Monday, November 26, 2007

  • Co-op students who worked at UW
  • More students with jobs on campus
  • Graduate enrolment, and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

John Harvard's 400th birthday

When and where

Library extended hours for exam season, through December 20, Davis Centre library open 24 hours a day (except Sunday 2 to 8 a.m.), Dana Porter Library open 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

'Botox and Injectables' lunch-and-learn session organized by Illumination Laser Medical Associates, 12:10, TechTown boardroom, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Music student recitals today and Wednesday 12:30, Conrad Grebel University College chapel.

'Home stretch celebration' for arts students planning to graduate in 2008, words of encouragement from dean Ken Coates, 3:30 to 5:00, Graduate House.

Sports team party for graduate students involved in campus rec teams, 6:30 to 8:30, Graduate House.

In the Mind's Eye 'issues of substance use' forum presents the film “Cottonland", 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge campus.

Waterloo Space Society hosts two showings of "The Mars Underground", documentary featuring Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society, Tuesday 4:00 to 6:30, Physics room 313, free refreshments.

Women’s studies 35th anniversary distinguished speaker: Mary T. Malone, feminist theologian and historian, “Mysticism and Power: Retrieving Women’s Voices”, Tuesday 7:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Revised date: Wednesday.

Faculty of Arts Lecture: Chris Eliasmith, philosophy, "Modelling the Mind: Unifying the New Brain Sciences", Tuesday 7:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Free Hugs campaign (and distribution of stress relief packages) sponsored by Arts Student Union, volunteers across campus Wednesday 11:00 to 1:00.

Smarter Health Seminar: Stefan Pantazi and Yuri Kagolovsky, Conestoga College, "Why Not Advance Health Informatics Education Through Our Colleges?" Wednesday 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Science Awards Banquet, by invitation, Wednesday 5:15 p.m. reception followed by dinner, Federation Hall; guest speaker is Bob McDonald of CBC's "Quirks and Quarks".

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session Thursday 4:00, CBET offices, Accelerator Centre, 295 Hagey Boulevard.

Guelph-Waterloo Physics Institute presents Martin Moskovits, University of California at Santa Barbara, "Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and Its Progeny", Thursday 4:00, Perimeter Institute, details online.

Orchestra@UWaterloo concert: "Vive la France!" with music by Debussy, Saint-Saens, Franck, and UW's Carol Ann Weaver, Thursday 8:00, Humanities Theatre, free tickets from Humanities box office.

Spirituality and Aging seminar with Nancy Kriseman, Geriatric Consulting Services, Atlanta, Friday 9:30 to 1:00 and 7:30 to 9:00, Conrad Grebel University College, information ext. 24270.

Last day of classes for the fall term, December 3; exams December 6-20.

'The Power of Ideas', one-day conference focusing on issues of inclusiveness and access in academic environments, December 5, Rod Coutts Hall, details online.

December 6 memorial dinner remembering 1989 Montréal killings, fund-raiser for Canadian Federation of University Women, to be held at St. George Banquet Hall, 665 King Street North, tickets $50, e-mail

Santa Claus comes to TechTown Friday, December 7, 4:30 to 7:00, for photos with children; $10 donation goes to K-W Community Foundation; reservations call 519-746-7416.

50th Anniversary closing event, including “Reach for the Top” competition and sealing of time capsule, December 12, 3:00 to 4:30, Federation Hall.

One click away

Imprint says students will vote on refugee support fee
CIGI's library, both print and electronic
What's going to be in the new SLC convenience store
UW student working in Bangladesh after cyclone
'Using Imprint to create a real forum for discourse'
'Postsecondary enrolment trends to 2031' (Stats Canada) • Enrolment expected to rise 20 per centOne in seven drop out before graduating • 'More men needed in post-secondary institutions'
Hiring requirements are growing, says AUCC report on faculty
Who are Canada's biggest donors?
'Decline of the tenure track raises concerns' (NY Times)
Former UW board member receives award from WLU
Participation in postsecondary education, 2005 (Stats Canada)
A new home for the Portrait Gallery of Canada (not in K-W)
Ontario awards five Polanyi Prizes for 2007
'Brutally competitive market' for new teachers
Drug firms accused of biasing doctors' training (Nature)

[Poppy in the lapel of his blue suit]

Prime minister Stephen Harper posed with a group of UW accounting students after a luncheon November 8 at the Canadian Club in Toronto, at which Harper spoke. For six of the students, tickets to lunch and a chance to meet the PM were a prize from the Professional Futures Conference, a two-day professional development workshop for second-year students held earlier this fall. A group of senior accounting students were also invited.

