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Monday, April 24, 2006

  • 'Associates' work with NSERC chairs
  • New director for Accelerator Centre
  • Turn my collar to the cold and damp
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Guelph Spring Festival


[Back to back with BlackBerries]

Omar Ramahi and Oussama Damen are "associate chairholders". Bryn Gladding Photography.

'Associates' work with NSERC chairs -- reprinted from the annual report of the engineering faculty

Strong growth continues in Electrical and Computer Engineering, with seven new faculty members since 2003. Two recent arrivals -- both associate chairholders to NSERC industrial research chairs -- are Oussama Damen and Omar Ramahi.

Oussama Damen holds the NSERC/Nortel Networks Associate Research Chair in Advanced Telecommunications. Working in wireless communications, coding, and information theory, he has zeroed in on space-time coding: that is, coding for multiple antenna arrays to improve data transmission and quality of service for handset communications devices. Space-time codes co-authored by Damen have become standards in the literature.

The complex functions (voice, e-mail, and video) of today's devices are vulnerable to poor-quality signals, Damen notes. A solution is to send multiple replicas of the signal over better channels. One project tackles "co-operative diversity -- how to allow a handset to use other (idle) handsets in the vicinity as virtual antennas in order to enhance the quality of the communication." When developed, this technology could lower users' costs and improve service.

Omar Ramahi holds the NSERC/RIM Associate Research Chair in Intelligent Integrated Radio/Antenna Systems and Novel Electromagnetic Media Technologies. His research tackles electromagnetic noise, a growing problem that can degrade the performance of antennas, impede cell phone operation, and even affect wireless airplane and medical equipment. The problem is severe enough, Ramahi says, "to limit the spread of wireless technology in key sectors of the electronics industry."

His proposed solution: filters or resonators made of electromagnetic band gap (EBG) material. The challenge is to miniaturize these filters to fit smaller electronic devices, while maintaining their effectiveness over a broad range of frequencies. To meet the challenge, he will explore the physical operation of small resonators, as well as novel materials needed to build them.

[Applause in front of plaque]

China link: Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student affairs), takes part in a ceremony last week at China's Dalian University of Technology, expanding the links between Dalian and UW that have already led to joint research in environmental protection and water resource management.

New director for Accelerator Centre

The board of directors for the Accelerator Centre, which is about to open in UW's north campus Research and Technology Park, has announced the appointment of Gerry Sullivan -- a former UW faculty member and business executive -- as chief executive officer. Sullivan will be taking over the reins of the Accelerator Centre from its first executive director, Dan Melymuk.

"Over the last two decades," a news release notes, "Sullivan has been involved in the founding, development and management of several advanced technology companies that utilize modelling and simulation software. These have included Priiva Corporation, Northern Dynamic Inc., Open Options Corporation, Dantec Systems Corporation, Waterloo Engineering Software and Open Models Incorporated.

"Prior to 1990, Sullivan was a member of UW's Faculty of Engineering. His research specialty was large-scale process optimization and control, and he has authored many research publications and consulted widely. Sullivan was educated at the University of Waterloo (Bachelor of Applied Science, BASc) and Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, England (PhD 1977, chemical engineering). He is also a graduate of Stanford University's Executive Business Program (1992)."

Gerry Thompson, UW associate vice-president and the chair of the Accelerator Centre's board, said: "Dr. Sullivan brings just the right mixture of entrepreneurial experience and enthusiasm to drive this exciting venture in commercializing technology and nurturing new business." Sullivan said: "I am anxious to begin the exciting task of turning this facility into a world class centre for entrepreneurship."

The formal opening of the Accelerator Centre is scheduled for May 18. The plan is for the building to "encourage the growth of high-tech firms and act as a catalyst for the creation of new products and services. It will provide a fertile environment to commercialize the innovative work done in universities and colleges, hospitals and laboratories, and in private sector research facilities. It is intended that the Accelerator Centre will provide a broad range of services, including IP (Intellectual Property) management consultation, mentoring, access to professional service providers, community networking events and investor matchmaking with innovators. Common services, including office and meeting space, administrative services, etc. will be available to clients, who will be encouraged to commercialize their ideas."

WHEN AND WHERE
Weight Watchers at Work 10-week program begins 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5136B. Information: ggoodfel@math.uwaterloo.ca.

'Nodes and corridors' principles for urban design in Waterloo: public meeting, Waterloo City Hall council chamber, 7 p.m.

David Suzuki speaks and reads from his autobiography, Tuesday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre, sponsored by UW bookstore and alumni affairs. Theatre tickets sold out; overflow area (video lecture) tickets available, $2, Humanities box office.

Smarter Health Seminar: Judith Shamian, VON Canada, "New Strategies for Health Care in the Home", Wednesday 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series: Andries van Dam, Brown University, "Immersive Virtual Reality in Scientific Visualization", Thursday 4:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 101.

Robot Racing involving eight teams from three universities, Friday 1 p.m., greens north of Math and Computer, spectators welcome.

Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner Saturday 6 p.m., South Campus Hall, information ext. 5433.

Tech Leadership Conference sponsored by Communitech, May 11, Bingeman's Conference Centre. Communitech May 11

Turn my collar to the cold and damp

Maybe it'll dry out a bit in time for today's President's Mile, the glamour event of the three-day employee "Wellness Fair". There's a busy schedule of events for the fair, beginning at 9:00 today with a morning-long keynote talk by "Canada's stress guru", Eli Bay, in Davis Centre room 1350. "It can be life-changing," he writes, "to discover that the unavoidable stresses of life can be so much better managed when you deliberately turn on the self-healing mechanism in your nervous system." At 12 noon, there's the run (and associated Scott Wellness Walk), starting outside the Davis Centre. Later in the day come "Introductory Yoga", "Core Stability", and (at 7 p.m.) "Bridging the Gap to Retirement". More talks are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday along with a group of vendors in the Davis Centre lounge.

With the winter term over, and rooms in Ron Eydt Village not needed for undergraduate students during the spring, the busy conference season is under way. Over the next four months, groups ranging from folk dancers to cryptographic researchers will be using REV for gatherings long and short. Most of this summer's gatherings are modest in size, although 600 participants in the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour of southwestern Ontario are expected for a weekend in August. As things get going this week, there are some 20 participants in a workshop sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries, hosted by UW's library, and later in the week a gathering of 200 psychology students. Training for spring term dons will also be taking place in the Village starting tomorrow. It's also worth noting that the "REV Motel" is in operation from now through late August, with rooms available individually for visitors to Waterloo.

This week between terms, many UW services will be operating on a reduced schedule. The libraries (both Dana Porter and Davis Centre) will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield will be open 8 a.m. to 5:30 Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Only a few food services outlets are open, including Brubaker's in the Student Life Centre, Tom Horton's in the Davis Centre, Browsers in the Dana Porter Library and Bookends in South Campus Hall. Tim's in the Student Life Centre is also open, but considerably retrenched from its usual 24/7 schedule: better make time for Tim Horton's between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. this week.

The annual fire drills in most campus buildings are scheduled for tomorrow, says director of safety Kevin Stewart. Four major buildings -- the Davis Centre, Math and Computer, CEIT, and Carl Pollock Hall -- "do not require drills," he notes. Elsewhere, these buildings will have fire alarms between about 8:15 and 11:30, in this order: Optometry, Health Services, Physical Activities, Humanities, Student Life Centre, PAS, Modern Languages, Environmental Studies I and II, Needles Hall, Dana Porter Library, Tatham Centre, South Campus Hall, General Services, Commissary, Matthews Hall, Chemistry II, Earth Sciences and Chemistry, Biology I and II. Then from 1:15 to 2:15: East Campus Hall, Doug Wright Engineering, BFG, Engineering II and III, Physics. If the weather is bad or other things go wrong, alarms will be postponed and likely not rescheduled, Stewart says.

CAR


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