Friday, February 13, 2009

  • 'Fan the flames' on Loving to Learn Day
  • Monday holiday, then reading week
  • Prof working on the computerized neck
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

'Fan the flames' on Loving to Learn Day

Today is Loving to Learn Day, an annual event that Mark Morton, a senior instructional developer in UW's Centre for Teaching Excellence, established in 2006. Loving to Learn Day, which always falls on the day before or after Valentine's Day, encourages people to reflect on their love of learning.

"Our ability to learn," says Morton, "is such an integral part of being human that we sometimes take it for granted. But if we pause and reflect on it, we can remind ourselves how amazing it is to be able to integrate a process, or an idea, or a fact into our minds, and to be able to retrieve and build upon that knowledge when we need it. If you reflect on that, you can fan the flames of your love affair with learning!"

Prizes, of course, abet this self-reflection, he says, and so there is always a contest associated with Loving to Learn Day. This year the contest invited people to invent and submit their own education quotation — a short and snappy statement that captures a perspective on learning or teaching.

Andrew Cairns, for example, of the English Language Institute at Renison University College, devised this quotation: "Teachers teach students how to learn, but through their learning, students teach teachers how to teach."

[Loving to Learn logo]Diana Lobb, a PhD candidate in the Department of English, submitted "A good education doesn't teach you to know, but to question." Geoffrey Malleck, the director of the management studies program in the Faculty of Arts, came up with this: "My best way to begin each day is to seek to learn. My best way to end each day is to review and bask in all that I have learned. My best way to spend each day is to welcome learning."

Youngsters also participated in the contest. "A life without education is like a horse with a broken leg" was submitted by Katia Stocco, a grade six student in Waterloo. Brandon Cameron-Morton, another grade six student, wrote that "Learning is like a burning log that gives light that makes us smarter; it's like love that parents have when they care for their child." Deven, in grade two in Cambridge, reflected that "Learning is fun because I can learn to take care of a dog."

"These quotations," says Morton, "are every bit as insightful as the ones attributed to famous people. Gandhi, for example, said 'Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.' And Emerson said, "The secret of education is respecting the pupil.' But I think it's just as valuable to discover that learning is fun because it helps you look after a pet!"

The rest of the submitted education quotations, including the winners in four different categories, can be found at the Loving to Learn Day web site.

Back to top

Monday holiday, then reading week

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: no, the university is not going to be closed next week — that's not what "reading week" means. Yes, classes are cancelled across campus, but offices and services will be in operation (including the libraries, for those who take "reading" literally); staff will be at work as usual; many faculty aren't taking the week off. And the Daily Bulletin will be here each weekday morning at 9:00.

That’s except for Monday, of course. February 16 is “Family Day”, the Ontario holiday that’s now in its second year, and UW is among employers that will be honouring it. So Monday is a day off for staff, with offices and most other things on campus closed. The Davis Centre and Dana Porter libraries will be open from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Monday, following a weekend of regular operation.

As always, and even on Monday, the UW police (519-888-4911) will be at work, the Student Life Centre (519–888-4434) will be open, and the central plant will monitor UW's buildings (maintenance emergencies, ext. 33793).

The Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield will be open pretty much as usual next week, apart from Monday. The bookstore, UW Shop, TechWorx and Campus TechShop will be open their regular hours Tuesday to Friday, but the stores in South Campus Hall, which are usually open on Saturdays, will be closed tomorrow.

A number of food services outlets will be closed next week, but there will still be victuals at Brubakers in the Student Life Centre, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, Bon Appetit and Tim Hortons in the Davis Centre, Browsers in the Dana Porter Library (but not on the weekends), Tim Hortons in South Campus Hall, and Mudie's cafeteria in Village I.

Doubtless some students will be hitting the books (or the digital equivalent) or working hard on lab and studio projects over the days ahead. Doubtless, too, others will slope off to, well, the slopes, or be drawn to warmer climes. A group of environment students is reportedly heading for El Salvador; otherwise I've heard little this year about academic field trips and volunteer expeditions during the week.

The co-op and career services department officially warns students that job interviews "may be scheduled" during reading week, but in practice avoids booking employers to come to campus because students often just aren't available.

Everybody will be back in place a week from Monday. At that point there will be less than six weeks of classes left in the term. Winter term exams begin April 8, and the registrar's office says the final examination schedule is now available online.

Back to top

Prof working on the computerized neck

by Kira Vermond, from the new eWEAL electronic newsletter for engineering alumni

If there’s one thing that drives Duane Cronin, associate professor in UW’s mechanical and mechatronics engineering department, to distraction, it’s people who stretch out inside their cars.

“You see it all the time. You pull up to a stoplight, look over and there’s this person on the passenger side of the vehicle sitting with their feet up on the dashboard. I don’t think they understand that underneath that dashboard is essentially a bomb,” he says.

