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Monday, April 18, 2005

  • Awards for 'excellent' researchers
  • UK expert talks about learning
  • Business start-up camp next week
  • Notes in what looks like summer
Chris Redmond

National Volunteer Week

[Yellow car emerges from underpass]

Robot cars racing head-to-head on three tracks for a $1,000 grand prize -- that'll be the scene Saturday in the CEIT building. Ten teams of undergraduates have been preparing robots for the event, says graduate student Mike Peasgood, who organized it along with colleagues in the Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics. Saturday's racing starts at 1 p.m.

Awards for 'excellent' researchers

"Excellent" researchers will be honoured at UW again this year, and the deadline for nominations is June 15.

The "Awards for Excellence in Research" program created in 2000, is being continued, despite an earlier decision that it would be dropped now that the title of University Research Professor has been introduced, says the office of the vice-president (university research).

The "excellence" awards exist "to recognize distinguished research achievements of UW faculty members", their terms of reference say. "The Award provides a $1,500 grant for research to four recipients annually: two from Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environmental Studies and the Federated & Affiliated Colleges; and two from Engineering, Mathematics and Science. Normally, tenured University of Waterloo faculty members are eligible for nomination. A faculty member can receive this Award only once."

Nominations can come from deans, department chairs, or individual faculty members, and are to be sent to the vice-president (research). "The nominators will be expected to provide all relevant information needed for adjudication." Details are listed in a document that's available from the VP's office, which makes clear that the standards involve "research activity and scholarly impact (as opposed to abilities as a teacher and/or administrator), including evidence of international research recognition".

There's a nine-member Research Excellence Awards Review Committee, chaired by the VP, which will look at nominations and make the decisions.

From the criteria: "In assessing excellence, the term 'research' must be interpreted in its broadest sense, referring to any original, productive scholarship in any of the disciplines of investigation and learning in the University.

"The Committee will give cognizance to differences among disciplines in terms of funding levels, time to publish, and nature of publications or other scholarly contributions. The Committee considers peer evaluation of the international impact of research as the determining factor.

"In general, nominees will have achieved a high level of internationally recognized research production in their disciplines. This will commonly be a major part of the evidence supporting a nominee's case. Other evidence may include awards and fellowships, invited and other scholarly presentations, and novel applications such as creative writing, design, fine and performing arts."

The award winners "receive special recognition" at fall convocation.

Election of graduate students to senate

From the university secretariat:

Nominations for the election of two graduate student representatives to Senate closed at 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, 2005. There will be an election; the candidates are:

Atefeh Mashatan, Combinatorics & Optimization
Lawrence Brett McAllister, Civil Engineering
Douglas Stebila, Combinatorics & Optimization
Maria Ziegler, Biology

From 8:00 a.m., Monday, April 25 to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, full- and part-time graduate students will be able to cast their vote at the secretariat website. Brief profiles / statements supplied by the candidates will be posted on this site as well as voting instructions.

UK expert talks about learning

Wednesday will bring the Presidents' Colloquium on Teaching and Learning, featuring a British expert speaking on "How Does 'Great Teaching' Relate to Student Learning?"

The event, hosted by UW president David Johnston and faculty association president Roydon Fraser, is organized by the Teaching Excellence Council. It will start at 3:45 Wednesday in the Humanities Theatre.

The speaker is Keith Trigwell, reader in higher education and principal research fellow in the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning at the University of Oxford. Trigwell is the co-author of Understanding Learning and Teaching: The Experience in Higher Education. At the institute, he directs the learning and teaching research program, which includes investigations into teaching and the student learning experience at Oxford.

In his talk, Trigwell is expected to describe the results of research studies showing how successful learning outcomes are associated with an understanding between approaches to teaching and approaches to learning. "The best learning approaches are found to be more strongly related to one type of teaching approach than to others," says an abstract.

"Great teachers think about and approach their teaching in ways that are different from their colleagues. The differences are more to do with the focus of their teaching than with the methods they use in their teaching. There are parallel differences in the ways students approach learning, and in the resulting outcomes of their learning."

The Teaching Excellence Council, composed of 20 award-winning UW teachers, was launched last year to provide direction and advocacy to advance teaching and learning at UW. It's chaired by Tom Carey, the associate vice-president (learning resources and innovation).

Business start-up camp next week -- from the UW media relations office

A former federal cabinet minister, Sinclair Stevens, is one of the speakers at the fourth annual Business Start-up Advantage Camp for entrepreneurs, to be held April 25-28 at St. Jerome's University.

UW Innovate is a not-for-profit entity, wholly owned by the university. The camp attracts enterprising undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and alumni from all academic programs, as well as enterprising individuals from the local community. The program is aimed at anyone with definite plans to launch or participate in a new venture.

Stevens is well known for his work as minister in charge of industrial development in the 1980s. For example, it was during his tenure as minister that Toyota and Honda plants were established in Cambridge and Alliston. He will give his speech on Wednesday, April 27, at 1 p.m.

In recent years, he has travelled extensively in a number of official roles including as chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society Foundation, as well as advisor to the Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canada-Pakistan Business Council. His speech will focus on the new and emerging opportunities which exist for Canadian entrepreneurs both in Canada and on the world stage.

Besides Stevens, the business camp features a number of prominent professionals, including Jim Love, of True North Consulting, who will focus on how start-ups can rapidly develop, communicate and implement winning strategies and business plans; Ingmar Borgers, intellectual property lawyer of Miller Thomson, who will cover legal and IP management; accountant George Dube, who will speak on accounting and tax issues; and Eric Sundin, CEO, and Scott Murphy, human resources manager, both of dataPerceptions, and Eric Meger, CEO of AccessT, who will co-chair forums on human resources and team building.

