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Thursday, May 27, 2004

  • Grants to ease curriculum change
  • Builder chosen as R&T Park expands
  • Weekend rings with Mennonite music
  • Powder, dry ice, fullerenes and more
Chris Redmond

Horror! Christopher Lee and Vincent Price born

[One digging, one watching]

Boulders were heaved into place on Tuesday for the new "northern Ontario" section of the Dorney ecology garden outside the Environmental Studies buildings. While the existing garden presents plants of southern Ontario, the new section will feature the flora of northern Ontario, from jack pine to blueberries. ES lecturer Larry Lamb, one of the people who have been making plans, says the theme was chosen "for diversity and for teaching purposes". And Alan Morgan of UW's earth sciences department, who knows this stuff, points out that the boulders are not granite, despite what earlier publicity has said -- they're gneiss. (Read more about gneiss.)

Grants to ease curriculum change

Grants are going to UW faculty members for twelve "learning initiatives" projects, and an invitation is out for applications for the next round of grants.

"The University of Waterloo is committed," says Gail Cuthbert Brandt, associate vice-president (academic), "to enhancing the quality of the learning experience for our students and to continuing our history of innovative approaches to learning and teaching. The Learning Initiatives Fund assists departments, schools and Faculties in projects that enhance student learning and support the strategic plans of the academic units.

"Project proposals are requested from faculty, departments and schools to support instructional changes that are linked to formal undergraduate academic program reviews."

She goes on: "The objective is to enrich the learning experiences of students in programs whose curriculum is being revised significantly as a result of such reviews. Priority will be given to proposals that will provide benefits to as many undergraduates as possible, and that assist academic units in implementing recommendations related to their academic program review."

Projects have to be completed within two years, and can be for as much as $20,000. Applications will be assessed by Brandt, as associate VP (academic), and Tom Carey, associate vice-president (learning resources and innovation). "They will make recommendations to the Vice President Academic and Provost, who will make final decisions." Applications are to be submitted to the TRACE Office by 4 p.m. on June 18.

Meanwhile, Carey has announced the list of projects that were approved in the last round of LIF applications. Awarded is a total of $135,000 "to support innovative instructors who will be enhancing learning outcomes in UW courses".

Says Carey: "We were encouraged by the quality of the proposals we received. Although some could not be funded, they all indicated that our innovative faculty are continuing UW's tradition of leadership in learning and teaching."

Projects include a study of "humanities research skills", headed by Katherine Acheson of the English department; "Virtual International Field Courses as Active Learning Aids", headed by Brent Doberstein and Judith Cukier of geography; and "Enhanced Learning in Quantitative Economics", headed by Trien Nguyen of economics. The full list of projects is available on the web.

[Plastic chairs, empty space]

UW president David Johnston speaks at yesterday morning's event, held in the new Sybase building on the north campus. It's still a construction site, so hard hats were compulsory. Johnston later lunched with Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty and members of the local Communitech business association, as reported on the front page of today's Record.

Builder chosen as R&T Park expands

The CORA Group of Kitchener will build the "Accelerator Centre and Multi-tenant Facility" that's to be the second building at the Research and Technology Park on UW's north campus, officials announced yesterday. Guests at a mid-morning ceremony were told that CORA's winning proposal was selected by the review committee and approved by the park's advisory board.

"The company's team includes the expertise of RHL Architects, Ball Construction and Roth & Associates," says a UW news release. "The Accelerator Centre is funded in partnership by departments of the federal, provincial and regional governments to encourage the growth of high-tech firms and act as a catalyst for the creation of new products and services."

Said Adrian Conrad, CORA vice-president: "The centre will hold long-term benefits not only for the university, but also for the Region of Waterloo, and we look forward to being part of this success. We have enjoyed growing with local technological companies and we are enthusiastic on furthering our affiliation together, through this development."

The 120-acre park is designed to accommodate 1.2 million square feet of office space -- room for thousands of research and technology based employees generating "tremendous economic activity", the release says.

"The Accelerator Centre and Multi-Tenant facility is vital to our progress in establishing this research park as a distinctive facility where new inventions and innovations can be given a chance to be turned into spin-offs," said David Johnston, UW president. "We have created this synergy with the cooperation of our partners in industry and the municipal, regional, provincial and federal governments, which makes this success story a pattern-setter for all of Canada."

In December 2003, a Request for Expression of Interest was the public kick-off to the second building project in the research park. The accelerator centre will be a neighbour to the park's anchor tenant -- iAnywhere Solutions, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc. The December invitation was looking for a development team to finance, design, construct, own and lease out what's described as "a Class multi-tenant office facility to provide rentable space for research and technology companies". Officials say "three first-class submissions" were received, and CORA was chosen. Work on the building is expected to start by late summer.

The 90,000-square-foot facility will accommodate a 22,700-square-foot publicly funded and operated Accelerator Centre, subject to provincial and federal approvals. "This Accelerator Centre is an example of the kind of innovative community partnership which will help strengthen our region's competitive advantage," said Waterloo Region chair Ken Seiling, representing one of the governments that are supporting the R&T Park development.

The Accelerator Centre will provide such services as Intellectual Property management, consultation, mentoring, access to professional service providers, community networking events and investor-innovator matchmaking in addition to common services such as office and meeting space, and administrative services.

[Sound in the Land logo]

Weekend rings with Mennonite music

A festival and conference on Mennonite music, under the title "Sound in the Land", runs tomorrow through Sunday at Conrad Grebel University College. Carol Ann Weaver, professor of music at UW and Grebel, is the organizer of the landmark event.

"What does Mennonite music sound like?" asks a news release from Grebel's Jennifer Konkle. Here's her response: "Since Mennonites are a diverse world-wide group, Mennonite music is equally diverse, with classical, jazz, folk, rock, world music, collaborative works, congregational singing, reggae, afrobeat, hiphop, and garage band sounds."

The conference will involve Mennonite-rooted composers, songwriters, performing musicians, scholars, and writers from all over North America. They'll be taking part in multiple concerts, performances, mini-concerts, workshops, jam sessions, reading sessions, and an academic conference addressing issues of Mennonite-rooted peoples and their music making in terms of ethnicity, cultural studies, or musical, theoretical and historical analysis.

Catholic conference this weekend

St. Jerome's University hosts a conference Friday and Saturday under the title "Catholics in Public Life". Panels will address such questions as "In the face of evil and injustice, how does one give meaning to life and continue to live with hope? How can your Catholic or spiritual orientation guide you in your role as public leader and private person?" Keynote speaker, Friday evening at 7:30, is Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian general whose book about the 1994 Rwandan genocide is now a best-seller. There's a registration fee for the full conference, but admission to Dallaire's talk is free. Details are online.
"The objectives of this conference," says the release, "are to present, explore, study, and celebrate Mennonite-related music, a body of work which has not yet been granted its full recognition as a major cultural voice within Canada and North America today. In 300-some years of being in North America, Mennonites have never commemorated, studied, or celebrated their music making in a concerted manner such as this conference will allow.

"'Sound in the Land' will place a newly recognized genre of music in front of the public in general, and in front of the musical world specifically, both nationally and internationally."

The DaCapo Chamber Choir will release its new CD, "Still", at Sunday's concert. Copies are for sale at $20, and pre-orders will be available for pickup. The choir also sends than ks "to all our supporters during our recent CBC Choral Competition performance. Although we were disappointed that we didn't place, it was a huge honour to make it to the finals."
Four public concerts are scheduled. "For Mennonites, music is very much a community expression -- everything from unaccompanied hymns to folk songs to contemporary styles of music," says Weaver. "As such, it is very important for the larger community -- local, national, and international -- to be vitally connected with this festival which celebrates the music of a unique people whose contributions have richly shaped North American culture."

Concerts are Friday night at 7:30 at the Grebel chapel (classical, bluegrass and jazz); Saturday at 8:30 in Grebel's great hall ("singer/songwriters, collaborative arts, new fusions"); Sunday at 3:30 in the chapel (classical, including a piano concerto); and Sunday at 8 p.m. at First United Church, King and William Streets (choral music, including the DaCapo chamber choir). Tickets for each concert are $15, students $10. Conference registration (starting at $120, students $60) includes all the concerts.

Powder, dry ice, fullerenes and more

The fifth periodic Canadian Powder Diffraction Workshop is taking place today and tomorrow in the Davis Centre. "While lectures on a variety of topics are planned for the morning," a web site tells researchers, "the main theme is to assist participants in using the Rietveld method." That's a technique for analyzing the crystalline structure of materials -- used by physicists, chemists and others. The two-day workshop is chaired by Bruce Torrie of UW's department of physics.

Two UW students are among a group of 16 who are in Normandy this week and next, preparing for commemorations of the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Graduate student Chris Finnie and undergraduate Christine Mathers, both of the history department, were chosen for the tour, sponsored by the Canadian Battlefields Foundation and led by Terry Copp of Wilfrid Laurier University's history department. They'll spend the two weeks in intensive study and touring; the aim is for participants, many of whom will become teachers, to share their experience with the next generation of Canadians.

For the record, that wasn't dry ice that filled the "Great Lakes" fountain sculpture in the CEIT building, as I wrote in Friday's Daily Bulletin. It was liquid nitrogen, says a note from the direction of the chemistry department. Dry ice, by contrast, is frozen carbon dioxide.

Planning is well under way for a new undergraduate program in nanotechnology engineering that's expected to start in the fall of 2005. A long list of course titles and descriptions -- from "Introduction to Nanotechnology Engineering" to "Nanoengineered Polymers" -- was approved by the engineering faculty council in April and is on its way to the UW senate, along with a general description of the program. "It is," says the first paragraph of the summary, "all about generating new solutions based on atomic- and molecular-scale manipulations. . . . There is an acute need for highly trained personnel with good understanding of the natural laws that govern the workings of not only atoms and molecules but also natural or manufactured nanoscopic and mesoscopic structures and systems (e.g., clusters, fullerenes, nanotubes, macromolecules, nanorobots, and nanosystems)." Departments involved are electrical and computer engineering, chemical engineering, and chemistry.

UW Blooms plant exchange, 11:30 to 1:30, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

Health informatics seminar, "Attending to Visual Motion", John Tsotsos, York University, 11:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Entrepreneurship seminar, Vinit Nijhawan, Taral Networks, "The Top 10 Qualities of an Entrepreneur", 12 noon, Needles Hall room 1101.

Career decision-making workshop, 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

'A Study of Aboriginal Suicide', launch of book about artist Benjamin Chee-Chee by Al Evans, St. Paul's United College, 4:30 p.m. at St. Paul's. Wine and cheese, book for sale, display of Chee-Chee's art.

Spiritual Heritage Education Network presents Vijaya Kumar Murty, "The Quality of Life", 7 p.m., Math and Computer room 4021.

Centre Stage Dance performance tonight, Humanities Theatre.

Dana Porter Library hydro shutdown, Friday 6 to 7 a.m.

School of architecture tour of new building, 7 Melville Street South, Cambridge, Saturday 2 to 5 p.m.

Engineering students who don't want to support the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Fund, or WEEF, can apply for refunds this week. Engineering students pay a $75 refundable fee each term to WEEF, which builds an endowment fund and spends it on teaching equipment, student projects and other enrichment of what goes on in the engineering faculty. "Where the funds are spent is up to the student body," says Erin Young, WEEF director this term; she notes that proposals for the term's spending are welcome starting next Monday. "Every student uses equipment purchased by WEEF," she adds. There has been much controversy about WEEF this term, and refund processing was suspended for a few days. It has now resumed: daily this week from 11:30 to 1:30 at (I think) the Engineering Society office in Carl Pollock Hall. Refunds come by cheque from the UW finance office later in the term.

A verdict is expected today in the manslaughter trial of Yushan Hu, who was a UW math student at the time he stabbed Mo Chen in May 2003. Chen (who had recently dropped out of UW) died three weeks after the struggle, which took place in the Victoria Street apartment the two men shared. Prosecutors told a Kitchener court last week that Hu killed his roommate with a screwdriver in a dispute over money; Hu's lawyers countered that the stabbing was self-defence against a violent man who fancied himself a gangster.

Signs at the campus entrance indicate that the Pragma Council, advisory to UW's school of planning, is meeting today. . . . May 31 is the application deadline for the CUPE Local 793 bursary, for union members and their dependents; forms are available from the CUPE office in the General Services Complex. . . . The annual Commuter Challenge is beginning, and tomorrow's Daily Bulletin will say more about UW's involvement. . . .


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