Friday, March 9, 2007

  • UW's part in lighter-car research
  • Professors' retirements are noted
  • Other notes for a Friday morn
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Silhouette from brown-and-cream poster]

Dancing without the stars — but with UW faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and students — is the plan for Saturday, May 5, when the UW Recreation Committee will host a dance to mark UW's golden anniversary. The event will start at 8:30 p.m. in Federation Hall. Tickets are $20, which includes a light buffet, at the Humanities box office (519-888-4908).

Link of the day

Turn the clock forward

When and where

International Women's Day Symposium: "Women in a Global World, Feminist Values and Human Rights Issues", 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Humanities room 334. Speakers include Harriet Lyons (anthropology) and Doris Jakobsh (religious studies). Keynote speaker Carol C. Gould, Temple University, at 5:30; sponsored by Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy; details online.

Forum for Independent Thought student think-tank 12:00 noon, multi-purpose room, Student Life Centre (rescheduled from last Friday).

Sahaja Yoga meditation to mark International Women's Week, 2 to 3 p.m., multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

March Madness 3-on-3 basketball tournament sponsored by campus recreation, today 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday all day, details online.

Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival, today from 7 p.m. ("Hard Pill" and "Summer Storm"), Saturday from 7 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m. concluding with 5:00 dinner, CEIT room 1015; admission free, schedule and film descriptions online.

[Dragon]Chinese Lantern Fest sponsored by Chinese Scholars and Students Association, from 7 p.m., postponed from last Friday; music, dancing, cash bar, $5 in advance or $6 at the door, details online.

St. Jerome's University Scarboro Foreign Missions Lecture: Janet Conway, "Space, Place and Difference: A New Ethic of Politics at the World Social Forum", held in January in Kenya, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, free admission.

Stephen Lewis speaks at Wilfrid Laurier University's Global Citizenship conference, 7:30 p.m., WLU Athletic Complex; conference information online.

Multi-media performance linking UW drama department with Bradley University and University of Central Florida in Elmer Rice's drama "The Adding Machine", through Saturday at 9 p.m., Modern Languages room 117, free admission, details online.

31st annual bus push organized by Engineering Society, in support of Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, Saturday (postponed from last weekend), leaving Carl Pollock Hall 10:30 a.m. en route to downtown Kitchener.

Waterloo Juggling Festival show Saturday 7 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Explorations open house for grade 6-8 students, sponsored by UW faculty of engineering, Monday, tours at 5:00 and 6:45, registration and information online.

Campus Day open house for future students and family members, Tuesday, programming 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., details online.

'Unplugged for Darfur' benefit concert featuring Prize Fighter and Intransit, sponsored by UW Genocide Action Group and WPIRG, Tuesday from 7 p.m., Bombshelter pub, $5 at the door.

Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies by author Sandra Birdsell, "The Confession of a Reluctant Mennonite", March 15-16 7:30 p.m., great Hall, Conrad Grebel University College.

'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' major production by UW department of drama: preview for invited guests Wednesday, public performances March 15-17 and 22-24, 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office.

Orchestra@UWaterloo end-of-term concert March 22, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets free from Humanities box office. Program: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D (Wallace Wu, violin), Mendelssohn, Hebrides Overture, Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D.

UW's part in lighter-car research

UW engineers will share in the funding for two projects announced this week, as the provincial government lets out the news of sizeable research grants spoonful by spoonful.

“Under the first round of investments, the government is providing $115 million to support research across the province,” a news release said on Wednesday. The two announcements made so far have added up to $21.5 million.

In the past, the province has largely provided money to match grants from the federal Canada Foundation for Innovation, but these offerings — a promised $550 million over five years — are Ontario’s own initiative, aimed at what are described as economic priorities. “The Ontario Research Fund promotes scientific excellence by supporting research that can be developed into innovative goods and services that will boost Ontario’s economy,” the news release said.

Says premier Dalton McGuinty: “By enabling world-class research to be done right here in Ontario, our government is doing its part to attract top researchers, create better jobs and spark new economic investment.”

McGuinty visited McMaster University on Wednesday to announce $15.6 million for researchers — some at Mac and some at Waterloo — “who are exploring leading-edge auto manufacturing technology” through the Hamilton Initiative for Automotive Manufacturing Innovation.

Led by David Wilkinson of McMaster, the project is intended to “help develop new technologies for producing lighter-weight, more cost-competitive cars. This will help strengthen Ontario’s future as a leading auto and auto parts manufacturer, and create highly skilled jobs. The funding will leverage matching investments from 26 partners in industry and other fields,” including General Motors, Stelco and other big names. Their involvement will bring the total money available to $56.8 million.

The UW share of the project, worth $5.8 million from the province, is headed by Michael Worswick of the mechanical and mechatronics engineering department, who’s also associate dean (research) in the faculty of engineering as well as a key figure in the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCar).

The research is aimed at reducing the weight of automobiles by half, Worswick said after the Wednesday announcement, pointing to the possible use of lighter metals and alloys, plastics and composites. “There’s certainly been some progress,” he told the Record newspaper, adding that safety is a major issue: “When I put in a lightweight material, I have to make sure that the crashworthiness of that car is not compromised.”

A new source of lightweight materials was the focus of the second announcement, which came yesterday as McGuinty visited the Ontario BioCar Initiative at the University of Guelph. The plan: “strengthening Ontario's agri-food sector by investing in cutting-edge research that will find new ways to use farm and forest products in the auto sector.”

BioCar will get some $5.9 million for research “to turn Ontario's harvest — such as wheat, corn, soybeans and forest biomass — into viable materials for the auto industry. The government is also investing $255,000 in the Ontario BioAuto Council to help move these emerging technologies into the marketplace and attract jobs and investment.”

Mohini Sain of Guelph explained that "The key to success is how fast and how economically we can make these materials match the performance of the existing plastics, composites and metals.” The world market for bioplastics is estimated to be worth $50 billion by the year 2015, said Terry Daynard, director of the new BioAuto Council.

Today's typical car or truck uses more than 100 kilograms of plastic, a news release explains. “Based on fossil fuels, this plastic is becoming increasingly expensive to produce while creating a host of negative environmental impacts. Researchers from the universities of Guelph, Toronto, Waterloo and Windsor think the solution is growing in Ontario's fields . . . materials based on hemp, wheat, corn, soybeans and canola.”

At UW, the research is led by Leonardo Simone of the chemical engineering department. Again, partners — this time “from the automotive, agriculture, forestry and chemical industries” are contributing matching investment to the project.

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[Harmer gesturing, Leung watching]

She's a Juno award nominee (not yet a winner as I wrote yesterday) and an environmental activist, and visited Waterloo yesterday in both capacities. Sarah Harmer, in town to attend a benefit showing of her documentary film "Escarpment Blues", spent some afternoon time in the Environmental Studies I courtyard at a "music and nature workshop". The event was organized as part of undergraduate thesis work by environment and resource studies student Hingman Leung, who listens intently. Photo by Andrew Smith of ES.

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Professors' retirements are noted

[Ellard]John Cherry (left) of UW's department of earth sciences retired officially on August 1, 2006 — one of several UW faculty members whose retirements over the past few months haven't yet been acknowledged in the Daily Bulletin.

Cherry had taught at UW since 1971, and at the time of his retirement was holding an NSERC Chair in Contaminant Hydrology, as one of the pioneering researchers in what has become a leading centre for work in groundwater issues. His key research area: "isolation of hazardous wastes in subsurface environments". Cherry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Geological Society of America.

Other recently retired faculty members:

[Bulman-Fleming]• Barbara Bulman-Fleming (right) retired January 1 from the department of psychology, where she had been a full-time faculty member since 1993, following an earlier career as a technician, postdoctoral fellow and research associate, in psychology and health studies, dating back to 1982. While still a part-time instructor, she received one of UW's 1992 Distinguished Teacher Awards. A specialist in brain lateralization and interhemispheric communication, she once wrote that her research interests included "mouse paw preference". From 2001 to 2006 she served as director of the Teaching Resource Office.

• Barry Collins of the department of applied mathematics retired July 1, 2006. He had been at UW since 1975, teaching and doing research in such areas as general relativity and cosmology.

• Edwin (Ernie) Regehr, who retired October 1, 2006, was most prominent as director of Project Ploughshares, an agency for peace research and advocacy that began at Conrad Grebel University College and was housed at Grebel until 2003. He left Ploughshares after more than 30 years of service as co-founder, director, and lately Senior Policy Advisor. "Ernie will continue to be active in the work and issues that have been central to
his professional life," the agency notes, as he has begun "a half-time assignment with
Ploughshares as Senior Policy Advisor focused on nuclear non-proliferation and Canadian defence policy". Regehr was also an adjunct faculty member in the peace and conflict studies program at Grebel.

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Other notes for a Friday morn

Local public and high school students begin their March break today, an Ontario tradition that provides a week (lately, a week and a day) without classes. One implication for UW is that some staff will be taking next week off, to look after their children or perhaps travel with them to sunnier climes. Another implication: each year the Tuesday of March break is the date for the Campus Day open house for high schoolers, so we can expect crowds bright and early next Tuesday. The engineering faculty's Explorations open house for somewhat younger students takes place the previous evening.

As I reported yesterday, the Federation of Students board of directors has ordered a referendum of undergraduate students on a proposal for a "Universal Bus Pass" to cost $41.08 "plus an administration cost of not more than $9.50" per term. Exact date for the vote is still not official, but is likely to be March 28 and 29, Feds vice-president Renjie Butalid said yesterday. He noted that the organizing meeting for the campaign will be held on Monday (not Sunday, as I wrongly said yesterday) and the campaign is expected to run March 20-27.

Meanwhile, I'm told, the board of the Graduate Student Association has called a similar referendum, although the numbers are a bit different: grad students will vote on a bus pass "with a non-refundable cost of not more than $48.60 per term subject to inflation, provided there are significant transit service increases and there is a review of the fee in 3 years". The total dollar figure is lower than what undergrads are being asked to authorize, because sponsors think the administration cost will go down if grad students join the program, increasing the total number of individuals buying the pass.

Nominations close at noon today as the Arts Student Union prepares to elect its new president, five vice-presidents and two first-year representatives. • Kim McKee, manager of the Visitors Centre in South Campus Hall, is accepting applications from "outgoing, charismatic student leaders" to work part-time as Student Ambassadors next year, leading tours and representing the university. • A group from the UW Recreation Committee is off by bus to tour Canada Blooms, the Toronto flower and garden show, tomorrow.

José Huertas-Jourda, who served as a professor of philosophy both at UW and at Wilfrid Laurier University, died March 1, aged 74. Born in Spain, educated in the United States, he first came to UW in 1970. In 1974 he moved his primary appointment to WLU, but continued to teach part-time at UW, and spoke and wrote extensively about existentialism, Heidegger, Husserl and "the comic sense of life". A funeral service is being held today (4:00) at the Highland Funeral Home in Scarborough.

I said a few words yesterday about the death of Jarvis Stanger, a retired UW staff member from, as I put it, "what was then the computing services department". First of all, when Stanger arrived at Waterloo, terminology was simpler: "In 1970 the department was called the Computing Centre," says Trevor Grove, who was there in the olden days and is now on the staff of the school of computer science. The "DCS" name was adopted in 1978, to be succeeded by "information systems and technology" in 1996. And anyway, says Grove, "Jarvis was pretty much universally known as Joe."

Finally . . . "firewall" is a metaphor when it's used to talk about computer security measures, but you'd hardly realize that if you read a notice issued this week by information systems and technology: "Next round of firewall testing will occur this Sunday afternoon. The firewalls will be placed in front of the MC Computer room. There will be a brief outage of a few seconds as traffic is redirected through the firewalls. . . . Firewalls are being put in a transparent mode, so they won't actually be blocking any traffic. If the test on Sunday is successful, the firewalls will remain in service until Monday."


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