Friday, June 12, 2009

  • Digital 'declaration' on its way to Ottawa
  • Convocation for math today, then engineering
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Coates on a pair of giant screens]
Digital 'declaration' on its way to Ottawa

by Brian Shypula, reprinted by permission from the Stratford Beacon Herald

Business, government and academic leaders created a four-point plan for the future of digital media in Canada during two days of brainstorming in Stratford.

The so-called "Stratford Declaration" says:

  • every Canadian should be connected
  • all Canadian content should be online
  • the ownership model of content should be fair and transparent and respect copyright
  • common activities in society should be just as easy in digital as they are in analog.

"What I saw here today was the first national project we've had in this country in a generation," Ken Coates, dean of the faculty of arts at University of Waterloo, said Tuesday (photo above by Stephen J. Edgar). "The idea of being a digital nation is our national project."

He was speaking at the wrap-up of the two-day Canada 3.0 Forum, which brought together more than 1,000 leaders from the high-tech sector, academia and government with the goal of defining Canada's digital media future.

Digital media — which includes content such as video, audio and text in addition to the means of moving it on and off the Internet with computers and handheld devices — is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, worth a projected US$2.2 trillion over the next five years. England, France, New Zealand and Australia are countries with digital media strategies already in place.

While Canada lags behind in both policy and content, the conference created a feverish buzz and high expectations. "What you're experiencing is blindingly fast for policy development — here we are on June 9 with the opportunity on June 22 to have a real impact," said Tom Jenkins, executive chair and chief strategy officer of Open Text Corp., one of the hosts of the conference together with UW's Stratford Institute and the Canadian Digital Media Network.

He and fellow conference participants, Helen McDonald of Industry Canada and Bernard Courtois, president and chief executive officer of the Information Technology Association of Canada, will take the Stratford Declaration to Ottawa on June 22, when Industry Minister Tony Clement will host the Digital Economy Forum. Mr. Clement spoke at Canada 3.0 on Monday, pledging Canada will be the world leader in the digital economy.

Mr. Coates said organizers thought it would take one to two years to get to where the conference got to two days, with talk of being the best in the world and not being embarrassed by it.

"There is a hunger from every sector to get together and better understand what this opportunity is called digital media," said Kevin Tuer, managing director of the Canadian Digital Media Network.

At the conference, delegates broke into groups to talk about issues in digital media including infrastructure needs, mobility, attracting and retaining talent, research and commercialization and enterprise information management. Mr. Jenkins said a "firehose" of information came out of the workshops.

At the wrap-up session, panelists Ian Wilson, strategy advisor to the Stratford Institute, Mike Lazaridis, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion, Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, and Mr. Courtois commented on the Stratford Declaration.

"We've hit this at the right time," said Mr. Wilson, former national archivist and librarian. But like others over the two days, he pointed to the lack of Canadian content on the Web as a problem. Less then one per cent everything Canada has produced in text, television and film is available online, he said. "We're moving into a competitive position in a knowledge society and we only have one per cent of our resources. It's like landing in Normandy on D-Day and leaving 99 per cent of your army behind," he said.

Mr. Lazaridis said Canadian high-tech companies are at the core of digital media and driving wealth creation, but are under-appreciated. "I hope I'm not being politically incorrect, but we really take our high-tech industries for granted in this country," he said.

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Convocation for math today, then engineering

[Helping him on with gown]Four more sessions — today at 10:00 and 2:30 for mathematics, and Saturday at the same times for engineering — will wind up UW’s Ninety-Eighth Convocation, which has already seen thousands of students graduate from the other four faculties, and honours including the installation of Prem Watsa as UW's chancellor.

In the photo at left (Chris Hughes, UW Graphics), UW provost Amit Chakma keeps an eye on things as registrar Ken Lavigne helps Watsa into his robe of office.

"It is a wonderful honour Waterloo is bestowing on me,” Watsa said in a statement before Wednesday’s installation, noting that he knows his father would be proud of him today. "He was an educator, a school principal in India who valued learning and made sure his children all got an education," said Watsa, one of Canada's leading business figures. He praised Waterloo for its history of boldness, unconventionality and penchant for seizing opportunity. "This university was founded by businessmen, built by initiative and taking the unconventional path, a strategy that has resulted in a world-class institution," said Watsa, who heads the successful investment firm of Fairfax Holdings.

Here are some of the anticipated highlights of the remaining convocation ceremonies, all to be held in the Physical Activities Complex.

Friday morning: A total of 521 students will graduate. Vincent Chan, receiving a degree in applied math and pure math, will give the valedictory address.

Murray Martin, CEO of Pitney Bowes Inc., will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and give the address. Martin's desire to apply the best research in information security has led to a close partnership between Pitney Bowes and Waterloo researchers and the establishment of the NSERC/Pitney Bowes Industrial Chair in Cryptography, which resulted in the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research.

Arkadi Nemirovski will receive an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree. A leading researcher in optimization for more than 30 years, Nemirovski is the author of Interior Point Methods for Convex Optimization, a fundamental work in the field. In 1991, he received the most prestigious prize in optimization, the Dantzig Prize.

Two major medals will be presented to top BMath graduates. Paul Skoufranis (pure math) receives the alumni gold medal, and Xiaoheng Wang (who graduated in actuarial science and pure math at last October’s convocation) receives the Governor General’s Silver Medal.

Friday afternoon: Morgan Grainger, who is receiving a BMath in computer science and peace and conflict studies, will give the valedictory address on behalf of the 219 students who will graduate.

Andrew Chi-Chih Yao will receive an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree and address convocation. One of the world's most prominent computer scientists, Yao was the first to identify and study what now is known as the field of communication complexity. In 2000, Yao was awarded the Association for Computer Machining Turing Award, considered the Nobel Prize for computer science.

The title of University Professor will be formally awarded to Ming Li of the school of computer science, and the Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision to Robin Cohen, also of CS.

The J. W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation, given in memory of UW’s pioneer computer scientist, will be presented to this year’s winner, Craig Eisler, a UW graduate who is corporate vice-president for entertainment client software at Microsoft Corp.

Saturday morning: A total of 558 students will receive engineering degrees, and Erica Waugh, graduating in civil engineering, will speak on their behalf as valedictorian.

Martha Salcudean will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree and address convocation. Salcudean is a professor emerita of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia and the Weyerhaeuser Industrial Research Chair Emerita in Computational Fluid Dynamics. She has published widely in the area of heat transfer and fluid flow, especially in computational fluid mechanics and the modelling of transport phenomena in industrial processes.

Gerhard Kennepohl will also receive an honorary DEng. Scientist, engineer and musician, Kennepohl is one of Canada's leading authorities in road and pavement technology. Formerly with Gulf Canada and the Ontario government, he is a founder and ongoing member of Waterloo's Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology.

Donald Grierson, a retired professor of civil engineering, will receive a Distinguished Professor Emeritus title. Gordon Stubley, professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, will receive the Distinguished Teacher Award that was announced earlier this year.

Saturday afternoon: Joseph Huang (electrical and computer engineering) will give the valedictory address as a total of 369 students graduate.

Mike Lazaridis, CEO of Research In Motion Ltd., will address convocation after being installed as Chancellor Emeritus. He served as UW’s chancellor from 2003 until April 30 of this year.

James Tien will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Tien is dean of the college of engineering at the University of Miami and has written more than 150 refereed publications in systems evaluation, systems modelling, systems analysis, information systems and general systems. His seminal paper on systems evaluation in 1979 was the first to address the topic from an engineering perspective.

Manfred Conrad will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Conrad, a local entrepreneur, established the Cora Group, Waterloo Region's largest commercial real estate development company, in 1980, and was a leading figure in the development of buildings in the UW Research and Technology Park.

Other awards for Saturday’s convocation sessions haven’t been announced yet and will be revealed in the printed program for the day’s activities, which is expected to arrive from the UW Graphics print shop just in time.

A final note: Melissa Onn, marketing officer for the Federation of Students, reports that the Bombshelter pub in the Student Life Centre "will be opening Saturday at 9 p.m. for those who graduated this week to have one last night at the Bomber before leaving Waterloo." The pub isn't usually open Saturdays at this time of year.


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ESQ session aimed at Guides

Girl Guides from around Waterloo Region will explore the world of engineering technology at a special event tomorrow hosted by UW's award-winning Engineering Science Quest program. About 100 Guides will spend the day on campus and will earn their engineering badge after they participate in mind-provoking activities and experiments, and engage in discussions with engineers.

"We want to encourage young women to become more interested in engineering using a fun, hands-on approach in our educational activities," says Caity Dyck, ESQ manager. "Our mandate is to promote engineering, science and technology to students of all ages." ESQ, which will be operating a series of camps on campus and at several other Ontario locations this summer, draws on real scientific concepts and presents them to youth entering Grades 1 to 12 in fun and creative ways.

The Girl Guide Engineering Day is sponsored by ESQ, Waterloo Engineering's women in engineering committee, WE-Connect (Waterloo Engineering's outreach group) and ACTUA, a national organization that provides young Canadians with learning experiences in science, technology and engineering.

Link of the day

June is Stroke Month

When and where

Waterloo Engineering Competition registration closes today. Details.

Co-op employer interviews (main group) June 1-18.

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

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

Child care festival sponsored by four on-campus child care centres, 9:45, Village green, guest performer Erick Traplin.

‘Single and Sexy’ free preview performance 1:00, Humanities Theatre, all welcome. Special performance for Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, Sunday 5:30 p.m.

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

‘Is Christ Necessary for Morality?’ public debate (Rev. Scott Wilkinson, New Creation Reformed Presbyterian Church, and Bryon Williston, WLU department of philosophy) 7 p.m., Wilfrid Laurier University, Bricker building room 201.

Star Performance Academy dance performance 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

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

Dance Adventure performances Saturday 1:00 and 7:00, Sunday 11:00, Humanities Theatre.

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.

Matthews Golf Classic for students, staff, faculty, retirees and guests, Monday 12:00 noon, Grand Valley Golf Course. Sold out. Details.

UW Recreation Committee presents “Home Health Care: Making the Right choice”, Marie Graham of Bayshore Home Health, Monday 12:00 noon, Dana Porter Library room 329.

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

Social work seminar: "Spirituality, Social Work and Transformation." Monday 4:30 p.m., chapel lounge, Renison University College. Free. Details.

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

Staff association Golf Social Tuesday, Conestoga Golf and Country Club, tee-off 4:00, fee $40. Details.

Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology Distinguished Lecture: Yuan T. Lee, Nobel prize winner in chemistry, “Ionization Processes of Molecular Clusters” Tuesday 3:00, CEIT room 1015.

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

Library workshop: “Mapping Census Data” Wednesday 10:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

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

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

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday 12:30 to 2 p.m., East Campus Hall.

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

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.

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.

Summer session classes begin July 2.

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