Friday, June 20, 2008

  • Regionals provide UW's new sergeant
  • 'Multiplying excitement about math'
  • Notes in the last hours of spring
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Regionals provide UW's new sergeant

UW and the Waterloo Regional Police Service yesterday announced “a groundbreaking collaboration, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada”, that will see a staff sergeant from the regional force serve for a one-year term as second-in-command of the university police.

A joint news release, issued after yesterday’s meeting of the police services board, announces the plan: “Starting in August, a WRPS Staff Sergeant will be seconded to the UW Police Service, filling the position of manager, police and security, within UW police services. Both services believe this unique staffing arrangement will result in enhanced collaboration between the university police and regional police. They also believe it will lead to better service for both the UW campus and community as a whole.”

The officer, yet to be named, will report to both the superintendent of WRPS #3 Division, based in central Waterloo, and the director of UW police and parking services, Al Mackenzie. He or she takes on the role formerly occupied by UW staff sergeant Wayne Shortt, who has just retired after 21 years with UW's force.

Says WRPS chief Matthew Torigian: "Our service, as part of our fundamental approach to crime prevention and law enforcement, takes great pride in demonstrating leadership through the development of new and innovative approaches to ensuring excellence in the delivery of policing services to our community. The ongoing partnership between the Waterloo Regional Police Service and the University of Waterloo is further enhanced with this unique opportunity to collaborate and continue strengthening our collective efforts to ensure public safety.

“The ongoing presence on campus by an experienced supervisor with our service working in conjunction with skilled and dedicated university staff is expected to help identify additional strategies to ensure our shared goals of continually reviewing and improving services relating to crime prevention, education, and enforcement."

UW president David Johnston echoed the collaborative nature of the new arrangement: “We have always enjoyed a close working relationship with the Waterloo Regional Police Service, and this partnership will only serve to enhance that connection. As a public institution, a small city within a city, it’s very important for us to ensure that our campus enjoys maximum benefits in policing in terms of emergency response, especially the safety of our students.

“This innovative approach of having a senior WRPS officer working directly with our own police service will further ensure that the latest in policing and emergency services will flow seamlessly to our campus.”

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'Multiplying excitement about math'

an excerpt from a feature article by Beth Gallagher in the spring issue of the UW Magazine for Waterloo alumni

Annual Seminars in Computer Science for Young Women are one way to educate young women, and they take place on campus every year for Grade 9 and 10 students from across Canada, says Sandy Graham of UW’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. The girls spend a week in enrichment activities, getting to know professors, learning to take apart and rebuild computers, and discovering that computer science is more than just programming and software. Graham has spent seven years organizing the seminar and says when it comes to encouraging young women to be computer scientists, "the No. 1 issue is image. Unfortunately, girls look at it as geeky, boring, and not necessary."

Daisy, 18, a participant from Newfoundland, said she attended the computer seminar in 2006 and it was one of the most stimulating activities of her high school career. She shared a residence room with a girl from Saskatchewan who has remained a good friend and she learned about binary number systems, digital hardware, and new programming approaches. "I learned more in a week than I would have in months at high school," says Daisy.

The experience, however, did not inspire her to pursue a high-tech career. This fall she hopes to begin nursing studies with a view to getting into medical school someday. "I'm more of a helping person," says Daisy. "I don't want to be at a desk all day."

Bill Gates of Microsoft dealt with these popular misconceptions head-on during his February talk at UW: "These are fun jobs," he said. "They're not jobs where you're in a cubbyhole writing code. . . . They are about changing the world."

Graham says part of the problem for both young men and women is that they erroneously assume that "everything has already been invented. They tell me, 'I have a computer in my pocket. Why do I need to study computer science?'" Graham said the young women in her seminars are usually surprised and inspired by the graduate students she brings in to discuss their computer science research. "They realize that maybe everything hasn't been invented.”

Both Graham and CEMC’s Ian VanderBurgh point out that, in Ontario, another critical issue is the fact that computer science is taken by fewer high school students now than in the 1990s. Beginning in 1999, high school students in Ontario had only four years to complete their high school diploma instead of five. The new four-year secondary school curriculum meant students had less time in their schedules to take elective courses like computer science.

