Friday, March 28, 2008

  • Acoustic guitars to mark Earth Hour
  • Panel today on women in politics
  • Engineering projects on show Monday
  • Of budgets and floor space and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Poster for staff conference]

2 Days Just for You” — the first annual UW Staff Conference — is approaching, and the Office of Human Development sends a reminder to staff that they will be accepting registration for the conference until next Friday, April 4. The conference will be held on April 8-9, and spaces are still available for most sessions. Pre-registered attendees will be automatically entered into a draw for a $50 gift certificate to the University Club, donated by Food Services, OHD says. There are a variety of sessions scheduled over the two days, with sessions at different times in both morning and afternoon to provide flexibility for departments.

Says OHD: "One World Music promises to be an interactive, creative and experiential session using music to create community, reinforce shared values and affirm the human spirit. For staff who work closely with students, Peter Walsh’s session on 'Succeed by Helping Students' will provide practical tools on how to motivate students to follow through with changes in their learning strategies." A full conference listing is on the OHD website.

Link of the day

Remember when you had 'Hair'?

When and where

E-health information security workshop sponsored by Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research winds up today, details online.

Laurier Centre for Music in the Community open house and special events continue today, Wilfrid Laurier University Theatre-Auditorium, details online.

Philosophy Colloquium Series: Lorraine Besser-Jones, “On Being Virtuous and Acting Well”, 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 373.

Annual athletics awards reception: reception 5:30, dinner 6:30, presentation of awards including Athletes of the Year, Columbia Icefield Gym, tickets $27 from athletics office, PAC.

Warrior Weekend activities in the Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings (casino night and mocktail contest Friday, bingo Saturday; crafts; Engineering Jazz Band, Friday 10 p.m.; movies “Juno” and “I Am Legend” Saturday); details online.

Davis Centre main entrance (facing ring road) closed Saturday for glass repairs. Other entrances to building will be open.

Going Green workshop series hosted by Grand House Student Co-operative: Introduction to Green and Natural Building, Saturday 9:00 to 3:30, at School for Community Development, 58 Queen Street South, Kitchener.

Rhythm Dance Festival Saturday all day, Humanities Theatre.

Residential Energy Efficiency Program and public forum on plans to transform a century-old house into a net-zero showcase. Tour ‘before’ house Saturday 1:00 p.m. at 20 Mill Street, Kitchener; public forum 1:45 at Schneider Haus, 466 Queen Street South.

Brent McFarlane Early Bird Run for Wilfrid Laurier University Movement Disorder Research and Rehabilitation Centre, Sunday, starts 9:30 a.m., register by Thursday, details online.

UW Stage Band spring concert Sunday 2:00, Conrad Grebel University College great hall, admission $8 (students/seniors $5).

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

Friends of the Library Lecture: “Afghanistan: Is There an Answer?" by John Manley, former deputy prime minister of Canada, Tuesday, April 1, 4 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Seating is limited; register ext. 32281, or

Laurel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship presents Dave Howlett, networking lecturer, “Knocking Down Silos”, Tuesday, April 1, 6:30 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University Bricker Building room 201, details online.

Orchestra@UWaterloo spring concert: Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto, featuring concerto competition winner Taylor Wang, Thursday, April 3, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, tickets free from Humanities box office.

Last day of classes for winter term is Monday, April 7; examinations April 10-24.

“2 Days for You” staff conference April 8-9, most sessions in Rod Coutts Hall, register online.

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Acoustic guitars to mark Earth Hour

Things are looking bright — well, dark actually — for Earth Hour, a gesture against global climate change that will see millions of people including many at UW, cut off their use of energy for an hour on Saturday night.

Some details of what will happen on campus aren't clear yet, and Rick Zalagenas of plant operations points out that on a Saturday night campus lighting "will be at a minimum already". (Outside lights have to remain on for security reasons, he adds.)

However, where there are people, there's enthusiasm. "UW Residences is encouraging all students to participate in Earth Hour," the housing and residences web site is saying. "We're asking you to 'switch off' for just one hour at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 29. Cities worldwide are collectively participating in this event to take a stand against global warming. We here at UW Residences will be shutting off the lights in our common facilities wherever it is safe and practical to do so. We're hoping you'll also show your support for this worthy cause and hit the lights on March 29."

