Thursday, May 1, 2008

  • A new beginning; a 'discovery' award
  • Play wins award for Internet use
  • Open house for English institute
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

A new beginning; a 'discovery' award

The university begins a new fiscal year today, meaning that there are just 364 more days over which to stretch the $406,500,000 operating budget for 2008-09. Final figures for the 2007-08 year are, of course, not ready just yet: the deadline for accounting transactions to be submitted to the finance office, East Campus Hall, to appear in the financial statement for the year just ended is May 12. Today's also the beginning of a new salary year, when annual increases for faculty and staff members take effect.

[Power]I know of only one administrative appointment that takes effect on this day: Bill Power (left), lately associate dean of graduate studies (a university-wide position), takes on a new challenge as associate dean (research) for the faculty of science. However, May 1 is the traditional date for new student leaders to take office. So the Federation of Students has a new executive: Justin Williams as president, Andres Augustin Fuentes-Martinez as vice-president (education), Andrew Falco as VP (internal), plus Del Pereira starting a second term as VP (administration and finance). At the Graduate Student Association, the new leadership consists of Craig Sloss as president, Michael Kani as VP (student affairs), Michele Heng as VP (operations and finance), and David Pritchard as VP (communications and organization).

I stopped into the Dana Porter Library for a moment yesterday, and found it a very quiet place in this gap between the winter and spring terms. A rather desolate place, too, with most of the furnishings removed from the main (second) floor in preparation for renovation work that’s scheduled to begin any day now. The library’s big front doors are still in operation; the plan had been to put a temporary main entrance into effect as of last weekend (people would enter the building at the first-floor level, from the side facing Needles Hall), but that change has now been postponed, signs indicate, until “early May”.

The Ontario government handed out the "Premier’s Innovation Awards" to a number of high-flying researchers, innovative companies and other achievers at a dinner Tuesday. [Laflamme] UW’s Raymond Laflamme (right), director of the Institute for Quantum Computing, was among those recognized, receiving one of four Premier’s Discovery Awards to “celebrate the research excellence of Ontario’s most accomplished researchers by highlighting their individual achievements and demonstrating Ontario’s attractiveness as a global research centre”. Says the government: “Nominees are evaluated on the impact of their work and its contributions to Ontario’s economy and society, and the extent of their international recognition. This awards program recognizes excellence in research for either a single discovery or a body of work.” Laflamme receives $500,000 as the award winner in the Natural Sciences and Engineering category. A citation notes that he “is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading quantum information scientists. His study of quantum computers, devices that store and process information at the level of individual atoms, has revolutionized the field. Dr. Laflamme studied at Cambridge University under the direction of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. He returned to Canada in 2001 to establish the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and as founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. . . . Dr. Laflamme’s contribution has led Ontario to world leadership in an area that holds extraordinary promise for the future.” A release from Perimeter adds that “Laflamme and his colleagues are currently world record holders for controlling the most number of qubits, or quantum bits, of information under verifiable circumstances.”

Another of Tuesday's awards went to UW spinoff company RapidMind Inc., which was recognized as "Start Up Company with the Best Innovation". "This award quite rightly recognizes RapidMind as an innovator among innovators,” says UW president David Johnston in a news release. “The company stands as a wonderful example of what can happen when an idea that begins in a university like ours is nurtured and developed." RapidMind was founded by Michael McCool and Stefanus Du Toit based on work done in UW's school of computer science, and boasts that "Developers of HPC and enterprise software are using RapidMind today to create manageable, single-threaded applications that leverage the full potential of multi-core processors."

UW plays host this week to the 19th Military History Colloquium, sponsored by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies, part of Wilfrid Laurier University, and the history departments at UW and St. Jerome's University. Proceedings for the three-day conference begin at 7:00 tonight in CEIT building room 1015, with a free public lecture by Michael Neiberg, of the University of Southern Mississippi, on "The Second Battle of the Marne: Turning Point of 1918." Neiberg will also be the keynote speaker at the Friday night banquet. Further information, including the full program and costs, is available on the WLU centre's web site.

And a correction: yesterday's Daily Bulletin identified Gary Lunn as Ontario's minister of natural resources, but in fact he is a federal cabinet minister, not a provincial one.

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[Translucent triangular trophy]Play wins award for Internet use

“ORION and CANARIE congratulate the University of Waterloo and its partners in Illinois and Florida,” says a news release, “on winning the prestigious Internet2 IDEA Award for their ground-breaking collaborative live theatre production."

Last year’s experimental performance of the 1923 Elmer Rice play ‘The Adding Machine’, over high-speed networks enabled by advanced digital video technology, was one of three projects recognized at the Internet2 spring meeting in Arlington, Virginia, last week.

"Artistic collaborations such as this demonstrate the power of Canada's advanced networks and their potential to share with new audiences the experiences that the imaginations of our artists can create," says CANARIE president Andrew Bjerring.

The project was a collaboration among UW, Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. It used virtual scenery, recorded video, avatar performers, photographs, graphics and sound, made possible by the partners' interconnectivity over the ORION (Ontario), CANARIE (Canada) and Intenet2 (United States) advanced networks.

"The award is quite important to us," says Gerd Hauck, chair of the UW Department of Drama and Speech Communication and co-director of the performance. He expects the award will help secure support for ongoing research. Hauck and some of his colleagues recently received a $222,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant to pursue further research in this emerging technology, looking at commercializing a Canadian digital display technology within the theatre industry.

"The purpose is to make the technology invisible to the audience," says Hauck. "To hide the cameras and projectors, to create an illusion of the tech elements so that the audience focuses on the story and the characters of the play — that the technology would only enhance this instead of draw attention to itself."

This spring the same three institutions did a more elaborate production, “Alice (Experiments) in Wonderland”. Bradley University president Joanne K. Glasser observes that “Collaboration on an unprecedented scale was central to the success of this innovative project. Supporting this interactivity was the advanced networking infrastructure that served as the vital conduit that connected it all together. Without Internet2, this work would have gone — literally — nowhere.”

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Open house for English institute

Renison College and its English Language Institute will host an open house today, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., to highlight the institute’s programs and celebrate the launch of two of its newest initiatives.

“ELI is a mystery to too many people in the community, and we want to change that,” says Judi Jewinski, director of the English Language Institute. “We’ve been offering classes in English as a second language for a decade. And we have students from around the world come to Renison and Waterloo for our programs, yet we’re not that well known in our own back yard.” The institute offers a variety of credit and non-credit courses for students of English as a second language. The three-month English for Academic Success program prepares students for studies at English-speaking universities. The institute’s one-month summer program also draws students from around the world.

In 2007, Renison’s English Language Institute received the Canadian Language Council’s prestigious Lyn Howes Award for excellence in recognition of best practices, commitment, and innovation in the delivery of language programs. The institute's newest programs are both designed for people interested in teaching English as a second language.

The first new program is a four-week training program (ACE TESOL) for prospective teachers of English as a second language. “The academic component, complemented by a teaching practicum, was fully enrolled after only word-of-mouth advertising,” a news release boasts, “testament to the significant interest in the course and Renison’s reputation for quality.”

A second initiative, the Applied Language Studies option, will be available to UW students in September. “Applied Language Studies (APPLS) is an interdisciplinary program for students with a special interest in second (or foreign) language learning and teaching and is especially appropriate for students considering careers in teaching, immigration and settlement, social work, social development studies, and immigration law.”

The English Language Institute also develops custom programs and courses for clients in Canada and other countries, the release points out. “The world seems to be shrinking by the minute,” says Jewinski, “and English is the language of business and education around the world.” ELI has developed special programs for organizations in Canada, China, Japan, and Mexico. Clients have ranged from university juniors to professors to optometrists and ophthalmologists. “We encourage everyone to come to our open house to see what we have to offer.”


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Link of the day

May Day

When and where

Shine Dance through Saturday, Humanities Theatre.