[Skulls]He should know. Cronin thinks a lot about airbags, crumple zones and other vehicle safety features — and, more specifically, using computer simulations to examine how the human body responds to collisions. His main focus is side-impact injuries, yet his work in impact biomechanics spreads out to include occupant simulation and vehicle crashworthiness, torso protection and even landmine protection.

Today, Cronin is involved in the Neck Model Centre of Expertise for the Global Human Body Models Consortium, encompassing nine automakers and two suppliers. He is also collaborating with the University of Virginia on its Thorax Model Centre of Expertise. The mission of the Consortium is to create the world's most detailed computer models of the human body and its current focus is to develop a set of four digital human body models of different sizes and gender. In other words, it wants to create the most detailed computer-generated, virtual crash test dummies ever seen.

Why? For starters, the typical rubber and steel Hybrid III crash test dummy, typically seen in car commercials, helps predict the effect of trauma on the body to a degree, but Human Body Models offer much more detail.

Beyond general automotive safety, there’s another reason to use computerized models: Cost. Even a so-called “cheap” prototype vehicle for a standard production car can cost half a million to a million dollars to build. That’s quite a wad of cash to ram into a rigid wall — once. “If you crash one and say, ‘Oh, that didn’t work; let’s make another one,’ well, that costs you a lot of money,” Cronin says. Evaluating vehicles in the virtual world first just makes sense.

Dollars and cents aside, Cronin, who has only been in a few fender-benders himself, is quick to point out that his work centering on neck and thorax responses will improve occupant safety in the long term. They’re already seeing results that reveal new information about the fundamental nature of injury.

“At the end of the day, the real focus of this work is to protect people,” he says. “It’s to improve safety.”


Back to top

Former PM speaks

[Martin]Former prime minister Paul Martin (left) will be on campus today as a guest of the Federation of Students. Martin will speak at 2:30 p.m. in the Student Life Centre great hall, the Fed office announced yesterday.

Vote results delayed

In another Fed development, authorities announced overnight that the results of the election for 2009-10 student leaders won't be made public today as scheduled. Technical problems with the online voting mean election results will not be known until after reading week.

Links of the day

1234567890 • Valentine's • The flag?

When and where

Class enrolment appointments on Quest for spring 2009 courses, February 9-14; open enrolment begins February 16.

Fair trade roses and fair trade chocolate for sale by Engineers Without Borders, 9:00 to 5:00, Carl Pollock Hall and Arts Lecture Hall foyers.

Valentine’s Day meals at the University Club: luncheon buffet 11:30 to 2:00, $19.50; dinner 5:00 to 8:00, a la carte menu; reservations ext. 33801.

Study in China summer program information meeting 12:00 noon, Renison University College cafeteria (also March 13).

Knowledge Integration seminar: Frances Westley, Social Innovation Generation, “Research for Social Entrepreneurship”, 2:30, Environment II room 2002.

Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology presents Rebecca Fannin, author of Silicon Dragon: How China Is Winning the Tech Race, 3:00, CBET, 295 Hagey Boulevard, suite 240.

‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ free showing sponsored by Render (UW art gallery) and Recycle Cycles, 6:30 p.m., Commons Café, 43 Queen Street South, Kitchener.

Fine Arts Film Society Malaysian cinema series: “The Last Communist” (2006), 7:00, East Campus Hall room 1220.

Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes, reads from his work 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

Black History month event: Afri-Can Connection “Celebration of African Culture and Music” 8:00, Conrad Grebel UC. Cancelled.

Biology II building electrical power shut down Saturday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Warrior sports this weekend: basketball (men and women at Windsor Saturday; men’s hockey at Windsor Saturday; women’s hockey at Queen’s Saturday, at UOIT Sunday.

Education Credit Union presents Alan Wintrip, “Personal Tax Strategies”, Tuesday 12:15 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

One Waterloo Diversity Campaign auditions for the 2009 “Telling My Story” series (performances in March) February 25, 2:00 to 6:00, Humanities room 344, and February 26, 4:00 to 7:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 208. Details.

Graduate Student Association deadline for nominations in annual executive elections, February 25, 4:30 p.m. Election, if required, March 10-12. Details.

PhD oral defences

Civil and environmental engineering. Yong Yin, “Stochastic Analysis and the Identification of Parameters for a Contaminant Source Release History.” Supervisor, Jon F. Sykes. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, February 23, 2;00 p.m., Mathematics and Computer room 2009.

Kinesiology. Nadine Dunk, “Time-Varying Changes in the Lumbar Spine from Exposure to Sedentary Tasks and Their Potential Effects on Injury Mechanics and Pain Generation.” Supervisor, Jack Callaghan. On display in the faculty of applied health sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Wednesday, February 25, 9:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Management sciences. Navneet Vidyarthi, “Response Time Reduction and Service Differentiation in Supply Chain Network Design Models and Solution Approaches.” Supervisors, Samir Elhedhli and Beth Jewkes. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, March 4, 1:30 p.m., Engineering III room 4117.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin