Friday, July 31, 2009

  • New web content management system coming to Waterloo: part 1
  • Bent scholarship supports grad student’s math research
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

New web content management system coming to Waterloo: part 1

“The University of Waterloo will have a more dynamic website with up-to-date information for the public and campus visitors as a result of web content management software donated by Open Text, a global leader in enterprise content management and Canada’s largest software company,” says a news release distributed Wednesday from UW Media Relations.

“‘Open Text’s Web Solutions will allow us to more easily manage our institutional web space and enhance internal and external communications,’ said Alan George, associate provost, information systems and technology. ‘The software does a good job in the creation, distribution and management of content, including updates of homepages.’

The Open Text software “offers a rich set of tools that will allow Waterloo to manage and deliver a broad set of information to users over the web,” continues the release. “These tools enable site managers to better control the look and feel of Waterloo’s websites, along with the information displayed on them. The software also promotes better search engine optimization and accessibility.”

How it came about

“The investigation of web content management systems (CMS) arose from discussions at UW Web Advisory Committee — affectionately called WAC,” says Terry Stewart, IT manager in applied health sciences. He has been chair of WAC since April, taking over from Paul Snyder, who is now retired. The committee includes communications and web people from across campus.

Beginning in 2008, Stewart says, “three WAC subcommittees looked into content management. The first, chaired by Sean van Koughnett, graphics, looked at how we are currently managing our web sites. The second, chaired by Eva Grabinski, engineering, investigated the need for a CMS on campus.”

A January 2009 report on the WAC website describes some of the investigation: “The Needs Assessment group, headed by Megan McDermott (CPA), has conducted focus groups with content contributors, marketing and communications specialists across campus. Online surveys were sent out to web administrators, designers, developers and system administrators in December. There was a high degree of satisfaction with current tools, particularly among content contributors. At the same time, many of the people surveyed mentioned a need to add more functionality.”

Stewart continues: Grabinski’s committee “determined that, yes, a CMS would be a valuable tool. The third committee, chaired by Megan McDermott and myself, was charged with investigating all the CMS that are available with a view to recommending a set of guidelines for evaluating them, short-listing a set of CMS and preparing the details for a potential request for proposals, with the purpose of selecting the best one for UW.

“Open Text was on our short list of CMS when we learned of the donation of their Enterprise Content Management system to UW. In fact, we had just started to install Open Text Web Solutions on a server in IST to start testing when the announcement was made. So, while many of that third CMS committee had read extensively about it, and had attended several demonstrations and tutorials from Open Text, we did not have extensive testing with the product.”

What happens now?

“A team from across campus is being assembled to implement Open Text Web Solutions,” says Alan George in an email note. “As soon as the team is ready, members will attend Open Text Web Solutions training. Then, with the aid of Open Text and/or consultants, work will begin on designing and implementing Open Text Web Solutions on the UW web site.

“It will be a phased implementation, and our expectation is that adoption will be campus-wide…. There is lots of enthusiasm on campus about this project, and a number of departments and faculties have expressed interest in being first. However, the decision as to which units will serve as pilots has not yet been made.”

He adds that it will be “difficult to suggest a time line, because of staffing constraints, and a branding project that is linked to this project.… Our hope is that the infrastructure will be in place and at least a few units will be up and running by the end of the year.”

(This was the first part of a two-part article. On Tuesday, the second part will answer some questions about what site managers can expect from the new system.)

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Bent scholarship supports grad student’s math research

by Ryan Jacobs, Office of Development and Alumni Affairs

Margareta Ackerman, PhD studentTo an outsider, the world of theoretical computer science might at first appear to be obscure at best, and possibly, entirely disconnected from any real-world applications. However, as Margareta Ackerman (left), BMath '06, MMath '08, discusses her research, it becomes clear that she is truly passionate about how her work has the potential to advance her field of study.

Margareta is a second-year PhD student in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. In 2007, she was fortunate to receive the Frederick W. Bent Memorial Graduate Scholarship, an award that has been providing much-needed financial assistance to Waterloo students for the last five years.

The award was established by the family and friends of Frederick Bent (1968-2003). Freddy, as he was affectionately known, graduated in 1994 with a Master of Mathematics in computer science. He went on to become a successful executive for a local firm before his untimely death. He is remembered by those who knew him as a generous and selfless man — the kind of individual who, if he were still alive today, would do whatever he could to help future leaders succeed.

Margareta is quick to acknowledge that the funding she has received at Waterloo has played an instrumental role in her success.

What is your area of research?
One of my areas of interest is the theoretical foundation of clustering. Clustering is a widely used technique for exploratory data analysis, and refers to grouping a set of objects based on an underlying measure of similarity. The field of clustering lacks strong mathematical foundations, and I have written a number of papers to help build that foundation.

What are the practical applications of clustering?
One of the many applications is medical prognosis. Consider a survey conducted to collect information such as family history, age, sun exposure, smoking habits, etc. The data can be clustered to pinpoint groups of people who are similar, based on a combination of these characteristics. If members of a cluster are prone to the same type of cancer, for example, the set of characteristics unifying this cluster represents potential risk factors for the illness.

How has the Frederick W. Bent Memorial Graduate Scholarship impacted your studies at Waterloo?
I am grateful for the wonderful funding I have received at Waterloo, including the scholarship in honour of Freddy Bent. It has allowed me an enormous degree of freedom and flexibility to focus on my research, which I otherwise would not have had. I have a great appreciation for the generous people who support students.

CPA staff

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"The Shadow"

Link of the day

The Shadow knows

When and where

Civic holiday Monday, August 3, UW offices and most services closed, including retail services stores. Libraries open: see above. Mudie’s eatery, in Village 1, open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Student Life Centre open. UW Police present, as always (dial 519-888-4911 off campus, 22222 on campus).

Library hours July 26 - August 15: Davis centre, open 24 hours, except closed Sundays 2 to 8 a.m. Dana Porter, open Monday - Friday 8 .am. - 11p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 11a.m. - 11p.m.

Natural gas shut off in Engineering 3 today, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., to reroute gas line for Engineering 5.

‘Dealing with Difficult Students’ workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, today, 10:30 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Spring term exams August 4-15; unofficial grades begin appearing on Quest August 17; grades become official September 21.

Employer interviews for all co-op programs except Architecture and Pharmacy continue weekdays on campus to August 7.

Co-op job postings for fall 2009 work terms continue on JobMine until the first week of October.

Instructional Skills Workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, August 6, 7 and 10, 8:30 to 4:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Architecture co-op employer interviews August 6, 13, 20.

The Social Cure: Seniors, Social Connections and Health: research symposium Friday, August 7, 9 a.m. - noon., Lyle Hallman Institute, room 1621. Details. Free. Register by email.

Ontario Mennonite Music Camp August 9-21, Conrad Grebel University College. Details.

Stargazing party hosted by science faculty, Wednesday, August 12, 9:30 p.m. to midnight, north campus soccer pitch. Details and to RSVP.

PhD oral defences

Statistics. Yildiz Elif Yilmaz, “Estimation and Goodness of Fit for Multivariate Survival Models Based on Copulas.” Supervisor, Jerry Lawless. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Tuesday, August 11, 10:00 a.m., MC 6027.

Computer science. Zhi Xu, “The Frobenius Problems in a Free Monoid.” Supervisor, Jeffrey Shallit. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Wednesday, August 12, 12:30 p.m., DC 2314.

Management Sciences. Jennifer Jewer, “Towards an Understanding of Board IT Governance: Antecedents and Consequences.” Supervisor, Ken McKay. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, August 12, 1:00 p.m., CPH room 4333.

Physics and astronomy. Lana Sheridan, “Reference Frames and Algorithms for Quantum Information Processing.” Supervisors, Michele Mosca, Raymond Laflamme. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, August 13, 2:00 p.m., RAC room 1101.

Systems design engineering. Xianghai Wu, “Human-Inspired Robot Task Teaching and Learning.” Supervisor, Jonathan Kofman. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, August 17, 9:00 a.m., E2 room 1307G via video-conference link.

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