It's a theory that rings true for Sarah Sun, a UW math student from Alberta who participated in the CEMC's math contests for many years before graduating and enrolling in UW's math program on a scholarship. "I had no exposure to computer science in high school. It was a very obscure course and even for those kids who were interested in computer science it was hard to fit it into your schedule," recalls Sun.

Graham said the change to a four-year diploma "devastated the computer science curriculum" also because of the pressure on high school students to get high marks. Students avoid tougher electives like computer science because it may bring their average down, she says.

While many challenges remain, Graham and VanderBurgh are both optimistic about CEMC's future. The Gates Foundation funding has brought stability to their current programs along with an opportunity for reaching out around the world.

One Waterloo high school student said the CEMC's weekly math circles on campus were a great challenge for her. She enjoyed meeting math professors on a regular basis and being challenged with problems that were more difficult than those presented in her high school courses. VanderBurgh says her experience with math circles is great for local students but he hopes to expand the idea into remote areas. "Ideally, we will run our math circles and broadcast them in real time on the web for those students in Elliot Lake, for example, to join in."

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Notes in the last hours of spring

Students in four of the six faculties face a new requirement, after UW’s senate approved a motion “to require Safety Orientation Training for all students in the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Studies and Science. The training will be offered through a two-hour online module in UW-ACE.” Background provided: “The Safety Office is currently revising its WHMIS training to include information about emergency procedures, applicable UW policies, relevant legislation, and personal safety and security. All Faculties were consulted and those above agreed to mandate this training for their students (Arts and Mathematics students will undertake the training only as required by a specific course). The training must be completed by the present WHMIS training deadline in each faculty.”

Here’s a memo from a research team in UW’s school of optometry: “We are looking for volunteers to take part in a study of progressive addition spectacle lenses (sometimes known as 'invisible bifocals'). The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationship between the optical design of progressive addition spectacle lenses and the quality of performance, satisfaction, and acceptance of the lenses as perceived by the person wearing the lenses. The time commitment for the study will be 4-6 sessions of 30-45 minutes each plus 2-3 ten-minute online questionnaires. The study spectacles are supplied at no charge and you may keep the pair you prefer at the conclusion of the study visits. To meet the entry criteria of the study you will have had: a full eye examination in the last 18 months; currently wear reading glasses, bifocal glasses or invisible bifocals; have good vision in each eye and have no eye turns (strabismus). For more information about this study or to volunteer please contact a research assistant at ext. 38118 or email” Researchers involved are Natalie Hutchings, Ralph Chou and Marilyn Smith. Postscript: “This study has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through, the Office of Research Ethics, University of Waterloo.”

Engineering achievements, as reported in the engineering faculty’s e-newsletter: Peter Huck’s NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Water Treatment has been renewed for a fourth five-year term. Mohamed Kamel of electrical and computer engineering has been named a Fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition, and will be officially recognized during the association’s international conference in December. Carolyn Hansson of mechanical and mechatronics engineering was recognized with the 2005 ASTM Committee G01 Sam Tour Award for a paper published in the Journal of ASTM International and also the 2009 Acta Materialia Award.

Pamela Morgan, who worked part-time in UW’s counselling services between 1984 and 2003, and also taught part-time for several years at Renison College, died on January 25. • Alan Prins, who was a coordinator in the co-op education and career services department, specializing in math students, from 1983 until retirement in 1996, died September 27, 2007. • Cliff Wilson, who was UW’s university architect (in what’s now the plant operations department) from 1971 to his retirement in 1988, died March 8.

A conference group of “Canada’s future leaders”, the Governor General’s Leadership Tour, is visiting Stratford today to see a Festival play and get briefings on local issues, including some words from dean of arts Ken Coates about plans for UW’s Stratford Institute. • Students in the school of pharmacy will have employer interviews for their first-ever co-op work term today and tomorrow (yep, Saturday) in the Tatham Centre. • Mary Louise (“Pixie”) Helm officially retired May 1 from her job as sales assistant in the UW Shop, where she had been working since 2001.

