Tuesday, June 9, 2009

  • Stratford to Waterloo and back again
  • Magazine describes 43 R&T Park tenants
  • Engineering achievements, a monthly rundown
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Exhibit hall at the forum]Stratford to Waterloo and back again

Well, no, I’m not at the Canada 3.0 forum in Stratford (left), which started yesterday and winds up today with input from high-profile politicians, entrepreneurs and academics. But I’m keeping an eye on reports from the UW-sponsored event, which isn’t hard since video, twitter, blogs and transcription from the overhead screens were finding its way onto the Canada 3.0 web site by midday yesterday. I grabbed a handful of phrases from a PowerPoint summary: “The Internet is here . . . what are we going to do about it? What is Canada 3.0? A vision for Canada’s digital future. A forum for Canada’s digital media innovators and visionaries. Solidifying Canada’s position in the global digital economy. One-of-a-kind opportunity to shape Canada’s digital media strategy. Digital Media is ‘TV for the Internet’. Of course, it is much more than that. Growth of Digital Content: 32 million books, 100,000 films, 2 million songs, 10 billion web pages, 1 million newspapers. Digital content is doubling every 3 months!” Whew. Federal industry minister Tony Clement was among yesterday's speakers: “I have no doubt that we can and we will lead the world in the digital economy”.

Back on campus, the last preparations are being made for the eight ceremonies that will make up UW's Ninety-Eighth Convocation, tomorrow through Saturday in the Physical Activities Complex. Yesterday I spotted a crew from central stores loading the upholstered chairs from the Needles Hall board room into a truck to carry them over to the PAC, where they'll be arranged on stage for the VIPs and as many faculty members as will fit. Registrar's office staff are at work with diplomas, hoods and other convocation equipment, and preparations also draw on the graduate studies office, plant operations, development and alumni, IST (audio-visual), retail services, graphics, food services, and probably others that are slipping my mind at this moment. Wednesday's 10:00 ceremony, for the faculties of applied health sciences and environment, also involves the installation of UW's new chancellor, Prem Watsa. Other ceremonies: science, Wednesday 2:30; arts, Thursday 10:00 and 2:30; mathematics, Friday 10:00 and 2:30; engineering, Saturday 10:00 and 2:30. Details of convocation are on the registrar's web site.

"Outstanding performance awards" have been given to 78 professors in the latest round of the six-year-old program, which recognizes “the top 10 per cent of the faculty”. A fund for such increases was created as part of UW’s annual faculty salary process in 2004. It provides permanent salary increases for the individuals selected, based on performance ratings for the previous year (in this case, spring 2009 ratings, with the increases effective May 1, 2009). A faculty member can’t receive one of the awards any oftener than every third year. "I am very pleased to announce the award recipients," provost Amit Chakma says in a memo listing them, "and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for their outstanding contributions to the University of Waterloo." Award winners include 4 faculty in applied health sciences, 21 in arts, 20 in engineering, 4 in environment, 15 in mathematics and 14 in science. Last year a total of 69 faculty members received the awards, with increases that were effective in May 2008.

“The confidential shredding program has been in operation for almost a year now,” says a memo to UW offices from Carolyn Dirks, UW’s records manager, and Joel Norris of central stores. “We're pleased to report,” they continue, “that the procedures are working well and more than 5,000 boxes of paper have been shredded to date. The cornerstone of the program is confidentiality. The staff in Central Stores must be able to complete the shredding process without observing the contents. In order to enhance confidentiality, please ensure that you remove all binders, large clips, and elastics, and pack only paper in the boxes to be shredded. Make sure the boxes are securely closed, top and bottom, so that the contents do not spill when the box is lifted. Non-confidential paper materials, including publications, should be packed in boxes and marked as Recycling.”

One other note, which takes us back to Stratford although there's nothing much digital about it, has to do with the Stratford Festival's musical "West Side Story", starring Paul Nolan and Chilina Kennedy on the Festival Theatre stage. The official opening was this week (and Star reviewer Richard Ouzounian declared it "the beet production of a musical in Stratford's long and distinguished list") but in fact the show has been playing for a while, and I had a chance to see it over the Victoria Day weekend. The program booklet that I brought home includes a three-page essay by UW drama professor Joel Greenberg, describing the play's 1957 origins and how it helped American musical theatre "mature into an adult form that addressed and embraced adult sensibilities".

Back to top

[Magazine cover]Magazine describes 43 R&T Park tenants

What’s going on the north campus Research and Technology Park? The 2009 issue of the park’s annual Watch magazine gives plenty of examples, along with a directory with thumbnail descriptions of all 43 organizations based there. To give the flavour, here are a few quotations taken from the magazine’s profiles of companies and entrepreneurs

Steven Woods, manager of the Waterloo office of Google: “We deliver billions of ads to the world daily. Getting the right ad in the right spot fast is what makes ads relevant to consumers. Our Adsense group is focused on the system that matches consumers to ads. We also work on mobile projects — these include Google apps like mobile Gmail, calendar, searches and many more. Our mobile search engine has a lot of impact world-wide on the overall mobile Google experience. And we are always looking at new projects and new ideas.”

