawn mowers and other machines that would just contribute to the pollution. UW will also "curtail solvent-based painting" and avoid chemical exhaust from the environmental safety facility in Chemistry I.

UW will also gradually raise the air conditioning temperatures, she says, "so that the chillers are not running hard and heavy. The buildings are pre-cooled and purged with fresh air during the night, when the outside air temperature and the power rates are lower. The chillers come on in the morning as required, but the buildings are allowed to gradually warm up, within limits, during the day, as it gets warmer outside. This stores heat in the mass of the building structures to be removed the next night."

On smog days, says her web site, "individuals can help by shutting off unnecessary lights, computers, printers, photocopiers, fume-hoods, and raising work area thermostats."

[Red velvet on his gown]

Sujeet Chaudhuri speaks at the engineering session of spring convocation earlier this month.

Engineering dean is moving on

"If my research area were not the hot area in the discipline right now, I probably would be thinking differently," says Sujeet Chaudhuri, UW's dean of engineering.

But it is, and so what he's thinking is that he can't wait to get back to the lab full-time, back to having opportunities to work with colleagues doing exciting things in that field, which involves "enabling technologies" for wireless communication.

Through his five-year term as dean, "I've maintained my teaching and my research," he points out, but things have been slowed down. With the end of his term on June 30, "the intensity will go back to a high level." And he has a few things to look forward to:

-- The official arrival of Adel Sedra from the University of Toronto to take over as dean of engineering July 1. Chaudhuri says he'll stay close by through the summer and early fall, "helping out, to provide continuity".

-- "A nice office in the new building", the Centre for Environmental and Information Technologies, which is almost finished. "My research lab is in the old building," the Davis Centre, he adds.

-- "We have a major CFI proposal on a centre for advanced electromagnetic radiation and communications."

-- A sabbatical trip "to a very exciting place", the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, where some of the world's top research in wireless communication is being carried out.

-- Perhaps most exciting of all, "I'm going to do a four-month internship with Engineers Without Borders," a student-and-alumni organization that was founded at UW during his deanship and with his strong support. "An assignment has not been decided," says Chaudhuri, but he figures his expertise ought to be useful somewhere in the world on an EWB development project.

"I've got a long career ahead of me," says the dean, pointing out that he's been in academia for 27 years now -- although for the past ten years his full-speed progress has been slowed by work as chair of the electrical and computer engineering department and now in the dean's office. "I miss having ownership of my own time," he adds. "I've been at it every day of the week for ten years!"

And he's pretty satisfied with the results, including massive faculty hiring following the retirements of 1996. A new generation of energetic young researchers have arrived, and the money has followed, bringing total funding in the faculty from $16 million four years ago to $38 million last year. That's the background to his decision not to look for a second term as dean.

Says Chaudhuri: "It's good to quit while you're ahead. Everything I set out to do, with the grace of the Lord and the grace of my colleagues, I have accomplished!"

Funding received for young researchers -- from the UW media relations office

Fourteen young Waterloo researchers have been awarded grants under the Canada Foundation for Innovation New Opportunities Fund to assist with their investigations.

The fund will provide a total of $983,438 in infrastructure support to newly recruited faculty members in their first full-time academic appointments in Canada. The grants allow them to undertake leading-edge research and enable institutions to recruit new faculty members in priority areas identified in their strategic plans.

Here are the three New Opportunities projects involving the young researchers:

  • "Research Computing Infrastructure: Collaborative Computing Facilities for New Researchers in Mathematical and Computer Sciences." CFI award: $515,588 for Achim Kempf (applied mathematics), Ashwin Nayak (combinatorics and optimization), Steve Macdonald, Arne Storjohann and Richard Trefler (computer science), Olga Vechtomova (management sciences), Doug Bahn Park (pure mathematics), and Jun Cai and Mu Zhu (statistics and actuarial science). The project was also to include Gísli Hjaltason of computer science, who died last week.

  • "Creation of a Research Facility for Experimental Work in Cell and Molecular Biology." CFI award: $300,000 for Michael Palmer (biology).

  • "Facility for Advanced Research in Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) Wireless Communications Systems." CFI Award: $167,850 for Murat Uysal and Kainam Wong (electrical and computer engineering) and Samir Elhedhli (management sciences).

    "This investment in UW assists us to attract and retain high-calibre researchers, especially those who have recently launched their careers, while boosting our research infrastructure," said a statement from Andrew Barker, manager, institutional programs in UW's office of research.

    A national announcement of over $40 million in funding to 46 institutions across the country was made Wednesday in Ottawa. These investments, approved by the CFI board of directors, were made under the New Opportunities Fund, providing $33.5 million for infrastructure support to newly recruited academic staff, and the Infrastructure Operating Fund, providing $10 million to help with operating and maintenance costs associated with new infrastructure projects.

    What's happening on a Tuesday

    The Federation of Students will celebrate the grand opening of the "co-op student service office" in the Tatham Centre today. Co-op student services is one of eight designed "services" provided by the Feds. The 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).

    Waterloo alumni in Toronto will get together today for lunch -- sorry, make that "luncheon", since the event is at the Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, a luncheon kind of place. UW president David Johnston will be master of ceremonies; the guest speaker is Tim Jackson, a Waterloo accounting graduate who's now with Tech Capital Partners.

    The joint health and safety committee will meet at 2:00 this afternoon in Needles Hall room 3001. Agenda items range from "pool procedures" to "fire safety for public facilities".

    A workshop on "business etiquette and professionalism" starts at 2:30 p.m. in the Tatham Centre -- details and sign-up are on the career services web site.

    Renison College is holding the Principal's Ceilidh tonight: "friends and family are invited to celebrate in recognition of their commitment and support of Renison. We will be celebrating with East Coast food, music and spirit." Note that John Crossley, principal of Renison since last summer, did come here from Prince Edward Island.

    The bookstore, the computer store, the UW Shop and TechWorx will all be closed tomorrow morning for the annual general meeting of staff in the retail services department. The stores will open at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

    Also tomorrow: award-wining journalist Anthony Reinhart of the Record gives a presentation for a recently-formed group that's calling itself "A Press Club". He'll speak on "the art of digging in order to develop a feature story from a routine event", at noon in the great hall of the Student Life Centre.


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