Thursday, April 10, 2008

  • Associate VP to be athletics director
  • UW's role in local high-tech 'cluster'
  • Programmers come 9th, and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Copeland in front of Warrior logo]
Associate VP to be athletics director

A one-time Warrior football player, long-time supporter of UW athletics, and senior executive in another part of the university will be UW’s next director of athletics and recreational services.

Bob Copeland (pictured), currently associate vice-president (annual giving and alumni affairs) in the development and alumni office, will begin his new duties on July 1. He’ll be overseeing an operation involving close to 600 student athletes and 80 coaches on 31 varsity teams, not to mention 180 recreational activities that bring 12,000 people to the facilities each week.

Copeland is moving into “his dream job”, said his current boss, vice-president (external relations) Meg Beckel, noting that he came to development and alumni affairs from the athletics department seven years ago. “His heart has always been with athletics,” adds his new boss, Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services), who said he was the unanimous choice of the committee set up to advise on picking a new director.

Says David Johnston, president of the university: “Bob is a remarkable UW talent — knowledgeable, enthusiastic and well known to UW staff and faculty, as well as alumni, intercollegiate sports managers and coaches. He is an unabashed supporter of the Waterloo Warriors and has the vision, excitement and skills to help UW athletics and recreation face the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.”

Copeland himself says in a UW news release, issued last night, that "I feel enormously privileged to lead this dynamic unit, with one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in Canada, with exceptional leadership and student participation. I am fully committed to upholding our philosophy of providing an enriching student-athlete experience, strongly rooted in our academic mission, that also contributes to a strong sense of pride and community in the Warrior brand."

Copeland earned bachelor’s and master’s degree in recreation and leisure studies UW and played varsity football for the Warriors. He worked for a sports marketing agency, Branada Sports Communications, then returned to UW in 1996 and spent five years as the first manager of marketing and alumni relations for athletics. He moved to development and alumni affairs in 2001 and played a part in the success of Campaign Waterloo, as well as developing skills that he’s expected to use back in the athletics realm.

Copeland replaces Judy McCrae, the third athletics director in UW’s history, who served as an inter-collegiate coach before moving into the director’s role 14 years ago. She has also been active with the Ontario Athletics Association and Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The two directors will overlap for a few weeks this summer before McCrae leaves in mid-August.

"Bob is an excellent candidate for the position,” said McCrae.“He values the experiences that sport and activity add to campus life. His guidance and leadership contribution will be great.He knows the campus, the department members, and wants to work with the students. His skill set will augment the thinking of the department opportunities.He is a great choice. He is a Warrior.”

Back to top

UW's role in local high-tech 'cluster'

What keeps 455 high-tech companies in Waterloo Region, and encourages more companies to put down roots here, isn’t the opportunity to be near their customers or suppliers, it’s “the embeddedness of the University of Waterloo” and the community’s culture, a trio of researchers say.

Allison Bramwell, Jen Nelles and David A. Wolfe of the University of Toronto make that claim in an article published in the February issue of the British journal Regional Studies. It’s the most recent paper resulting from their continuing research into “industrial clusters” from Silicon Valley to Waterloo.

The usual assumption is that companies in similar fields that are located near each other must do business together, but that isn’t necessarily so for Waterloo’s information and communications technology firms, their article says: “The interview data reveals that the focus of most economic activity — key customers, sources of supply, competitors, and important strategic partnerships — for the vast majority of firms occurs at the continental and/or global level. . . . Only very few have key local customers with whom they are in regular contact.”

Then why stay in Waterloo? UW is a major reason: “Most firms indicated that it was a distinct advantage to be located in Waterloo because it provided a ready supply of ‘smart and competitively priced’ engineers and because the University of Waterloo is ‘one of the best universities in the world for computer engineering’. . . . Wilfrid Laurier University is regularly mentioned as a source for junior marketing and management people. . . .

“Whether or not they have other linkages with the university, a clear majority of firms actively or regularly hire students from the co-op programme.”

There’s more to UW’s involvement than just providing engineering graduates, and more than just research and technology transfer, says a long section of the article about “extra-firm institutional supports”.

“While there are many formal relationships such as research contracts and funding of research chairs,” the Toronto authors say, “much of the knowledge exchange is more informal than formal. Interviewees cite the university not only as an important source of tech transfer and specialized skills, but also as providing both international cachet to the region, and simple social/professional networks.”

In fact, research links may not always be strong, as some firms “reported difficulty in accessing what was available, not feeling ‘in the loop’, or had a perception that the research efforts at the university were focused on larger companies. . . .

“Large, global firms that collaborate with the university on long-term, core research projects report that the primary benefit of their collaboration is ‘getting the first look’ at research results. They want to keep abreast of what is happening at the research level, even though they know they will not have any proprietary access to the [intellectual property].”

The Waterloo area has something else besides universities, the article says: it has “a high degree of ‘civic capital’, as shown in “well-developed business associations, as well as a vibrant social network and sense of community”. In particular there’s Communitech, an association of companies that helps provide access to “peer-to-peer mentoring and knowledge sharing”, especially for people from smaller firms.

“An important contributing factor to cluster development,” the article adds, “is the presence of local champions with a greater vision than single firm success.” It cites the large high-tech companies in the region — Research In Motion, Open Text, MKS, Descartes — that “try to give back and help local companies, and support the local universities”.

Says the article: “The university is the ‘driving force’ in the cluster, and Communitech is the ‘uniting force’. . . . Whereas purely locational factors, based on demanding local customers, suppliers and competitors, cannot fully explain the Waterloo cluster, local institutions — primarily the University of Waterloo and the Communitech business association — overlaid with regional cultural characteristics provide the glue that attracts and holds innovative high-tech firms.”

Back to top

Programmers come 9th, and more

UW's team won a ninth-place bronze medal in the finals of the ACM Collegiate Programming Contest, held yesterday in Banff Springs, Alberta. Simon Parent (computer science), Konstantin Lopyrev (software engineering) and Richard Peng (CS) were coached in the competition by Gordon Cormack of the school of computer science and Tor Myklebust of the combinatorics and optimization department. "The team started slowly," Cormack reported after yesterday's five-hour challenge, "but showed an outstanding finish to overtake Alberta, UBC and incumbent champion Warsaw University." Waterloo had qualified for the finals by placing first (and third, and fifth) in a field of 116 teams in the East Central Regionals last fall. Teams from 1,821 universities in 83 countries competed in the regionals, with 100 teams moving on to the world finals. It's the 16th straight year that a Waterloo team has made the finals. Eventual winner this year was the St. Petersburg University of IT, Mechanics and Optics in Russia. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology came second to be North American champion. "Each team of three students was faced with solving 11 computer programming problems," a news release explains. "Students were challenged to develop software code to determine the length of a city skyline, map the size and capacity of a new building design, and provide support for an embedded neural network for cell phones."

[Man seen by surveillance camera]UW police would like to identify the man in the photo at left, who is described as "a person of interest" in connection with several recent thefts of laptops from UW libraries and residences. "Police are requesting your assistance," Sergeant Alan Binns writes. "Any information can be forwarded to the University of Waterloo Police Services at ext. 22222 on campus or 519-888-4911 off campus." And maybe this is a good time to mention that the police web site includes a page on theft prevention, which starts with this tip: "When leaving your room, lock the door, even if you will be gone for just a minute."

News borrowed from the engineering faculty's e-newsletter: "It's often hard to describe the time, effort and creativity that goes into a project. The book Pavilion, unveiled at Waterloo's School of Architecture, captures the evolution of the Pavilion Project through stories and photos in a way words alone can't. The Pavilion Project was initiated and led by Andrew Hunter, director and curator of Render, the University of Waterloo's art gallery. Waterloo architecture master's students were challenged to design a moveable studio/media station to be used in Render's exhibition space by visitors, including artists and students. The result of the project is a cube that expands to 24 feet in length and incorporates reclaimed materials. Features include an embedded plasma screen, video projector and computer stations. The Pavilion was installed at Render last fall after it was featured at the Explore Design fair in Toronto. Hunter approached architecture graduate student and Pavilion project member Lisa Hirmer to design a book that would incorporate sketches, models and renderings as well as photographs of the unique construction process. The 65-page black square book that includes text by the design team and architecture professor Robert Jan van Pelt ‘echoes the shape and texture of the Pavilion itself,’ says Hirmer. The book is available for $5 at the School of Architecture and at Render.”

Changes are impending for the dialup service that some people still use for connecting to the UW computer network from off-campus. "Changes are being made to this service to move to an annual subscription fee effective May 1, 2008," says a memo from information systems and technology. "Note that this is a limited service, subject to availability. In the event of an emergency (e.g., outages by the major Internet Service Providers), it may be necessary to temporarily suspend the service in order to ensure access to the University by staff performing critical support functions. Two levels of service are being offered: Dialup Light: $50/year, suitable for those with modest internet usage (i.e. less than 15 connect hours/month) and availability requirements. In the event of an emergency, Dialup Light accounts will be temporarily suspended. Dialup Regular: $100/year. Note that accounts are still subject to the availability restrictions but only as a last resort. Please drop by the CHIP before May 1 if you would like to subscribe to either the dialup light or regular service. Please contact Kerry Brown (ext. 36437, or Laura Smith (ext. 33271, if you have any questions."


