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Thursday, April 14, 2005

  • Students explore technology in art
  • Graduate student survey under way
  • Energy efficiency forum in Cambridge
  • Assorted announcements and notes
Chris Redmond

Pan American Day

Students explore technology in art

Fine arts and engineering students are combining their skills to explore the possibilities of technology in art in a special exhibition called "t'art 05" that opens today. It runs through Saturday in Davis Centre room 1301 (noon to 6 p.m. daily). The show opens with a ceremony today at 4:30.

[What is that thing in between them?]

Fine arts professor Bruce Taylor, left, and electrical and computer engineering professor Rob Gorbet show off one of the works produced when Fine Arts 392 was offered for the first time last year.

The exhibition will feature sculptural work from the Technology Art studio course, Fine Arts 392, that was launched last year and that involves engineering students working side-by-side with art students. A catalogue of the resulting work is available online.

Writes fine arts student Leah James: "Over the past four months, students have been working to create sculpture that responds to the recent innovation of coupling technology and art as artistic expression. Using non-traditional sculptural media, the students have incorporated electrical components and industrial materials into the work, while at the same time considering historical and contemporary art practices.

"The Davis Centre, designed to resemble a computer chip, is a hub for technology study on campus. Architecturally, the location represents the effect of technology on our society. The exhibition complements the building by examining the importance of technology in art. So far, the students have transformed their working space at the Fine Art studio into something similar to an engineering workshop. Next Thursday, they will transform their exhibition space in Davis Centre into a meld of art and technology."

The students involved in the three-day show are Jeff Alfonsi, Sarah Badran, Jillian Catton, Patrick Cull, Derek Gokstorp, Natasha Graham, Ryan Grant, Jahan Kargar, Matt Lamb, Bonny Lau, Matt Millard, Ric Nixon, Jennifer Skerratt, Stefan Smeja, Dawn Strafrace.

"Organizers recognize the generous support of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), UW's Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Arts in the presentation of the exhibition," James writes.


She has five degrees from four post-secondary institutions, but the first one -- the BA she earned at Waterloo while living at St. Paul's United College -- has a special place in her heart. Elizabeth McKinley, a United Church minister who now works as a registered marriage and family therapist in Owen Sound, is recognized in the 2004 UW donor report for her continuing gifts to St. Paul's, which she calls "an expression of gratitude and appreciation for what it's been for my life. . . . Looking back I realize what a place of community, belonging, and connection it was for me." Support from her, and from others like her, "has allowed St. Paul's to increase its financial assistance to students in need through scholarships and bursaries", the report stresses.

Graduate student survey under way

If you're a graduate student, why did you choose Waterloo? A survey now under way is asking that question as well as others about teaching quality, financial support, "intellectual community" and other issues.

Bob Truman, UW's director of institutional analysis and planning, notes that until quite recently there were three major graduate student experience surveys vying for participation by graduate schools in the United States: one managed by Rutgers; another administered by Duke; and a third managed by the Higher Education Data Service. "In order to maximize institutional participation in a single survey instrument, MIT took a leadership role in consolidating the three survey instruments into the GPSS. They further undertook the development of a web-based version of the survey.

"Several Canadian graduate schools (Waterloo among them) had for some time wanted to administer a survey of the graduate student experience, and when approached, MIT was delighted to customize the survey for Canadian use and to make the service available to us. At present there are eight universities administering the survey: British Columbia, Laval, McGill, McMaster, Toronto, Waterloo, Western, and York."

The survey is online and was announced by e-mail to grad students on April 6. Responses are wanted by tomorrow, Truman says. "The survey has been approved by the UW Office of Research and the process involves an e-mail invitation from David Johnston, UW's President, to each graduate student asking them to participate in the study. Students who choose to respond complete a web-based form on the MIT web space. Once the survey has concluded, the data file of Waterloo's responses will be returned to Waterloo. A number of the universities intend to pool the results and perform comparative analysis.

"We hope to obtain a better understanding of the needs and perceptions our graduate students have of their graduate experience at Waterloo."

The basic survey has been augmented by a few questions to which Ranjana Bird, UW's dean of graduate studies, wanted answers, Truman says. Among them: "Please indicate one or more reasons for choosing your current institution for graduate work," with suggested answers including "Reputation of the university/program", "Reputation of a specific professor as a research/scholar", "Uniqueness of the program" and finances.

Also being asked specifically at Waterloo: "Do you feel that you are provided with an adequate research infrastructure and office space?"

Truman's office is administering the survey through MIT, with help from the graduate studies office. When results are complete, Truman said, they'll be posted on a UW web site. Inquiries can go to him by e-mail (truman@uwaterloo.ca) or phone (ext. 4793).

Energy efficiency forum in Cambridge -- from the UW media relations office

A special forum for showcasing renewable energy, energy efficiency and other environmental issues will take place at UW's school of architecture as part of "Earth Day in Cambridge" on Friday, April 22.

The event -- at the third-floor "Loft" in the Architecture building on Melville Street South -- will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It is hosted by the Residential Energy Efficiency Project, a joint initiative of UW and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence. Featured at the event will be displays from local environmental organizations highlighting solar and ground source heating systems as well as options for living more efficiently.

Presentations will be given starting at 11:30 a.m. by Cambridge mayor Doug Craig, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro president John Grotheer, and One-Tonne Challenge Waterloo Region coordinator Jessica Kwik, among others.

During the event, 100 free compact fluorescent light bulbs will be given away for those who bring in their old incandescent bulbs or who are winners in a free draw.

The Cambridge celebration of energy efficiency and clean sources of energy, marking the worldwide Earth Day on April 22, is happening at a crucial time in terms of Ontario's capacity for electricity generation. The removal of coal-fired generators from service and the aging state of existing nuclear plants places Ontario in a supply-demand challenge. By 2020, Ontario will need to make up 25,000 megawatts of capacity which equals 80 per cent of the current electricity generating capacity.

The Earth Day in Cambridge event is meant to help establish the "culture of conservation" called for by the Ontario Government. At the event, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro will announce a new incentive package known as EarthWise to encourage their customers to invest in energy efficient technologies and reduce household energy consumption.

Assorted announcements and notes

There's "a pre-renovation celebration" today in Bon Appetit, the Davis Centre cafeteria, which is about to disappear in its present form. Lunch is the busy time there, so from 10:30 to 2:30 today there will be specials at the Chopsticks and Jolly Chef counters. Door prizes are also promised. Tomorrow's the last day of business for Bon Appetit and the adjacent Tim Horton's outlet -- a "makeover" is planned during the summer, with both establishments "coming back in style" on August 22, food services says. (Through the spring term, while Tim's in Davis is closed, the 24-hour Tim's in the Student Life Centre is available, and the Tim's outlets in Modern Languages and Optometry will also be open their usual hours through the spring term.)

Five winners have been announced -- I believe they each get an iPod as their prize -- from the recent Graduate Student Research Conference. Presenting the best "judged oral presentation" were Beatrice Orchard of history in the social sciences and humanities category, and two winners in the science and technology category: Sameena Haque of optometry and Robin Blanchard of health studies and gerontology. "Best judged poster presentation" awards went to Nigel Gopie of psychology (social sciences and humanities) and Kuo-Feng Tong (electrical and computer engineering).

Course design workshop sponsored by teaching resource office, 9:30 to 12:30, details online.

Touring Players children's performance, 10:00, 11:45 and 1:30, Humanities Theatre.

'Improving Learning Outcomes in Accounting Through Use of a Learning Object', accounting professor Bob Sproule, 11 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

The Machines play the Graduate House tonight (mop-top, mod rock).

IST professional development seminar with demonstration of new features in the Peoplesoft Student Administration System (Quest), Friday 8:45, Math and Computer room 2009.

Used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 to 1, First United Church, King and William Streets.

UW Shop sidewalk sale Monday and Tuesday, 9;30 to 4, South Campus Hall concourse.

A major power shutdown is scheduled on campus for Sunday, April 24, which would already be one of the quietest days of the year, right after the end of exams. Steve Breen of information systems and technology writes: "There will be no power available to 17 buildings, including the Math and Computer Building, which hosts campus computer and network infrastructures. IST will be required to shut down all servers and network facilities and restore them to service after power is restored. Estimated total downtime is from 7:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Campus users who still have power in their buildings will not be able to connect to central services or to off-campus services. The only equipment that will remain operational is the campus telephone system and the ORION network equipment to provide service to the WLU, Conestoga College and Western Ontario campuses. Generators will be used to keep such equipment operational." Purpose of the shutdown: plant operations is doing major repairs to equipment in the central plant.

The chemical engineering department is holding a day-long "retreat" today near campus. Says department chair Tom Duever: "The retreat is part of the Vision 2010 academic planning exercise, which the faculty of engineering is currently involved in. It is the second retreat for our department. The first retreat took place on February 4 and focused on assessing our strengths and weaknesses, while this retreat will focus on developing a plan for the future and will involve a lot of brainstorming and discussion about future directions in our academic and research programs." Vision 2010, in turn, feeds into the university-wide "sixth decade" planning process.

Tuesday will be the deadline for nominations as the staff association chooses its 2005-06 leaders (and the 2006-07 president, who will serve as president-elect during the coming year). Nominations for vice-president, secretary, treasurer, two directors, and the president-elect can be made on a form that was sent to association members last month or can be downloaded from the association web site. "Feel free to contact any member of the current 2004-05 executive, who will be more than willing to answer any questions or concerns," suggests Sue Fraser of the kinesiology department, who chairs the elections committee.

UW's Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology co-sponsored a one-day "strategic leadership forum" last week for some 53 business people wanting to know more about "emerging developments in strategy execution". . . . A symposium on the management of Canada's water resources runs Friday and Saturday at Wilfrid Laurier University. . . . Watch for more information about the annual "business start-up boot camp" to be held April 25-28, sponsored by UW Innovate. . . .


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