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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

  • UW team 4th in math contest
  • Topic today is water conflicts
  • Corrections and today's happenings
Chris Redmond

101 years of Joan Crawford

[Golden bowl]

The Genius Bowl will visit the Bombshelter pub tonight after one of the engineering classes wins possession of it in the hardest-fought contest of the term, scheduled to start at 4:30 in Coutts Hall room 101. "This is the third running of the competition," writes Matt Strickland of systems design engineering, one of the organizers, "and interest continues to skyrocket. This term we were forced to allow only 30 teams (that's 180 people) to participate due to the limited size of RCH 101. Furthermore, 21 of the 34 classes on stream are being represented." The two-hour trivia competition welcomes spectators, and Strickland notes that "tradition has it that the winning team take the trophy on a victory lap the Wednesday night of the competition" -- hence the Bombshelter visit.

UW team 4th in math contest

A Waterloo team placed fourth in this year's William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, a competition that for decades has represented the pinnacle of achievement for North American math students.

Team coach and UW math lecturer Ian VanderBurgh notes that by coming fourth, "Waterloo placed among the most prestigious universities in the United States and Canada." Top-ranking teams this year were from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, and Duke, with CalTech coming fifth behind Waterloo.

"Doing this well in the Putnam is like making the Final Four in basketball," said statistics professor Christopher Small, who organized the local competition along with VanderBurgh. "As in basketball, where the top four American colleges or universities have the prestige of being the Final Four, so in mathematics, the top five universities in Canada and the United States are called the winning teams."

Since 1985, Waterloo has been in the top ten of the Putnam for all but two years.

Waterloo was represented this year by students Olena Bormashenko, Ralph Furmaniak and Michael Lipnowski. "All three team members had outstanding results," said VanderBurgh. Bormashenko was ranked 13th among all the 3,733 students who wrote across North America. Furmaniak and Lipnowski earned Honourable Mentions, both with ranks in the top 60.

Other Waterloo students who were not on the team also did well. Xiannan Li was ranked 23rd, and Cory Fletcher earned an Honourable Mention. "Our congratulations to all these students, and to all of the 54 UW students who wrote the Putnam," said VanderBurgh. Overall, 21 students from Waterloo were ranked in the top 500.

In this most recent competition, Canadian universities continued to produce very strong results. The University of Toronto obtained an Honourable Mention, which goes to teams ranked between 6th and 10th place. "The Putnam Competition is a vehicle for showcasing some of the best math students on the continent," said Small. "Over the years, Canadian universities such as Waterloo and Toronto have obtained results comparable to those of the most elite private colleges and universities in the U.S." VanderBurgh points out, "Of the top 74 students in this year's Putnam, 11 are students at Canadian universities, and these 11 were all active participants in the Canadian secondary school mathematics contest system."


Topic today is water conflicts -- from the UW media relations office

"Whisky's for Drinking. Water's for Fighting Over" is the topic of the TD Canada Trust/Walter Bean Visiting Professorship in the Environment lecture, being given this afternoon.

Frank W. Schwartz (left), a professor of geological sciences at the Ohio State University and an active researcher in field and theoretical aspects of mass transport, contaminant hydrogeology and groundwater geochemistry, will give the lecture at 3:30 in the Humanities Theatre. The lecture is open to the public at no charge.

Schwartz will be using Mark Twain's alleged words as his theme to discuss issues contributing to conflicts in water resources in North America and elsewhere. People have been fighting over water resources because of the problems of drought, population growth, profits and politics. The main issue he will stress is that freshwater resources are finite. Rapidly increasing populations pressure what freshwater resources there are through pollution of surface water, mining of groundwater faster than it can be replenished, and disruption of ecosystem function. In many countries, feeding expanding populations requires that a significant fraction of freshwater be used for irrigation for agriculture.

Ngoc Nguyen, a first-year undergraduate student in applied health sciences, is the latest recipient of the Walter Bean Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation Scholarship.

The TD Canada Trust/Walter Bean Visiting Professorship provides students with an opportunity to study with ranking experts active in the fields in which they plan to work. The trust was founded in 1992 by the late Walter Bean, president of Waterloo Trust, which merged with Canada Trust (now TD Canada Trust). It is intended to promote a legacy of community involvement and commitment to youth, education and community, and involves the UW faculties of environmental studies, engineering and science. The professorship brings exceptional researchers with international reputations in engineering, science and environmental studies to give lectures, teach classes and meet with professors and students.

Previous lectures have been delivered by former federal cabinet minister Flora MacDonald; Kelly Thambimuthu, a senior scientist with CANMET Energy Technology Centre of Natural Resources Canada; Jorg Imberger of the University of Western Australia, an expert on water flows and water resources; Jeffrey Luvall, a senior research scientist at Marshall space Flight Center in Alabama; Joseph MacInnis, president of Undersea Research Ltd. of Toronto; and University of Alberta professor David Schindler, one of Canada's leading researchers in freshwater environmental science.

