Monday, March 23, 2009

  • Education 'for you too', youngsters are told
  • Engineering students show off projects
  • Other notes for a Monday morning
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Group photo]

Political and community leaders gathered to mark the launch of the local Education Championship Team; UW's Kelly Anthony is second from right, beside her co-chair, Daniel Moore of Guelph Family and Children’s Services.

Education 'for you too', youngsters are told

by Patricia Bow, communications and public affairs

Kelly Anthony, a lecturer in health studies and gerontology, and several of her undergraduate students are playing a leading role in an Ontario government initiative designed to help Crown Wards make their way in life.

Crown Wards — young people in care of provincial child protection agencies — often have trouble finishing school and getting jobs. They are hindered by lack of information about opportunities, lack of money, lack of stable family support, frequent school disruptions, and low expectations, their own and other people’s.

“Some of them, when you ask what their dreams are, can’t answer,” says Anthony, a social psychologist whose teaching and research interests, as well as her personal ones — she is becoming a foster parent — converge in the connections between disadvantaged youth, education, and well-being.

She is also co-director of one of seven Education Championship Teams created in 2008 and 2009 across Ontario to “offer mentorship, peer support, motivation and guidance” to the province’s approximately 9,500 Crown Wards, according to a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities news release. “Teams include volunteers from local school boards, children’s aid societies, postsecondary institutions, community agencies, Employment Ontario and provincial ministries.”

Anthony co-directs the Waterloo/Guelph/Wellington team with Daniel Moore, director of Guelph Family and Children’s Services. In other jurisdictions, the children’s aid society usually takes the leading role, Anthony says. “Waterloo took the lead on this project because we think a university education should be attainable by Crown Wards, the same as other young people. I took on this project to send a clear message — especially to the kids themselves — that ‘this university is a place for you too.’ We want to be part of their dreams.”

Right now the team is at the stage of deciding which programs will be most practical, effective, and self-sustainable. This is where the health studies students come in. Anthony used the Championship Teams program as a case study in her fourth-year course on Program Evaluation, and several of the students decided to volunteer.

One group — Pavel Roshanov, Gabriella Joo, and Maria Koh — formed a team to research the services being offered to Crown Wards, their attitudes to education, and the challenges they face. This, Roshanov says, involves “formulating research questions, reading lots of literature, participating in meetings with other stakeholders, interviewing kids directly about their experiences and attitudes, collecting and analyzing data from existing service providers, and providing useful recommendations based on this work.”

Other students are doing web work: for example, creating a web portal especially for Crown Wards, with a discussion forum as well as information on such things as how to finish high school, or how to find an apartment.

It’s been a rewarding experience in many ways, the student volunteers agree. “Dr. Anthony has been phenomenal in allowing us to directly apply the skills we’ve gained through our undergraduate career to a real project,” says Roshanov, who adds that his interests may lead him into health services research.

“This experience has grown to be one of the highlights of my university career,” Joo says. “I have a personal interest in this team, as I will pursue a high school teaching degree in the fall. My current classroom experience and exposure to foster children has given me some insight into the struggles they face and the experiences they have to go through to achieve things in life that many of us may take for granted.”

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Engineering students show off projects

a release from UW media relations

UW engineering students will showcase innovative class projects in two separate events this week, including a device to ease heart surgery and a robot that detects fires.

The annual exhibitions by third- and fourth-year students in mechatronics engineering and systems design engineering are open to the public. Today, mechatronics students will display their projects in the Student Life Centre, from 1 to 5 p.m. Then on Wednesday, systems design students will present their projects in the Davis Centre, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"These engineering projects push the boundaries of innovation and visitors from the university, community and local high schools are welcome to browse the exciting projects and meet with student presenters," said Daniel Stashuk, professor of systems design engineering. "As systems design engineers, our students use a multi-disciplinary approach to define, analyze and solve problems at the interface of society, technology and the environment."

The systems design projects, which address an environmental objective with patentable intellectual property, include a non-invasive heart surgery anchoring device, a bio-electric controlled prosthetic arm, a retrofit insulated roofing system and a saltwater de-icing sprinkler for driveways.

Today's exhibition "will showcase the multi-disciplinary nature of mechatronics engineering," said Jan Huissoon, professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering. "Students design computer-controlled electromechanical systems in areas such as robotics and automation systems, neural prosthetics and micro electro-mechanical systems."

At the mechatronics design symposium, projects include an ergonomic wheelchair that runs on both electric and human power, a user-friendly prosthetic hand capable of exerting variable force and a robot equipped with advanced fire detection technology.

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Other notes for a Monday morning

The third annual "Earth Hour" is scheduled for this Saturday night, with activists urging people to turn off their lights (and other energy use) for an hour as a symbol of environmental conservation and the willingness to be part of change. The UW Sustainability Project, a group recognized under the Federation of Students, "will be collaborating with Warrior Weekends and other groups to provide a fun-filled Earth Hour weekend in the SLC", its web site says. There's a site on Facebook where UW people can sign up to participate; pledges to the same effect will also be accepted at a UWSP booth in the Student Life Centre, Tuesday through Thursday. If I get more details about on-campus plans for Earth Hour, I'll report them here later this week.

The UW senate is scheduled to meet today, with a major agenda item being the university's 2009-10 budget. The meeting starts at 4:30 in Needles Hall room 3001, and a full agenda is online. At last week's meeting of the senate finance committee, which recommended approval of the budget, someone asked a question about the impact of new buildings on the university's spending for utilities and maintenance. Good question, said provost Amit Chakma, whose answer cited the Pharmacy building in downtown Kitchener as an example. The building "required an initial subsidy", he said, and "even today we are not breaking even," but fees from pharmacy students are starting to come into the bank account and eventually all the costs will be covered. Similarly, revenue from the nanotechnology engineering program, and endowment proceeds from the Institute for Quantum Computing, will help cover the cost of operating the new Quantum-Nano Centre. If UW manages to get any building grants from the new federal infrastructure program, there will have to be plans for covering the resulting operating costs, the provost added. He finished the explanation with a little jest at mathematics dean Tom Coleman, who's known to be longing for more space: "Tom, once you build your building, how are you going to pay the costs? We'll simply take them out of the Faculty of Mathematics budget!"

