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Monday, May 3, 2004

  • $33 million gift for quantum computing
  • Co-op computer system is here: 'JobMine'
  • A few other notes this morning
Chris Redmond

World Press Freedom Day

[Seated in laboratory]

Industrialist Mike Lazaridis, left, and Ray Laflamme, director of the Institute for Quantum Computing, laugh it up in advance of Friday's announcement. Laflamme called the news "fantastic . . . Ophelia and Mike's gift will be decisive in making Canada a magnet for the world's best researchers."

$33 million gift for quantum computing

The biggest gift in UW's history was announced Friday afternoon: $33.3 million from Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research In Motion, and his wife, Ophelia. Matched two-for-one by the government and other sources, the donation brings $100 million to UW for work in quantum computing and the construction of a quantum research building.

It was standing-room-only at the announcement event on Friday. And it fell to UW president David Johnston to say the number out loud for the first time, as he teased Lazaridis for being so modest that he didn't mention a dollar figure in his own speech.

There was also praise for the donor from local Member of Parliament Andrew Telegdi and from Howard Burton, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which Lazaridis founded with a $100 million gift four years ago. Messages of congratulation came from prime minister Paul Martin and premier Dalton McGuinty.

The $33.3-million donation includes a previous $6 million gift to UW's Institute for Quantum Computing from Lazaridis, who became the university's chancellor last year.

Full text of UW news release and backgrounder on quantum computing
A UW news release said the money will be used "to help create a world-class centre for quantum-related research and teaching. . . . A new quantum science research building (est. 120,000 sq. ft.) with state-of-the-art equipment will be constructed on the east side of the campus and is expected to attract talented researchers from all over the world." The funds will also provide an endowment for professorships and help establish labs for theoretical and experimental work.

The release continues: "Building on existing strength at the Institute for Quantum Computing (directed by Professor Raymond Laflamme), the centre is expected to be the largest quantum science research group in the world with up to 25 core faculty members by 2007. Researchers will focus specifically on quantum algorithms, quantum cryptography, quantum error correction and quantum devices."

It quotes the donor: "Quantum Computing holds the promise of enabling computers with previously unimaginable power and accelerating fundamental research in quantum physics. We hope to see Waterloo become the epicenter of Quantum research and experimentation."

Said Johnston: "This splendid, visionary gift is without parallel at the University of Waterloo. This centre for fundamental research in quantum science and engineering will place Waterloo in the forefront of a new frontier of knowledge. How lucky we are to have two people like Mike and Ophelia who care so much about their university and do so much for basic science and education in our country."

The Institute for Quantum Computing was established in 2002. It brings together professors and graduate students from science, mathematics and engineering to push the boundaries of fundamental experimental and theoretical knowledge in the field of quantum computation. "The centre," says the news release, "will also offer graduate programs in quantum information science and quantum cryptography and, within a few years, undergraduate and graduate degree programs in quantum information science and quantum engineering."

On the first day of spring term classes

  • New leaders of the Federation of Students as of May 1: Becky Wroe (president), Jeff Henry (vice-president, education), John Anderson (VP, internal), Raveel Afzaal (VP, administration and finance).

  • New executive of the Graduate Student Association: Nadir Budhwani (president), Kelly Byers (VP, student affairs), Shabnam Ivkovic (VP, corporate affairs), Jennifer Hunter (VP, operations).

  • Fathy Ismail becomes associate dean (graduate studies and international agreements), faculty of engineering, taking over from Alex Penlidis.

  • Pierre Filion is acting director of the school of planning, May 1 through June 30.

  • Davis Centre library closed until September; materials available through Trellis, information services available through the Dana Porter Library.
  • Co-op computer system is here: 'JobMine' -- from the co-op and career services department

    After a couple of pilots, a few road-bumps and much anticipation, JobMine is now ready to go. JobMine, known in the planning stages as "CECS.online", is an online system created for students and employers to help expedite the UW recruitment process.

    By replacing the old Access system, JobMine is more than just a job database. Its broad scope makes it a dynamic recruiting tool for employers and an all-in-one system for students to use to search and apply for jobs. JobMine is an entirely "in-house" system, created by the UW Online Project Team consisting of staff from CECS and Information Systems and Technology. As well, nearly 30 co-op students worked on JobMine over the course of its development.

    For employers, students and CECS staff, this new system means big change. Students, for example, no longer have to fuss with paper application packages, line-ups, bins, or overcrowded hallways. Using JobMine, they can create and save up to three online resumés, search job postings, and apply directly to positions from the comfort of their own computer.

    While there is still a limit to the number of jobs that students can apply to, they get their applications back when jobs are cancelled, when they are not selected for an interview or when another student is matched with a job they applied to.

    Additionally, students can see when they are selected for an interview and can choose their own interview times on a first come-first serve basis from the available times that employers specify. The result is fewer interview conflicts and a smoother experience for students and employers alike. When ranking day arrives, students will rank jobs online and will, for the first time, be able to rank non-sequentially.

    Employers have direct online access to viewing their job listings and previous hiring history. JobMine also means employers can say goodbye to waiting for bulky resumé packages to arrive. Now they can view all student applications online and use JobMine to select candidates, choose interview dates and check interview schedules.

    After interviews are finished, employers will also use JobMine to rank students and view which students have been matched with their jobs. While job submissions are initially being handled in the same way, the new system gives employers greater access to CECS information and operations during the recruitment process.

    The project was originally outsourced in the late 1990s to a Texas-based firm called Academic Software Inc. that developed a similar system for Drexel University in Philadelphia. Two years into the project, development halted when ASI was bought by another company. At this point, CECS took the initiative to develop JobMine "in-house" and formed the UW Online Project Team to accomplish this. The team decided to use the PeopleSoft software to develop JobMine, as this software was already in use for Student Administration and Human Resources. This choice eliminated issues of compatibility between the systems.

    Still, "There are limitations to the PeopleSoft tools," says project team leader Dave Thomas. These limitations became acutely apparent when considering the complexity of some of the CECS requirements, such as the job match, the resume package and various scheduling functions. Despite this, the team was able to complete the programming of JobMine in less than two and a half years.

    Thomas is preparing for the challenge of ensuring that students are properly trained to use the system and has hired four co-op students to provide technical support during the spring term.

    A few other notes this morning

    The funeral service for Rob Macdonald, the UW mechanical engineering professor who died last week, will be held tomorrow -- Tuesday -- at 2 p.m. at First United Church, on the corner of King and William Streets. (The mech eng departmental offices will be closed Tuesday afternoon to allow faculty and staff members to attend the funeral.) Visitation is scheduled for today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home on King Street.

    The audio-visual centre has announced that a web form is now available for easy reporting of ("non-emergency") problems with A-V equipment and electronic classrooms. "We hope that using this form will allow us to respond better," writes Derek Madge from A-V, "and, just as importantly, keep instructors apprised of the efforts to correct the problem." The form is part of the "problem tracking system" operated by information systems and technology: start at ist.uwaterloo.ca/request, sign in with the usual userid and password, and choose "Audio-Visual" as the "request type". It's still possible to request A-V help by e-mail (the address is avfix@uwaterloo.ca), and emergency problem reports should go by phone, to ext. 3033 or 6197 (at night, 590-7990).

    Co-op and career services staff professional development day, as always on the first day of term.

    Senate executive committee, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

    Downtown Kitchener redevelopment proposal, display at city hall and awards to UW architecture students, 5 to 7 p.m. (wrongly announced last week).

    Presentation on Austria by Paul Ortner, UW history graduate who spent two years there, Tuesday 7 p.m., St. Jerome's University, admission free.

    'Waterloo on the World Stage' fund-raising concert, reception and silent auction, Tuesday 7 p.m., Centre for International Governance Innovation, information 885-2444 ext. 227.

    Richard Gwyn gives the annual Friends of the Library lecture, Wednesday 12 noon, Theatre of the Arts. Title: "Running After History". Admission free. Event includes display of work by UW authors and other creators in the Modern Languages gallery.

    North campus environmental reserve information open house, Wednesday 2 to 4 p.m., Environmental Studies I courtyard.

    [Hearing impairment logo] The experience of being "Deaf for a Day" is offered any time this week, thanks to the Talking Hands Club, with support from the Federation of Students and the office for persons with disabilities. "Experience simulated deafness for one day," a flyer suggests. Anyone interested can pick up a "Deaf for a Day Kit" at a booth in the Student Life Centre today or tomorrow, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or at the independent studies program in the PAS building, Wednesday through Friday.

    The stream of conferences through the campus, and especially the Ron Eydt Village residence, is continuing. Ontario's math teachers went home yesterday, but today brings in the first contingent of participants in a conference for International Teams, a Christian missionary organization based in Illinois. Tomorrow, a group arrives for the Rotary Club's "Camp Enterprise", as well as students for the advanced phase of the Canadian Computing Competition. And so it goes.

    As I said on Friday, roofing work on the Davis Centre is to begin today and last for about three weeks. And the plant operations department announces that from today through Thursday, the main entrance to the Davis Centre from the ring road will be closed off -- for work to "facilitate campus accessibility".

    And . . . today's the day that information systems and technology says it will disconnect the old dial-up terminal server using the phone number 725-7300. From now on, users need to call 725-7302 and configure their workstations for the new T-server.


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