But there's more, as residence dons and management plus the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group are co-hosting an hour of "electricity-free entertainment" in the Student Life Centre during the hour without power. "Way Unplugged" is the title, says WPIRG's Raj Gill: " As part of the festivities, we will be having a jam session featuring the talents of UW students. We're doing a call for some acoustic talent for the evening. Anyone with guitar, drum or other way unplugged instruments are invited to get in touch with their intention to join in on the Earth Hour fun! Outside of the jam session, if anyone wants to lead a non-juiced act (so far, we've invited drummers, guitar players and jugglers but we're open to suggestions!) they should contact us at"

Other student groups are getting into the Earth Hour act as well, including "The Zeroes", so called because the goal is a zero carbon footprint. "As part of this global movement," says their news release, "students at UW and WLU are getting involved alongside the City of Waterloo and encouraging everyone in the community to participate. The event is being organized jointly by the Federation of Students and Mayor's Student Advisory Council. In conjunction with Earth Hour, the students are also spreading awareness about another program at UW called Zerofootprint."

"The program allows anyone to measure the carbon use of his or her lifestyle and the impact they're making on the climate crisis," says Darcy Higgins, vice-president (internal) of the Feds. And Chelsea Prescod, chairperson of MSAC, is challenging residents and students to participate in Earth Hour:"If the world can come together and turn off their lights for one hour, think of what we can do if we can came together as a community on an ongoing basis to solve environmental and other challenges."

Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran observes that "Earth Hour is a global movement, a global call to action for climate change and a powerful opportunity for all of us to power down and become aware of the amount of energy we collectively use hour by hour. She's supporting the call from students and encouraging everyone in the community to sign up and lose some power on Saturday night.

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Panel today on women in politics

A public event today will explore the challenges and opportunities facing women politicians in Canada, as students and women at various levels of government will participate in a panel discussion on women in politics. It runs from 2 to 4 p.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre, with a reception to follow.

Panellists will be Albina Guarnieri, MP for Mississauga-East Cooksville and a former federal veteran affairs minister; Leeanna Pendergast, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga; Waterloo mayor Brenda Halloran; Catherine Fife, NDP candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo during the provincial election last year; and Fatima Ahmed, a UW peace and conflict studies student and vice-presidential candidate in the recent Federation of Students election. Caitlin Cull, an arts councillor for the Feds, will moderate the discussion.

"This diverse panel will address the opportunities and confront the challenges women encounter in political life," says Veronica Fredericks, an English language and literature student who helped organize the panel discussion.

"The panel discussion really helps us build towards the stated vision of the One Waterloo Campaign, respecting our differences and pushing towards equality on campus and in society," adds Rumeesa Khalid, a student in the English rhetoric and professional writing program who also assisted in planning.

The panel has been organized by students involved with the One Waterloo diversity campaign. The aim is to support the role of women in politics and encourage all students to be more engaged in the political process.

The One Waterloo campaign, a partnership between the Feds and UW, envisions a campus in which such differences as ethnicity, sexual orientation, creed, race and gender are not just identified, but also celebrated. Public events are held to share ideas and solve problems of discrimination and intolerance.

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Engineering projects on show Monday

from the UW media relations office

Students from UW's mechanical and mechatronics engineering program will exhibit innovative projects, such as a landmine detection system and a powered commuter bicycle, at a design symposium next week.

They will present design projects covering a wide range of engineering designs involving mechanical and computer-controlled electro-mechanical devices. The event will be held Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. Visitors are welcome to browse the displays and meet the students during the symposium.

"The symposium showcases the talent and innovation of our outstanding students in the mechanical and mechatronics engineering program," says professor Jan Paul Huissoon.

A total of 92 students will exhibit 36 innovative posters and display prototypes. Among them:

• Networked Robotics for Landmine Detection — The United Nations reports that landmines are reported to injure about 20,000 people a year in more than 75 different countries around the world. Using scalable teams of cooperating robots, the innovative mechanical design provides low-cost all-terrain capabilities while flexible intelligent software allows quick reconfiguration of the teams for optimal mine-searching performance. The result is a fast, cheap and efficient mine-detecting solution for the 21st century.

• Autobike: A Powered Pedal Bike for Commuters — An electronically monitored and controlled bicycle project aims to solve three problems facing bicyclists: high level of effort to scale hills and face wind, limited range of bicycles as fatigue sets in and complicated gear shift patterns. With automatic control of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and direct current (DC) motor, the bicycle becomes simpler to use, peak effort is reduced and overall range is subsequently extended.

• Posture Monitor — The posture-monitoring device helps users alleviate back pain by changing posture frequently and reinforcing neutral spine posture. To measure angles of inclination of the lumbar vertebrae, accelerometers are mounted using a wearable belt. Users are reminded about their posture by a vibrating alert, similar to that found in a cell phone.

Awards will be presented for best overall design, best presentation and best technical design. The $500 prizes are sponsored by Mercator Robotec Inc., Maplesoft Inc. and Fanuc Robotics Canada Inc.

UW's longstanding mechanical engineering program draws in all aspects of mechanical design, including mechanics, power and manufacturing. The innovative mechatronics engineering program offers a foundation to design electro-mechanical devices, ranging from large-scale automated manufacturing systems to micro-scale sensors and instrumentation.

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Of budgets and floor space and more

Provost Amit Chakma has invited directors and senior staff members from the “academic support” departments to a briefing this morning in Needles Hall. His memo said he’d talk about two things: the university’s 2008-09 budget, which is scheduled to go to the board of governors on Tuesday, and the May 1 salary settlement for staff, which is also scheduled to receive board approval. The two are connected, of course, since staff salaries make up about 40 per cent of UW’s operating spending.

The staff of UW’s independent studies program have settled into their new headquarters on the ground floor of the Modern Languages building, and there’s even a sign up on the wall outside it. The new space is cozy compared to the longtime former home of IS in the PAS (Psychology) building, but it’s next door to the Modern Languages coffee shop and Tim Horton’s. IS has taken over some of the real estate formerly used by the Canadian Centre for Arts and Technology, which in is being “temporarily” consolidated in its media lab in PAS. Modern Languages room 101, the Usability Testing Lab, “will remain as such”, the dean of arts office says. Meanwhile, construction continues on a new wing of PAS that might relieve the space crunch in arts just a little. “We peek daily and often wave to the workers,” says a note in the newsletter of the Early Childhood Education Centre — “we” being the toddlers who attend ECEC, on the ground floor of PAS.

[Reesor] Leah Reesor (right) is the winner of the annual Peace Speech contest at Conrad Grebel University College, and will represent Grebel in the bi-national C. Henry Smith Oratorical Competition in May. (Another Grebel student, John Wray, won the US-Canadian contest last year.) Reesor, a fourth year student in peace and conflict studies and political science who recently organized an international peace conference held at Grebel, spoke on “Giving and Receiving: Exploring the Spirituality of Service”, reflecting on lessons learned through her experience as a peace intern in Jamaica. She will receive an award of $300 from Grebel in recognition of her accomplishment. Lowell Ewert, director of the PACS program and one of the contest judges, said, “The Peace Speech contest challenges students to explore how best to communicate how our peace position can be applied to practical problems facing the world. Leah prepared and gave an inspiring talk that recognized the importance of combining service and spirituality in order to be truly effective peacemakers.”

The UW South Asian Students Association competed against similar associations from 15 other campuses at the annual South Asian Festival in Mississauga earlier this month, and took first-place awards in Dance and Spirit as well as an overall first place. • Ken Murray, whose financial gifts led to the creation of UW’s Kenneth G. Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program, has received an Ontario Senior Achievement Award for service from the provincial government. • Word has arrived that UW’s Clean Snowmobile Team, which had been looking forward to competition against other universities’ teams in mid-March, suffered a major failure of a fuel injection component just before they would have headed to Michigan for the event, and will have to wait till next year.

A memorial service will be held Sunday for Hugh Martin, who was a faculty member in UW's department of mechanical engineering from 1970 until retirement in 1998, and who died Tuesday. A graduate of Belfast the Queen's University and England's University of Nottingham, he was a specialist in hydraulic power systems (having worked for a decade in the aircraft industry) and industrial noise. He is survived by his wife, Pat, who formerly worked in the office of UW's staff association, and there are other family members on campus. The memorial service (followed by a reception) will start at 2 p.m. Sunday at Erb & Good Funeral Home on King Street.

Harry Chambers, who was a laboratory technician in UW’s civil engineering department from 1962 to his retirement in 1985, died March 19. He was 87.

Finally, a correction: Tuesday's Daily Bulletin described sabbatical plans for Diana Denton of UW's department of drama and speech communication, but it turns out they're not happening. "My sabbatical was cancelled due to my administrative duties," Denton advises.


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