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Thursday, May 13, 2004

  • UW team enters 3-year vehicle contest
  • Tree tops college apartment tower
  • The campus in the summertime
Chris Redmond

Twins promoting milk to teenagers

[Standing in greenhouse]

Third-year economics student Taylor Hall is now halfway through an eight-month work term as "special events liaison" for the City of Cambridge. "In this position," the newsletter Inside sCo-op for co-op students explains, "Taylor provided Special Events committees with information on city policies and ensured that risk-management requirements were met for all proposed events. He also recruited volunteers, developed training workshops for committees, and updated the city's Special Events manual. He even made it (perhaps a bit reluctantly) onto the front cover of the City of Cambridge's Activities Guide!"

UW team enters 3-year vehicle contest

General Motors of Canada Limited, Hydrogenics Corporation, and Natural Resources Canada announced this week that they'll help sponsor a team of UW students as the only Canadian entry in Challenge X, a competition series that challenges engineering students to decrease a vehicle's energy consumption and emissions while maintaining performance.

UW news release and backgrounder
Challenge X teams will work to improve the fuel economy and emissions of the Canadian designed and built 2005 Chevrolet Equinox, a compact SUV.

Organizers say they expect to see some teams develop hybrid vehicles -- vehicles that use both an internal combustion engine and electric motor as sources of power. Teams also will be exploring the use of other advanced propulsion systems, lightweight materials, and techniques for achieving the goals of improved fuel economy and lower emissions. Teams likely will be testing and using alternative fuels for their vehicles, such as hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel. "The driving force of this competition is for the students to devise other -- perhaps unprecedented -- creative solutions for reducing their vehicle's total environmental impact and developing ideas for a sustainable transportation future."

The Waterloo team will be concentrating on hydrogen fuel cell technology. A backgrounder explains: "A fuel cell engine is the complete set of components that integrate with the fuel cell so that the fuel cell's electricity can power the vehicle's wheels. Think of the fuel cell as the engine block in your car -- in this case, it's like a little electric power plant. As in the internal combustion engine, the fuel cell requires other systems to make it a complete energy source, including air, fuel and control systems.

"In a fuel cell vehicle, an electric drive system, which consists of a traction inverter, electric motor and transaxle, converts the electricity generated by the fuel cell system to tractive or motive power to move a vehicle. Also, when using a fuel other than direct hydrogen (such as methanol, gasoline or ethanol), an on-board fuel processor is required to extract hydrogen from the fuel."

Clubs Days in the Student Life Centre, 10 to 4 today and Friday.

Health informatics seminar, David McLeod, McMaster University, "Patient Safety", 11:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Electrical and computer engineering seminar, Arokia Nathan speaks on mechanically flexible electronics, 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302 -- abstract online.

Surplus sale at central stores, East Campus Hall, every second Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, today including used survey equipment from civil engineering.

Joint health and safety committee, 1:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Engineering III hot and cold water shut off, 4 to 9 p.m. today.

Available Space art project launch at the Walper Terrace Cafe, 7 p.m., partly sponsored by Community-University Research Alliance through UW.

Carousel Dance Centre spring performance, 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

'Influencing Difficult People', continuing education course Friday 8:30 to 4:30, information 888-4002.

Teaching and learning colloquium, "The View from Down Under", Geraldine Lefoe, University of Wollongong, Friday 11 a.m., Dana Porter Library room 329, more information online.

"GM is committed to Challenge X and working with colleges and universities to foster innovative thinking and practical engineering solutions," said Maryann Combs, general director of engineering and product planning for GM. "Challenge X teams will gain valuable experience in real-world engineering practices by using GM's Global Vehicle Development Process."

"We are thrilled," said UW president David Johnston. "This competition will give students hands-on engineering experience that will make them highly valuable to the automotive and technology communities. But more than that, it broadens their perspective by providing all the dimensions of a commercial project including finance, modeling, design, manufacturing prototype and competition."

"Challenge X is an excellent opportunity for the engineers of tomorrow to gain valuable experience with hydrogen fuel cells, a cleaner technology that will help shape the future of transportation in North America," said a statement on behalf of Natural Resources Canada. And Pierre Rivard, president and CEO of Hydrogenics, noted that "Fuel cells are being introduced to several industries, including the automotive sector, to meet today's clean energy priorities. Competitions like Challenge X will help to demonstrate how this kind of clean energy technology can be all about having more, instead of making do with less."

