Thursday, September 7, 2006

  • 'Recalibration' of the co-op system
  • Voters review Ontario election process
  • Students will launch 'climate coalition'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Chair of the department of combinatorics and optimization these days is William Cunningham, who took over that post from Paul Schellenberg as of July 1.

Link of the day

Toronto International Film Festival

When and where

Orientation activities for new students continue: quiet day for math, engineering and AHS; mayor's lunch in Cambridge for architecture students; [Dice]environmental studies "Laurel Creek Adventure" this afternoon. Tonight, Monte Carlo Night for all groups in Student Life Centre and Physical Activities Complex.

Professional Futures Conference for second-year accountancy students continues today and tomorrow, Tatham Centre.

'Single and Sexy' performances for first-year students wind up today at 10:00, 1:00, 4:00, Humanities Theatre.

English Language Proficiency Exam for engineering students 11 a.m., math and software engineering students 1 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Seminar for graduate students preparing applications for postdoctoral work, 1:30, Needles Hall room 3001, organized by graduate studies office.

Student Life Centre closed to general users from midafternoon and all evening because of Monte Carlo Night event. Access through north door only to bank machine and turnkey desk.

Communitech and Business-Education Partnership open house and barbecue, 4 to 6 p.m. outside Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard, north campus.

Warrior sports: Women's soccer vs. York 4 p.m., men's soccer 6 p.m., Columbia Fields; baseball vs. McMaster 6 p.m., Jack Couch Park.

Warrior sports team meetings and walk-ons for new players: women's golf 4:30, PAC room 2021; men's and women's swimming 5:00, PAC 2021.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science celebration with donor David Cheriton, Friday 11:30, Davis Centre great hall; Cheriton Research Symposium, 1:30, Davis room 1302.

'Go High-Tech, Stay Local' career fair Tuesday, September 12, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Davis Centre lounge.

Toronto alumni event: Networking and tours at Steam Whistle Brewery, remarks by David Yach, BMath 1983, vice-president (software) of Research In Motion, September 14, 6 to 8 p.m., details and registration online.

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'Recalibration' of the co-op system

from the Recruiter newsletter published for co-op employers

After logging more than 1,000 person-hours of interviews, survey, and data analysis, University of Waterloo Management Sciences Professors Kenneth McKay and Miguel Anjos will deliver an initial set of recommendations on the recalibration of co-operative education in fall of 2006. The report will address strategy as well as the technical and tactical operation of CECS.

The project, initiated jointly by CECS and the Faculty of Engineering, charged McKay and Anjos to conduct an intensive study of the co-op employment process with an ultimate goal of determining implementable results. The last six months have involved extensive discussions with employers, students and CECS staff as well as connecting with faculties and administrative units on campus in regards to co-op.

Says McKay, "What initially struck us during our preliminary research, was the complexities, inter- dependence, and nuances found in co-op. The employment process is like a spider web; no matter where you affect change in this CECS web, the impact is felt at amazing intensities throughout the organization and with almost every stakeholder."

To advance data collection and analysis during the Spring 2006 term, McKay and Anjos assembled a team of four full-time research assistants (including three co-op students). In the six months, the team has had extended discussions lasting up to 2 hours with over 105 employers, surveyed 967 students, examined other co-op programs, and are still busy job shadowing CECS staff to create a blueprint of daily life and tasks in the department.

Adds Anjos, "We have been thoroughly impressed and encouraged by the enthusiasm and willingness of everyone to discuss and improve things. As we move into the fall we have on-going plans for continued data collection through surveys. We are also continuing in-depth conversations with all stakeholders. Our initial set of recommendations will require a lot of help and support and our intention is to keep everyone informed as things move along."

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Voters review Ontario election process

from the UW media relations office

[Williams]Voters in Ontario will have an opportunity to contribute to an innovative process aimed at reforming their electoral system, says a University of Waterloo political scientist. Bob Williams (left), a specialist in provincial politics, says the Ontario Citizens' Assembly will give the public a direct say in determining the options for voting and how votes are translated into seats for Members of Provincial Parliament. The 103-member assembly will identify what principles Ontarians value the most in their electoral system.

The assembly, which begins its work this Saturday in Toronto, will hold public consultations on the election process. Based on what the assembly learns, it will recommend whether Ontario should keep its current electoral system or change to a new one. Assembly members will submit a report to the government by May 2007. If the assembly recommends making a change to Ontario's current electoral system, the government is required to put the question to voters in a province-wide referendum.

"Ontario is about to embark on an innovative experiment in democracy," Williams said, noting that assembly members were chosen randomly from Ontario's Permanent Register of Electors.

He said the assembly is innovative because a task of considerable political importance is assigned to amateurs. No elected officials were eligible to serve in the assembly and no previous knowledge or experience about electoral systems was required to participate.

"The idea that ordinary citizens should be given a formal mandate to evaluate a key component of our political system and to recommend corrective action is unprecedented in Ontario," Williams said. "Taking the task of evaluating the electoral system out of the hands of those with the most at stake in it may bring a refreshing antidote to the disrespect normally associated with politics."

Four other provinces have already initiated an examination of electoral reform. In Prince Edward Island and British Columbia, there have been elections within the last 20 years that produced a solid majority government facing a minuscule opposition (of one or two seats) or none at all, as happened in New Brunswick in 1987. In other cases, such as Québec and British Columbia, the electoral system allowed a political party to win more seats than its main opponent, even though the losing party accumulated more votes across the province.

"There is a growing sense in many parts of Canada that the existing electoral system is one of the contributing factors to a 'democratic malaise'," Williams said.

In contrast, Ontario elections have not produced lop-sided results since the 1950s and only in 1985 did the party with the most votes end up with fewer seats than another party.

"Ontario's invitation to consider thinking about electoral reform through the Ontario Citizens' Assembly is not being driven by a crisis or by an obvious failure of our electoral system," he said, adding that the province has the opportunity to evaluate the values and purposes of its electoral system in a calm and dispassionate atmosphere.

Also a specialist in Canadian municipal government and politics, Williams is currently engaged in a long-term project to prepare a comprehensive database of the key elements of Canada's federal and provincial electoral history. It will provide a Web-based resource to support the research needs of students and observers of Canadian political life working in academic, media and partisan circles.

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Students will launch 'climate coalition'

a news release from the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition

It's been a hot summer — some would say un-naturally so. And UW systems design engineering student Kirsten Robinson isn’t going to sit back and watch it happen anymore. She is about to head off to Toronto to join representatives from over 35 youth organizations from across Canada who are coming together this weekend to start something new.

For the last four months, six of the lead youth organizations in Canada have been working together to found a youth climate coalition in Canada. The Arctic Indigenous Alliance, Environnement Jeunesse, Global Exchange, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Youth Coalition, and Youth Environmental Network are holding a founding summit to launch this coalition of young people to fight for action on climate change at the community, provincial, national and international levels. The summit will bring together youth from every region of Canada, a variety of sectors, and will have representatives from 35 of the nations most active youth organizations. Young people from across the county want to inject their voice into the public and political debate on climate change. “We want to be shaping our future, not having it pulled out from under us,” says Robinson.

“The threat of climate change will affect our entire generation and all future generations. We do not control the political, consumer or policy decisions that are creating this climate crisis but we will live with the consequences of inaction. We know that young people are already building clean energy solutions to climate change. And we know there are better answers for Canada than mimicking U.S. policies on this issue.”

Robinson is executive director of the Forum for independent Thought, described as Canada's first student think tank, an organization that originated at UW and is committed to engaging youth on issues that extend beyond the academic curriculum and providing a forum for students to participate in high quality research on issues that affect the future.

The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition founding summit will take place in Toronto from tomorrow through Sunday.


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