[University of Waterloo]


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Thursday, May 4, 2006

  • UW signs nanotech pact with Albany
  • Federal budget adds research funds
  • Getting active in the spring
Chris Redmond

Kent State University, 1970

[Five in gowns and hoods]

A record six graduates received Master of Theological Studies degrees from Conrad Grebel University College at its recent spring convocation. Five are pictured: Michelle Cameron, Kerrie Engler, David Nicol, Janet Bauman and Chip Bender. The MTS is given directly by Grebel and is not a UW degree. The April 9 convocation ceremony also recognized students associated with Grebel -- more than 50 of them this year -- who will be graduating from UW in June. Duncan Taylor, graduating in systems design engineering, was valedictorian, speaking on behalf of the student group, and urged classmates to "give of themselves: give your time, give your energy, and give your heart." James Reimer, professor at Grebel and the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, gave the keynote speech.

UW signs nanotech pact with Albany -- from the UW media relations office

UW has reached a collaborative agreement with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany, State University of New York. Anthony Vannelli, associate dean (research and external partnerships) in UW's faculty of engineering, and James Castracane, CNSE's associate vice-president for science and technology, recently signed a memorandum for an exchange of information in nanotechnology, including technical, economic, education and business. As well, it will identify and enable the development of international collaboration and partnerships.

"We look forward to the educational opportunities," Vannelli said. "This collaboration will be highly beneficial to Waterloo because the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is the first college in the world devoted exclusively to the development and deployment of innovative nanoscience concepts, and its facilities are unparalleled in the academic world."

Says Castracane: "We are pleased to engage in this new partnership with the University of Waterloo, which is recognized internationally as a leader in the emerging science of nanotechnology. Our collaborative work will foster new research that will be invaluable to each institution. At the same time, it will provide yet another global alliance that will be beneficial to the students, faculty and industrial partners at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering."

The two institutions are planning to strengthen educational ties with undergraduate students in nanotechnology programs at UW and CNSE, along with graduate students having access to top-level facilities at both campuses.

Alain Francq, business development officer for UW's nanotechnology program, said UW and Canada's Technology Triangle are fostering and seeking relationships and collaborations in nanotechnology in the local area, as well as across Canada and around the world.

UW offers the only stand-alone undergraduate program in nanotechnology engineering in Canada. The multi-disciplinary program provides learning through 48 specially designed science and engineering courses for nanotechnology students, 29 comprehensive laboratories and 24 months of co-operative work experience.

UW is building the $70-million Quantum-Nano Centre to house the more than 500 nanotechnology undergraduate students anticipated by 2010, an expected enrolment of 125 graduate students and the growing number of faculty members who work in nanotechnology. The 225,000-square-foot advanced centre, which will accommodate the nanotech program and Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing, will feature a tri-cluster laboratory focusing on nanofabrication, nanometrology and nanobiosystems.

UW and Albany signed the collaborative agreement at a roundtable event organized by the Consulate General of Canada in New York, involving more than 40 experts in nanotechnology from Ontario, Québec, Alberta, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. At the event, Vannelli and Castracane spoke on behalf of their organizations and expressed their commitment to bringing about real collaboration between the two institutions. The experts also gathered to learn about developments in nanotechnology research, as well as fostering discussion and facilitating cross-border collaboration in nanotechnology.

The Consulate-led event focused on three key areas of nanotechnology: life sciences, advanced materials/energy and photonics/electronics. Besides learning more about research activities at more than 30 institutions, participants discussed the different funding sources, both public and private. They looked at the availability of funding for cross-border collaboration, including joint research activities, sub-contracting research and commercialization assistance for joint projects.

CNSE is located in the most advanced research complex of its kind at any university in the world. The $3-billion, 450,000-square-foot complex attracts corporate partners from around the world and offers students a one-of-a-kind academic experience. The complex is also home to CNSE's New York State Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics.

Federal budget adds research funds

New funding for the "indirect costs" of university research, such as utilities, library resources and accounting services, is one feature of Tuesday's federal budget. Finance minister Jim Flaherty announced $40 million for that purpose in the coming year, as part of $100 million in new annual research funding.

"The increased investment will raise the average reimbursement rate to about 27 per cent of the direct costs of research," said a statement from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, calling it "an important step in the right direction". Indirect funding will now be $260 million a year.

The other $60 million in new annual funding will be distributed through the granting councils and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. "Over the coming year," says a background paper to Flaherty's budget, "the Minister of Industry will be developing a science and technology strategy, in collaboration with the Minister of Finance, that will encompass the broad range of government support for research, including knowledge infrastructure. The Government will also undertake a review of the accountability and value for money of the granting councils' activities."

AUCC also said it welcomed the budget's other announcements, including a $1 billion trust fund that will be turned over to the provinces and territories for one-time spending on higher education. "The Post-Secondary Education Infrastructure Trust," says the budget, "will support critical and urgent investments to promote innovation and accessibility."

But some responses to the first budget from Stephen Harper's Conservative government said it wasn't doing enough for education. "Students are disappointed," says a statement from the UW Federation of Students, "that the Federal Government did not fully take the opportunity to respect their university and college funding commitments made in the past election. Despite a $10-billion surplus and a promise to slow the growth of the federal government, the Conservatives proposed nothing to trim the growth of student debt and little to reduce the barriers to education that low-income, aboriginal, rural, and other students face."

