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Friday, May 16, 2003

  • Event promises small talk -- nanotech talk
  • Airport helps support pavement study
  • Leading up to the long weekend
Chris Redmond

The government's take on summer recreation

[Clustered around laptops]

Students, faculty and instructional development staff from 16 Ontario universities (and one college) were at UW May 4-9 for "Camp CLOE", held in the Flex Lab in the Dana Porter Library and sponsored by Ontario's Co-operative Learning Object Exchange. CLOE is a collaborative project among the universities "to develop an innovative infrastructure for joint development of multimedia-rich learning resources", and the participants in this month's workshop were sucking up knowledge on how to build "interactive, learner-centred learning objects". The workshop featured learning communities, instructional design, accessibility, project management, evaluation and technology issues, says Peter Goldsworthy of UW's centre for learning and teaching through technology.

Event promises small talk -- nanotech talk

A high-powered workshop will be held next Wednesday (May 21) to talk about very small things indeed -- devices too little for the human eye to see -- and the possibility of launching a UW engineering program in that field of study, called nanotechnology.

Workshop organizers say the event, to be attended by people from industry and government as well as from UW, will talk about the need for a nanotech program at Waterloo, what it should include, and the job opportunities for graduates in nanotechnology, widely seen as one of the glamour fields of the next decade.

The likes of Arthur Carty, president of the National Research Council of Canada, and Nicole Grobert of Germany's Max-Planck Institute will speak in the course of the day. At the end, after general discussion, Tony Vannelli, chair of UW's electrical and computer engineering department, will sum up what's been heard.

Already the organizers have a web site that outlines a possible BASc program in nanotechnology engineering -- described as "a new multi-disciplinary engineering field which simultaneously draws from and benefits areas such as materials science and engineering, chemistry, physics and biology.

"It is estimated that in 10 years, nanotechnology markets will represent $340 billion US annually in materials, $100 billion in chemicals, $70 billion in aerospace, $300 billion in electronics, and $180 billion in pharmaceuticals. Indeed nanotechnology is all about generating new solutions based on atomic- and molecular-scale manipulations."

Nanotechnology, the web site points out, deals with ways "to fabricate, study and manipulate structures of the size of 1 to 100 nanometer" (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter). "This length scale bridges two important limits: atoms and molecules (less than 1 nm) to bulk materials, and requires fundamental chemistry and quantum physics. To develop this new cluster of technologies, there is an acute need for a new generation of personnel with good understanding of the natural laws that govern the working of not only atoms and molecules but also natural or manufactured nanoscopic and mesoscopic structures and systems (clusters, fullerenes, nanotubes, macromolecules, nanorobots, and nanosystems)."

The proposal is for an interdepartmental program, involving chemical engineering, E&CE, and chemistry. The key organizer for next week's conference is Claudio Canizares, deputy chair of the E&CE department and a specialist in power systems.

The conference will be held in the Tatham Centre.

[In front of steamroller]

Airport helps support pavement study -- from the UW media relations office

Finding new ways to make roads and airport runways safer and longer lasting are the goals of ongoing research at the University of Waterloo.

The research focuses on exploiting and applying the latest cutting-edge technologies. This is to upgrade conventional paving technology in design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation as well as management of Canada's highway infrastructure.

Principal researcher is Susan Tighe (right) of the civil engineering department, a professional engineer and holder of the Premier's Research Excellence Award. She works extensively with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and holds research contracts with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Cement Association of Canada and Public Works Government Services Canada. Current grants and contracts are worth a total of some $4.8 million.

As a member of an expert task group, Tighe oversees data analysis of the largest long-term pavement performance program in the world. It was begun by faculty member Ralph Haas, now retired, who pioneered the systems concept and development of engineering technology for managing networks of paved roads. Other faculty members involved in the work are Carolyn Hansson and Gerhard Kennepohl.

Laboratory and field research are generating technical innovations through targeted basic research, providing essential support to the paving industry in coping with rapid change and demands for high performance. Evaluating asphalt, concrete, structural designs and recycled materials in cold climates, and searching for more effective management and improved safety using advanced computing are among the research initiatives.

Maintenance and construction methods and cost-effectiveness are being explored along with research on sensing technologies involving pavement icing. Safety improvements and economic effectiveness on paved and partially paved highway shoulders are also under review.

UW is establishing an integrated laboratory and test track facility along with enhanced computer applications in paving technology to educate and train future experts. There are also research programs into pavement construction, preservation and sustained development, roadway safety and structural innovations.

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  • Expansion at NS College of Art and Design
  • Leading up to the long weekend

    A first-year math student is in serious condition in a Toronto hospital, and his roommate is in jail in Kitchener, following what looks like a fight in their Victoria Street apartment on Wednesday night. Names haven't been released, and charges are pending; police said the homicide squad is involved in the investigation "because of the seriousness of the assault". The hospitalized man has a fractured skull, among other injuries.

    UW's leadership -- the deans, vice-presidents and others who make up the executive council -- are away for their annual spring retreat at "K-Bay", the Kempenfelt Bay resort near Barrie. It's a longstanding tradition: for a couple of days just before the May holiday weekend, exec council gets away from campus for some long-term planning, and some bonding with newer or soon-to-be members of the top administration. Tennis is usually on the agenda too. They'll be back at work as usual on Tuesday.

    A funeral service will be held today for Mirko Hroch, the first-year engineering student who died May 10 in a motorcycle accident. The service begins at 4:00 today in the chapel of the Edward R. Good Funeral Home on King Street. Contributions are being accepted to a Mirko Hroch Memorial Scholarship Fund (arrangements can be made through the funeral home).

    Coming to campus over the weekend: the Ontario folk dance camp, with about 100 participants, and something like 1,000 people taking part in the annual youth convention of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, Ontario district. "Skillet" plays for the PAOC crowd tonight in the Physical Activities Complex, and worship will be led by Hughie Watkins and the Tehillah Band.

    The eighth Canadian Workshop on Information Theory runs Sunday through Wednesday, mostly in the Davis Centre. Co-chairs for the event are En-hui Yang and Brendan Frey of the electrical and computer engineering department. Participants will hear papers with titles like "Finite-State Markov Modeling of Correlated Rician Fading Channels" and "Generalized Shannons Sampling in the Presence of Channel Noise".

    And, in case anybody's in any doubt: Monday, May 19, will be Victoria Day and a holiday. UW offices and most services will be closed, and classes will not be held. See you Tuesday.


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