LT3 workshop: Katherine Acheson, department of English, describes the online teaching modules she is creating, 10 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library.

Stress Relaxation Series continues: "Expanding Focus", 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program.

Career workshop: "Writing CVs and Cover Letters" 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Smarter Health seminar: Sarah Friesen, Shared Healthcare Supply Services, "The Opportunity of Supply Chain Management in Healthcare", 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Chartered accountancy information night 3:30 to 9 p.m., rooms throughout Tatham Centre.

Novelist Lewis DeSoto reads from A Blade of Grass, 4:00, St. Jerome's University room 3014.

AIDS in Africa: Anurita Bains, assistant to United Nations envoy Stephen Lewis, speaks 4:30, Biology I room 271, sponsored by UW International Health Development Association.

German exchange programs information session about Braunschweig and Hamburg-Harburg, 4:30, Davis Centre room 1304.

'A Night of Stars': Campus Recreation Recognition Night, 5 p.m., dinner in South Campus Hall, ticket information ext. 7126.

Department of French studies inaugurates the Salle de Lecture Pierre-Dubé in honour of a faculty member who died last year, Modern Languages room 355, reception (by invitation) from 7 p.m., ML foyer.

'From Intrapreneurship to Entrepreneurship', talk by Ray Simonson of Software Innovation, Thursday 12 noon, Needles Hall room 1101, information ext. 7167.

FIRST Robotics Competition begins in the Physical Activities Complex; practice rounds 3:00 to 5:00 Thursday, spectators welcome.

Graduating fine arts students exhibition in UW art gallery, East Campus Hall, opening reception Thursday 5 to 8 p.m.

Jewish studies lecture: Byron Shewin, Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, Chicago, "Editing Life: The Golem in the Biotech Century". Tuesday, March 29, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.`

On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Data entry assistant, food services, USG 4/5.
  • Computer support specialist, Computer Science Computing Facility, USG 9-12.

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Corrections and today's happenings

    I wrote yesterday, and also last week (when nobody noticed the mistake), that the fee paid by undergraduate students to the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group is $4.25 each term. In fact it's $4.75. The fee ("refundable" but not "voluntary") is the subject of a referendum called by the Federation of Students; voting runs next Monday and Tuesday.

    And the day before yesterday, I had some inaccurate information about the Arts Computer Experience children's camp, which comes of not checking things more carefully when I get them. This summer's session is "ACE 2005", not "ACE 2004", of course, and the camp will run (in two-week sessions) July 4 through August 26.

    Brubakers cafeteria in the Student Life Centre is celebrating its 10th birthday today -- did you know cafeterias have birthdays? -- and although ten years ago it was actually 1995, the theme of the day's event is the 1980s. "Most students that are here now grew up in the 80s," explains Jeannie Watt of food services, who adds that the theme was actually chosen by a co-op students who's working in her office this term. "For some fun 80s prizes," she goes on, "I've purchased Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Dolls. We've got some great tunes to play as well!" Games and other events run from 11:00 to 2:00, and there are lunch specials at $1.99 and dinner specials at $4.99.

    It's the climactic day for the UW Apprentice project, and Derek Ng, one of the organizers, writes to describe this three-day event "that integrates all the elements of the famous TV show into a unique University atmosphere . . . business wit and knowledge of textbooks is put to the test in a challenging team-based contest. With over 120 applications, 32 contestants were chosen for UW Apprentice and put into four teams. UW Apprentice was the brainchild of a group from the Entrepreneurs Association of UW and ACE Waterloo. We wanted to create an event where students could really be exposed to the vigours of everyday business while being set in a fun and interactive environment for everyone to see. Waterloo is generally not known as a business school, and this is a great opportunity to show people our true capabilities. On Monday, teams were challenged to selling a batch of Sugar Mountain candies inside the SLC and South Campus Hall. After two hours of pure Sales Rush, the Arts Rush team proved to be most outgoing and effective. On Tuesday, the Village I cafeteria was transformed into a restaurant as teams were put to the Service Crunch. Satisfying students, especially frosh, can be a hard enough task, and the teams were evaluated by the students on their service. The Finale Boardroom event concludes today in the SLC Great Hall from 3:30 to 5:30. It is open to everyone, and many items such as an iPod Shuffle in addition to free pizza and drinks will be given away. As for the final challenge, teams will be required to put together innovative marketing presentations to be evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges. The winning team will be awarded the UW Apprentice title, and given a $500 Scholarship plus numerous other prizes."

    The Campus TechShop will "showcase the Apple Collection", including the new Macintosh Mini and iPod Shuffle, from 10:00 to 3:00 today in the multipurpose room of the Student Life Centre. . . The UW Recreation Committee has discount tickets to the Garden Show this weekend at Bingemans in Kitchener. . . . A bit on the early side, the cafeterias in Village I and Ron Eydt Village are offering Easter dinner tonight. . . .


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