Tuesday, January 20, 2009

  • First-choice applications rise again
  • Bird's eye view of a few other things
  • Engineers Without Borders boost fair trade
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

First-choice applications rise again

More than 9,000 would-be students have picked the University of Waterloo as their first choice for studies next September, out of 104,000 who are hoping for admission to universities across Ontario. About four-fifths of the students are from Ontario high schools and one-fifth from other groups, including overseas students.

With the main Ontario application deadline now past, UW has 9.3 per cent of first-choice applications from Ontario secondary school students (the “OSS” group). That exactly matches last year’s record high figure, says the director of admissions, Nancy Weiner.

"Waterloo's reputation for being the 'best overall' university in Canada continues to attract a high percentage of first-year applications," she said last night. "Our current overall first year applications maintaining the same numbers as last year at this time indicates that high school students look to UW as a place to expand their knowledge with hands-on experience and develop innovative real-world connections."

The number of “first choice” applicants is up from 2008, both at UW and across the province, although the total number of applications — including second, third, fourth and even lower choices — is down slightly.

The Council of Ontario Universities says 84,300 of the province’s high schoolers have made at least one choice of a provincial university for next fall. That’s up 1.1 per cent from last year’s figure. Of that 84,300, UW is the first choice of 7,810 students, an increase of 0.6 per cent from a year ago.

Total applications across the province are 367,739, down by 0.3 per cent from last year. The ones directed to Waterloo are 29,043, a drop of 1.4 per cent following a 15 per cent increase last year.

“The Faculties of Arts, Engineering and Environment have an increase in overall OSS applications,” Weiner writes. “There is a high of 3.3% in Environment, 1.4% in Arts and 0.1% in Engineering. The Faculties of Science, Applied Health Sciences, and Mathematics have a decrease in applications.” (Last year, she notes, most faculties showed “significant increases” from the 2007 figures.)

She adds: “All faculties, with the exception of Engineering and Mathematics, show an increase in first choice applications above the system average. The Faculty of Arts first choice applications increased by 5.8%, Science by 3.5%, Applied Health Sciences by 5.8%, and Environment by 7.4%.”

As for non-OSS students — coming from other countries, other provinces, or the work force or community colleges — Ontario-wide applications are showing “a remarkable 9.9% increase” according to the COU, “even though this group does not have to comply with the same January deadline as Ontario high school students.”

The number of applicants so far is 21,128, and “If this trend continues, the non-secondary applicants this year will ultimately exceed the record total of 44,165 in 2008.

“So far, about 3,500 of the applicants in this category are Ontario high school students who have taken a year out before going back to school. This appears to be a trend; many of these students take a few courses in their year out so they can increase their chances of getting into the program and university they most want.”

Of the 21,128 such students or would-be students, Waterloo is the first choice of 1,686. “First choice applications are up in all faculties,” Weiner reports.

Among them are international (visa) students, where the number of applications is up 3.8 per cent from the same time last year. The total “will continue to increase,” says Weiner, “because the published application deadline for the majority of our programs is March 31.” For Ontario students, on the other hand, the main deadline was January 14, and the admission process for those students now gets into high gear.

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Bird's eye view of a few other things

[Crane standing in excavation]If you were the dean of mathematics, you could look out your office window (on the sixth floor of the Math and Computer building) and see the view that's pictured at left: the construction site for UW's $160 million Quantum-Nano Centre. Alison Zorian sits in the seat of power nearby, as secretary to dean Tom Coleman, and did the camera work; she reports that her pictures are pretty clear in spite of the inevitable January dirt on the outside of the window.

Thousands of students got an e-mail message from the registrar’s office yesterday, in these words: “Did you know your academic standing determines if you can proceed to the next term of study? Your academic standing is an evaluation of your academic performance thus far. It is determined at the end of each academic term completed. Your official academic standing and final grades for the fall 2008 term are available after January 26, 2009. To review your complete academic record (including academic standings, transcript notes, and grades in Quest), you must look at your unofficial transcript. It is very important that you understand the meaning of the academic standing you received — it can impact your ability to continue studies in current or future terms. Please visit the web site to view the meaning of the academic standings for the faculty in which you are enrolled. Note that if you are Required to Withdraw, you will be receiving an email outlining your options. You should also refer to the Student Awards and Financial Aid website to ensure your eligibility for financial aid is not impacted by either your academic standing or your record of courses completed successfully. If you have questions about your academic standing, please see your faculty advisor.”

Speaking of financial aid, Rhonda Voskamp of the student awards and financial aid office asks me to remind students who receive Ontario student aid funding "to make an appointment to pick up their funding as soon as possible. Students are not taking advantage of all of the appointments available each day (100-plus open time slots each day) and appointments are only available until January 27. After the 27th , students will only be able to pick up their OSAP funding on a first come, first serve basis from the Student Awards & Financial Aid office in Needles Hall and they can expect significantly longer wait times to do so." An e-mail message went to such students last week reminding them that time is passing.

The UW library’s online newsletter announces that “in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and reduce costs, date due slips will no longer be printed at any of the Library’s circulation desks unless requested. Reminder notices will still be sent for 2-week and term loans, and you may check due dates from ‘Your Account’ in Trellis or from ‘My library card’ in Primo Beta.” Also from the newsletter: “Staff at the Map Library are now offering chat reference 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, to assist you with your cartographic and GIS questions. The chat reference service is available via the Map Library home page and is being implemented on a pilot basis for the winter term, with the potential for continuation in subsequent terms.”

[Sports report] [Athletes of the week] Here's a reminder that this Friday is the deadline for nominations for some key student positions: the Federation of Students executive for 2009-10, students' council, and several undergraduate seats on the UW senate. • Mary Jac Tell retired as of January 1 from the staff of St. Jerome's University, where she had been working as a library assistant (first part-time and later full-time) since 1982. • The Bike Centre on the lower level of the Student Life Centre is in operation for the winter term, and will be open 11:30 to 7:00 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (details are online).

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Engineers Without Borders boost fair trade

based on a news release from UW's media relations office

Hundreds of socially-active engineering students from across Canada, including some from UW, will raise public awareness about the fair trade movement at a special event in downtown Toronto as part of the Engineers Without Borders national conference to be held Wednesday through Saturday.

More than 600 students will freeze into a pose to draw public attention to the cause on Thursday at 6:45 p.m. in an area bounded by Spadina, Church, Bloor and Front streets. "We will be divided into small groups and orchestrate a simultaneous 'freeze' throughout the downtown core," said Catherine Denis, communications co-ordinator and a UW systems design engineering student. "We will help passersby understand how they can contribute to a better life for people in developing communities by consuming fair trade certified products."

Engineers Without Borders is a non-governmental organization devoted to international development. With 33 chapters across the country, EWB aims to build a world of opportunity, specifically in rural Africa. Fair trade is an alternative system of international trade which focuses on fair compensation, proper working conditions, sustainable agriculture and local economic growth.

Speakers at the eighth annual EWB conference include Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Waterloo-based Research In Motion and founder of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and Neil Turok, executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. A number of renowned social entrepreneurs, development workers, authors and politicians will also be involved with the event.

Organizers say that delegates will discover their potential as leaders in the development community and learn to apply their skills to drive social change in Canada and overseas.

The conference, to be held at the Delta Meadowvale Resort and Conference Centre in Mississauga, will allow professionals — engineers and non-engineers alike — to discover international development issues and learn how they can leverage their influence to make a positive difference.


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[Obama inauguration button]

'Watch history unfold,' says an invitation from UW's history department, with support from the One Waterloo diversity campaign. The occasion: a gathering in the Student Life Centre great hall today, starting at 10:00 and leading up to the noon inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Andrew Hunt of the history department will speak briefly, refreshments will be served, and the inauguration will be shown live on the big TV screen.

Link of the day

The age of Aquarius

When and where

Blood donor clinic 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre.

Faculty of Science presents Sydney Brenner, Nobel prize winner 2002, and John Bell, University of Oxford, “The Architecture of Biological Complexity,” 10:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre, admission free.

UW Recreation Committee presents Michele Cadotte, Higher Vision Lifestyle Coaching, “Making 2009 the Best Year Ever”, 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

UW Sustainability Project general volunteer meeting 12:00 noon, Student Life Centre room 3103. Details.

‘Are You Thinking about an International Experience?’ workshop 3:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture: Chris Reed, ‘stossLU’, Boston, 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

‘Cooking 201’ show for students living in suite-style residences: chefs in action, free food, 8:00 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Humanities building electrical power shutdown Wednesday 6:00 to 7:00 a.m.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, full-day workshop on “Family Business Communication”, Wednesday, St. Jacobs.

Electrical and computer engineering student design project symposium Wednesday, Davis Centre great hall. Details.

Waterloo Lutheran Seminary presents David Seljak, St. Jerome’s University, “Religion and Ethnicity in Canada”, Wednesday 10 a.m., Seminary chapel, WLU campus.

Volunteer/Internship Fair Wednesday 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Free noon concert: Ben Bolt-Martin, “Music for Cello Alone”, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Fine arts professor David Blatherwick speaks about his painting Wednesday 1:00, East Campus Hall room 1219.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: Rachel Spronken-Smith, University of Otago, “Designing Courses with Strong Teaching-Research Links”, Wednesday 1:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library room 428. Details.

Café-rencontre du département d’études françaises: Nicolas Xanthos, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, “Le roman d’enquête contemporain,” mercredi 14h30, Tatham Centre salle 2218.

Computational mathematics master’s program, information session Wednesday 4:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 5158.

‘Understanding Low Back Pain’ Lifestyle Learning session Wednesday 5:30 p.m., TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Parents of Grade 10 students invited to an information session about planning for university application, Wednesday 6:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

President’s New Year’s Luncheon for tenants in the Research and Technology Park, Thursday 11:30 a.m., TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, remarks 12:15, raffle prizes to support R+T Park Tenants Fund at KWCF.

Computer Science Club presents Joel Solsky, software developer, “Computer Science Education and the Software Industry” Thursday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5136.

Faculty of Science presents the 3rd annual Arthur Carty Lecture: Nina Fedoroff, Penn State University, “Seeds of a Perfect Storm: The Global Food Security Crisis”, Thursday 3:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre, free.

‘Opportunities in Policing’: presentation on “The Right Fit to Serve”, sponsored by residences Living-Learning programs and Waterloo Regional Police, January 27, 5:30 p.m., Village I great hall. Details.

Job Fair 2009 sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions, Wednesday, February 4, 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

PhD oral defences

Philosophy. Graham Booker, “Coercion, Authority, and Democracy.” Supervisor, Jan Narveson. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2419. Oral defence Friday, January 23, 11:00 a.m., Humanities room 373.

Computer science. Jie Xu, “Wholetoning: Synthesizing Abstract Black and White Illustrations.” Supervisor, Craig Kaplan. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, January 30, 9:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

Computer science. Naghmeh Hassanzadeh Ghaffari, “Algorithmic Analysis of Infinite-State Systems.” Supervisor, Richard Trefler. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, February 6, 1:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Computer science. Abbas Heydarnoori, “Supporting Framework Use via Automatically Extracted Concept-Implementation Templates.” Supervisor, Krzysztof Czarnecki. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, February 11, 12:30 p.m., Davis Centre room 2314.

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