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Thursday, April 7, 2005

  • UW programmers fourth in the world
  • Nanotech-quantum building possible
  • Other notes from the board meeting
  • Happening today on the campus
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

World Health Day: Mothers and children


[Street scene]

Waterloo's programming team and and their fan club -- the UW team that placed just behind them in the regional event last fall -- strolled the streets of Shanghai on Saturday, relaxing before the finals of the International Collegiate Programming Competition. They had dinner that night with about 20 Waterloo alumni as well as Pat Cunningham, the math faculty's alumni officer, who took the photo. "I was delighted," Cunningham adds, "to see several UW math alumni serving as coaches for other teams."

UW programmers fourth in the world

Waterloo's team placed fourth yesterday in the 29th ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals, hosted by China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University -- which also fielded what turned out to be the winning team.

The Waterloo team -- which will arrive home in triumph today -- solved 7 of the 10 problems posed, with 1,046 "penalty" points based on how long it took them. Shanghai Jiao Tong won with a late surge, solving an eighth problem despite a large number of penalty minutes. Official standings show Russia's Moscow State University and St. Petersburg Institute of Optics and Mechanics in second and third place. All four top teams receive gold medals.

The next-ranking North American teams were the University of British Columbia and the University of Illinois, both shown among several institutions tied for 17th place. Waterloo is listed as the champion for North America, one of six regions into which teams were divided.

[Cormack] Members of the "Waterloo Black" Team were Ralph Furmaniak (2A pure math), Matei Zaharia (2A computer science) and David Narum (2nd year math exchange student from Norway). Coach was computer science professor Gord Cormack (right)

It was the 13th consecutive time a Waterloo team competed in the world finals, which UW has won twice, in 1994 and 1999. Other Canadian entries this year came from British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta, New Brunswick and Simon Fraser.

The Waterloo Black Team earned a berth in the world finals by placing first among 131 teams from 72 schools when the 2004 ACM East Central North America Regional Programming Contest was held November 6 at Sheridan College in Oakville. In that regional event, Waterloo Black solved eight problems within 799 minutes, while Waterloo Gold placed second, solving seven problems within 832 minutes. Regulations allow only one team per school to move on to the final competition, but Waterloo Gold members also went to Shanghai to cheer on the Black squad.

The final 78 teams of three students each result from thousands of teams competing in regional contests held last fall. From September to December, some 4,109 teams representing 1,582 universities in 71 countries world-wide joined in regional competitions for the opportunity to advance to the World Finals.

Nanotech-quantum building possible

A proposal for a major new building that would house both UW's new nanotechnology engineering program and the Institute for Quantum Computing could come to UW's board of governors this summer, the provost told the board at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

"We now have a plan to find the space," provost Amit Chakma told the board, after reminding them that both activities are new, they have some overlap in their needs and interests, and space is a looming problem for them both. "We are going to admit students" to nanotechnology engineering this fall, he said, and "we have been successful in recruiting top people" for the quantum institute. Now they're all going to need a roof over their heads.

"We are looking at possibly a 60- to 70-million-dollar capital project," he predicted, saying that UW officials think they can move ahead by finding about half the money from private donors, then borrowing the other half to pay back over the years. Some money is already on hand, particularly for the quantum institute, which was started with a major promise of funds from local executive (and UW chancellor) Mike Lazaridis.

Chakma didn't say anything about a possible site for the building.

He did mention that UW has other building needs as well: the school of accountancy is back on the agenda, as plans are under way to boost the number of entering students from 100 a year to 150. And a longstanding plan to expand the Optometry building is being "revisited", the provost said, with an eye to doing more than originally decided.

Tuesday's board meeting gave approval to yet another step in UW's physical expansion. On the recommendation of a committee, it chose "the firms of Robbie/Young + Wright Architects & Hariri Pontarini Architects" to design the Pharmacy building in downtown Kitchener, "at a Phase I project cost of $34,000,000".

The board's building and properties committee said 26 "high quality submissions" were received when it asked for expressions of interest. It interviewed six firms and chose this team. The building is expected to be about 100,000 square feet, the same size as Chemistry II.

Other notes from the board meeting

The student services fee will go up to $122 per term for full-time undergraduates from the present $110, as the board approved fee recommendations brought by the vice-president (administration and finance). Full-time grads will pay $98; part-time students pay less. The fee covers such services as athletics, counselling, and health, and is reviewed each year by a committee that has a student majority, the board was told. Also going up is the co-op fee, from $420 to $441. The board also rubber-stamped the creation of the $100 orientation fee for first-time undergraduate students, as approved in a recent referendum, and the $42-per-term fee for the graduate student dental plan. These "ancillary" charges are not covered by the provincially imposed freeze on tuition fees.

Athough fees for UW's core programs can't be increased this year, because of the government's freeze, the board approved adjustments to the fees for several "full cost recovery" programs, such as the Master of Taxation program, where costs go to $2,290 per half-course. New fees were approved for the new Master of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering program ($2,500 per half-course) and the Bachelor of Applied Science in Nanotechnology, beginning later this year ($1,121 per half-course, to a maximum of $5,000 per term).

President David Johnston spoke briefly about the issue of mandatory retirement for faculty members -- and, if Ontario law is changed to forbid automatic retirement at 65, other employees as well. "We may or may not see a bill introduced for first reading," the president said, predicting that legislation won't pass until at least late this year.

Provost Amit Chakma said the curriculum for the new pharmacy program, approved by the university senate a few days ago, has been sent to the government for the necessary approvals there. As planning for the pharmacy school in downtown Kitchener goes ahead, he said, "we are having active discussions with the two hospitals" (Grand River and St. Mary's) about basing their pharmacy services at the UW site, something that would provide teaching and research opportunities for the school. In answer to a question, Chakma said UW will pay "a fee for services" to the University of Toronto, which will provide curriculum material, some teaching and other services, such as admissions, to the new school.

Laura Talbot-Allan, the vice-president (university relations), told the board that $239 million has now been raised by Campaign Waterloo, which is 92 per cent of the original $260 million goal. The full $260 million figure could be reached by June, she said, and certainly by early fall. But there's likely to be an "extended target" as campaign-style fund-raising will continue towards the original deadline date, the university's 50th birthday in 2007. Talbot-Allan noted that some of the original campaign projects aren't funded yet, while new projects have come along -- including quantum computing, the school of pharmacy and the Research Institute for Aging -- to boost the total that UW needs from its friends.

And the board approved UW's 2005-06 operating budget, which includes a deficit of about $1.3 million, to be covered by the accumulated surplus from past years. "This is a good news budget by default," Chakma told the meeting, noting that he had foreseen a 3 per cent general spending cut and managed to pare it down to 1 per cent. Revenue is expected to be up by $19.8 million from the current year, as recent enrolment bulges are reflected in more tuition fee revenue and "growth" grants from the province. But salary increases, new hiring and other costs will more than eat up that additional funding. "If we had more money, we would have sent more money to the faculties," Chakma said, but there will still be some $6 million in "strategic investments" including a $1.2 million fund for entrance scholarships.

WHEN AND WHERE
UW-ACE Instructors Group meets 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, registration online.

English proficiency examination 7 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Auditions for this fall's production of "Single and Sexy", 6 to 9 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience presents theologian Marilyn Legge, "Diversity as Moral and Spiritual Resource", Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall.

Happening today on the campus

The four-day Graduate Student Research Conference winds up today, with more presentations from 9:00 to noon in Davis Centre rooms 1302 and 1304. (One of the few titles that I can actually understand: "Development of a Cell Line from Haddock Embryo".) Then at 1:00 there's a panel discussion on "Mentoring and Graduate Supervision", held in Davis 1302 and featuring a presentation by David Malloy, associate dean of graduate studies and research at the University of Regina. The day, and the conference, will wind up with an awards reception from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Festival Room of South Campus Hall.

Co-op education and career services holds more "mandatory pre-departure sessions" today for students who are heading for spring term co-op jobs outside Canada. Sessions are at 9:30 for "USA-bound students sponsored by CDS International or other USA visa sponsorship agencies", unless they made it to a similar session yesterday; at 2:30 for students going international to countries other than the USA"; and at 4:30 for "USA-bound students sponsored by AIPT or other USA visa sponsorship agencies". All the sessions are in Tatham Centre room 2218.

The English Language Proficiency Exam will be given tonight at 7:00 in the Physical Activities Complex, and Ann Barrett, manager of the proficiency program, is expecting a bit of a crowd. "The April exam usually attracts a few hundred writers," she says, "but this year we are expecting many more students as the faculties have been cautioning their students to write the exam before their enrolment is blocked." Bring your WatCard, she advises those who will be writing this last ELPE session of the year. Also bring "pencils, pens, ideas, but no electronic gadgetry".

Leaders of UW's staff association will hold a first meeting today with newly-appointed "area representatives". President-elect Stephen Markan, of information systems and technology, explains the plan: "During the open meetings hosted by the Staff Association Executive, many staff thought that the Staff Association needed a better means of communicating and discussing information. One idea that had strong support was creating a network of Area Representatives. The basic idea was that the UWSA Executive could discuss and exchange information with the Area Representatives about current issues facing staff at UW. Our first meeting will try and better define what the Representatives would do, and discuss some means of keeping up a good line or communication between the UWSA Executive, Area Representatives and the Staff Association membership as a whole." More representatives are still wanted, he says -- there's an application form on the association's web site.

CAR


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