Finally . . . I was asking yesterday about the Canada Day celebrations, eleven days from now on UW's north campus. What will the crowds be able to see, hear and do before it's time for the fireworks? A partial answer comes from one of the energetic student volunteers who are making it all happen, Luan Ngo: "We invite everybody to come and enjoy the events, activities and performances that are planned, but most of all, mark the 141st year of our nation’s birth. Amongst these events is Activity World which provides games, demonstrations and activities for all age groups provided by different organizations in the community, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. There will be a climbing wall from Scouts Canada and Girl Guides of Canada, life size model airplanes from WARG, display robots from UW Robotics. There will also be an exciting and challenging obstacle course put on by Columbia Lake Health Club, who will also be handing out frisbees. Many other fun, exciting and interesting displays and games will be available in the Activity World. Come enjoy the celebrations with us. Come meet different groups from the community. But most of all, come celebrate our history and heritage."


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The faculty of arts is getting a new associate dean (graduate studies and research). As of July 1, Bruce Muirhead of the history department takes on that role; he succeeds Sandra Burt of political science.

Link of the day

Multicultural FestivalUpTown Country

When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall term jobs wind up today. Rankings on JobMine open 1 p.m., close Monday 2 p.m.; matches available Monday 4:00.

Dropping courses: last day for 50 per cent fee refund is today. Last day to receive a WD grade for spring term courses dropped, June 27.

Applied health informatics bootcamp on-site workshop introducing key concepts in informatics, last day, Davis Centre room 1302.

Contemporary School of Dance spring recital Friday-Sunday, Humanities Theatre.

Campus Crusade for Cheese weekly meeting and tasting ($2) 4:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 4020.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre Friday and Saturday evenings, including salsa lessons, mini-golf, Engineering Jazz Band, pizza, crafts; films “The Other Boleyn Girl” Friday 11:00, “Horton Hears a Who” Saturday 9:00, “The Eye” Saturday 11:00; details online.

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx closed on Saturdays until September.

Career workshop: “Are You Thinking about Med School?” Saturday 10:30, Tatham Centre room 2218, details online.

Solar Collector light sculpture by UW’s Rob Gorbet and other artists, first performance Saturday 8:30 p.m., Regional Operations Centre, Maple Grove Road, Cambridge.

Vancouver alumni event: Southern Ontario Alumni Reunion barbecue at Jericho Beach Pond, Sunday 12:00 to 4:00, details online.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2009 undergraduate courses, June 23-29 on Quest: choose courses now so preferences can be used in preparing the timetable, information online.

Orientation for new staff (existing staff also welcome) Monday 8:30 a.m., includes campus walking tour, refreshments; information and registration e-mail

myPENSIONinfo information session about self-service pension projection system, Monday 11:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Centre for Environment and Business announcement and reception Monday 11:00 a.m., Environmental Studies I courtyard, by invitation, information ext. 38480.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Tuesday 1:30, Commissary building room 112D.

‘The Body Means Well: Empowered Healing’ brown-bag lunch with author Nancy Schaeffer, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Wednesday, June 25, 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Bill Pudifin, faculty of engineering, retirement reception Wednesday, June 25, 3:00 to 5:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Gail Cuthbert Brandt, associate vice-president (international), “stepping down reception” Thursday, June 26, 3:00 to 5:00, Needles Hall room 1101 (note location change), RSVP ext. 38350.

California alumni: Networking reception for alumni at Stanford University Faculty Club, Thursday, June 26, 6:30 p.m. UW Day at Padres baseball game, June 27. UW Day at Dodgers baseball game, June 28. Digital Moose Lounge Canada Day Picnic, June 29, Huddard Park East, Woodside, details online.

Long weekend: UW holidays Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1, for Canada Day; classes cancelled, offices and most services closed.

Canoeing the Grand River: outing organized by International Student Office and Federation of Students, June 30, $32 for UW students, tickets at Fed office, Student Life Centre.

Canada Day celebrations Tuesday, July 1, on the north campus: children’s fun-fest, arts and crafts fair, food, stage performances and other activities, 2 p.m. until evening; fireworks 10 p.m.; details and volunteer information online.

Montréal Jazz Festival bus trip organized by Federation of Students July 4-6, $119 to $179 including space at McGill residence hall, tickets at Feds office, Student Life Centre.

Conrad Grebel University College summer alumni reunion July 4-6.

Teaching and Learning ePortfolio conference, July 7-8, St. Jerome’s University, details online.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: new students, July 14-27; open enrolment begins July 28.

Student Life 101 open house for September’s new students, Saturday, July 19, information online.

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