Thursday, February 28, 2008

  • The Faculty of Environment . . . soon
  • Plans for review of the PDEng program
  • Some tax planning tips for students
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Link of the day

Tax deadlines

When and where

Random Leaps Book Sale outside UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, final day today.

Women In Engineering presents Diane Freeman (civil engineering 1992), “Living an Enriched Life Through a Non-Traditional Journey”, 11:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 305, registration online.

Chemical engineering seminar: Udo Reichl, Max Planck Institute, "A Systems Perspective of Virus Replication in Mammalian Cell Culture", 11:30 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Mark Chamberlain, Trivaris Ltd., “Gold Mine: Seek and Build”, 12:00 noon, 295 Hagey Boulevard.

International spouses group explores Chinese cooking (spring rolls) at new location, St. Paul's College graduate apartments, 5th-floor lounge, 12:45, child care available, preregistration required (e-mail

Career workshops: Career Interest Assessment 3:00, Tatham Centre room 1112; Getting a US Work Permit 4:30, Tatham 1208; registration online.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session for future students, 4:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard suite 240.

R3Design, new club with the goal of examining design practices in an ecological light, meets 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 305, all welcome.

Students Against Sweatshops and Waterloo Public Interest Research Group present"Inside Your Threads", 45-minute video, 5:30, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, discussion follows.

UW alumni in Palo Alto networking event 6:30 to 8:30, Hiller Aviation Museum, details online.

Drop period 1 ends: Friday, February 29, is last day to receive a WD grade (no penalty) for dropped winter term undergraduate courses.

Inter-Collegiate Peace Fellowship conference February 29 through March 2, Conrad Grebel University College, details online.

Co-op spring work term job rankings open Friday 1:00 p.m., close Monday 2:00; match results available Monday 4:00 p.m. on JobMine.

[Smardz Frost]History Society 25th annual MacKinnon Dinner, with guest speaker Karolyn Smardz Frost (pictured), UW graduate and Governor General's Award winner, Friday 6 p.m., Ali Baba Steakhouse, tickets $20 ($30 non-students) at Humanities room 122.

St. Jerome’s University presents the 2007-08 Devlin Lecture: Frederick Bird, UW department of political science, “Rethinking the Bottom Line: International Business and Poverty”, Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Peace and Conflict Studies 30th anniversary celebration with address by Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhhamed Ashafa, of Kaduna, Nigeria, Friday 7:30 p.m., Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West.

Server shutdown affecting UW-ACE, ‘admmail’ e-mail and a number of other services from information systems and technology, Saturday 7:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Health and wellness fair at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, Saturday: organic food, women’s sportswear, blood pressure management, free fitness classes, speakers, keynote by Chris Crowley, author of Younger Next Year, details online.

Alumni career planning workshop offered by Career Services, Saturday 9:30 to 4:00, cost $75, registration online.

Chilly Dog Run: run or walk two loops around the ring road, then chili in the Student Life Centre, with guest speaker, hosted by Moods Assistance Through Educational Support, Saturday 10:30 a.m., registration (online) $10.

Peace and Conflict Studies fund-raising banquet for the Frank H. Epp Memorial Fund, Conrad Grebel University College, Saturday 6:30 p.m., tickets $20, call ext. 24269.

Hopespring Cancer Support Centre curling fund-raiser, organized by UW earth sciences staff and alumni in memory of Gail Bendig, bonspiel Sunday at Westmount Golf and Country Club, information and donations e-mail

Staff association special general meeting Tuesday 8:40 to 9:30 a.m., Math and Computer room 1085, agenda online.

Cultural Caravan with performances from Hindu, Bengali, Iranian, Caribbean, Polish and other student clubs, plus ethnic food and displays, Tuesday, March 4, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Student Life Centre.

International Women’s Day dinner: “Celebrate women mentoring women,” Thursday, March 6, 5:00, University Club. Speakers are Emerance Baker (aboriginal services coordinator) and Susan Tighe (civil and environmental engineering); tickets $30 at Humanities box office.

Distributive Education Clubs of America invitational competition and conference in marketing and management March 7-8, details online.

March break football day camp sponsored by Warrior football and Twin Cities Minor Tackle Football Association, March 10-14, Columbia Icefield, information online.

March break open house for future students (formerly Campus Day) Tuesday, March 11, details online.

‘Tartuffe’ drama department major production, March 11 at 7:00 (preview by invitation), March 12-15 at 8:00, March 15 at 2:00, Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 (students $10) 519-888-4908.

Arts Gala 2008, French-inspired dinner and dancing sponsored by Arts Student Union, Friday, March 14, from 7:00, Waterloo Inn, tickets $25 at ASU office, Arts Lecture Hall.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “You-biquity: What Every Instructor Needs to Know about Social Software,” Tuesday, March 18, 3:30, Flex lab, Dana Porter Library, details online.

Good Friday holiday Friday, March 21, classes cancelled, UW offices and most services closed.

Walk for Darfur: Event sponsored by UW Genocide Action Group, Muslim Students Association and others, Wednesday, March 26; speaker Debbie Bodkin of UN Commission of Inquiry, 12:00 noon, Student Life Centre, followed by fund-raising walk around ring road.

44th annual used book sale sponsored by Canadian Federation of University Women, April 18 (9:00 to 9:00) and 19 (9:00 to 1:00), First United Church, King and William Streets; book dropoff information online.

['Green smart solutions' logo]The Faculty of Environment . . . soon

The Faculty of Environmental Studies is going to become the Faculty of Environment — but not right away.

“A Transitional Committee will determine when to implement the name changes in consideration of recruitment materials, stationery, and so on,” says a memo from ES dean Deep Saini, sent to faculty, staff and students after UW’s senate gave its okay to the new nomenclature on Monday. He speaks of name “changes”, plural, because one of the three academic units in ES is also being relabeled: the geography department is to become “Geography and Environmental Management”.

Saini told the senate meeting on Monday evening that the new name will come into use “after the current admissions cycle”, since high schoolers are in the process of being welcomed into “environmental studies” programs for next September and it wouldn’t be wise to confuse them.

The change, when it comes, will be the first alteration in the name of a UW faculty since “human kinetics and leisure studies” became Applied Health Sciences in 1990.

Presenting the proposed change to senate, Saini repeated what he has said before: that the expression “studies” seems “too passive” in view of the emphasis that his colleagues now give to environmental actions and solutions. As for the single word “environment”, he said a planning committee had also considered “the environment” for the new name, but “this rolls off the tongue better!” Senate members giggled as he rhymed off a list of names used by faculties, centres and institutes at various other North American universities, some with “the” in the name and some without it.

Many of the faculty’s academic programs will still lead to a degree in “environmental studies”, as “there’s no discussion” of changing the names of degrees, the dean said.

He mentioned to senate that the new name, presented as a trial balloon at a meeting of UW’s board of governors earlier this month, “resonated” with board members. At that meeting he stated his ambition for ES at Waterloo as the foremost faculty of its kind in Canada: “It’s got to stand out as the place.”

With a light-bulb-and-leaf logo and a new slogan, “Smart Green Solutions”, UW’s smallest faculty has been both “rebranding” itself and building academic quality, Saini said. Two new academic programs this year — Bachelor of Knowledge Integration and BES in international development — have brought a big surge in admission applications, a joint program with China’s Nanjing University is building enrolment, and research funding is growing, with a goal of doubling it between 2007 and 2012.

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Plans for review of the PDEng program

by Jeffrey Lipnicky, vice-president (education) of the Engineering Society, as published in the Iron Warrior

As many students and staff are aware, the Dean of Engineering (Adel Sedra) has commissioned an Independent Review of the PDEng Program. The review was promised to begin this term since the first cohort of students has completed the entire program. The details of the review are slowly being released, and this article will outline the information that is currently available.

Dean Sedra has modeled the review after the formal Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) reviews. It will be comprised of four main components: 1) Self-Study; 2) Stakeholder Feedback; 3) Review by External Review Board, and; 4) Final Report.

To start the review, the staff of the PDEng Program will conduct a Self-Study based on six predetermined characteristics. At present, these characteristics have not yet been made known to me. The staff will prepare the report by gathering the required information and critically analyzing it. They will present possible solutions to any identified issues, and then select the optimal solution. The self-study will be the main source of information for the reviewers.

At the same time, the Associate Dean of Engineering, Undergraduate Studies (Wayne Loucks) will gather feedback from relevant stakeholders. The means by which the information will be gathered is not yet finalized; however, it is expected to collect comments and suggestions from staff, students, faculty, and other personnel. When details of this process are made available to me, I will be sure to pass this information on to the student body as soon as possible.

The data collected through the self-study and stakeholder feedback will be provided to a committee of three or four external reviewers selected by the Dean of Engineering. The reviewers will be from industry, academia, and professional organizations. It is proposed that there be at least one reviewer from each of these areas. The individuals currently under consideration include past PEO presidents, former Deans of Engineering, and prominent cooperative education employers. The individuals have not yet been contacted, so names cannot be provided. Once the specific timeline for the review is established, the review committee will be formally announced by the Dean.

The review committee will spend limited time on campus (estimated to be a few days) to gather some input from stakeholders and collect the relevant data. However, most of the information they will be using for their review will come from the self-study and feedback collection. They will not be collecting much data themselves.

Once the review committee has all of the relevant data, they will prepare the final report to be presented to the Dean of Engineering. Dean Sedra has stated publicly at the last EngSoc Council Meeting (January 30, 2008) that he will make the final report public.

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[Looking at the basket, not the handheld]

Eye on the basket: "Everything under the sun is related to staring at the screen," says David Clausi of UW’s management sciences department, who notes that if you’re a basketball coach or scorer, you’d better be staring at the players on the court instead. "We have to create a computer interface that you don't stare at, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever considered that before." The result is the Minimal Glance System, seen in this publicity photo from Clausi’s spinoff company Crez Basketball Systems. As the company prepares to bring its product to market, it’s received funding from an unusual source: the Michelin Development Canada job creation fund set up after the closing of Kitchener’s big B. F. Goodrich tire plant two years ago. The Michelin loan is expected to help create 10 jobs at Crez, which is based in UW’s Accelerator Centre.

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Some tax planning tips for students

provided by UW graduate Parvez Patel, an investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities. The Canada Revenue Agency also offers tax tips for students.

You can claim a 15.25% non-refundable tax credit for eligible tuition fees paid to universities, colleges, and other educational institutions in Canada, or certain other institutions. Once you qualify, the full amount of your tuition fees will be eligible for the credit. Eligible tuition fees also include charges for the use of library or laboratory facilities, mandatory computer service fees, and athletic and health services fees. However, the costs of books, meals and lodging are not eligible.

You may also be eligible to claim the education credit, equal to 15.25% of $400 for full-time students or $120 for part-time students, multiplied by the number of months in the calendar year during which student were in attendance at a university, college, or other designated educational institution in Canada, or at a university outside Canada in a course leading to a bachelor or equivalent level degree that lasted for at least 13 consecutive weeks. To be considered a full-time student, you must have been required to spend at least 10 hours per week on courses or work in your post-secondary program. In general, you will be considered a full-time student if you have taken 60% or more of the usual course load for the program during a semester.

You will be required to first apply sufficient tuition and education credits earned in a given year to reduce your taxes payable in the year to zero. If you have any unused tuition and education credits still remaining, you may transfer them to one designated individual — either a spouse (including a common-law partner) or a parent or grandparent (which can include a spouse’s or common law partner’s parent or grandparent) up to $5,000 per year. Alternatively, you can carry forward the unused tuition and education credits to future years. You may only transfer unused tuition and education credits to a parent or grandparent if your spouse (or common-law partner) has not claimed either the married exemption credit or any spousal credit transfers (i.e. age, pension, or disability).

You can also claim a 15.25% non-refundable tax credit on interest paid on loans made for post-secondary education under the Canada Student Loans Act, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, or similar provincial or territorial statutes. You are not permitted to claim interest paid on any other kind of loan, or on a student loan that has been combined with another kind of loan. For example, if your student loan carries a 7% interest, you cannot claim the interest paid on a second loan (presumably at a lower interest rate) that was used to pay off the student loan. You may want to consult with your advisor about whether you would be better off tax-wise with a lower interest rate loan even if the interest is not deductible. If you do not want to claim the interest in the year it was paid, you are able to carry forward the claim and apply it on your tax return for any of the subsequent five years.

Scholarships, fellowships, or bursaries that are received by you as a student with respect to your enrolment in a program that entitles you to claim the education amount are not taxable and are no longer reported as income on your tax return. If you are not able to claim the education amount, then the tax-free amount that can be received is reduced to $500.

If you move in order to attend full-time courses at a university or other post-secondary educational institution in or outside of Canada, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses — but only against your income from scholarships, fellowships, and research grants that is reported on your tax return. Similarly, you may also be able to deduct moving expenses if you move within Canada to take a job, including summer employment, or to start a business, to the extent of the employment or business income earned at the new location. In all cases, you can only claim moving expenses if the move results in you residing at least 40 kilometres closer to the educational institution or work location.

As a student, you may be entitled to deduct childcare expenses against any income earned in the year. The general rule governing the deduction of childcare expenses is that the lower income spouse or common-law partner is required to claim the childcare expenses.

So long as you are a resident of Canada, you may be able to withdraw up to $10,000 per year — to an overall cap of $20,000 — from your Retirement Savings Plan to finance full-time training or post-secondary education for yourself or your spouse or common-law partner. The withdrawals can only be made over a maximum period of four calendar years. The amounts withdrawn from your RSP will have to be repaid over a 10-year period.

Are you a beneficiary of a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)? If you receive an educational assistance payment (EAP) from the RESP, you will have to report the EAP received as taxable income on your tax return.

Students who are 19 years or older may be entitled to receive the Goods and Services Tax credit. If you are eligible, you must apply to receive the GST credit by filing a tax return every year.


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