Feds vice-president (education) Jeff Henry, who took office just a day earlier, conceded that "Students welcome the elimination of federal income tax on scholarships and bursaries and the expanded eligibility for Canada Student Loans. Those measures will reduce the claw-back on some student support and allow more students to attend universities and colleges, albeit with higher levels of debt. However, to ensure that every Canadian has the ability to attend and succeed in high quality universities and colleges, the government must reinvest in universities through a dedicated transfer, expand up-front access grants, and reform the student financial assistance system."

The loan changes are effective in August 2007, as set out in the budget papers: "Currently, post-secondary students from middle-income families may be eligible for full or partial Canada Student Loans, depending on their needs assessment and the number of siblings attending post-secondary education. By expanding eligibility for Canada Student Loans through a reduction in the parental contribution that is expected from them, the Government will provide enhanced direct assistance where it is needed most -- in the hands of students.

"It is estimated that such an improvement would enable an additional 30,000 students from families with incomes in the $65,000 to $140,000 range to gain access to student assistance. It would also enable 25,000 current student borrowers to increase the amount of the loans they receive."

As for scholarships and bursaries, they are exempt from income tax, but until now there has been a $3,000 limit on the exemption. That's being removed, Flaherty said. He also announced a tax credit for the cost of textbooks, which the government thinks will provide a tax reduction of about $80 a year for an average student.

Along with the budget, the government released a companion paper entitled Restoring Fiscal Balance in Canada that commits it to greater "transparency" in budget planning and fiscal arrangements and notes the need to clarify the responsibilities of federal and provincial government in areas of shared jurisdiction including postsecondary education, training and research.

D-Force dance festival continues through Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Environmental studies colloquium: Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, "The Water Scenario in India and the Proposal for Interlinking of Its Rivers", 12 noon, Environmental Studies I room 221.

Uptown Waterloo public square study public workshop 6:30, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, details online.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: "Sharepoint Experiences," Friday 8:45, IST seminar room.

UW Accounting Conference with speakers and case competition, Friday-Saturday, details online.

International student orientation Friday 10:00 to 2:00, Graduate House, sponsored by international student office; additional event Friday 5 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre, sponsored by student life office.

Bicycle auction sponsored by UW Bike Centre, Friday 12:30, Student Life Centre courtyard.

Rapid-Cycling Event around the ring road in support of mental health awareness, Saturday 8 a.m. starting outside Student Life Centre, information at health services.

Tech Leadership Conference sponsored by Communitech, May 11, Bingeman's Conference Centre, keynote speaker Terry Matthews, March Networks.

Getting active in the spring

With a new term under way, registration for campus recreation programs is under way -- intramural sports leagues this week, instructional activities next week. The place to go is the athletics office in the Physical Activities Complex, and details of campus rec offerings are on the web -- everything from squash and dodgeball to aerobics and first aid. Not on the program this term will be aquatics, as the PAC swimming pool is closed all summer for construction work. And some sports will get a late start: the main gym is shut down for the month of May as the floor is being refinished. However, the Columbia Icefield gym is open, and there are plenty of other locations for campus rec activities, including the Waterloo Tennis Club, where a tennis workshop is scheduled May 15, and the bike centre in the Student Life Centre, where there's a bicycle maintenance workshop on May 27.

An expected 4,320 students from 405 Canadian high schools will be writing the Sir Isaac Newton Exam today -- the 39th annual test offered by UW's department of physics. "We will be awarding scholarships for the top students who come to study physics at UW, as well as book prizes to the top students even if they decide not to come to UW," says Chris O'Donovan of the physics department, who gives credit to colleague Linda Kelly for a "fantastic job as the administrator for the SIN exam".

It's Mental Health Awareness Week, and no mental heath problem seems to be more widespread than depression -- which presumably is why UW's Employee Assistance Program has scheduled a talk today by Scott McCabe of the department of psychology. He'll address "what depression is, its symptoms, its effects on those who suffer and their loved ones, etc.," a memo from EAP says. The talk starts at 12 noon in PAS (the "Psychology building") room 3026.

Staff members wondering how much their salaries went up on May 1 won't have to wonder much longer. Individual "Salary Increase Advices", which have been distributed on paper in past years, will be available online this year, the human resources department says. "If you are currently receiving a printed copy of your Pay Advice, you will continue to receive a printed copy of your Salary Increase Advice through the campus mail. You will also be able to view your Advice online. We will send an e-mail message when the Salary Increase Advices are available online," probably about the middle of the month. The May 26 payday will be the first after new salaries went into effect with UW's new fiscal year.

And . . . the other day I noted that the engineering faculty is running an online bingo game as a fund-raiser for the United Way, even though most United Way activities on campus are scheduled during the October campaign. Apparently they're not alone in seeing the year-round need and acting on it. A note from Sharon Adams in the psychology department points out that her colleagues in psych raised more than $1,000 for the United Way in March through a pizza lunch, a barbecue, a St. Patrick's Day party, and a raffle that gave away a cordless answering system, restaurant and movie passes, and other prizes.


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