A limited number of participants are admitted to each business camp, sometimes described as the "start-up boot camp". Participants spend four intensive days in discussions and at hands-on workshops.

Most of the 90 participants from the past three years have given rave reviews to UW Innovate as the organizer and to the more than 20 individuals representing the local business community. Professional speakers and discussion leaders lead the participants through the camp's focused, practical business start-up topics each day. The past camps, and the follow-on services coordinated by UW Innovate, have helped many previous participants to get their new ventures off the ground. Other participants have reported that they are still using the information and insights gained at the camp to assist in their planning for a future business start-up.

The camp is part of a series of programs to provide students, alumni, faculty and staff with the tools, and year-round support they need to turn their business ideas into new operating companies. This year, True North Consulting joins as a sponsor of the camp.

Notes in what looks like summer

UW's senate holds its monthly meeting at 4:30 today (Needles Hall room 3001). Agenda items include a presentation from the Federation of Students and the Graduate Student Association (along the lines of "student services from the perspective of a student", says Feds president Becky Wroe). There's also a report on "the next phase" of UW internationalization, from the Advisory Committee on International Connections. The president and provost will report as usual, and there's a proposal for creation of an Undergraduate Research Internship Program.

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

'Blogging and Academic Life' workshop sponsored by LT3, 11 a.m., Dana Porter Library room 329.

Nanotechnology seminar: M. P. Anantram, NASA Ames Research center, "Modeling Framework for Emerging Nanodevices", 11:00, CEIT room 3142.

Computational mathematics seminar: Jeff Z. Y. Chen, physics, "Simulating Protein Folding Pathway and the Need of Distributed Computation", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

The God Awful Noise (electronica, experimental) plays the Graduate House tonight.

Euclid Contest for grade 12 math students, sponsored by Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, tomorrow.

'Tips on Purchasing and Financing a Vehicle', credit union seminar, Tuesday 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations ext. 3574.

University of Wales information session on study and research at Bangor, Tuesday 2:30, Needles Hall room 1043, information phone ext. 2288.

School of architecture student projects exhibition continues through May 8; opening reception Tuesday 6:30, Design at Riverside, Architecture building.

Ellen Roseman, Toronto Star business columnist, speaks on "The Dollars and Cents of Post-Secondary Education" Wednesday 11:30, Kitchener Holiday Inn, sponsored by Greater K-W Chamber of Commerce.

Among agenda items for the senate tonight is an end to the Wetlands Research Centre in its present form. "This Centre will be re-constituted as a Research Group," and possibly made into part of "a much larger entity", a note in the agenda says. Headed by Barry Warner of the geography department, the centre has been around since 1992; its research includes a high-profile project involving rehabilitation of the damaged marshlands of Iraq.

Thermometer rising: Nobody has won the UW weather station's contest yet -- to guess when the temperature will hit 20 Celsius for the first time this season -- but that could change in the next few hours.
Grades from last week's English Language Proficiency Exam are ready, and can be found in departmental undergraduate offices or the Writing Centre office in the PAS building. . . . Mary Stanley of the library office is among people from the Waterloo area who are running the Boston Marathon this morning. . . . The continuing education program is offering a course on "The Art of Influencing Difficult People" this Friday (call ext. 4002 for last-minute information). . . .

This coming Sunday will bring a major utility shutdown to campus, for the sake of electrical equipment repair in the central plant. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be no power to the buildings on roughly the north half of the campus, which includes the Student Life Centre, the Davis Centre, Matthews Hall and Math and Computer. That means no heating or hot water anywhere on campus, as the central plant will be largely out of commission. It also means computer networks will be shut down starting about 7:30 a.m. And the Davis Centre library will be closed Sunday. I'll be saying more about this shutdown later in the week.

Dana Evans, formerly of the Federation of Students staff, is taking over as manager of public affairs here in the office of communications and public affairs. She'll play that role -- which includes, among many other things, some of the responsibility for the big Canada Day celebration on the north campus -- for a year, while my colleague Nancy Heide is away on maternity leave.

"Want a great deal before you graduate?" asks a note from retail services, pointing out to students that the Campus TechShop (on the lower level of the Student Life Centre) has some bargains on software, such as Adobe Acrobat Professional listed at $56, and Macromedia Studio MX 2004 at $120 -- a fraction of "the street price".

"Twilight golf tickets at Rockway or Doon are available," says a note to staff and faculty members from the UW Recreation Committee. . . . Nada Basir, graduating with a degree in biology, has been named valedictorian for the June 17 convocation ceremony on behalf of science students. . . . Annual statistics on UW's Internet use have been posted, showing that the total megabytes in and out are about 70 times what they were ten years ago. . . .

The English Language Institute at Renison College is holding a Language Teaching Colloquium on Thursday, May 5. "The idea," writes Julia Williams from Renison, "is to bring together language teaching professionals from across the many language teaching departments at the University of Waterloo (and Wilfrid Laurier University too) to share ideas and discussions regarding teaching languages in an academic environment. We have arranged for Dr. David Wood, an expert in fluency development, as a plenary speaker, and we have a program set up that will run the full day. Participants can attend a variety of presentations hosted by on campus language professors and instructors. A lunch and wine and cheese at the end of the day are part of the event. The program and registration form are online."

Writing the other day about Learning Innovation Fund grants for this year, I said the maximum grant was $20,000, but associate vice-president Tom Carey advises that the limit has been changed to $15,000. . . . The Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, is holding a one-day seminar on "Models of Family Business Philanthropy" this Thursday. . . . With the winter term whimpering to its end, today is the last day of operation for the Ron Eydt Village cafeteria. . . .


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