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Monday, April 3, 2006

  • ES laser maps the campus
  • Board of governors under review
  • PhD oral exams are scheduled
Chris Redmond

National Napping Day

[Grebel to PAC to UW Place]

Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper shaded relief map of the UW main campus. Buildings are clearly visible, as are trees and cars. Green areas are areas of low height while grey (such as the Dana Porter Library at centre) represents maximum height. The ALTM measurements were made Saturday, March 11. Image © Optech Incorporated.

ES laser maps the campus -- by Richard Kelly and Andrew Smith, from the environmental studies e-newsletter

Earlier this month, in what sounds like a scene from a Hollywood sci-fi movie, a plane flying over the University of Waterloo fired laser pulses at the campus, not to destroy UW but to map it.

Remote sensing specialists Anne Grant, of the Mapping Analysis and Design group, and Richard Kelly, of the Department of Geography, worked with Optech Inc. of Toronto to fly an Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper over UW as part of a project-based course in which students learn about remote sensing.

The ALTM instrument makes very accurate measurements of land surface height. Pulses of laser light are sent from an aircraft to the ground to create a map of elevations. In addition to measuring height, the ALTM also measures intensity of the return signal, which can be used to provide information about the land surface character.

Lidar (light detection and ranging) measurements are used in many aspects of urban and regional planning and environmental resource management. The technology has been deployed in several coastal regions and river flood plains around the world for insurance companies to evaluate flood risk. Optech's lidar systems were flown over the site of the former World Trade Center after 9/11 and over New Orleans and the entire affected Gulf Coast region after Hurricane Katrina as part of disaster management efforts. When combined with other remote sensing measurements, the ALTM is a very powerful tool for environmental management applications.

This kind of data provides a tremendously rich source of information for students to learn about cutting-edge technologies in surveying and mapping. The involvement of Optech is very welcome, especially with the geography department proposing a new undergraduate geomatics program to start in 2007. With two new faculty members in geomatics to be hired this year, the environmental studies faculty has a growing internationally respected group of experts in remote sensing and Earth observation, geographic information systems, and spatial analysis.

Grad research conference opens

The annual Graduate Student Research Conference opens tonight with an 8 p.m. keynote talk by Canadian general, senator and author Roméo Dallaire. A few last-minute $2 tickets for his speech in the Humanities Theatre will go on sale at 7:00, and the talk will be carried on video to Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Tomorrow through Thursday, more than 150 graduate students will give presentations about their work on topics ranging from waste-water collection to the way German is spoken in Kitchener-Waterloo. Sessions will be held in the Davis Centre, and a full schedule is on the web.

Anne Grant is an environmental remote sensing specialist in the Mapping Analysis and Design group. She supports many of the remote sensing and wider geomatics needs of the ES faculty. She is also undertaking a master's degree in geography, in which she is examining the role of prescribed fires through modeling a variety of fire scenarios.

Richard Kelly is a remote sensing scientist with research interests in global environmental change of the cryosphere. He currently manages the NASA and Japan Aerospace and Space Exploration's daily snow water equivalent products that provide estimates of global snow water storage from measurements made by NASA's Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer -- EOS instrument. These estimates are being used to assess seasonal changes to the cryosphere in response to global environmental change.

Mike Sitar, a recent graduate of UW's Master of Environmental Studies program, is flight services supervisor at Optech. Canadian-owned and operated since 1974, Optech is a global market leader in the development, manufacture and support of advanced laser-based surveying, mapping and imaging instruments.

Board of governors under review

UW's board of governors will meet tomorrow afternoon and take a first look at a report by a special "governance review committee" that is recommending a clearer statement of exactly what the board does and how it exercises its power.

The committee, headed by former board chair and Brookfield (Brascan) executive Bob Harding, is also calling on the board to put some current practices down on paper, reshuffle its committees, and ensure that "the Board can function independently of management".

It doesn't recommend any change to the membership of the 36-person board -- something that would require an act of the Ontario Legislature. The board includes seven government appointees, ten "community-at-large" members chosen by the board itself, seven faculty members, five students, two staff, three local government leaders, and UW's president and chancellor.

The Harding committee is recommending that the board list its "core responsibilities", which would include "appointment of the President and officers of the institution, assessment of their performance and determining their compensation", "strategic planning oversight", "risk management oversight", "financial management oversight including approval of UW's audited financial statement and its annual operating budget", "property management oversight", "communication strategy including ensuring the effectiveness of UW's internal and external communication systems", "regulation of conduct of all members of the University community including adoption of policies and monitoring of compliance", and "preservation of institutional autonomy".

It's also calling for new conflict-of-interest rules for board members, based on the "Sarbanes-Oxley" reforms to corporate governance standards in the United States. Members would be required to file an annual conflict-of-interest declaration.

The report calls for a new Governance Committee, which would be responsible for Board membership issues as well as what's now done by the "senior officers' evaluation and compensation committee".

There would also be a new University Advancement Committee to advise the board on "external and internal communications, fund-raising, alumni relations, donor stewardship, development and public relations; this, to enhance the University of Waterloo's competitive position."

Last day of classes in arts, science, AHS and environmental studies. Exams begin Thursday in all faculties.

Open enrolment for undergraduate spring term courses begins today on Quest.

Computational mathematics colloquium: Fadil Santosa, University of Minnesota, "A Mathematical Problem Arising in Design of Ophthalmic Lenses", 10:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

School of Optometry opening celebrations for downtown clinic and contact lens research centre, Victoria School Centre, 25 Joseph Street, 12 noon.

Electronic grade submission demonstration for instructors, 3 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113 (repeated Tuesday and Wednesday).

Faculty association annual general meeting 3:00, Math and Computer room 1085.

Senate executive committee 3:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group annual general meeting 5 p.m., Environmental Studies I courtyard.

'1230 Phillip', exhibition of work by graduating fine arts students, continues through Thursday, East Campus Hall gallery.

'Waterloo Science Horizons' immersion program for high school students taking part in Waterloo-Wellington Science and Engineering Fair, lab tours followed by "The Physics Show", Tuesday afternoon.

FASS Theatre Company annual general meeting Tuesday 6 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

British architect Alison Brooks speaks on "Research, Fusion, Infrastructure", Tuesday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, in the Arriscraft Lecture Series.

Employee Assistance Program presents "Digging Deep: Clearing Up Clutter" Wednesday 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158.

English Language Proficiency Exam Wednesday 7 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Peter Burroughs, registrar's office, retirement open house Thursday 3:30 to 5:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Open Text opening celebration of new building in the north campus Research and Technology Park, 275 Frank Tompa Drive, Friday 10:30 a.m.

Among other governance recommendations, the committee calls for a procedure for anonymous complaints ("whistle-blowing") under UW's ethical behaviour policy, and suggests that the chair of the board of governors, rather than the chancellor, should chair the nominating committee that picks UW's next president.

The report will get brief discussion tomorrow (2:30, Needles Hall room 3001) and will be back on the agenda for the board's June meeting.

PhD oral exams are scheduled

Here's the latest list of graduate students who are approaching the oral defences of their doctoral theses.

Systems design engineering. Sarbast Rasheed, "A Multiclassifier Approach to Motor Unit Potential Classification for EMG Signal Decomposition." Supervisors, M. Kamel and D. Stashuk. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 18, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 2584.

Systems design engineering. Ossama El Badawy, "Algorithms for 2D Shape Analysis Using Concavity Trees." Supervisor, M. Kamel. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, April 20, 9 a.m., Davis Centre room 2584.

Civil engineering. Ying An, "Extreme Value Models for the Estimation of Design Wind Speed." Supervisor, M. D. Pandey. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, April 25, 9 a.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Biology. Marianne T. K. Hopkins, "Characterization of Genes Involved in Development and Senescence." Supervisor, J. E. Thompson. On deposit in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, April 27, 9:30 a.m., Biology I room 266.

Electrical and computer engineering. Hai Jiang, "QoS-Oriented Resource Allocation in Wireless Multimedia Communication." Supervisor, W. Zhuang. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Tuesday, May 2, 10 a.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Chemistry. Yan Wang, "Laser Desorption Solid Phase Microextraction." Supervisor, J. Pawliszyn. On deposit in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Tuesday, May 2, 1:30 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

Electrical and computer engineering. Farzaneh Kohandani, "Application of Nonlinear Optimization Techniques in Communication Systems." Supervisor, A. K. Khandani. On deposit in the faculty of engineering, CPH 4305. Oral defence Thursday, May 4, 1 p.m., CEIT room 3151.

Biology. Stephanie J. DeWitte-Orr, "A Study of Innate Antiviral Mechanisms Using Fish Cell Lines." Supervisor, N. C. Bols. On deposit in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Friday, May 5, 3 p.m., Biology I room 266.


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