[Hansson at lectern]Carolyn Hansson of UW's department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering is the 2009 winner of the Acta Materialia Materials and Society Award from the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society. She's seen at left delivering the invited lecture that resulted, under the title "The Impact of Corrosion on Society". Speaking in February during the society's annual meeting in San Francisco, Hansson cited structures such as the Statue of Liberty, aircraft, and the Berlin Congress Wall that have been damaged by corrosion, and referred to financial costs, indirect costs, and how corrosion can also be perceived in a positive way. A citation notes that Hansson, who is a former vice-president (university research) of UW, "is an internationally recognized scientist and engineer. Her contributions both in basic science and applied engineering regarding the many aspects of environmental degradation of materials, particularly corrosion and erosion of metals and alloys during service, have had a profound and lasting impact on interactions between materials and society."

From the latest newsletter of UW's French studies department: "We are pleased to announce the renewal and expansion of our agreement with the Université de Nantes. Continuing to be the centrepiece of our exchange collaborations with France, the Nantes program will now include more regular courses taken with other French students and a graduate exchange component, allowing our MA and PhD students to spend some time in Nantes as part of their degree. In addition, our Department is in the process of signing a brand-new agreement with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. This agreement will allow us to better structure an already popular program, Finally, talks are underway to set up graduate exchange agreements with the Université de Paris-Nanterre and the Université de Sousse (Tunisia)."

A pair of UW environment students will be honoured today as winners of something called the Go Green Challenge. It's a competition for proposals on urban sustainability, open to Canadian university and college students and sponsored by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. Sayan and Chan will receive a $25,000 cheque today, honouring their winning proposal "My Green Neighbour: Residential Efficiency Loans for Canadian Investors". Steve Young of the Faculty of Environment served as their sponsor. The cheque presentation will be taking place at 12:00 today in the great hall of the Student Life Centre.


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Link of the day

Puppy Day

When and where

Continuing education instructor Patsy Marshall, “High Performing Teams”, 12:00 noon, Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Co-op Students of the Year award presentations 2:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Germanic and Slavic studies presents Peter Boehm, Canadian ambassador to Germany, “Looking Ahead During Troubled Times”, 2:00, Environment I room 132. Details.

School of Social Work, Renison UC, presents “In from the Streets: The Health and Well-Being of Formerly Homeless Older Adults” 4:30, Renison chapel lounge.

Arriscraft Lecture: Anne Lacaton, Lacaton & Vassal, Paris, “Recent Work”, 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

PAS building hot water shut off (cold water is not affected) Tuesday 8 a.m. to midnight.

‘Turn Off the TV’ book sale outside UW bookstore, South Campus Hall, Tuesday-Wednesday 9:30 to 4:30.

Yume (Peace) Project: folding paper cranes to send to Hiroshima, Tuesday and Wednesday, Student Life Centre great hall.

Deloitte Speakers Series presents Michael Malcolm, former UW faculty member, founder of Kaleidescape Inc., “Creating a Technology-Based Company” Tuesday 11:30, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations e-mail c3hudson@

New faculty lunch-and-learn: “Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion”, Tuesday 11:45 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

End-of-term recitals by UW music students March 24, 25 and 30, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

Germanic and Slavic studies presents Simon Richter, University of Pennsylvania, “Reading with Hiccups: Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and the Eco-Linguistics of ‘Here’” Tuesday 2:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” Tuesday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Alumni panel: “Success with an Arts Graduate Degree” Tuesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Alumni event in Baltimore: Networking reception Tuesday 6:00 to 8:00, James Joyce Irish Pub. Details.

Muslim Student Association end-of-term dinner Tuesday 6:30 p.m., Student Life Centre lower atrium. Details.

Live and Learn lecture: Rina Gupta, International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviours, “Is It Normal for My Teenager to Be Gambling?” Tuesday 7:00, Waterloo Public Library main branch.

PDEng alumni lecture: Edward Drennan and Eric Jelinsky, “Getting Employed: What It Takes During These Challenging Times”, Wednesday 11:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Mindful Eating: six weekly sessions by Counselling Services for staff who struggle with emotional eating and weight management. Series begins Wednesday 4 to 6 p.m. at Renison UC chapel. Details.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group 35th Birthday Bash, Thursday 11:00 to 3:00, great hall, Student Life Centre.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program information session Thursday 4:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

‘Waterloo Bell — Bell for Kepler’ lecture by artist Royden Rabinowitch, at Institute for Quantum Computing, 475 Wes Graham Way, north campus, Thursday 7:00 p.m. Details.

Federation of Students general meeting Friday, 1:00, Student Life Centre great hall. Details.

International Year of Astronomy lecture: William E. Harris, McMaster University, “Galileo, Shakespeare and Van Gogh: Creative Reactions to the End of the World” Friday 7:00 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

Environment and Business Conference (third annual) hosted by Centre for Environment and Business, Saturday 8:00 to 4:00, South Campus Hall and other buildings. Details.

Application deadlines for September 2009 undergraduate admission: general deadline, March 31. Details.

TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professorship: András Szöllösi-Nagy, Unesco, “Water for the 21st Century: Will There Be Any?” March 31, 3:30, Humanities Theatre.

Orchestra @ UWaterloo spring concert, music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn, April 2, 8:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

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