Monday, May 11, 2009

  • Long-awaited Accounting wing is open
  • Plagiarism software available this fall
  • Other glimpses of the passing parade
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Building seen from the east]
Long-awaited Accounting wing is open

Windows in all the offices, floor-to-ceiling windows in stairwells, windows brightening the three-storey atrium, windows flooding the study space with light — that’s the constant impression in the new Accounting wing of Hagey Hall of the Humanities.

“Light!” says Jim Barnett, director of the school of accounting and finance, who took me on an informal tour of the building Friday morning. “That’s one thing that the architect did very well.”

He shows off other touches by architect Laird Robertson — including an ingenious way of providing air supply to the lecture halls through the floor rather than the ceiling, cutting down on fan noise — and reiterates how happy he and his colleagues are with their long-awaited new home (pictured above in an architects’ drawing).

It’s a little more than two years since the groundbreaking ceremony for the new wing, northeast of the original 1970 Hagey Hall. The nominal budget for the three-storey building: $12.3 million.

Construction has taken far longer than anybody expected — in part because of painstaking attention to every detail of the building, says UW vice-president (administration and finance) Dennis Huber. “Design detail takes time to implement,” he said last week.

And Barnett, walking me through the building, was happy to show off some of the details: “power at every seat” in the lecture halls so students can plug in their laptops; a hallway running backstage of each classroom so a disabled faculty member can avoid stairs; a curved wall in the atrium where an electronic display board will complement permanent plaques honouring the building’s donors.

He and other faculty and staff in the accounting school have actually been using the building’s third floor since January. Crowding was getting so bad in their old space, in the east wing of Hagey Hall, that they made special arrangements to have the office wing finished and temporary drywall installed to block off the rest of the building while work continued on classrooms and the atrium.

A link between the new wing and the original building is open at third-floor level; links on the first and second floors are expected any day now, after workers finish a few more details. Friday morning, one worker was moving materials in the atrium, another was connecting audio-visual equipment in a classroom, and two more were putting trees in their holes outside the building’s west side, facing what amounts to a new Humanities quadrangle.

Lecture halls of various sizes provide a total of 600 seats, Barnett told me. The smaller rooms went into use a week ago today, with the beginning of spring term classes, and the biggest one, a 200-seat theatre, will be ready shortly.

Coming a little later will be a café on the main floor of the building, to be operated by UW’s food services. Grand opening celebrations for the Accountancy wing are scheduled for September 8, the day after Labour Day.

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Plagiarism software available this fall

UW instructors will be able to use the controversial Turnitin “academic integrity software” starting this fall, says an announcement from associate provost (academic and student affairs) Bruce Mitchell.

Here’s the word as issued by Faye Schultz of the Academic Integrity Office, which Mitchell heads:

“In its ‘Toward a Level Playing Field’ report completed in July 2007, the UW Academic Integrity Committee recommended that the University of Waterloo should continue to use existing plagiarism detection assistance software, such as for computer coding assignments. In addition, it recommended that UW should determine which software could be adopted campus-wide to help screen essays and term papers, which are a major component of many course assignments.

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service used at many universities. It was identified by the Academic Integrity Committee as the software that seemed most suitable, and for the winter and spring terms of 2008 the School of Accounting and Finance volunteered to use Turnitin in a selection of its undergraduate and graduate courses. The intent was to determine the views of both faculty and students about the use of Turnitin, and also to identify practical matters that would need attention if this software were to be adopted for the entire university.

“At the end of each term, both students and instructors had opportunity to provide comments about the pilot with Turnitin. While there were some minor criticisms, there was overwhelming support from both students and faculty. The key message was that such detection software helped to create a level playing field for all students.

“As a result, the decision has been taken to have Turnitin available as of September 2009 to all faculty members and other instructors at UW. It will be accessed through the campus online course system, UW-ACE. The license allows any UW faculty to use the service, for UW courses and students in those courses.

“Just as with other ‘dropbox’ assignments on UW-ACE, students will submit their papers electronically (by an upload), but in this case the document is sent to the Turnitin service. Turnitin then compares the content of those submitted papers to all of the other papers and documents submitted to its database. Whenever similarities between a student's paper and an existing document are found, Turnitin will highlight those similarities in an annotated document showing both the student's paper and the original source.

“Instructors who are interested in using Turnitin, or learning more about it, are invited to attend training that will be offered by IST. Two courses will be run in June, another in August, and also in September. The course will cover the basics of what is Turnitin, how it checks for plagiarism, and how to set up a Turnitin dropbox in UW-ACE.”

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Other glimpses of the passing parade

There's much coming and going at the UW conference centre, as participants in the Canadian Computing Competition, the Rotary Club's Camp Enterprise and a high school girls' soccer camp all spent a few nights in Ron Eydt Village last week. Arriving today are some 120 students from Toronto's St. Michael's College School, and tomorrow about 100 people preparing to write professional optometric exams are expected. And so it continues, with 200 participants in a Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada youth convention coming in over the long weekend, to be followed by 10 students from Italy, taking part in an exchange with UW's department of drama. Before month's end, there will also be a conference of engineers working on road salt management, the annual conference of the Bibles for Missions Thrift Stores Foundation, and a group of students workshopping next September's "Single and Sexy".

A major event in space exploration is scheduled for this week: the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory will head outwards from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. Herschel carries "the largest telescope ever sent into space" as well as other equipment with a close UW connection, as the Faculty of Science proudly explains: "With the launch of the Herschel Space Observatory, scientists will study the birth of planets, stars and galaxies. The processes that create these objects produce far-infrared light. Herschel will be the first far-infrared observatory. During its expected four-year lifetime, the observatory will be deployed about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. Dr. Michel Fich, professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, is the Canadian Principal Investigator for the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI), one of the three science instruments on the space observatory." To celebrate and educate, science will hold a special event Thursday morning around launch time, "featuring remarks, launch countdown and live video feed from the launch site". It all happens in the Humanities Theatre, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., and everyone is welcome.

"We have had some changes at the pool for this summer and will be offering some additional programs for kids," writes Rebecca White, fitness and aquatics coordinator in UW's athletics and recreational services department. "I would like to make sure the campus community is aware of some of the new opportunities. Effective May 1, children may come swimming with their parents, when the parent is a PAC member, on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. Previously, children were only permitted in the pool on Sundays. Additionally, we are offering children’s lessons to the Waterloo community as well as the campus community this spring and summer. The parents do not have to be members for their children to participate in the lessons." There are both ten-week and two-week (10-lesson) programs. Information: call ext. 35869.

If you've gone digital recently, you might be in a position to help UW's department of fine arts. Bruce Taylor, chair of the department, sends word that there's a demand for "used film or video cameras (or related equipment) for our photography and media courses. The students in Fine Arts would benefit greatly from the opportunity to further engage in practice based research projects using film based cameras or analog video (and audio) technologies. As the technology shifts to digital, fewer and fewer students have access to film cameras or analog equipment." Cora Cluett in fine arts (phone ext. 32599) would like to hear from anyone who might be able to help.

Relaxation sessions based on audio CDs by "renowned relaxation teacher Eli Bay" are being held at 12:15 each Thursday in May (Math and Computer room 5136), sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program. • Alan Hodgson, a laboratory technician in mechanical engineering who's been working at UW since January 1969, officially retired as of May 1. • A promotion at the Jolly Chef food counter in the Davis Centre ("with your purchase of a Coke beverage, get a ballot for your chance to win") starts today and runs through May 29.

[Light-hearted golfers]

And . . . the annual Matthews Golf Classic is to be held June 15 at the Grand Valley Golf Course. It's an event for "all staff, faculty, students, retirees and invited guests", and "any ability to play golf is not necessary," organizers insist (the photo above is from the 2008 event). Details are on the web — team photos, golf, dinner and fees — and Sheila Hurley of the UW safety office, who's a regular volunteer on the organizing committee, notes that registration will close May 29.


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Link of the day

Stuttering Awareness

When and where

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

UW Blooms annual exchange of seeds, seedlings and garden supplies, today, multipurpose room, Student Life Centre.

‘Research tools and library services’ workshop for new graduate students, 12:00, Davis Centre library room 1568. Details.

Social work seminar: Tom Brenner, Renison University College, “An Approach to Canada’s Child Poverty Problem, or Not” 4:30 p.m., Renison chapel lounge.

Afghanistan and the History of Canadian Foreign Policy: book tour for Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, 5:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 301, sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group and the Council of Canadians.

Retirees Association bus trip to “Toronto’s Smaller Museums” Tuesday, sold out. Details.

Library workshops Tuesday: “Smart Searching” 10:00; “Introduction to RefWorks” 1:30, both in Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

‘Identity Theft and Internet Safety’ seminar by Michele Dunsford, UW police, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, Tuesday 12:00, Physics room 145.

Senate undergraduate council Tuesday 12:00, Needles Hall room 3004.

Arts faculty council Tuesday 3:30 p.m., PAS room 2438.

Career workshop: “Networking 101” Tuesday 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. To be repeated May 26. Details.

Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing Gauss competition for grade 7 and 8 students, Wednesday. Details.

Chem 13 News exam for high school science students, sponsored by UW and University of Toronto chemistry departments, Thursday. Details.

Residences and off-campus housing open house at new office, Student Life Centre lower atrium, Thursday 12:00 to 2:30.

Mathematics alumni lunch at Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators annual meeting, Thursday 2:30, Baker’s Grille, Carleton University, Ottawa. Details.

Book launch: Where Am I? Why We Can Find our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall by Colin Ellard, UW department of psychology, Thursday 3:30, UW bookstore, South Campus Hall.

Orchestra@ UWaterloo first rehearsal Thursday 7:00, Conrad Grebel University College great hall. Details.

‘The Wedding Singer’ produced by K-W Musical Productions, May 14-16, 20-23 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $29 at Humanities box office.

Canoeing the Grand: outing sponsored by International Student Connection, Saturday, bus leaves campus 11 a.m., tickets $30 from Federation of Students office.

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 18: UW offices and most services closed, and classes cancelled.

UW Senate meets Tuesday, May 19, 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Sharcnet Symposium on GPU and Cell Computing, Wednesday, May 20, Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

‘So You Want to Be a Faculty Member?’ workshop sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday, May 21, 9:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1302. Details.

Last day to drop or withdraw from courses with 100 per cent fee refund; “drop, no penalty” period ends, May 22.

You@Waterloo Day open house for students who have received offers of admission to UW, and their families, Saturday, May 23, 10:00 to 2:00, headquarters in Student Life Centre. Details.

Renison University College 50th anniversary alumni dinner, speaker Hon. Bob Rae, Saturday, May 23, 6:30 p.m., tickets $100, information ext. 28657.

UW Retirees Association annual general meeting Wednesday, May 27, 3:30, Sunshine Centre, Luther Village.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Sajjad Ahmed, “Integration of New Technologies into Existing Mature Process to Improve Efficiency and Reduce Energy Consumption.” Supervisor, Peter L. Douglas. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, May 14, 9:00 a.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Sociology. Kristyn Frank, “The Economic Integration of Recent Immigrants to Canada: A Longitudinal Analysis of Dimensions of Employment Success.” Supervisor, John Goyder. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2419. Oral defence Thursday, May 21, 10:00 a.m., PAS building room 2030.

Management sciences. Jichen Zhang, “A Stochastic Programming Model for a Day Ahead Electricity Market: a Heuristic Methodology and Pricing.” Supervisors, David Fuller and Samir Elhedhli. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, May 25, 1:00 p.m., Engineering II room 3324.

Physics and astronomy. Filippo Passerini, “On Holographic Non-Local Operators and Multiple M2-Branes Theories.” Supervisors, Robert Myers and Jaume Gomis. On display in the faculty of sciences, ESC 254A. Oral defence Tuesday, May 26, 10:30 a.m., Physics room 352.

Friday's Daily Bulletin