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Monday, January 31, 2005

  • Possible Kuwait campus is under study
  • Break today celebrates Keystone
  • Lounge will combat co-op stress
  • Internet's social effects 'unexpected'
  • Norway to Mexico to Waterloo
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day


[Crawling all over the bright red body]

Members of the Midnight Sun solar race car team -- 17 of them in total -- visited Diamond Aircraft in London, Ontario, on Saturday to build the aerobody (outer shell) of the next-generation car. "After a long day that started around 3:30 a.m.," writes Daniel Yum, "both the upper and lower aerobody sections were finished around 10 p.m. This is the first step in getting Midnight Sun VIII finished for the North American Solar Challenge set for July of this year." He adds that the Midnight Sun team is looking for enthusiastic members from all faculties on campus -- for more information, e-mail mail@midsun.uwaterloo.ca.

Possible Kuwait campus is under study

UW officials will ask the board of governors tomorrow to give them approval "to explore the feasibility of establishing a college of engineering in Kuwait".

A report distributed as part of the board agenda says the business case for the idea is "not clear yet" and a feasibility study is being done by consulting firm Ernst & Young on behalf of a company that would be "our financial partner in Kuwait" if the idea goes ahead.

"We are simply exploring various possibilities," provost Amit Chakma said Friday. "It is very early to say whether we'll do anything in Kuwait."

UW's president and dean of engineering made a fast visit to Kuwait in October, and now a two-person team has spent a week there, the board is being told. The visit was made by Bill Lennox, a former dean of engineering, and Gerry Sullivan, a consultant who is a member of the board.

Their report says they spent their time "in consultation and planning discussions for a private university in the form of an engineering campus", and they held "many meetings and extensive discussions with all those individuals who are knowledgeable about the needs of Kuwait and the Gulf region with respect to engineering education." That included talks with Kuwait University and the American University of Kuwait, government officials, and the Kuwait Society of Engineers, as well as E&Y consultants, "merchant banking financiers", and the company that would be the partner, The Golden Shahin Group. The visitors also looked at "potential sites" for a UW outpost.

"Demand for engineers in Gulf Coast countries would be strong," Lennox and Sullivan report, saying a "modified co-op program" would be popular. "University structure and size will be driven by student admission quality. We are, at present, looking at a model that admits 200 students/year."

The program would cover "five years including a Foundation Year", says the report. "There may be a ready supply of faculty members in the form of UW graduates now teaching in Middle East universities." But financial details are still very uncertain, and more information is needed.

"The team recognizes," Lennox and Sullivan write, "that the final contract will insist that UW maintain total academic and budget control."

Break today celebrates Keystone

Faculty and staff members are invited to a campus-wide "break" this morning -- a celebration of the Keystone Campaign reaching its $4.5 million goal. The event is scheduled for 9:45 to 10:45 in the great hall of the Student Life Centre.

"I'd like to express my sincere thanks to the many donors, volunteers, and sponsors in the campus community who are responsible for this outstanding success," president David Johnston wrote in a memo Friday. The Keystone Campaign is a segment of Campaign Waterloo for gifts to UW from staff, faculty and retirees.

Retired faculty and staff have been invited to today's event too, says Bonnie Oberle of the development office, who helped to organize it. She said people who work away from the main campus -- at the Architecture building in Cambridge and at Gage Avenue in Kitchener -- have been sent details about how to park on campus so they can attend this morning.

An evening event for staff on the night shift will be held "at a later date", the development office also says.

"I encourage all members of the UW campus community to attend," said the president's message on Friday. "Recognizing the importance of this initiative, I have designated the 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. period as paid work time for all UW staff and faculty to attend this special celebration. For those departments providing essential services and thus obligated to remain open during this one hour period, please try to make arrangements so that everyone has an opportunity to participate."

Lounge will combat co-op stress

As interviews begin today for spring term co-op jobs, the Federation of Students is opening a lounge in the Tatham Centre "to help alleviate some of the growing stresses of the co-op process".

Jeff Henry, vice-president (education) of the Feds, says the lounge in Tatham room 1207 will be open from 8:30 to 4:30 daily during interviews. Located behind the paging desk, the lounge includes couches, a public computer, and "a table for getting some work done".

ONE CLICK AWAY
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  • Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference coverage from Imprint
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  • UW robotics research featured on 'Daily Planet' (video, 'Brave-Bots')
  • Says Henry: "The Federation understands how stressful the process can be with students endlessly staring at the overhead monitors waiting to see their name. Perhaps an interviewer is running late or maybe you have a half hour or more between interviews, or maybe you need a few minutes to relax before going back to class. The Co-op Student Services Lounge will be there for you to take a load off and de-stress after or between interviews, for you to visit the website of the company you're interviewing with one last time, or even for you to catch up on a bit of work while you're waiting."

    He said the official opening "will be kept low key, as students in the Tatham Centre already have enough on their minds".

    Says Henry: "The use of this space was suggested by co-op students for co-op students and we certainly hope it is a service they will use. Of course, as usage grows, we'll have the opportunity to expand services provided and will look forward to any suggestions or comments."