Adrian Conrad of the Cora Group development company: “What I learned building the Accelerator Building was that the ‘simple’ really matters. For example, knowing that standard construction generates a lot of waste, I learned that an organized jobsite could facilitate recycling during the construction process. I did that with the InnoTECH Building and found this was one easy way to reduce waste and make an incredible difference. . . . Making decisions based on money alone carries a price.”

Norm Malloch, partner in Energent, which designs systems to monitor energy use: “There are usually some very quick wins when a company comes on board. People immediately analyze their systems and processes to see how well they are doing already — then they improve. That’s mostly about behavioural changes. After that, the focus moves to larger incentives. By measuring the changes, organizations can use that information for energy rebates, extrapolate costs into the future and make contract buys at a fixed price.”

Kurtis McBride, whose UW spinoff company Miovision markets software for counting road traffic: “Due to the small pool of money we had to learn quickly and cheaply. The best thing I learned was that those who begin with a larger pool of money have the urge to do as many things as they can and end up burning through the money fast. With too much money, you don’t learn your lesson until you’re broke. Since we didn’t have a lot of funding, we had to remain focused early on. Eventually we found ourselves at a point where — in order to reach greater heights — we needed to design the hardware ourselves. Initially we lacked the experience and expertise to build the product ourselves. But over time as we became more and more involved, it seemed a logical progression to develop the expertise.”

Jacqui Murphy, a partner in Tech Capital Partners, headed by Tim Jackson: “Just as I was about to talk to Tim, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. When I met him that was the first thing I said. Without missing a beat, Tim responded, ‘Great. Let me tell you about this job.’ Then he said, ‘Wait — that is fantastic! This is a great time in your life.’ Then he told me about the job. . . . We invest in more than just technology or ideas. We watch for chemistry — within the company itself and in the relationship we develop with them.”

Mike Morrice, executive director of the nonprofit Sustainable Waterloo: “We truly didn’t start out with an entrepreneurial agenda. We wanted to talk to people and hear their thoughts. The place we saw we might add value was in helping organizations bridge the gap between current regulation and the business case for reducing carbon emissions. We saw a revenue opportunity whereby companies could reduce their energy costs for bottom-line savings — we were interested in hearing opinions on the idea. At the same time, we knew there were a lot of regional and environmental organizations doing things around sustainability in different spaces. So it was important to know if what we were proposing was already happening.”

Larry Smith of UW’s department of economics: “In a tumultuous and dangerously competitive world, if you do not arrive with truth the herd will trample you; people with inaccurate information will be punished and people armed with truth will be rewarded. In the plethora of online information we have finally discovered what our information delivery system lacks: Truth. The internet is ‘faction information’ filled with assumption and opinion. We have need for a ‘truth’ engine.”

Back to top

Engineering achievements, a monthly rundown

The most recent issue of the engineering faculty’s online newsletter features the three-day “boot camp” held in early May for 17 women graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at various Ontario universities, including UW.

Christine Moresoli, a Waterloo chemical engineering professor and organizer of the second annual boot camp, said interactive presentations, including mock interviews, encouraged discussion and feedback. The newsletter quotes one participant: "It provided information I wouldn't receive elsewhere and gave me a complete picture of what an academic career is like."

Other items from the May issue of Eng-e-News:

• “Results of a research project involving Waterloo civil and environmental engineering professor Mahesh Pandey, the NSERC-UNENE Industrial Research Chair in Risk-Based Life Cycle Management, have significantly reduced the number of feeder pipe replacements estimated to be required at the Pickering A nuclear reactor plant. A statistical analysis Pandey worked on shows only 50 per cent of the number of replacements originally predicted will now be needed by 2018. This will result in a substantial financial savings for Ontario Power Generation.”

• “John Straube, a Waterloo civil and environmental engineering professor, and Ron Dembo (PhD ’75, MSci) of Zerofootprint were recently interviewed by Mary Wiens for her CBC series entitled Greening Up, Toronto and Its Towers. Straube, an international expert in retrofitting, talks about creating a healthcare system for buildings and Dembo discusses the benefits and opportunities of re-skinning existing highrises.”

• “Amirhossein Hajimiragha, an electrical engineering doctoral candidate, is a winner of the 2008 MITACS Centre of Excellence Award for Best Novel Use of Mathematics in Technology Transfer. He will receive his award at the Student Awards Ceremony of the MITACS 2009 Annual Conference being held in Fredericton in June.”

• “Robert Gracie, of civil and environmental engineering, was recently honoured with the 2009 Melosh Medal. The medal was launched in 1989 to honour Robert Melosh, a pioneering researcher in finite element methods and former chairman of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University. Gracie is the first University of Waterloo professor and only the fourth from a Canadian university to win the medal.”

