Thursday, March 22, 2007

  • Teens' robots compete on PAC floor
  • Accelerator centre marks growth
  • Notes in the symphony of spring
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Face and violin]

Orchestra@UWaterloo gives its end-of-term concert tonight at 8:00 in the Humanities Theatre, and electrical engineering student Wallace Wu is the featured soloist in Tchaikowsky's Violin Concerto in D. Also on the program: Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and Brahms's Symphony No. 2 in D. Concert tickets are free at the Humanities box office.

Link of the day

World Water Day

When and where

Blood donor clinic continues through Friday, Student Life Centre, make appointments at turnkey desk.

UW Food Bank drive for non-perishable food, money, and Zehrs or Sobeys receipts, continues through Friday, Student Life Centre (booth with cookies today 11:30 to 3:30) and bins across campus.

Music student recitals in the chapel, Conrad Grebel University College, 12:30 today, Monday, Tuesday.

Travel slideshow series: Brent Hall, "Patagonia and New Zealand", 12:10, Environmental Studies room 221.

Surplus sale of UW furniture and equipment, 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall.

International spouses group celebrates Iranian new year, 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, information e-mail

Career presentations today: "Teaching English Abroad" 1:00, "Law School Bound" 2:00, "Preparing for the LSAT" 3:00, "Getting a US Work Permit" 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, details online.

Norooz (Persian new year) celebration 7 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre, everyone welcome.

'The Caucasian Chalk Circle' major production by UW department of drama, public performances continue Thursday-Saturday 8:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 (students $10) at Humanities box office, 519-888-4908.

Warrior Weekend activities: tonight, all-ages end-of-term party, Bombshelter pub; Friday, Matt DiSero and Jeff Leeson, comedy and magic, Student Life Centre great hall, plus crafts, "Blood Diamond" 11:15 p.m.; Saturday, Wii sports contest, "Pursuit of Happiness" 11:15; details online.

Financial Econometrics Conference (ninth annual), "Hedge Funds and Associated Risks", Friday, Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by Centre for Advanced Studies in Finance, details and registration online.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Roger Watt and Dave Kibble, "RFPs, RFQs, RFIs", Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Blue Mountain ski and snowboard trip organized by Columbia Lake Village, Friday, leaving CLV 1:30 p.m., tickets $40 at community centre, everyone welcome.

Renison College presents Jeff Wilson, University of North Carolina, "Mourning the Unborn Dead: Buddhist Post Pregnancy Loss Rituals in North America", Friday 2 p.m., Renison chapel lounge.

Philosophy department "Justice Through the Generations" lecture series by Janna Thompson: "Gratitude and Justice in a Multi-Generational Society", postponed from March 2, now scheduled for Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373; "Sustainability and Duties" March 30, same time and place.

Brecht-Fest organized by Waterloo Centre for German Studies: lecture Friday at 4 p.m. by faculty member Sid Hoefert, deutsches Büffet, then evening performance of "Caucasian Chalk Circle", tickets $20 (students $10), ext. 3-2260.

Arts Grad Ball Friday from 7 p.m., Waterloo Inn, tickets from Arts Student Union.

Alumni career planning workshop Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, details online.

[French horn]UW Stage Band spring concert Sunday 2 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College great hall, tickets $10 (students $5).

Render/UW Art Gallery presents Gerald McMaster, Art Gallery of Ontario, "Rethinking Canadian Culture and History", Monday 4 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Environment and Business Conference organized by EB students, Tuesday 8:30 to 4:00; keynote speaker Bob Willard (author of The Sustainability Advantage); panels, exhibitors, workshops; details online.

Accountancy building ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday 11:00 a.m., northeast corner of Hagey Hall.

K-W Academy of Medicine, McMaster University school of medicine, UW school of pharmacy and school of optometry, reception and dinner "to celebrate new opportunities in interprofessional health education", Tuesday, Waterloo Inn, by invitation.

Author Guy Gavriel Kay reads from his work Tuesday 7 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall, free, sponsored by UW bookstore.

EMK-Waterloo Nanotechnology workshop: "Why Small Will Be Bigger Than Ever", March 29, Davis Centre, free registration e-mail

UW board of governors spring meeting April 3, 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Teens' robots compete on PAC floor

The crowds will be cheering in the Physical Activities Complex this weekend as UW hosts robotics enthusiasts from high schools across Ontario in the first round of an international competition. It's the third annual competition to be held at UW.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition challenges teams of high school students and their mentors from around the world to solve a common problem in a six-week period using a standard parts kit and common set of rules. This year, teams are building robots to play a game where the objective is to score points by hanging inflatable tubes on a large rack. Also, at the end of the match, some robots will turn into ramps that their partners can climb to score extra points.

The Waterloo regional competition, open to the public, will be held Thursday through Saturday. Admission is free. The teams will be unpacking their equipment and playing practice rounds most of today; competition runs Friday from 10 to 4, and Saturday from 9:50 to 11:15 and 1:00 to 3:00.

"Through FIRST, kids realize that building a robot can be fun and cool," says Rob Gorbet, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who helped bring the event to the Waterloo campus. "It gives them very real role models, from outside the worlds of professional sports and entertainment. It's about opening their eyes to careers in math, engineering, science and technology — and it works."

"There is nothing like the clashes you see on the robo-warrior programs," adds Ian Mackenzie, a one-time student participant and current planning committee chair for FIRST Robotics Waterloo Regional. "This is really about making science, math, engineering and technology as cool for kids as sports are today."

Mackenzie said a total of 29 teams involving more than 600 students will participate in the event: 26 from Ontario, two teams from Michigan and one from Florida.

[Brightly lit playing field on PAC floor]UW is one of two Canadian venues hosting a regional competition in 2007. The other Canadian regional takes place March 29-31 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. The annual contest draws over 1,300 teams in regional competitions in Canada, the United States, Israel and Brazil. The final championship will be held April 12-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

The competitions are high-tech spectator sporting events, the result of brainstorming, real-world teamwork and mentoring. Referees oversee the competition and judges present awards to teams for design, technology, sportsmanship and commitment. "The energy, pace and excitement of the competition will make it fun for the whole family," Gorbet says.

Major sponsors for the Waterloo regional competition include Research In Motion, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Government of Ontario, UW and the GM Foundation.

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Accelerator centre marks growth

from the UW media relations office

In less than a year, the Accelerator Centre at the Waterloo Research and Technology Park has laid the groundwork for some of Canada's high-tech stars of the future. To mark its achievements in nurturing the early growth of high-technology firms, the AC will hold a celebration event today at its building on the UW north campus. The event begins at 10 a.m. and will feature guest speakers, including MPP John Wilkinson, parliamentary assistant to Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation. As well, several start-up companies will display their products and services.

"It's been a very successful time since our launch last May. We're at 98 per cent capacity and we have plans to expand," says Gerry Sullivan, AC's chief executive officer. "We provide start-up companies with access to industry experts who can help direct budding entrepreneurs through the process for launching a technology enterprise."

Bobbi Holte, director of client programs, said there are 17 start-up high-tech companies currently based at the AC. "We have a total of more than 90 people who work here every day," she says. As well, the AC works with innovation partners, including Communitech, Canadian Innovation Centre, Infusion Angels Innovation Centre (sponsored by Microsoft), Ontario Centres of Excellence and the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program.

As an example of the AC's work, Holte points to its successful mentorship program for client startup companies. "In a recent case, a relatively young and inexperienced company approached the AC looking for admission into the program," she says. "Within 60 days, this company was admitted to the AC and hit the ground running." A key mentor was assigned to help with legal issues around transferring technology from a predecessor company. An advisory panel was assembled, including a successful entrepreneur and a senior technology executive. "Introductions were made to key players within the technology industry, including potential sources of future financing," Holte says. "All of this momentum was a direct result of the AC mentorship program."

The centre's entrepreneurship council, made up of business and technology leaders, offers experience in critical roles to growing an enterprise, such as financial management, investment, research and development, product development, marketing, sales and human resources.

Clients occupy one of 20 office suites in the AC's 22,700-square-foot building at 295 Hagey Boulevard. Suites range in size from as small as 250 square feet to as large as 800 square feet and include Internet access and phones. Suite fees pay for access to meeting rooms, reception, photocopying and administrative support. Typical clients will remain at the AC for one to three years, then move into the Waterloo Research and Technology Park or elsewhere in Waterloo Region. Ideally, they will maintain a connection to the AC, acting as a resource or mentor for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The not-for-profit AC is the result of a multi-stakeholder partnership, with land and a portion of the initial operating funds provided by UW. The Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, Region of Waterloo and City of Waterloo provided the primary capital funding. Other stakeholders include the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College.