    He noted that of approximately 19,000 full-time undergraduates who are represented by the Federation, about 12,000 are in co-op programs. More than 3,000 of them will be seeking jobs for the spring (May-to-August) term. Interviews in this "first cycle" continue through February 17. (And the UW Shop in South Campus Hall is marking the start of interview season with a 20 per cent sale on "all co-op resources", from UW crested pens to neckties.)

    Internet's social effects 'unexpected'

    "Cyberspace and Social Life" is the title of a new course being offered this term as Sociology 345, taught by soc professor Lorne Dawson.

    He's also the co-author of one of the textbooks for it -- Religion Online, published just last year. Dawson observes that "After sex, religion is probably the most pervasive topic of interest online, with hundreds of thousands of web sites and discussion forums dedicated to every manner of religious expression." So along with general discussion of cyberspace and social issues, the course will include "an ongoing examination of some of the consequences of this new communication technology" for religion in particular.

    The class meets twice a week. Its other textbook is Communities in Cyberspace; there's also a courseware package of readings.

    The course deals, its instructor says, "with the burgeoning research on the social implications of the media revolution introduced by the Internet. The rate of growth of the Internet is unprecedented, vastly out-stripping the speed and scope with which previous technologies, such as electricity, the telephone, and television, spread around the world. This month the number people online will surpass one billion. In just ten years of popular application the Internet has transformed how we 'do' almost every aspect of social life: from finding dates or jobs to stamp collecting and practicing religion.

    "As Marshall McLuhan would have predicted, social research on the uses of the Internet is discovering that the medium is having wide-ranging and often unanticipated consequences for the broader social context in which we live.

    "Many early studies of the Internet were very utopian in their speculations about the importance of developments in cyberspace. In reaction some later studies were quite dystopian. Current empirical research is showing the situation to be much more complex and interesting.

    "This course samples some of the findings of research into the impact of the Internet on such basic aspects of social life as the processes of identity formation and personal relationships, the existence and character of virtual communities, issues of deviance and social control, and forms of social protest and activism."

    WHEN AND WHERE
    'Longitudinal and Lifecourse Strategic Research Cluster' presentation of a research proposal by Paul Bernard, Université de Montréal, 2:30, PAS room 2030; more information from John Goyder, Southwestern Ontario Research Data Centre, jgoyder@uwaterloo.ca.

    Computational mathematics seminar: Marek Stastna, applied mathematics, "Three Years Among the Acronyms: A Computational Mathematics Look at Climate Modeling", 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

    'Making the Job Fair Work for You' career workshop 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. The job fair will be held Wednesday at RIM Park.

    Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System 90-minute training session Tuesday 10:00 or Thursday 2:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

    UW board of governors Tuesday 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

    New employee safety orientation Wednesday 10 a.m. Davis Centre room 1304.

    Perimeter Institute lecture by Leonard Susskind of Stanford University, "The Black Hole Wars", Wednesday 7 p.m., is fully booked, information online.

    FASS 2005 Thursday and Saturday 8 p.m., Friday 7 and 10 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

    Programming contest Saturday, February 5, 1 p.m., details online.

    Norway to Mexico to Waterloo

    Virginia McLellan of the undergraduate recruitment office is in Norway today, and here's why. "I will be in Norway to help build awareness of the University of Waterloo and the excellent programs that we have to offer Norwegian students," she writes. "While in Norway I will be visiting seven of the top high schools in three different cities -- Bergen, Stavanger, and Oslo -- and will also be participating in the largest education fair in the country, the Jobb & Utdanning fair. I will also visit one of our exchange partners, the University of Bergen, to present information to students interested in coming to UW on exchange. This is the fourth year that UW has participated in education fairs and high school visits in Norway. Norway provides UW with an excellent opportunity to attract high-quality students who have strong English language skills, and may be more sympathetic to our cold Canadian winters! Continuing to promote UW and increase our profile amongst high school and university students in Norway will hopefully show a positive increase in the number of Norwegian students applying to our programs."

    The university secretariat sends a reminder that a nominating committee is being formed for the position of vice-president (academic) and provost, and in particular that there are two staff seats open on the nominating committee. The seats will be filled by an election, and nomination forms for the two seats must be received by the secretariat no later than 3 p.m. on February 8 (a week from tomorrow). More information is available online.

    Imprint had a front-page story Friday itemizing some of the issues that will likely arise in the Federation of Students election campaign, which officially opens tomorrow. Among them: student fares on the local bus system. The paper notes that Becky Wroe, this year's Federation president, "has attempted conversations with the Grand River Transit regarding the non-refundable bus pass, which have been unsuccessful, and she is 'unwilling to suggest a non-refundable bus pass referendum'. In March, Wroe will attempt another route of communication with the GRT."

    A colloquium under the title "International Perspectives on Air Quality", sponsored by UW's Institute for Risk Research, is under way today in Cuernavaca, Mexico. . . . Saturday will be "UW Ski @ Chicopee Day" at Kitchener's Chicopee Ski Club, says the UW Recreation Committee. . . .

    The Waterloo Co-operative Residence Inc., just off campus on Phillip Street, is holding an open house today from 3:30 to 6:30. . . . Tomorrow's the deadline to register for the campus recreation program's Black Knight squash league (play starts Thursday). . . . Friday is the deadline for nominations for this year's Distinguished Teacher Awards. . . .

    CAR


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