• “Sachin Jayaswal, of management sciences, placed first in the 2009 Canadian Operational Research Society Student Paper Competition. His paper, co-authored by management sciences chair Beth Jewkes and Saibal Ray, is entitled Product Differentiation and Operations Strategy in a Competitive Market. Jayaswal recently completed his PhD in management sciences.”

The newsletter also offers an interview with an engineering faculty member: “Patricia Nieva wants to predict heart attacks. A heart attack, explains the mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor, isn’t an instant thing. For a day or two before acute pain might begin, the heart muscle is already being damaged.

“That damage releases certain proteins and enzymes, called cardiac markers, into the blood. ‘I want to build something hand-held, like a diabetes monitor, which could take a single drop of blood from a finger prick, measure the cardiac markers and give an instant read-out. It could even report wirelessly to your doctor,’ says Nieva. Nieva is leading an international multidisciplinary team to build just such a monitor.”


Back to top

Link of the day


When and where

Waterloo Engineering Competition registration June 1-12. Details.

‘Bees and Beneficial Insects’: UW Recreation Committee presents master gardener Ken McRae, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Lectures in Quantum Information series by Anthony Leggett, “The physics of topological quantum computing: selected topics”, continues June 9, 16, 18, 23, 25 and 30, and July 2, 2 p.m., Research Advancement Centre room 2009. All welcome.

Career workshop: “Career Interest Assessment (Strong Interest Inventory)” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

School of Architecture dedication ceremony for Stantec Architecture Gallery, building atrium, 7 Melville Street South, Cambridge, 4:30 p.m., information ext. 84900.

Wilfrid Laurier University convocation ceremony Wednesday 10:00, Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, Brantford. Details.

Waterloo Region rapid transit public meeting of Regional Council, Wednesday 5 p.m., 150 Frederick Street, Kitchener. Details.

‘Teaching Dossiers’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Graham Medal Seminar: Craig Eisler, Microsoft, “Software and Innovation: A 20-Year Perspective” Thursday 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Reception follows. Register ext. 37747.

School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture: Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Tsinghua University, “Communication Complexity and Its Applications” Thursday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Lebold Endowment Fundraising Banquet at Conrad Grebel University College, Thursday 6:30 p.m., speaker Ron Mathies, “Becoming a Global Community of Faith”, ticket information ext. 24223.

Autism Update professional development session with expert panel, organized by UW school of pharmacy and KidsAbility centre, Friday 9:00 to noon, Bingemans Conference Centre, information 519-886-8886 ext. 206.

Microteaching session for international teaching assistants to practise and get feedback, Friday 9:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Alan Morgan, department of earth and environmental sciences, retirement reception Friday 4:00, University Club, information e-mail klalbrec@ uwaterloo.ca.

ACM-style programming contest to help select UW’s teams for next year’s international competition, Saturday. Details.

Brubacher House Museum 30th anniversary celebration, with speaker Ken McLaughlin, UW historian, “Saving the John E. Brubacher House: Giving the Past a Future”, Saturday 1:30, Conrad Grebel University College great hall.

Rugby men’s regional junior tryouts Sunday, Columbia fields. Details.

‘Single and Sexy’ special performance for Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, Sunday 5:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Emergency alert system test with messages to cellphones and computer desktops, June 16, 10:00, details to be announced.

Alternatives Journal launches its new issue, “The New Ecology”, with performer Bob Wiseman, Tuesday, June 16, 8:30 p.m., Princess Café, 46 King Street North.

‘Clickers in the classroom’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday, June 17, 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Renison University College 1950s carnival and barbecue to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary, Thursday, June 18, 11:30 to 1:00, Academic Building, all welcome.

25-Year Club annual reception Thursday, June 18, 6:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex, by invitation, information ext. 32078.

Last day for 50 per cent fee refund for dropped courses, June 19.

Waterloo Classic road races (10-km, 5-km and 3-km) Sunday, June 21, leave University Stadium 9 a.m. Details.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term courses; appointments June 22-27 for continuing students, July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

Joanne Wade, retired from office of student awards, recognition reception Monday, June 22, 4:00 to 6:00, University Club, RSVP bdenomme@ uwaterloo.ca.

Work reports from winter term co-op jobs, marked by coordinators, available for pickup at Tatham Centre, June 26.

Canada Day holiday Wednesday, July 1, UW offices and most services closed; classes cancelled; annual celebrations and fireworks on the north campus 2:00 to 11:00.

PhD oral defences

Systems design engineering. Haiyan Xu, “Matrix Representation and Extension of the Graph Model for Conflict Resolution.” Supervisors, Keith Hipel and Marc Kilgour. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, June 18, 10:00 a.m., Engineering II room 1307C.

Combinatorics and optimization. Jessica M. McDonald, “Multigraphs with High Chromatic Index.” Supervisor, Penny Haxell. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, June 22, 10:30 a.m., Mathematics and Computer room 5158.

Chemistry. Alicea A. Leitch, “Structure and Property Correlations in Heavy Atom Radicals.” Supervisor, Richard T. Oakley. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, June 22, 2:00 p.m., Chemistry II room 361.

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 Tuesday, June 23, 9:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 3119.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin