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Tuesday, June 1, 2004

  • Power group sparks professional program
  • 'Designing for a Difference'
  • Staff meet today, and other notes
Chris Redmond

Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe born on the same day

[Kay by the lake]

James Kay, faculty member in environment and resource studies, died Sunday at the Lisaard House hospice. He was 49. He joined the UW faculty in 1982, and worked in such broad areas as the thermodynamics of ecosystem complexity. He had been on leave since 2002 because of his health. Visitation will be tonight from 7 to 9 and tomorrow from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 at the Schreiter-Sandrock Funeral Home in Kitchener; a funeral Mass will be celebrated Thursday at 10 a.m. at the University Catholic Community, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

Power group sparks professional program -- by Patricia Bow

Professors in the power and energy systems group in electrical and computer engineering are introducing a new online professional development program for engineers in the electrical power industry. While the hydro industry and consumers will benefit from this program, so will Waterloo students: revenues will be used to help support grad students in the power group.

The electrical power engineering program was created to address a shortage of specially trained engineers in the power industry, says Claudio Canizares, who developed EPE with Kankar Bhattacharya, its director, and other E&CE professors. The shortage has been in the making for the last 10 years, with the widespread emphasis on IT education and careers attracting more students to computer-related programs at the expense of other disciplines.

The recent restructuring of Ontario's hydro industry complicated matters, Canizares explains. Companies cut back on hiring co-op students and engineering grads as they waited for the situation to settle, and some of the employees they hired were not fully qualified power engineers.

Meanwhile, some universities had closed their power engineering programs. "But we kept it alive and well at Waterloo -- and, now that the pendulum has swung back, we are major players." With the skills shortage becoming urgent, UW's co-op students are in demand again in the power industry, and so is the power group's professional training capacity.

The plan for "industry-oriented graduate programs in electric power engineering" was approved by UW's senate in April. Three levels of training will be offered: a certificate for completing one course, a graduate diploma for six courses, and a Master of Engineering degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering-Electric Power Engineering, for nine courses.

The first courses will start this fall, after approval by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies. Over the first two years, six faculty members will each teach, or coordinate the teaching of, two courses. All courses will be online, on the model of the successful Master of Technology distance (MoT@D) program. "We didn't want to re-invent the wheel," Canizares says, so they will share MoT's studio facilities, video recording equipment, and technical expertise. After the program is well established they may add some of MoT's courses on economics and management to the technical core courses.

EPE will be marketed to industry in Ontario and around the world. The power group's international reputation, combined with the program's online delivery and the flexibility of its three levels, is expected to attract students. At least 100 would be needed to break even. Already, before any advertising has been done, there are 25 potential students. Many are employed at Hydro One, where members of the power group have been teaching courses to non-degree students for a couple of years now.

Hydro One, the program's main industry supporter, supplied $200,000 seed money. EPE also has the backing of the Independent Electricity Market Operator, a body that monitors and enforces electrical reliability standards in the province, and the Canadian Electrical Association, which is doing a study of training needs. The group is seeking bridge funding from the Ontario Strategic Skills Initiative, but the program, in which each course will cost about $2,750, will eventually be self-sustaining.

In fact, the hope is that the program will do so well, it will generate revenues that can be channelled back to hire grad students in the power group as teaching assistants -- "to help them concentrate on their research instead of worrying about where their next paycheque is coming from," Canizares says. Later, if EPE proves sustainable, the funding could bring new research students into the group.

[Studying under the trellis]

'Designing for a Difference'

A tribute to the creative and ingenious people in UW's plant operations department appears in the new issue of the Keystone Campaign newsletter It's Our Waterloo. It's written by Bud Walker, UW's director of business operations. Focusing on the Dana Porter Library renovation done late in 2002 (right), he has this to say:

"Long before there were Trading Spaces, Monster House, Real Renos, or While You Were Out, a group of not so media-oriented UW craftsmen were well schooled in the art of redeveloping spaces once designed for a different time and a different culture. . . . And those who worked in the 60s and 70s have retired with no intention of giving up any of the secrets behind their aesthetic leanings. It's hard to imagine that there was a time when we all loved those red doors, vinyl skinned walls, and yellow-orange carpets. . . .

"Students and staff raised under the cultural spectre of Stephen Spielberg, Bill Gates, and Martha Stewart (in happier times) have different notions about the elements of a productive work place. What designer of thirty years ago would have been inspired to provide for sunlight (shades were in, man), disabled access, 'kick-butt' computers in every nook, and horror of horrors -- food in the Library. In the sixties, smoke-filled rooms, clacking typewriters, monk-like conditions for students, and hard copies of everything were the things to design for.

"So, if you get a moment, take a walk over to the first floor of the Dana Porter Library to see how the UW crew has transformed a basement space into a delightful reading room for student study and use. Key to this transformation was the work of architectural designer Gary Kosar and interior designer Marianne Peereboom. The ceiling in the room sports a unique trellis that gives character to the space and lightens up the head-down, slug-through-it mood usually found in study areas. Complementing the trellis and creating just the right atmosphere was a lighting challenge for Roy Hinsperger and crew from the electrical design section. Drawing on their expertise and experience, the team came up with a unique combination of recessed fixtures, wall sconces, and traditional fluorescent lighting to do the trick.

"The trellis is a story in itself. Well-aged western red cedar, reclaimed from salvaged hydro poles, was sawn, planed, and finished to give a handsome well-cured material that was a treat for woodworkers on the project. The reading room trellis was designed to co-ordinate with the popular atmosphere of Browsers on the main floor of the Library. In addition to the warmth and eye appeal that the trellis brought to the space, it also provided a means to conceal the many cables and conduits needed for network access in the room.