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Notes in the symphony of spring

Okay, apparently it's not a "hug-a-thon" that's being held Sunday as part of International Celebration Week, it's a HUG-a-thon. HUG is Helping for a United Good, an international organization seeking "to educate the children of the world about each other’s cultures and faiths. . . . By using established yoga, fitness, and cycling centre networks we can focus energy and goodwill, while fostering a more understanding and accepting society." Accordingly, people at UW can come out to the Columbia Icefield on Sunday afternoon to take part in "Cyclefit Fitness" or "Total Knock-Out Fitness" from 3:00 to 4:00, "Hatha Yoga" or more "Cyclefit Fitness" from 4 to 5, or "Relaxation Yoga" from 5 to 6. "Just for attending one of the classes," organizers add, "you will receive a free Diversity Band!"

Also in honour of International Celebrations Week is a photo contest being organized by the International Student Connection, the Federation of Students unit chiefly involved with students from other lands. "Beauty of the World" is the title, and Michelle Lim of ISC says students, faculty and staff are all eligible to enter their pictures. "Photos will be displayed during ICW," she says, "and great prizes are set." There are three categories: pictures taken during students' study abroad, those taken by faculty and staff while traveling or working in other countries, and those by international students, showing their homelands or other places they have been. Pictures can be submitted as JPGs (e-mail to or in hard copy (to Student Life Centre room 3107); the deadline is March 28.

Today will bring a new round of controversy and excitement over what it says in Maclean's magazine about universities. In the wake of the rankings issue last November, and the cover story on cheating a few weeks ago, comes the second annual University Student Issue. "Last year," says the magazine, "Maclean's set out to determine what one group of experts — students — think about their schools. This year, the magazine has sought the expertise of those students again. How did they assess each university's performance? In three different surveys — two of which were commissioned by Canada's universities themselves, with results that were largely confidential and previously unavailable to the public until Maclean's asked for access to them last year — over 70,000 students and recent graduates were asked to grade their schools. The results provide a picture of what students have to say about their experience at each university, and their assessment of the quality of the education at their school." The issue should be on newsstands by this afternoon.

A show of work by final-year fine arts students will open this afternoon and run for a week in "Render", the UW gallery in East Campus Hall. "This show," says gallery curator Andrew Hunter, "is the culmination of four years' work for nineteen graduating students. The exhibition features work from the fourth-year studio course in which each student is encouraged to develop a cohesive body of work over the entire year. The resulting works are created in a variety of materials and offer innumerable chances for interpretation." An opening reception runs today from 5:30 to 8:30, and regular gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 12:00 to 4:00, Thursday 12:00 to 7:00.

March is designated as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month. “To promote that,” writes Michelle Banic of the institutional analysis and planning office, “we'll be holding our annual Two For Blue Day on March 30. This is a day set aside to wear blue and pay a toonie in support of juvenile arthritis. Juvenile arthritis strikes 1 in 1,000 children in Canada — my daughter Amanda being one of them. The struggles these children face are as challenging as the struggles faced by adults. So help the Arthritis Society find a cure to juvenile arthritis — participate in Two For Blue Day!” Whole departments can be involved, she says; she can be reached at ext. 3-3533 for information.

“In this era of accessibility and employment equity,” writes Kathryn Woodcock of Ryerson University, “we thought our paper might be of interest.” The “we” involved are three women who graduated from UW, and identify themselves as “among the few deaf women PhD holders outside of fields related to deaf studies, deaf education and linguistics”. Besides Woodcock, of Ryerson’s school of occupational and public health, they are Meg Rohan of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and Linda Campbell of Queen’s. The article — “Equitable Representation of Deaf People in Mainstream Academia: Why Not?” — appears in the March 2007 issue of the journal Higher Education. “We provide recommendations,” says the abstract, “how barriers for successful Deaf academics can be removed or mitigated.”

Finally . . . on Tuesday I listed a number of UW faculty members with their sabbatical plans, and mentioned two whose sabbaticals, I said, had started March 1. In fact both Natalia Kotchetova (accountancy) and Raafat Mansour (electrical and computer engineering) will be taking six-month sabbaticals that begin on May 1 this year.


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