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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

  • A chance for new grads to give
  • Nano symposium set for Friday
  • Showers of blessings, and vice versa
Chris Redmond

Census day across Canada

[Giant cheque for $54,001.12]

Engineering graduates present a symbolic cheque to dean of engineering Adel Sedra at convocation ceremonies in June 2005.

A chance for new grads to give

Graduating mathematics students are being invited to consider the Pi Challenge or join the Dean's Prime Number Club. For students in science, there's the Ultimate Beaker Challenge; for arts students, there's a Dean's Club. And so it goes across all UW's faculties and colleges.

The fancy names are one way of enticing students into what's collectively called the Grad Class Challenge -- an invitation to become donors to UW right away, with the pledges being celebrated at convocation ceremonies next month. Calls inviting graduating students to take part are being made now from the development office call centre in South Campus Hall, and will continue until convocation in mid-June.

The idea is a three-year gift beginning one year after graduation, with the first payment coming in May 2007. Students can decide how much money they would like to contribute and where they want to allocate their support. For example, arts students can designate a pledge to the proposed expansion of the Modern Languages building, or to scholarship funds. Choices for mathematics students include the Math Tutorial Centre and the Descartes Scholarship Endowment.

Students are welcome to make a pledge of any amount on either a monthly or annual basis -- the "challenges" and other special amounts are just suggestions. The Dean's Challenge in engineering adds up to $2,006, spread over the three years. The math graduates' Pi Challenge is, of course, $31.41 a month for three years (a total of, grabs calculator, $1,130.76 by 2009). The "prime number" offering is $151 per year.

The money adds up: last year the graduating classes pledged a total of $241,937, says Ghzala Khan of the development office. Grads from across campus "are currently responding", she adds.

The idea of grad class giving at UW began 17 years ago with the Plummers' Pledge in the Faculty of Engineering. "These grads wanted to make a difference, leave their mark, and ensure that future students would benefit from their generosity," says the Grad Class Challenge web site as it traces developments since then. Now all the faculties and colleges are involved, and Software Engineering will be joining the ranks of programs participating in the Grad Class Challenge this year.

Grad class giving "provides graduating students with a chance to give back to UW," says the web site. "The program ensures that future students will have the same or better opportunities as past students who have benefited from grad class generosity. Your support maintains the quality of education for students and the value of a UW degree." Graduating class gifts are, like other donations to the university, tax-deductible.

Nano symposium set for Friday -- from the UW media relations office

Canada's Nobel Prize laureate John Polanyi is among the speakers sharing their visions of nanotechnology at the 2006 Ontario Nano Symposium to be held at UW on Friday. The all-day event seeks to build and strengthen local nanotechnology research communities, as well as spawn new collaborations, said Flora Li, one of the graduate student organizers. She added that the event will offer information about UW's new nanotechnology initiatives.

"The Ontario Nano Symposium will provide an excellent opportunity for students and researchers from across the province to present their work in the area of nanoscience and nanotechnology," said Li, who is a member of the Giga-to-Nano Electronics Laboratory at UW. "It will allow for an exchange of ideas and create an environment for collaborative work with fellow researchers."

Polanyi, a professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto, will give a talk on the Nanoscale Printing Press. A researcher exploring the molecular motions in chemical reactions in gases and at surfaces, Polanyi received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Other featured speakers include Peter Grutter, director of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council's Nano Innovative Platform; Jim Webb, director of the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences; and Gehan Amaratunga, a professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain, who heads the Electrical Power and Energy Conversion Research Group there.

Organizers expect to attract scientists and researchers from diverse backgrounds, including physics, biology, chemistry, engineering and medicine. The event will consist of invited talks by speakers at the forefront of research, poster presentations, along with a panel discussion.

Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of atom-sized structures in order to produce breakthrough properties. For example, the next generation of electronic devices may contain smaller and faster circuits built from single strands of carbon nanotubes, or powerful drugs may be delivered precisely to targeted areas in the body by means of customized carrier molecules.

The symposium, organized by graduate students in the electrical and computer engineering department, is supported by the NSERC Nano Innovative Platform, Ontario Centres of Excellence and UW.

Combustion Institute, Canadian Section spring technical meeting Sunday-Wednesday, technical papers in Davis Centre, tour of Live Fire Research Centre on Wednesday.

UW Alternative Fuels Team unveils its hydrogen fuel cell hybrid Equinox, 10 a.m., CAMI Automotive, Ingersoll, Ontario.

Career Interest Assessment 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112, information and registration through career services.

Physics building equipment cooling loop switched over to city water (temperature may be slightly warmer) Wednesday 8 a.m. to Thursday 4 p.m. for maintenance.

Ratemyprofessors.com and best practices in teaching: presentation by Mark Morton, Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology, Wednesday 12 noon, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

'Are You Thinking About an International Experience?' Workshop sponsored by career services, Wednesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents Gerald Van Decker, RenewAbility Energy Inc., speaking on the Power-Pipe device for reclaiming heat from waste water, Wednesday 5 p.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 3385.