"Heating, air conditioning, noise control, and ventilation can make or break the success of a space. Dealing with these unseen elements was the stock and trade of mechanical designer Scott Desormeaux. The mechanical design crew never knows what it might find when it reworks existing ducts, plumbing, vents, and systems to accommodate new needs in old spaces. Going by the popularity of the new reading room in the Library, they have given it just the right touch.

"Co-ordinating the elements of the project was the task of project co-ordinator Don Haffner. The different needs and timing of the trades involved, the interaction with suppliers, service providers and inspectors, the co-ordination with IST operations, and the management of noise, dust, and construction traffic were some of the things Don had to juggle. No one knows better than Don how irritating a dentist's drill-like noise coming from the floor below you can be when you are trying to work or study.

"On time, on budget, effective space use, and a satisfied client are the goals of the Plant Operations reconstruction design team. By creating a delightful reading room in the Library, the team used colour and creativity to make a pleased client out of Ian Donaghey of the Library facilities department. The popularity of the space with students attests to the great job done by all those involved in the project."

Staff meet today, and other notes

Executive members for the coming year will be introduced today as the UW staff association holds its annual general meeting. They include Avril McVicar, who takes office for a year as president, and two members of the board of directors whose election was announced just yesterday. A mail-in ballot by association members chose Keith Peck (library) and Bev Rodgers (management sciences) to join the board, along with continuing directors Dave Kibble and Stephen Markan. Also among the staff association leaders for the coming year are Steve Breen as vice-president, Sue Fraser as secretary and Dawn McCutcheon as treasurer. "At this time," a memo to members yesterday noted, "we do not have a President-Elect." Today's general meeting starts at 11:45 in Davis Centre room 1302.

"The first time riding your bike to work can be a little scary," says Patti Cook, "but just plan your route, and don't forget a lock! But it ended up being fun, and I got some exercise, and it was faster than driving!" Cook, who is the university's waste management coordinator, is organizing UW involvement in the annual Commuter Challenge, which runs all this week. "As a region," Cook notes, "we are competing against other regions and cities across the country. So walk, run, cycle, in-line skate, take transit, or carpool to work. Then go to the web site and register for a password. Once you get your password, login to submit your results each day. The Commuter Challenge web site automatically calculates participation rates and pollution reductions per participant as well as per workplace, school, or organization. The Commuter Challenge is our chance to show the community UW's commitment to clean air and have some fun in the process."

'Job Search Strategies', career workshop, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

'Academe and the three C's': "Collaboration, Copyright and Commerce", workshop by Petra Cooper of McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Wednesday 11 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Renison College alumni after-work reception at Moose Winooski's restaurant, Kitchener, Wednesday 5:30 to 7:00.

Perimeter Institute lecture, Scott Tremaine, Princeton University, "The Stability of the Solar System", Wednesday 7 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, Hazel Street.

Arriscraft architecture lectures begin for this term with Konrad Frey, Graz, Austria, "Usefulness and Delight in Architecture", Friday, 7 p.m., Environmental Studies II room 286.

Engineering alumni reunions Saturday and Sunday for classes of 1979, '84, '89, '94 and '99. Faculty members who have taught engineers are especially invited. Details online.

Friendly 3-pitch baseball game for staff, faculty, union, part-timers, organized by UW Recreation Committee, Wednesday, June 9, 6:15, Columbia Fields. Details online.

Engineering students are holding a fundraiser this week in memory of Vincent Fazari, who died of cancer on March 25. A similar head-shaving event was held two years ago, when Fazari was first diagnosed with cancer. Karim Lallani, who is charities director for the Engineering Society this term, says EngSoc is paying the costs, and all proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society for research use. "The fundraiser began last week," he says, "and we've already raised $4,500. Our goal is to raise $10,000 by June 3. The grand finale for the event will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Carl Pollock Hall foyer. The finale will be a celebration of Vince's life. The media will be present, and we'll be presenting a cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society. Refreshments will be served. We are accepting donations every day until June 3 from 11:30 to 1:30 and 3:30 to 4:30 in the CPH foyer. By making a donation of $10 or more, you'll get a tax receipt and you can get your head shaved (if you want)!" He adds that "I'm in the process of convincing some profs to have their head shaved for the finale" -- details are pending.

Yushan Hu, the math student who was charged after he stabbed his roommate to death in a Victoria Street apartment a year ago, was found not guilty in a Kitchener courtroom last week. "This could be the turning point in my life to start over again," said Hu after he was acquitted and released. Arguments in the case turned on whether Mo Chen -- who had been a UW student as well, but had just been expelled -- was killed deliberately or in self-defence. The judge ruled that the Crown attorneys had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Hu was not simply defending himself. Hu said he is now hoping to return to his studies.

The June list of short courses from the information systems and technology department is now available. "We have redone our course registration program," says Peggy Day of IST, "and I think our clients will like the new interface." The following course is being offered for students: Using PowerPoint for a Class Presentation. The following courses are part of the Skills for the Academic e-Workplace program, and are offered to faculty, grad students, and staff with instructional responsibilities: Posters with PowerPoint, Statistical Analysis with SPSS, Scientific Computing Using Maple, Database Management with Access, Parallel Programming with OpenMP and Finite Elements using FEMLAB. Information about the courses can be found on the IST web site.


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