Waterloo's is one of 17 teams chosen to be a part of the three-year program. Manufactured at CAMI Automotive, the Equinox will be delivered to the university teams at the end of the first year of the project, to build upon the models and simulation efforts to bring the designs to life. The powertrains created in the first year will be installed into vehicles in the second year, giving the teams a head start on the vehicle integration process. During the second and third years of Challenge X, the educational emphasis will be placed on validating the modeling and simulation tools in order to refine and improve these vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Energy and GM are the headline sponsors of Challenge X, providing major funding, mentoring and product donations. Competition judges will come from industry, government and academia. Vehicles will be judged in categories such as towing capacity, acceleration, off-road performance, greenhouse gas impact on a total well-to-wheels basis, fuel economy, emissions and consumer acceptability.

[Humanities on the skyline]

University architect Dan Parent, right, helped in Monday's topping-off ceremony

Tree tops college apartment tower

On Monday afternoon, UW staff, St. Paul's United College staff and construction crew members donned work boots and hard hats to climb to the roof of the new Graduate Apartments at St. Paul's. Six storeys up, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the structural completion of the building, and the traditional tree was decorated for luck above the construction site.

This celebration "marked a milestone in the future of St. Paul's contribution to the University", a release from the college says. "St. Paul's expansion is expected to provide prospective grad students with another good reason to choose UW."

Set to open September 1, the building will offer 80 apartments for graduate students and eight private hotel-style rooms for visiting faculty, post-doctoral fellows and other campus visitors. A fitness room, games room and outdoor rooftop patio are part of the design. For students with families, a playground and a rumpus room are included, and seven common rooms will offer study and social space.

The building itself is a physical symbol of the growth and development of St. Paul's, the college says. "Long recognized as a caring community on campus, this expansion allows the college to mix the graduate, undergraduate and faculty communities, creating a truly rich and diverse learning environment. It is the first tangible step to expand the internationalization of St. Paul's academic community, and strengthen the college's 40 year affiliation with UW."

The campus in the summertime

I got back to campus yesterday after a few days away -- some personal travel plus a visit to the Pennsylvania State University. And yes, while at Penn State I found time to drop in at the famous Creamery and have a cone of "bittersweet mint" ice cream. My thanks to Pat Bow and other colleagues here in communications and public affairs who produced the Daily Bulletin in my absence.

And back at Waterloo, I see a few little changes on campus, such as a low stone wall south of the Tatham Centre (to stop erosion, I suppose), and bright flags flying from the Dana Porter Library -- not in honour of books, but to mark the edge of the third-floor roof during repair work. And there are odd signs about, and strangers with name tags, emphasizing that it's summer conference season. Among the important events this week is a Workshop on Large Scale Nonlinear and Semidefinite Programming. Local organizer is Henry Wolkowicz of the department of combinatorics and optimization.

Today is also the second day of a two-day Student Professional Awareness Conference, being held in the Tatham Centre and organized by the local branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Says branch chair Boyang Qin: "The goal of the conference is to raise awareness among all undergraduate students to the topics of academic, technology, career development, (personal) finance and life on campus. We have invited speakers from various organizations, ranging from industry giants Microsoft Canada Co. and Nortel Networks to local success stories such as Research In Motion, to professors." It's all free, and more information is available on the IEEE web site.

Registration continues today for instructional activities in the campus recreation program, most of which will get rolling on Monday. CR this term ranges from "Speedo WaterArt Instructor Certification" to a nutrition workshop. The CR brochure is available around campus, with full information online or at the Physical Activities Complex. (And here's a reminder that there are now two full fitness facilities on campus: the PAC, as in the past, and a new centre at the Columbia Icefield, which opened early in the winter term.)

And a reminder along other lines: the planned 25-year reunion for graduates of health studies and gerontology, which was to be held this weekend, has been cancelled.

Watch for big news tomorrow, as UW's president has sent out invitations to "a special announcement regarding the funding of a research project to restore the Mesopotamian marshes for the Marsh Dwellers of Iraq". Such work would be based in UW's Wetlands Research Centre. The announcement is set for Friday at 10 a.m. in the Davis Centre lounge.

And I have an interesting note from social work student Meghan McGough, who's helping to organize an event this Saturday: "Balding for Dollars is a day when members of the Kitchener Fire Department and other community volunteers shave their heads to 'show they care' for Camp Oochigeas, a not-for-profit summer camp for children with cancer." Things start at 2:00 Saturday at Home Depot, then continue in the evening at Loose Change Louie's and Johnny Fiasco's, a pair of bars near campus. "We would like as many people as possible to come out," McGough writes, suggesting that donations are needed and a good time should be had by all.


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