Fee payment deadline for the spring term is May 1 (by bank payment or international wire transfer; other forms of payment already overdue), details online.

[Kinofest poster]
‘Cinema and Social Change in Germany and Austria’ conference hosted by Germanic and Slavic studies department, Thursday-Saturday, details online; “Kinofest: New Films from Germany and Austria” festival at Princess Cinema.

‘The (Long) Tail of Waterloo Region’ leadership conference sponsored by Communitech, today, details online.

International spouses group: “Travels in Canada” (bring photos or stories of where you have travelled in Canada, or where you would like to go) 12:45 p.m., Columbia Lake Village community centre, information e-mail

Niagara Falls engineering alumni reception 5:30 to 7:00, Fallsview Casino, information online.

‘Reaching for Nothing: Water’s Thirst’ interdisciplinary work by composer Peter Hatch, visual artist Dereck Revington (UW school of architecture) and dance choreographer David Earle, Thursday and Friday 8:00 p.m., Perimeter Institute, tickets $29 (students $19), 519-883-4480.

Carl Pollock Hall shutdown of chilled water Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Ian Fraser and Kate Windsor (safety office) and Angela Googh (IST) on the Enterprise Learning Management module of the myHRinfo system, providing registration for training programs, Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Auditions for “A Shadow Shall Fall”, this year’s film from FBN Multimedia, Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Humanities room 334, information online.

Spring term classes begin Monday, May 5. Welcome reception for new students 4:30 p.m., Student Life Centre multipurpose room. Graduate Student Association reception for graduate students to meet new GSA executive, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Graduate House.

Jewish studies lecture: Menachem Kellner, University of Haifa, Israel, “The New Face of Anti-Semitism: Anti-Israel Obsession and Academic Boycotts” Monday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

Cisco ‘careers and certifications’ open house Tuesday 10:00 to 2:00, Davis Centre rooms 1301 and 1304, details online.

President David Johnston Run for Health (3rd annual), Wednesday, May 7, 4:30 p.m., 5-km run or 2.5-km walk around ring road, relay teams welcome, registration free, 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.

Social Entrepreneurship Intensive ‘bootcamp’ organized by Laurel Centre, May 12-14, details online.

Spring Gardening ‘tips and tales’ with David Hobson, local garden columnist, presented by Employee Assistance Program, Thursday, May 15, 12:00 noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

Spring into Song fundraiser for UW Well-Fit, with the Twin City Harmonizers and Grand Harmony, Sunday, May 25, 2 p.m., Humanities Theatre, details online.

Spring Convocation: applied health sciences and environmental studies, Wednesday, June 11, 10:00; science, June 11, 2:30, arts (some programs), Thursday, June 12, 10:00; arts (some programs), June 12, 2:30; mathematics, Friday, June 13, 10:00; computer science, June 13, 2:30; engineering (some programs), Saturday, June 14, 10:00; engineering (some programs), June 14, 2:30, details online.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Christine Logel, “How Interactions with Sexist Men Can Undermine Women’s Performance in Engineering and Mathematics.” Supervisor, Steve Spencer. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 10:00 a.m., PAS (Psychology) room 3026.

Systems design engineering. Derek Wight, “A Foot Placement Strategy for Robust Bipedal Gait Control.” Supervisors, David Wang and Eric Kubica. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 2634.

Systems design engineering. Niraj Sinha, “Characterization of Carbon Nanotube Based Thin Film Field Emitter.” Supervisor, John T. W. Yeow. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 200 p.m., Engineering II room 1307C.

Electrical and computer engineering. Gholamreza Chaji, “Thin-Film Transistor Integration for Biomedical Imaging and AMOLED Display.” Supervisors, Arokia Nathan and Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, May 9, 2:30 p.m., CEIT room 3142.

Religious studies. Joanne Benham Rennick, “Religion in the Ranks: Religion in the Canadian Forces in the 21st Century.” Supervisor, David Seljak. On display in the faculty of arts, HH 317. Oral defence Tuesday, May 13, 10:00 a.m., Humanities room 334.

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