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Thursday, January 19, 2006

  • Space review looking at future needs
  • Optometry records going electronic
  • Election issues and other notes
Editor:
Chris Redmond
credmond@uwaterloo.ca

Dolly Parton is 60


[Three heads close together]

Waterloo's team came second in the Canadian University Science Games, held last weekend at the University of Windsor. Participants "compete for points through challenges in the areas of academics and athletics in a friendly educational setting". UW won in the Cascade Challenge, "the biggest event of the games," says co-captain Alina Sobiesiak, "where students had to coordinate a set of chemical reactions and physical steps to perform a simple task. Ours was the only apparatus that didn't need any sort of human interference." Three team members are seen working on another of the events, a scavenger hunt.

Space review looking at future needs

Information is still coming in from departments across campus as a working group of senior officials does a Space Needs Review for the university's future.

The project was started last summer. "The purpose," its terms of reference say, "is to ensure that space needs for both academic and academic-support units can be satisfied, now and in the future. For example, without attention to space needs, it will be challenging to expand graduate student enrolment and enhance research intensity" -- two key objectives that officials have stated over and over.

Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student affairs), is heading the project, and says it can be seen as a key supporting activity for the Sixth Decade planning process, now under way.

"Key elements related to space needs," say the terms of reference, "are ensuring that existing space is being used effectively, identifying needs to upgrade/renovate older space, and ensuring future space needs are understood and incorporated when adding new academic plans or expanding existing ones, or changing academic support unit activity."

Reminder: students can elect senators

The university secretariat has invited nominations for the following undergraduate student seats on the UW Senate:

One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts, one from the Faculty of Environmental Studies or Department of Independent Studies, and one from the Faculty of Science, term from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2008.

One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering, and one from the Faculty of Mathematics, term from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2007.

One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students at large, term from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2008, and one from the same group, term from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2007.

Nomination forms are available online or from the Federation of Students office. At least five nominators are required. Completed nomination forms should be submitted to the Chief Returning Officer, Secretariat, NH 3060 no later than 3:30 p.m., Friday, January 20. Elections, if necessary, will coincide with the annual Federation of Students' elections (February 14-16).

There are various formulas for how much space a department needs, with measurements made of offices, labs, studios, classrooms, research areas, meeting rooms, social space, storage and so on. Departments have been asked to double-check the existing records of their space, and work on documenting its quality, meaning the amount of work that might be required to bring it up to date -- some of UW's buildings are more than 40 years old.

The project is to to "project anticipated space needs" for the short term (three years), medium term, and long term (up to ten years into the future), based on current activities as well as possible expansion -- especially the proposed boom in graduate enrolment.

It will take a special look at whether extra space can be included in any new building projects -- for example, classrooms for university-wide use, or a block of office space, added to a wing that's being built primarily for one department.

The working group heading the project includes provost Amit Chakma, vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber, and interim vice-president (university research) Alan George, as well as Mitchell. He said last week that departments are now expected to have their reports in by the end of January. Then they'll all be reviewed by the UW space information and planning office, which reports to him.

Optometry records going electronic

Two years of work are starting to bring results this week for Maher Shinouda of UW's school of optometry, as he trains instructors there in how to use how what he has dubbed the Electronic Optometric Medical Record. In another few days, students will be using it as well.

The EOMR is an electronic replacement for the paper file in which an optometrist traditionally makes note of a patient's personal data, eye measurements, visual ability and prescriptions. The UW optometry clinic has tens of thousands of such records in colour-coded folders, crammed into metal shelves in a back room.

Shinouda -- with a background in veterinary medicine and then computer science -- was hired by the optometry school to lead its record-keeping into the computer age. Similar things are happening in other branches of health care, as Electronic Medical Records are starting to exist in doctors' offices, and health informatics experts are looking ahead to a comprehensive Electronic Health Record for each individual that would include everything from x-rays to prescriptions. "To provide future optometrists with a contemporary education," he says, "it is important that they are trained using the methodologies and equipment that they will encounter in practice."

In the narrow field of optometry, several software systems are on the market already, Shinouda says, but none was ready for the challenge of the UW school, which operates seven specialty clinics in its Columbia Street building -- paediatric optometry to low vision services -- and offers tests and diagnoses beyond the range of individual doctors' offices.

He ended up working with one vendor, P&P Data Systems, developing an EOMR that will include everything the optometry school needs (and, incidentally, can talk to its administrative computer system about such things as appointment scheduling and billing). "The examination record is arranged," he explains, "in the standard SOAP format." That means the optometrist records Subjective data, Objective data, Assessment information, and a treatment Plan.

[Shinouda] Paper records can get lost, or be stuck on somebody's desk when somebody else needs to look at them, Shinouda (right) explained in a seminar he gave in November introducing the system to faculty members, and another talk for the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research.

And there's more: Handwriting can be unclear, and it's just about impossible to search paper records, let alone collect data about a large number of patients. Electronic records are the answer, he says. Yes, practitioners (and instructors) may have to "leave our comfort zone" and work in a somewhat new way, he admits -- but he insists that in the end, electronic records will help improve healthcare delivery as a whole.

The new system is being introduced gradually. Computers were installed during the fall term in the "pre-clinic" area where first-year and second-year students learn clinical techniques. Within a few days, they'll start using them to fill out the first part of an EOMR as they learn a variety of examination techniques. "They'll learn one part of the system this semester," says Shinouda, "and we'll build on that."

As students learn to use it, the system will be evaluated for usability and performance, and issues such as server load, security and privacy will be studied. Implementation in the public clinics is "perhaps a year away", says Shinouda, depending on the outcome of the pre-clinic experience. Detailed planning is still to be done for converting existing paper records to electronic form.

Election issues and other notes

First, some words from the Forum for Independent Thought student group about a special event today: "Reducing the GST. Better financial support for students in need. More money for the military. Higher farm subsidies. Better gun control. More checks and balances for the PM. Childcare funding -- or childcare credits. Quebec. Gay marriage. All important election issues, but none of them simple. Some may seem obvious coming from the horse's mouth, but the reality is often much more complex. With Election Day coming up next Monday, it's crucial that we students as stakeholders in Canada understand the facts and details behind the political rhetoric. And hence, the Forum for Independent Thought's Election Extravaganza continues this week with an in-depth look at all the important election issues and a comprehensive comparison of party platforms. Undecided voters can explore their choices and make an informed decision, while decided voters can share their opinions and rationale to further cement their choice. All will learn more about the issues through organized discussion groups broken down by topic with seasoned moderators to facilitate. "Join FIT in the Great Hall, Student Life Centre, to learn about the facts behind the party platforms, decipher the media spin, and discuss your opinions with other students from all over campus!" Today's event starts at 5:00.

WHEN AND WHERE
Blood donor clinic today 10-4, Friday 9-3, Student Life Centre.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents John Baker, Desire2Learn Inc., "The Early Challenges of Building a Global Technology Company from Just an Idea," 12 noon, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Engineering staff update on faculty planning, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session 4 p.m., Needles Hall room 1101.

Engineering exchanges to France information meeting 4:00, Rod Coutts Hall room 112.

UW Crew general meeting 4:00, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre; repeat event Monday 4 p.m.

Graduate studies in mathematics information session 4:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Montréal alumni networking reception 6 to 8 p.m., Salon des Voûtes, Nordheimer Building. James Hoblyn, engineering graduate and Bombardier vice-president, will speak on his experience in the aerospace industry. Details online.

Centre for Family Business, Conrad Grebel University College, breakfast seminar: Doug Crowne, UW psychology, "What Good Leaders Can Do to Inspire Motivation," Friday 7 a.m., details online.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 to noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Centre for International Governance Innovation lecture Friday by Andrew F. Cooper, "Rethinking Canada's Humanitarian Intervention Strategy", has been cancelled.

Employee Assistance Program noon workshop: Marilyn Perdue, counselling services, "Eating Mindfully", Friday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

International student orientation to Canada, Friday 5 p.m., and reception, 8 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre.

St. Jerome's University presents theologian Gregory Baum, "Muslim-Christian Relations After 9/11", Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall. Gregory Baum

Volunteer fair Tuesday, 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre.

Students interested in international development might want to get involved in a planned UW branch of World University Service of Canada. An organizational meeting is scheduled for 5:30 today in Tatham Centre room 1208. "A student refugee supported by the Wilfrid Laurier University WUSC will be there to speak," writes environmental engineering student Hammad Din, "and I will be using the wonderful WUSC resources to make a PowerPoint presentation on this Student Refugee Program with hopes we could start the SRP at UW."

Nominations close tomorrow for Federation of Students executive positions, and the campaign will begin at the end of the month, with voting scheduled for February 14-16. Students will also be asked to vote on two fee referenda, according to ads published by the Federation. One asks, "Do you support the implementation of a non-refundable Academic Services Fee, assessed at $10 per term for full-time students?" The other, for students in arts: "Do you support the creation of an Arts Endowment Fund at a refundable cost of $12 per term, to be paid by all full-time undergraduate arts students at the University of Waterloo with the exception of arts students registered through the School of Accountancy, and to be administered under the proposed constitution?" An organizational meeting for the referenda is being held today at 3:00 in Student Life Centre room 2134: "Students interested in forming committees should attend."

The UW Stage Band is in need of trumpet, trombone and bass players (call 271-1488 or attend a rehearsal Monday at 7 p.m. at Conrad Grebel University College). . . . Monday is the "fully graded date" when marks from fall term undergraduate courses become official on Quest. . . . Tomorrow is ski day at Collingwood for engineering alumni. . . .

UW was successful in its recent bid to host the 2008 Canadian Engineering Competition, which attracts top engineering students from across the country, says a news release from UW's media relations office. A UW committee won the event at the recent annual congress of the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students. The CEC is an annual event that includes competitions in both technical and socially based areas. "The Canadian Engineering Competition is the culmination of engineering competitions across Canada," said Brandon Malleck, a leader of the bid committee on behalf of the student Engineering Society. Through six competitions, students are challenged to demonstrate their skills in communication, leadership, teamwork and design. Competitors must prepare a written report detailing their solution and make a presentation or demonstration before a panel of experts from industry and academia.

The Keystone Campaign is motoring along and is now just 119 donors away from its headline-grabbing goal of 2,007 staff, faculty and retiree donors to UW by 2007. . . . The UW safety office has announced that Kate Windsor -- a UW kinesiology graduate with experience in ergonomics and rehabilitation -- has been hired to take the place of Angelo Graham, who recently retired as safety and WSIB officer. . . . The staff association has issued a call to its members for nominations for a staff seat on the UW pension and benefits committee. . . .

CAR


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