Tuesday, June 30, 2009

  • 300-plus volunteers invite Canada Day crowd
  • Million-dollar chair for auto researcher
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs
  • bulletin@uwaterloo.ca

[Shaking hands with Johnston]

Farewell to the provost: Today is the last day as UW's vice-president (academic) and provost for Amit Chakma, who becomes president of the University of Western Ontario as of July 1. He's seen with president David Johnston at a testimonial dinner held June 3 at Johnston's farm near Waterloo. In eight years as UW's provost, Chakma has battled the university's structural budget deficits with "expenditure reductions", "income diversification" and "strategic reinvestment". He's also been in charge of university operations through the development of branch campuses in Cambridge and Kitchener, planning for a presence in Stratford and in the United Arab Emirates, construction of the Centre for Environmental and Information Technology and the start of work on several more buildings, the expansion of graduate enrolment, new programs in nanotechnology and pharmacy, development of the Institute for Quantum Computing, and the creation of the Sixth Decade Plan.

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300-plus volunteers invite Canada Day crowd

The dumpsters and garbage cans, the tents and the porta-potties, should all be in place by now on the fields north of Columbia Street, where tomorrow’s Canada Day celebration expected to bring 70,000 visitors to help mark the country’s birthday.

Infrastructure for the afternoon and evening celebrations includes handwashing stations, shelters for food and crafts, equipment for children’s games, a stage and loudspeakers for performers, the trucks from which fireworks are launched, and signs, barricades and cellphones for the security crew.

[Canada Day logo]The weather forecast mentions showers, but in anything short of a serious thunderstorm, the party can go on, says event manager Caitlyn Smith, a recreation and leisure studies student who’s working full-time — more than full-time — on the 25th annual Canada Day event, co-sponsored by UW and the Federation of Students.

She points out that many of the day’s activities, such as exhibitors and craft sales, are already under canvas, and the main stage has a roof. Food is available in a UW concessions tent with pizza, burgers and so on, plus seven food vendors “from Greek food to health food”. As for children’s games, “most of those are wet already, and they’ll be in bathing suits!”

Canada Day on the north campus, beside Columbia Lake, promises a wide range of fun activities for all ages, thanks to volunteers — more than 300 of them at last count, to the point that no more volunteers are being accepted, says Smith’s sidekick in organizing the day, Lisa Willan. She credits the calendar, which this year puts Canada Day in the middle of a week, for the overflow of volunteers. “This also makes it easier in booking and delivery of necessary equipment,” she adds, comparing things to last year’s schedule when Canada Day came at the end of a four-day weekend.

She’s also expecting “a great attendance rate” because the holiday is a Wednesday and people aren’t travelling as much, she said.

Traffic has traditionally been a challenge, especially as the massive crowds head home at the end of the fireworks show. The only roadway to be closed on account of Canada Day will be Columbia Street between Hagey Boulevard and Westmount Road, directly in front of the party’s lakeside site. “Accessible” parking (for those with handicapped stickers) will be at the Open Text Corp. parking lot on Frank Tompa Boulevard, opening off Hagey Boulevard in the centre of the Research and Technology Park. Other visitors can park in lot X, behind the Optometry building, or UW’s many south campus lots, all of which will be open and free for the day. In other words, to avoid traffic jams, come and leave by University Avenue.

Admission to the day is free, though there will be many opportunities to spend money: not just the food tents but also the arts-and-crafts fair and some souvenir sales. In addition, donation boxes will be available throughout the day, collecting funds to help with the cost of fireworks for next year’s event.

The big onstage attractions for the day include the Tyler Schwende Band, whose debut EP Beautiful Catastrophe received critical acclaim for its melodic rock, and eclectic dance-rockers The Guys, who return for a second time. Details of the music program (for both adults and kids) are on the Canada Day web site.

The public is invited to join the party starting at 2 p.m. and continuing throughout the day, wrapping up at 10 p.m. with the grand finale of fireworks. On various parts of the field, families can enjoy jugglers, an obstacle course and a mad science magic show as well as the arts and crafts fair with a wide selection of hand-made goods and kid-friendly products. While most of the children's activities wrap up at 8 p.m., the main stage performances and the arts and crafts fair continue until 11 p.m.

And the volunteers will be back on Columbia Field on Thursday morning to clean up.

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Million-dollar chair for auto researcher

a news release from the UW media relations office

A researcher at the University of Waterloo has been awarded $1 million to work with software and automotive partners on a better way to design cars. Support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and two industrial partners was announced at a celebration yesterday morning in the Davis Centre.