'Death of a Salesman' presented by Poor Tom Productions and hosted by UW drama department, Wednesday-Saturday 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets 888-4908.

Accelerator Centre, north campus Research and Technology Park, opening celebration Thursday 11 a.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard.

International student information sessions about applying for off-campus work permits: Thursday 3 p.m., May 31 10 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Students, staff and faculty welcome. Background online.

Showers of blessings, and vice versa

"It's Tuesday!" a friend trilled when we met on campus early this morning. "Every day is a blessing, and the closer it gets to the end of the week, the bigger the blessing!" In that spirit, today's blessings include -- let's see -- a varied program of workshops being offered this term by counselling services, including a three-session workshop on study skills that's available at various times, starting this week. On a quite different tack, there's "Re-Claiming Your Self", six sessions that lead to "feeling downright happy", with the first one scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. More information is available from the counselling services office in Needles Hall, or online.

Something called a "Learning Object Discussion Forum" will be held at noon today in the Flex Lab of the Dana Porter Library, led by Kevin Harrigan of the Centre for Learning and Teaching Through Technology. "A lot of people mention learning objects," an LT3 announcement observes, "but what are they really all about? Why are they important? What value is there in using them? When should they be used, and how do I go about getting them made? In this event professors will share their learning objects with the group, showing what they are and how they work. They will explain why they chose to have them made for this particular issue. Presentations will be made by Dr. Barb Moffatt from Biology (Molecular Biology), Dr. Pam Stern from Anthropology (What's Going On), and Joanne Wood from Psychology (Online Tutorial on Understanding Graphs)." Discussion will follow. Anybody interested in attending the event can sign up on the LT3 web site.

The future of UW's Residential Energy Efficiency Project, which has been providing energy evaluations for homeowners over the past five years, is in doubt because of a funding change by the federal government. Ottawa has cancelled its EnerGuide for Houses program, which subsidized consultations by REEP and other agencies across Canada. "We are not to perform any further EnerGuide for Houses initial evaluations after today," REEP manager Mary Jane Patterson said in an e-mail announcement dated Saturday. "Follow-up evaluations for those customers who have already had an initial evaluation are permitted until March 2007. At REEP we will be talking with staff and our Board to see how we might continue offering a home energy evaluation service which does not have a federal subsidy or grant associated with it." She said the agency's work is estimated to have produced $700,000 in annual energy savings for Waterloo Region homeowners, as well as $3 to $5 million in local spending on building materials and labour. "Personal greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by an average of 2-4 tonnes through home retrofits."

Says a note from the UW library: "Are you an avid user of MSN Instant Messenger? Would you like assistance with your research question? If so, add libchat@library.uwaterloo.ca to your list of IM contacts. Library staff are available to answer your research questions via MSN Instant Messenger from noon to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Visit the Ask a Librarian web page for additional research service options."

Daniel Melymuk, who had been executive director of the planned Accelerator Centre on UW's north campus, died on May 5; he was 47. Interment is scheduled for today at Glendale Memorial Gardens in Etobicoke, and "a celebration of Dan's life will be held at a future date," the family says. He is survived by his wife, Leslie, and three children. Melymuk was named to the Accelerator Centre position just last fall, and was working toward its opening as a home and resource centre for fledgling businesses, but had to leave the job to concentrate on his battle with cancer. A new director was named recently, and the centre has its official opening this week.

The annual award previously known as "Distinguished Teaching by a Registered Student" will hereafter be "Exceptional Teaching by a Student", UW's senate has decided. . . . With Haiti much in the news this week, it's timely that the Centre for International Governance Innovation has produced a book, Haiti: Hope for a Fragile State, being published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. . . . The Auto 21 Network of Centres of Excellence in automotive research says 24 UW students and six professors are attending the centre's Highly Qualified People Conference this week in Barrie. . . .

Finally, I have here a copy of a memo from Alastair Lawrence of the school of accountancy, with some after-the-ball-was-over comments about the UW Accounting Conference held earlier this month. "The conference," he writes, "was organized by a committee of 20 AFM students, which was co-chaired by Michael Leung and Orissa Leung. The conference ran from Friday morning to Saturday afternoon, attracting 120 students from three provinces and over 24 firm representatives from the top 6 accounting firms in Canada. Approximately 50% of the attendees were 1st year students. The conference featured three speakers, two seminars and a case competition with a grand prize of $1,000. The initial response from the attendees has been very positive and overall, the conference appears to have been a great success. The student committee should be commended for the thousands of hours invested to make this conference a success -- the initiative taken was most impressive. However despite the students' efforts, the event would not have been possible without the support from many of the School's staff and faculty." He sends thanks to many of them by name, including "Allison for teaching an accountant how to oversee a student conference" -- that would be Allison Wells, the school's coordinator of marketing and recruitment. "So thank you all."


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