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Thursday, March 18, 2004

  • Watch for video at campaign launch
  • Team is 6th in annual math contest
  • UW involved in supercomputing project
  • Tim's in September, and other notes
Chris Redmond

National BioDiesel Day

Watch for video at campaign launch

A 11-minute video about the wonders of Waterloo will get its first public showing at the launch celebrations for Campaign Waterloo next Tuesday.

[Campaign logo] A look at the video will be among the highlights of the noontime party in the Davis Centre, along with remarks from campus and campaign VIPs and an acrobatic demonstration by the award-winning UW cheerleaders. A tentative schedule for the Tuesday event also notes music from the Warriors Band and a display of inventions by UW engineering students. Oh yes: there's also food.

Everybody is welcome at the campaign launch -- 11:30 to 1:00 on Tuesday, March 23, in the Davis Centre great hall -- but organizers are taking RSVPs so they know how many guests to expect. Reservations go by e-mail to join-us@uwaterloo.ca.

The campaign has a goal of $260 million in private sector support for a "talent trust" at Waterloo, and will run until the university's 50th birthday in mid-2007. Organizers are likely to announce on Tuesday how much has been raised up to now in the "quiet" phase of the campaign. (It was at $164 million when the board of governors got an update last month.)

Another launch party is set for Tuesday evening in Toronto, as a group of big-city alumni and friends of the university have been invited to a reception that will be held at the Design Exchange in the Toronto Dominion Centre.

The video that will be screened at both events on Tuesday is intended "to highlight Waterloo's key strengths in teaching, research, entrepreneurship, and co-operative education", says Avvey Peters, associate director of communications and public affairs. "It provides an overview of the campaign, and its four pillar areas (attracting and rewarding talent, enabling talent, making room for talent, and creating a culture where talent will flourish), highlighting several of the projects for which we're raising funds."

It will be used by volunteers as they make UW's case to potential donors, and should be available next week on the Campaign web site.

The video was produced by C&PA staff working with WDTV, a video production company based in Hamilton, Ontario. It was shot entirely this term and includes footage of several campaign projects, including the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology, the Tatham Centre, the new fitness centre in the Columbia Icefield, the Davis Centre library (where an "information commons" will soon be installed), and a new multimedia classroom in Carl Pollock Hall.

Says Peters: "We interviewed students, alumni, researchers, and campaign volunteers." Seen in the video, for instance, are Federation of Students president Chris Edey, quantum computing guru Ray Laflamme of the physics department, and building donor William Tatham.

Team is 6th in annual math contest

A team of UW math students placed sixth in the 64th annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, held on December 6, keeping alive Waterloo's string of top-10 finishes, the faculty of math announced yesterday.

This year, a total of 3,615 students from 479 colleges and universities across Canada and the United States participated, and 401 institutions entered teams. The top five teams were from MIT, Harvard, Duke, California Institute of Technology and Harvey Mudd College. Other Canadian teams placing in the top 10 were from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. Rounding out the top 10 were teams from Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley.

The math faculty's statement says Ralph Furmaniak, a first-year student, "had an outstanding result, placing among the top five individuals, earning the title of Putnam Fellow and an award of $2,500. Other members of the UW team were Lino Demasi, who earned an Honorable Mention by placing in the top 66, and Olena Bormashenko."

Other UW students included Xiaoning Chai, Xiannen Li and Feng Tian, who all placed in the top 200 individuals. Five additional students placed in the top 500: Chris Almost, Charles Li, Tyler Lu, Alejandro Morales, and Sanjay Patel.

The team was coached by Christopher Small of the department of statistics and Actuarial Science. "The Putnam Competition is the Most prestigious university mathematics competition in North America", said small. "My congratulations go to the Waterloo students who wrote the most recent Putnam. Their achievements have made us proud."

UW involved in supercomputing project

High-bandwidth networks that link UW with campuses across Ontario and Canada are making it possible for several researchers here to be part of a major supercomputing project based at the University of Western Ontario.

The Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network, or SHARCnet, recently received $19.3 million in new funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. The CFI support comes from its innovation fund, which encourages researchers to co-operate in buying or developing infrastructure whenever possible.

Besides Western, the multi-campus project includes Guelph, McMaster, Wilfrid Laurier, Windsor, Waterloo, Brock, Ontario Institute of Technology and York, as well as Fanshawe and Sheridan colleges and several private sector partners. The participating institutions share high performance computing (HPC) resources and expertise and collaboratively develop long-term plans to serve future HPC needs.

[Chen] At a workshop today about high-bandwidth computer networks and how researchers can use them, one of the UW faculty members involved in SHARCnet will talk about that project. He is Jeff Chen (left) of the physics department, who says that because of UW's involvement, Waterloo researchers who need a HPC facility will see benefits in the two major areas of computing power and data storage.

Also called "supercomputing," HPC is the technology used to provide solutions to problems that require significant computational power, need to access or process huge amounts of data quickly and need to operate interactively across a geographically distributed network.

Funding has been allocated to SHARCnet for the purchase of a throughput computing engine (containing at least 1,000 processors) and a data storage solution, which will be located at UW.

"The former will be at least 10 times more powerful than the current total sum of research computing power publicly available on campus," Chen says. "The latter will provide a much-needed solution to serve research areas such as astrophysics and health informatics."

The installation offers new capabilities for innovative research through computer modelling, in areas such as astrophysics, condensed matter physics, biochemistry, bioinformatics, financial mathematics and materials engineering. "We will have the ability to study scientific or engineering problems that are one order of magnitude larger," Chen said.

Other UW researchers involved in SHARCnet include David Yevick, also in physics; Phelim Boyle, accountancy; Ming Li, chemistry; and Edward Sudicky, earth sciences.

Chen will be speaking today -- along with Raj Govindarajan, who heads information technology services at Wilfrid Laurier University -- at a "Networking Day" organized to showcase Orion, the Ontario high-speed computer network, and CA*net4, its national counterpart.

Sessions this morning will deal with what the networks are and how UW is linked to them. After lunch, researchers including Chen and Govindarajan will talk about specific projects, including SHARCnet.

Tim's in September, and other notes

The 24-hour-a-day Tim Horton's outlet that's planned for the Student Life Centre will open for business on September 1, the director of food services, Mark Murdoch, said yesterday. He confirmed that two management jobs at Tim's, listed in yesterday's Positions Available, are for the new outlet, which will take over the space at the southwest corner of the SLC that's now occupied by Ground Zero restaurant. Some construction work could start as early as April, Murdoch said, but most of the job will be done in mid-summer. With an opening date before Labour Day, things should be running smoothly when most students arrive for the fall term. There are three Tim's outlets on campus already, but the new one will be the first to be in operation 24-7.

Free CD Day with local musicians, 1:00 to 3:00, Student Life Centre.

Physics lecture, Anthony Leggett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "Superfluid 3He: The Early Days as Seen by a Theorist", 2:00, CEIT room 1015.

Computer science distinguished lecture, Brian Kernighan, Princeton, "What Should an Educated Person Know About Computers?" 4:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 101.

'Successfully Negotiating Job Offers', career workshop, 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Interdisciplinary Coffee Talk Society presents Konstantin Savvidis, Perimeter Institute, speaking on Ptolemy of Alexandria, "one of the great scientific minds of antiquity", 5 p.m., Graduate House.

Voice of Islam colloquium, "The Life and Death of Jesus Christ". Keynote speaker is Naseem Mahdi of Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam. 6:30, great hall, Student Life Centre.

Year-end bash and Boys and Girls Auction, sponsored by Arts Student Union, from 9 p.m., Bombshelter pub.

Student awards office will be closed Monday morning until 10:30.

Tony Lee , "X-rated hypnotist", Tuesday night at Federation Hall, tickets $5 at Federation of Students office.

Also from food services: "Four students, each from different living lifestyles on campus, volunteered to be the first UW Food Services Health Challenge participants," the department's web site says. "They accepted the challenge of [Health challenge logo] making this year at UW their healthiest ever. Student living isn't always the easiest and committing to healthy lifestyle goals has its challenges. Not only have the four students bravely accepted the challenge, they have also agreed to share their experience. To assist the health challengers, a registered dietitian and two activity trainers complete the health challenge team. The registered dietitian provides nutrition coaching and the activity trainers offer training facts and strategies, as well as encouragement, to help the challengers reach the goals they have each set for themselves." So how's it going? The latest reports on the web site are from just before Christmas, but I think we can expect more as the challenge approaches its end on March 29.

The civil engineering department sends word that Cynthia Jones, its coordinator of graduate studies, will be retiring at the end of the month, after 27 years of service to UW. A reception in her honour will be held Wednesday, March 31, from 3:30 to 5:30 in Engineering II room 4403. RSVPs (and gift contributions) go to Sandra Machan, ext. 2535.

"Magazines are now available at the Bookstore," says a bright green flyer that fluttered in this week. "Check out our selection of academic, general interest, and international magazines." Pictured is an eclectic range indeed: PC World, Scientific American, The Economist, The New Yorker, and Foreign Policy.

And . . . UW's Campus Day may be over, but as March break continues, other Ontario universities are similarly welcoming the younger generation to visit. Open house at Wilfrid Laurier University is set for tomorrow. The University of Toronto is doing it all week, and Western will do it on Saturday. Both Saturday and Sunday, it's the University of Guelph's big traditional College Royal, which is open to everybody.


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