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Co-op students who worked at UW

The biggest single employer of UW co-op students isn’t RIM, Microsoft, or even the federal government — it’s the university itself, which hires an average of about 180 students each term.

“With a wide variety of positions available from research assistants, to web developers, to working on the solar car project; it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly interests students to work for UW,” writes one of those students, Sarah Uppal, who took a co-op term in her English rhetoric and professional writing program to work for the co-op education and career services department.

The results of her work appear in the Inside Scoop newsletter published by the department for co-op students.

Uppal interviewed three students who worked on campus during the spring 2007 term. Here’s an edited version of her reports.

Laura Sloboda, 1B mechanical engineering, worked as assistant for the Women in Engineering Committee. One of her main projects was helping out with an event called Go ENG Girl, a one-day open house for girls in grades 7 to 10 who are interested in engineering.

The event, which took place in October, allows the girls to visit campus to work on different engineering activities, such as developing a prototype of a bridge meant to withstand an earthquake. This year, Sloboda spent time developing newer and more appealing activities for the girls to participate in. She worked on prototyping a musical keyboard which she describes as "a simple circuit using different resistances to get frequencies. I need to create a log book and notes so the event leaders understand the activity and potential problems well enough to teach the girls."

Other activities keeping her busy included a mini solar car as well as a "Yak Bak" (a toy which records your voice when you press a button, then plays it back distorted).

What does Sloboda enjoy most about working at UW? "This is the first time I’ve seen the campus in the summer, and I really like it — it’s much nicer and quieter. Also I feel more relaxed coming here and not being a student. I get to work with professors and PhD students who I would not normally communicate with."

Her advice about working at UW: "When you’re a student, you come to campus to go to classes, but working here allows you to interact with professors and staff and working on a different level. Working at UW really gives you more rounded perspective of how the university works."

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More students with jobs on campus

Seema Mutti, third-year arts and business (psychology), spent her work term as a project manager in the Fong Lab (that is, the lab headed by faculty member Geoff Fong) in UW’s psychology department. She was conducting research about the Smoke Free Ontario Act, a provincial law that was passed in May 2006, banning smoking in (among other places) patios where there is a roof covering, umbrella, or anything that forms a shelter. The reason for this provision: it’s thought that if there is some kind of covering, then smoke can’t disperse into the air properly and therefore smokers are more affected by second-hand smoke.

[Sitting on PAS stairs]Mutti (right) worked on researching the effectiveness of this law and find out whether restaurants and bars across Ontario have changed any aspects of their patios since the act passed. She also worked with PhD students to compare the different smoking regulations of the provinces across Canada, and arranging to carry out experiments involving smoke pumped at different intervals in various patio designs, and measuring the quality of the air.

What does she enjoy the most about working at UW? "I enjoy being on campus when I’m in school because I like the academic environment, so naturally I enjoy working here as well . . . it is something I can relate to. More specifically, the psych lab and the research done being conducted is geared toward advocacy more than anything else. I like to be a part of something which strives for change, and this project allows me to work on improving the health of Ontario."

What advice does she have about working at UW? "The UW community is really supportive, and people tend to look past that, as everyone wants to get a great job in downtown Toronto. Good opportunities are closer to home than we may realize, sometimes and you can’t always look at the location to judge the quality of the position."

Vanessa Brewer, third-year arts and business (anthropology), worked at CECS as the marketing and field services associate. She has spent much of her time at CECS assisting with the “2017: The Workplace” conference which took place last month, bringing together researchers, CECS employers, and leaders of businesses to examine the factors facing the future of the workplace. Conference topics included an examination of the rapid pace of changes anticipated in Canada over the next 10 years, the movement of knowledge out of the country, the impact of technology adoption in the workplace, and the globalization of the economy.

In preparation for the big three-day event, Brewer worked behind the scenes on tasks such as creating mailing lists, pricing promotional material, and assisting with the advertising campaign to promote the event. One of her main tasks was to find organizations interested in attending the conference by checking media outlets for organizations which have been reflected positively in the media and inviting them to take part.

What does Brewer enjoy most about working at UW? "This is my third work term working on campus, and I really enjoy the atmosphere of the university. Working here gives you a better understanding of the amount of work that goes into each specific department of the university. There is a lot of hard work that goes on which most students wouldn’t necessarily be aware of."

Her advice about working at UW: "There are so many benefits of working on campus. You can attend classes while on a work term, it’s close to home so you don’t need to move around, and you can keep in contact with your peers.

“Most importantly, though, because it is UW, there a greater understanding of how important co-op is, so there is a certain level of respect given to UW co-op students on campus."

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Graduate enrolment, and other notes

[PowerPoint slide]“We were the only one of the middle-sized and large universities in Ontario to meet our targets,” said UW president David Johnston, commenting at last week’s senate meeting about the growth in graduate enrolment. Institutions were under pressure from the provincial government to make room for more grad students, and UW certainly complied, judging from figures in a PowerPoint presentation by graduate dean Alan George. Two years ago this fall, there were 929 master’s students and 601 PhD students; this fall, the numbers are 1,518 and 764. Admissions to master’s programs were up in all six faculties, the dean said, and admissions to PhD programs went up from last year’s levels in arts, engineering, environmental studies and science. George also reported on the scope of graduate studies at UW in general (left) and gave some figures on grad student funding. From inside or outside the university, grads at UW are receiving $62 million this year in scholarships, assistantships and other payments, he said. The average income of a grad is now $20,000 at the master’s level and $31,000 at the PhD level.

The number of first-year students on campus this fall is, as predicted, bigger than the targets that had been set — bigger by some 4 per cent, according to the office of institutional analysis and planning, which has reported on enrolment as of the official count date, November 1. There are a total of 5,723 full-time students in first year, counting both new admissions and the 438 students who had been enrolled in a previous term. The target was 5,515. "The faculties vary," writes Mary Soulis of IAP, "from a low of 97% for Mathematics to a high of 128% for Environmental Studies. Applied Health Sciences is at 99%, Engineering at 101%, Arts at 104% and Science at 115%. Domestic students are at 105% of target and international fee paying students are at 88% of target."

The same report reveals that 1,241 of this year's first-year students arrived with high school averages of 90 or higher — slightly up from 1,194 last year. The's also an increase in the number of students with averages in the 95-plus stratosphere: 288 of them, compared to last year's 238. As for the so-called Ontario Scholar level, a high school average of 80 or above, the number of such students is up, from last year's 3,548 to this year's 3,749, but because the total enrolment went up this year, the percentage of Ontario Scholars is actually down, from 85 per cent in 2006 to 83 this year. "The largest percentage of students continues to be in the 85% to 89% average," Soulis notes. The number of students admitted at the lower end, with averages between 70 and 74, dropped from last year's 55 to this year's 6.

On the theme of first-year students, I liked the note in last week's issue of MathNews from somebody who goes by the nom-de-plume of Half-pint: "I remember the first time my mother asked me if I was gaining the Freshman 15. I got upset, and told her, 'I certainly don't think so, and besides, how should I know? I don't have a scale here.' 'But how are your clothes fitting?' she replied smugly. "I — wait.' Then the realization came that all my pants were really tight lately. 'I thought I was doing my laundry wrong!' I cried out. That was when I cut back my deep-fried-food consumption from the V1 caf."

And . . . information services and technology confirms that UW's Internet connectivity was broken from 9:45 Saturday night to 3:00 Sunday morning, "reportedly due to scheduled maintenance on provider fibre between London and Guelph. UW wasn't advised of the scheduled downtime."


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