[University of Waterloo]


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About the DB

Monday, June 13, 2005

  • Fuel cell team takes top honours
  • Keystone unveils its new focus
  • Pension risks are conference topic
  • Fees and REEP and RAID and more
Chris Redmond


[In pink bow tie and cummerbund]

Alan George, dean of mathematics 1980-86 and 1998 to date, will be the guest of honour today at a "Stepping Down as Dean Party", 3:30 to 5:30 in the Festival Room of South Campus Hall. He'll be succeeded by Tom Coleman in the dean's office as of July 1. George is continuing as associate provost (information systems and technology) until 2007.

Campaign event tomorrow in Davis

"To celebrate the achievements of Campaign Waterloo", people from across campus are invited to the Davis Centre tomorrow at 3:30. There will be refreshments, "the unveiling of an innovative sculpture", words from campaign leaders about the multi-million dollar support the Campaign is bringing in, and a "picture parade" illustrating how the campus has been changed by Campaign-funded projects. UW's award-winning cheerleaders are also expected to perform.

It's convocation week

UW's Ninetieth Convocation will be held in five sessions in the Physical Activities Complex: Wednesday at 2:00 for environmental studies, applied health sciences and independent studies; Thursday at 2:00 for arts; Friday at 2:00 for science; Saturday at 10:00 for mathematics; and Saturday at 2:00 for engineering.

Fuel cell team takes top honours -- from the UW media relations office

A Canadian vision of the vehicle of the future has taken top honours at a North American competition in Detroit. A team of Waterloo engineering students -- the only Canadian team in the competition -- beat out 16 top U.S. universities to win first place overall at Challenge X for their fuel-cell-powered vehicle design.

The team, sponsored by Natural Resources Canada and Hydrogenics Corporation, was the only one to use fuel cells for vehicle propulsion in their design to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"This is an incredible accomplishment," said a message from John Efford, federal minister of natural resources. "We can all share in their success as Canada continues to set new levels of achievement in greener automotive technologies." Similar congratulations arrived from Hydrogenics and from the sponsor of the competition, General Motors.

"This is the ultimate made-in-Canada success story," said David Paterson, a vice-president of GM Canada. "Canadian students using Canadian technology on a Canadian-designed and -manufactured vehicle are shining on the North American stage. All of us at GM Canada salute the University of Waterloo team's major achievement, and we look forward to more success from these remarkable students in the years ahead."

"It's very gratifying that our students have received these top awards," said Roydon Fraser, adviser for the UW team and a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department. "Significant advances are being made in the reduction of vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and the exciting solutions being explored by our students build on this momentum towards an even greener future."

The UW team will receive a new 2005 Chevrolet Equinox and a total cash prize of $19,500 US.

In addition to taking first place overall in this first year of the Challenge X competition, the team also won awards in the categories of Outstanding Web Site; Outstanding Outreach; Freescale Semiconductor -- Silicon on the Move; National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Virtual Instrumentation for Control Design and Simulation (3rd place); The Mathworks Crossover to Model Based Design; Best Project Initiation Approval Presentation; Best Control Strategy Presentation; Best Technical Presentation; and Best Written Reports (3rd place).

Challenge X is a three-year competition sponsored by GM and the United States department of energy. It focuses on the re-engineering of a General Motors crossover sport utility vehicle. Last week's four-day event at GM University marked the end of the first year of the competition.

[Race holding balls between knees]

Fun in the sun at Thursday's Keystone Campaign picnic.

Keystone unveils its new focus

Thursday's annual celebration of the Keystone Campaign -- an outdoor new year's party in the middle of a heat wave -- was also the launch of a new direction for Keystone, which has surpassed its original goal of raising $4.5 million for UW.

It was the fourth summertime event since Keystone was launched in June 2002 as the faculty, staff and retiree arm of Campaign Waterloo. This year volunteers, donors, friends and special guests got into the masquerade theme, played games, munched on refreshments and heard organizers explain how the campaign will move into the future as an annual fund.

The new goal is to achieve 2,007 Keystone donors by 2007, when Campaign Waterloo will end as UW marks is 50th birthday. "The campaign now has 1,600 donors," says Shelley Rudd of the Keystone working group, "and that leaves it just 400 short of the new ambitious goal!"

She sends this description of Thursday's event: "As with the usual tradition, a parade of faculty and staff travelled along Ring Road to the Matthews Hall green, the location where the festivities took place. Opening ceremonies included remarks from UW president David Johnston and Katherine Lithgow, the Keystone Campaign co-chair representing staff. Applause also swelled as organizers recognized the contributions that staff, faculty, and retirees have made to UW by counting down their collective years of service.

"Participants donned homemade masks, had their invitation/masks stamped at each activity to qualify for prizes, and enjoyed hot dogs with gourmet toppings, watermelon, fresh fruit, and ice cones with cherries as part of a free barbecue lunch. Door prizes were drawn near the event's close, with two grand prizes of a $300 USD voucher from Northwest Airlines going to Faye Schultz from combinatorics and optimization and Heather Wey from information systems and technology.

"The festivities continued into the evening with a coffee break for evening staff at the Festival Room in South Campus Hall. Speakers at the evening event included Laura Talbot-Allan, vice president (external Relations); Katherine Lithgow; and David McNee, pension and benefits representative from Canadian Union of Public Employees local 793." McNee spoke about the CUPE bursary fund, which now amounts to $81,099 raised through Keystone.

Says Rudd: "The new Keystone banner was unveiled at both events and will soon be visible on buildings around campus. As new donors come on board, puzzle pieces will be added to the banner to show the campaign's progress towards its 2,007 donors goal.

"The tremendous accomplishment of the Keystone Campaign illustrates the outstanding internal support that UW receives and acts as a convincing example for our friends in the broader community."

Accelerator Centre launches program

The launch of a mentorship network called the "Entrepreneurs' Council" will take place at the first annual general meeting of the Waterloo Research and Technology Park Accelerator tonight. It will be held at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West. Networking begins at 5:30, with the formal program starting at 6:00.

The Accelerator Centre is a key feature of the research park under development on the north campus. The centre will encourage the growth of high-tech firms and act as a catalyst for the creation of new products and services. The centre will provide a broad range of services: IP management, business practice, mentoring, access to professional service providers, community networking events and investor matchmaking with innovators. Common services including office and meeting space and administrative services will be available to clients who will move through a proactive process to commercialize their ideas and ultimately move to profitability.

Other highlights of tonight's meeting will be special presentations and the official introduction of the board of directors. Information: ext. 7887.

Pension risks are conference topic

Are pensions in crisis? What are the risks in the modern pension world? What can be learned from these risks? Those and similar questions are to be discussed at a one-day conference June 23 called Pension Crises: Dangerous Opportunities, being sponsored by two UW institutes and held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

Presented by the Institute for Quantitative Finance and Insurance and the Institute for Insurance and Pension Research, the conference will feature an "international panel of eminent authorities" to provide a fresh and independent perspective. It is aimed at pension plan sponsors and specialists, investment professionals, actuaries and professionals having responsibility for, or an interest in, pensions. Organized by faculty members Robert Brown and Phelim Boyle, it's sponsored by Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group, Eckler Partners Ltd., Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Munich Re Group.

The program is organized around four main themes: social security, financial economics, defined pension benefits and the risks of defined contribution plans, said Amy Aldous, IQFI's executive director.

Social security programs in many jurisdictions are being challenged to fulfill the retirement promises implicit in their design. In the developed world, life expectancies are increasing, so these programs will cost more. There is often strong political pressure to privatize these programs. The conference will provide an international perspective on these topics. At the same time, many pension professionals have not been well trained in modern techniques of financial economics or financial engineering, and the debate has been heated. Speakers will present both sides of this controversial topic.

Defined benefit pension plans -- like the one UW operates for staff and faculty members -- are under unrelenting attack. Because of poor investment performance and low interest rates many of them are underfunded (although UW's own plan is solvent and earned more than 9 per cent on its investments in 2004, the board of governors was told last week).

The collapse of some plans has put government guarantees such as the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. under severe strain. Corporations under financial pressure see the move to defined contribution plans as a way of both reducing their pension costs and making them more predictable.

When an employer switches from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, two important risks are passed to the employee: the investment risk and the longevity risk. The first risk means that there may not be enough money when the employee retires. The second risk is that the employee may outlive his/her income after retirement. Speakers will discuss the latest research on these topics as well.

IQFI was established last year to create a centre for research and advanced training in quantitative finance and risk management at UW. It coordinates related research activities in finance, mathematics, scientific computing and actuarial science. There are 21 faculty members from five departments or schools associated with institute.

Grant writing workshop for researchers in humanities, social sciences, and creative and performing arts, 1 p.m., Tatham Centre room 2218, reservations e-mail nsunderl@uwaterloo.ca.

Dance Adventure 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

'Thinking about an International Experience?' Career development seminar Tuesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Math Grad Committee information session for graduating mathematics students Tuesday 5:00, Math and Computer room 2066.

Staff orientation session Wednesday, 8:30 to noon, CEIT room 1015, all staff members welcome.

Web common look and feel update session organized by Web Operations Committee for web creators, Wednesday 9:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

25-Year Club annual reception Tuesday, June 21, 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, information ext. 2078.

Fees and REEP and RAID and more

UW's board of governors gave approval earlier this week to some more or less routine increases in student incidental fees. The Federation of Students fee rises from $30.46 a term to $32.30, the fee for the "student-coordinated plan" that built the Student Life Centre and Columbia Icefield additions goes from $30.27 to $30.97, and the Radio Waterloo (CKMS) fee rises from $4.50 to $5.50. Also formally approved: a fee of $34.25 per term for the dental insurance plan that was voted in by a Federation of Students referendum during the winter term. The changes are all effective in September.

"It seems totally appropriate," says a release from UW's media relations office, "that Clean Air Day on Wednesday, June 8, which seeks to raise awareness of clean air and climate change issues, was the date for the presentation of a congratulatory poster to Waterloo Regional Council on behalf of area residents. Residents are being recognized by the Residential Energy Efficiency Project for reducing 949 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions through home energy retrofits in 2004. Waterloo Regional Council is being thanked for its support of the project. REEP, a joint initiative of the UW faculty of environmental studies and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence, offers the EnerGuide for Houses service developed by Natural Resources Canada. Homeowners wishing to save money on energy bills, improve indoor air quality and reduce personal emissions of harmful greenhouse gases can benefit from a home energy evaluation."

Winner of this year's J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, presented by the faculty of mathematics each year, will be Garth Gibson, co-founder and chief technology officer of Panasus Inc., as well as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. Gibson, who earned a BMath from UW in 1983, has received various awards for his pioneering work in the field of information storage -- he's a creator of the concept of Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks, or RAID. Gibson will be on campus to receive his medal at Saturday morning's convocation ceremony, and will give a lecture Friday at 2:30 (Davis Centre room 1302) on "The Path from Physical RAID to Virtual Object Storage".

The Society of International Students -- in its last term before changing its status from "club" to a Federation of Students service -- has elected new officers. President for the spring term is mechanical engineering student Gerardo Salas Bolanos of Mexico; vice-president (graduate students), Andres Urrutia Bustos of earth sciences and Chile; vice-president (undergraduate), Alejandro Morales of combinatorics and optimization and Colombia; secretary, Zhenli Wei of chemical engineering and China; treasurer, Nancy Meng of actuarial science and China; communication secretary, Enoch Chan of engineering and Hong Kong.

The Warrior men's golf team was sitting in fifth place as the Canadian University and College Championships moved into the final round on the weekend. . . . In addition to University Avenue construction that's tying up traffic, crews are working to widen Columbia Street in front of the Townhouse complex, though traffic isn't being delayed there. . . . The UW Recreation Committee will run its noontime tour of the UW greenhouses tomorrow. . . .


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