John McPhee, executive director of the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR), has been named NSERC/ Toyota/ Maplesoft Industrial Research Chair in Mathematics-Based Modelling and Design. Over the next five years, he will work with software developers at Maplesoft and engineers at Toyota on a faster, and thus better, approach to designing automobiles.

“The support we are receiving from our three partners will speed up what’s known as the ‘model-based design’ of new products, an approach being embraced by the auto industry as it strives to be more efficient and responsive to consumer demands,” explains McPhee. “We are partnering with NSERC, Toyota and Maplesoft to advance this approach, which will ultimately result in better cars built in Canada.”

Current engineering design uses computer models to explore different product concepts and evaluate performance. Unfortunately, most existing models are numerical, hiding the physics behind reams of data. A more natural approach involves mathematical theory and computer algorithms to create engineering models that can be easily viewed and shared between colleagues.

As chair holder, McPhee will collaborate with computer experts at Maplesoft and engineers at Toyota to develop math-based models and computer simulations, with a focus on automotive applications such as vehicle dynamics, mechatronic powertrains and hybrid electric vehicles. They will develop special model-reduction methods to run computer simulations more quickly, which is crucial to designing on-board computers that control everything from the engine performance to the vehicle stability.

The models, along with hardware-in-the-loop testing, can identify key variables in a system in real time. This results in fewer expensive tests and prototypes, and helps engineers find the best possible design.

NSERC is providing $1-million over the next five years to establish the Chair. “At NSERC, we want to make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators,” said NSERC president Suzanne Fortier. “The Industrial Research Chairs program helps us achieve that vision. Dr. McPhee exemplifies the high level of excellence we expect from our Chairs. He has shown great leadership. He has cultivated and established solid relationships with industry. And he has shown that he can solve difficult problems.”

As an industry partner, Toyota is contributing two Lexus vehicles and, most importantly, its time and engineering expertise to the project. The company is looking to reduce the usual two-year design time and produce vehicles that better respond to consumer demands.

As an industry partner, Maplesoft will provide its new MapleSim modelling and simulation software, and dedicated math experts who will work closely with McPhee to develop the next generation of software tools for engineering design.


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Wednesday's a holiday

UW will be closed tomorrow for the national Canada Day holiday. Offices and most services will be closed, and classes will not be held.

The Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries will be open from 12 noon to 6 p.m.

Some key services continue uninterrupted: UW police, 519-888-4911 (ext. 22222 on campus); Student Life Centre, turnkey desk 519-888–4434 (ext. 84434 on campus); maintenance emergencies ext. 33793.

In a change from previous practice, the information systems and technology department says phone messages to the help desk will not be monitored on the holiday, and any problems with the campus network will be addressed on Thursday when staff come back to work.

Link of the day

Friendship across the border

When and where

Pre-enrolment for winter 2010 term undergraduate courses, June 29 to July 5 on Quest.

Architecture student job posting for fall term co-op jobs, June 29-30.

Lectures in Quantum Information series by Anthony Leggett, “The physics of topological quantum computing: selected topics”, continues today and Thursday, 2 p.m., Research Advancement Centre room 2009. All welcome.

Summer session classes begin Thursday, July 2.

Blood donor clinic at Student Life Centre, July 6-9 (10:00 to 3:00) and July 10 (9:00 to 2:00). Details.

‘What Is Your Carbon Footprint?’ brown-bag seminar with Mike Greulich, plant operations, sponsored by Employee Assistance Program, Wednesday, July 8, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Swing2Cure Charity Golf Tournament sponsored by Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Wednesday, July 8, 12:00, Rebel Creek Golf Club. Details.

‘Teaching Large Classes’ workshop organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday, July 9, 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Alumni networking workshop: “The Power of LinkedIn” Thursday, July 9, 6 p.m., University of Toronto at Mississauga. Details.

Class enrolment for fall term courses: appointments July 13-26 for new students; open enrolment begins July 27.

R&T Park charity golf tournament Thursday, July 16, at Conestoga Golf Club: barbecue 12:00, shotgun start 1:00, dinner and prizes 5:00, tickets $99, proceeds to K-W Community Foundation. Details.

PDEng alumni lecture: three recent graduates speak on “Beat the Traffic: from University Avenue to Career Highway” Wednesday, July 22, 11:30 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Student Life 101 open house for students coming to UW this fall, Saturday, July 25, 9:00 to 4:00. Details.

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