Back to top

Link of the day

Siblings Day

When and where

Winter term examinations begin today, end April 24; schedule is online.

Graduate Conference in Philosophy (15th annual) winds up today, Humanities building, details online.

Tourplay children’s drama: “Jillian Jiggs and the Pirates” 10:00 and 1:00, Humanities Theatre.

Harryfest 2008 marks the retirement of Harry Panjer after 28 years as a faculty member in statistics and actuarial science, Friday-Saturday, Davis Centre, details online.

Dance Odyssey competition Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Bob Hicks and Martin Timmerman, project updates on Vista migration and student e-mail, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Philosophy colloquium: Andrew Stumpf, “On Being an Individual.” Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Sociology lecture: Joan Friedenberg , Florida Atlantic University, “The Anatomy of an Academic Mobbing”, Friday 3:30, PAS building room 2083.

Benjamin Eby Lecture at Conrad Grebel University College: James Reimer, “Christian Theology Today: What Is at Stake?” Friday 7:30 p.m., Grebel chapel.

Web and e-mail outage as server room reorganization continues: UW home page and most web sites unavailable, as well as ‘mailservices’ and other servers, Saturday 7:30 to 11:00 a.m.

CKMS-FM visioning session to discuss the station’s future, Saturday 11:00 a.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Athletics Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony, Saturday, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Conrad Grebel University College Convocation Sunday 2:00, Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building.

Mathematics contests for high school students: Euclid (grade 12), April 15; Fryer (grade 9), Galois (grade 10) and Hypatia (grade 11), April 16; Gauss (grades 7 and 8), May 14; details online.

UW Retirees Association spring luncheon Tuesday, April 15, 11:30 a.m., great hall, Luther Village, 139 Father David Bauer Drive, tickets $25, information 519-885-4758..

Staff salary system and settlement information sessions, Tuesday, April 15, 12:30 p.m., Arts Lecture Hall room 113, repeated April 23, same time and room.

Pat Cunningham, faculty of mathematics, retirement party Wednesday, April 16, 3:00 to 5:00, Davis Centre lounge, RSVP

‘Are You Following Me?’ Employee Assistance Program presents workshop on “profiling stalkers, Internet dating and safety”, Thursday, April 17, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1304.

Former president of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam speaks on “Canada and India: Partnership in Global Development”, Thursday, April 17, 12:00, Theatre of the Arts, register online.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 21-24, details online. Seminar for students preparing postdoctoral applications, Monday, April 21, 10:00, Davis Centre room 1351. Keynote talk by Thomas Homer-Dixon (energy and climate change, “the ingenuity gap”, social change) Monday, April 21, 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets $2 at Humanities box office.

School of Pharmacy presents Robert S. Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Advances in Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering”, Tuesday, April 22, 1:30, Math and Computer room 2065, all welcome, reception follows.

Unofficial grades for winter term courses begin appearing on Quest April 25; grades become official May 26.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is April 28 (cheque, money order, promissory note) or May 1 (bank payment or international wire transfer), details online.

Learning about Teaching annual symposium May 12-14, details online, including Presidents’ Colloquium Monday May 12, 2:00, Humanities Theatre: Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, “Changing Students’ Attitudes about Who’s Responsible for Learning,” reception follows, all welcome.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Denise Marigold, “Overcoming Acceptance Insensitivity: Increasing Low Self-Esteem Individuals’ Perceptions of Value to their Partners.” Supervisor, John Holmes. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, April 25, 10:00 a.m., PAS (Psychology) room 3026.

Electrical and computer engineering. Kuang-Hao Liu, “Design, Modeling, and Analysis for MAC Protocols in Ultra-Wideband Networks.” Supervisor, Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, April 25, 10:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Civil and environmental engineering. Shunde Yin, “Geomechanics-Reservoir Modeling by Displacement Discontinuity-Finite Element Method.” Supervisors, Leo Rothenburg and Maurice Dusseault. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 28, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Mechanical and mechatronics engineering. Luke Ng, “Reinforcement Learning of Dynamic Collaborative Driving.” Supervisors, Jan Huissoon and Chris Clark. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 28, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 2354F.

Electrical and computer engineering. Reena Al-Dahleh, “Integrated MEMS-Based Phase Shifters.” Supervisor, Raafat R. Mansour. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, April 28, 2:00 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin