Monday, April 26, 2010

  • After the fire, after the winter term
  • A call for a digital media 'moonshot'
  • Drills tomorrow, and some other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

After the fire, after the winter term

The scent of burned wood — and burned jellybeans? — was still strong at the corner of University Avenue and Phillip Street on Friday, and I bet it’ll still be strong today, as cleanup from Thursday’s disastrous fire is going to take a while. The blaze was the talk of the campus on the second-last day of exams; “University Plaza” even reached the dizzy heights of being a “trending topic” on Twitter for a while. There’s an irony there: the fire wasn’t in University Plaza at all (that’s the retail district on the west side of Phillip Street, closer to the campus, I have now learned). What was destroyed was half of Campus Court.

Lost are the Tabu nightclub and several smaller businesses, including candy store Magic Mountain and all-night restaurant Mel’s Diner. It was Mel’s that seemed to draw the most comment from students in the hours after the fire, including a number of “RIP” pages created on Facebook. “Mel's was an historic landmark, or at least should have been,” one tweet said. “Everyone ate a greasy breakfast there at one point.”

“Fire is a life-changing event,” Waterloo fire chief Larry Brassard told the Record newspaper. Those whose lives were changed, besides Mel’s customers, include many student and non-student employees at businesses that were destroyed. More fleetingly, the event created an early morning emergency for residents in nearby apartment buildings, including Wellesley Court of UW Place, who were evacuated because of the smoke and the crush of emergency vehicles. “You could feel the heat from across the street,” one student reported on the OMGUW blog.

So that was a spectacular finish to the winter term, and while faculty members are busy marking those last exams (students’ preliminary grades will show up on Quest starting today), it’ll be a relatively quiet week on campus.

That makes it a perfect time to catch up on a few corrections and follow-ups. For one thing, there was an error in the fire coverage on Friday, besides “University Plaza”. Levi R. McCulloch, whose early morning photo was featured, is graduating this spring in mechatronics, not mechanical, engineering. Other notes:

• I didn’t do too good a job with Thursday’s note about food services outlets closing at term’s end. In particular, I wrote that Friday was going to be “the last day until September for Brubakers in the Student Life Centre and most of the counters at Bon Appetit in the Davis Centre”. In fact, both of those outlets will be reopening next week as the spring term gets under way. This week, with neither classes nor exams in progress, the food services outlets operating are Browsers in the Dana Porter Library, Pastry Plus in Needles Hall, the Eye Opener in Optometry, the CEIT Café in (obviously) CEIT, Tim Hortons in the Student Life Centre (but only from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., not 24 hours), Tim’s in the Davis Centre and South Campus Hall, and the Jolly Chef counter at Bon Appetit in Davis. And I hope I have it right this time.

• Jason Hammond of Grand River CarShare phoned with a follow-up to Thursday’s story about a number of new “shared” vehicles being parked soon on the main campus. Although parking spaces have indeed been set aside for that purpose, he said, “the new vehicles will only be added as the membership grows on campus,” not immediately. Hammond also says that although a CarShare space is available at the Architecture building in Cambridge, no vehicle is currently based there. Again, he’s hoping.

• After last Monday’s note about finding a United Arab Emirates one-dirham coin in my change, I had an e-mail note from chemical engineering student Muhammad Abduhu: “Did you know that the Royal Canadian Mint actually makes the Dirhams for the UAE? In fact, there was a shortage a while back and the Mint stepped in to supply coins. It's a small world!”

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A call for a digital media 'moonshot'

a news release from the organizers of the Canada 3.0 forum

The Canada 3.0 forum slated for May 10-11 will set an ambitious target for Canada's digital media industry — that of making it possible for "anyone to do anything online in Canada — by 2017". The second annual forum will bring together the people who can make that happen from industry, government and academia for a two-day event intended to boost Canada's ability to lead in the digital economy.

"We've set this 'moonshot' that might sound impossible, just as putting a man on the moon once sounded impossible, but it is attainable if we harness all the necessary resources and are fully committed to making this happen," said Kevin Tuer, managing director of the Canadian Digital Media Network, a federal centre of excellence in commercialization and research that is co-sponsoring the event along with UW’s Stratford Campus. "While the sun is setting on some more traditional industries, there are many opportunities worth shooting for in digital media spanning all aspects of our economy."

Kevin Newman, executive editor of Global National news, will emcee the main plenary sessions. "This event is critically important to Canada as we re-evaluate our economic foundation," says Newman. "All sectors of our economy, including our creative artists and storytellers, need to understand the emerging keys to success in an increasingly competitive global economy and culture."

Staged at the Rotary Complex in Stratford, where the first Canada 3.0 took place last year, the forum features a select group of speakers in the main plenary session with opportunity for attendee discussion and input in a broader range of breakout sessions and workshops.

Canada 3.0 2010 will build on the momentum created at last year's forum that attracted some 1,500 people, and will have a broad scope given that digital media is defined by organizers as 'anything created or shared virtually'. The line-up of forum 'streams' is led by heavy-hitters in the digital media sector. Topics include:

  • Imagining — Global best practices: What does Canada do well? What should Canada be doing? (Chaired by Tom Jenkins of Open Text Corporation, Gerri Sinclair of the Centre for Digital Media, B.C., and Ian Wilson, director of the UW Stratford Initiative.)
  • Empowering — Networks, infrastructure and mobility.
  • Changing — Digital rights, regulations and policies.
  • Creating — Developing content and commercialization opportunities. (Chaired by Tim Jackson, UW associate vice-president (commercialization) CEO of the Accelerator Centre, and Kevin Newman.)
  • Learning — Finding and retaining talent and research opportunities. (Chaired by Sara Diamond, president, Ontario College of Art and Design, and Ken Coates, UW dean of arts.)

As with the kick-off forum in June 2009, the event will have the support of many key organizations including the Waterloo Region tech organization Communitech; lead sponsors Open Text Corporation; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Christie Digital Systems Canada Inc.; Research In Motion; Agfa HealthCare; the City of Stratford and more.

"I have no doubt that the people participating in this forum will make a difference in Canada's future and help attain the goal of enabling Canadians to more effectively conduct their activities online, anywhere in Canada by 2017 — which also happens to be Canada's 150th birthday," said Tom Jenkins, who serves as chair of the CDMN Advisory Board.

Response to the 2010 forum registration site, which went live in February, has been strong and attendees are encouraged to register early to ensure participation in the complete forum.

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Drills tomorrow, and some other notes

The annual fire drills on most buildings on the Waterloo campus will be held tomorrow, says Douglas Dye of the UW safety office. “The Ontario Fire code requires regular testing of fire safety equipment,” he explains. “In order to meet its regulatory responsibilities UW will be conducting fire drills on the main campus during the morning of Tuesday. All building occupants are required to evacuate a building when the fire alarm sounds.” Most buildings within the ring road, plus Optometry and the Icefield, are involved — but not Davis, Physics, PAS, Engineering 2 and 3, or ERC. Also not involved are any residences, the Research Advancement Centre on Wes Graham Way, or buildings in Kitchener and Cambridge.

Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener–Waterloo, announced Friday that the university will receive $400,000 for 60 intern placements as part of the Government of Canada’s Small Business Internship Program. SBIP helps small and medium-sized enterprises across Canada hire approximately 400 students annually to help with information and communication technology projects. Said Braid: “By helping SMEs to harness the power of technology and e-commerce, our government is demonstrating our support for the small business sector and giving them more opportunities to grow and succeed.” Canadian small businesses can apply to hire a student intern for a 12-week period, and SBIP reimburses up to 75 per cent of salary and benefit costs. UW, through the co-op and career services department, is one of 14 organizations across Canada that serve as delivery agencies for SBIP, which are responsible for selecting businesses to participate. The first “interns” are expected to be on the job this summer — many of them Waterloo co-op students.

The Student Awards and Financial Aid office will be releasing Ontario Student Assistance Program funding for the spring term starting on Monday, and students can make appointments for that purpose now, a memo says: “Appointments are available between 8:40 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. each day from May 3-14. Representatives from the National Student Loan Service Centre are also on site at Tatham Centre from May 3-14. SAFA has increased the number of appointments available to see as many students as possible during the first two weeks of the term. To pick up OSAP funding, students should review the Important OSAP Pick-up Information on the SAFA website and book an appointment for a date and time convenient for them. Again this spring, SAFA is also serving students who receive funding from other provinces. Beginning May 3, these students should report to the lower level of Tatham Centre between 8:40 and 4:00 Monday to Friday – no appointment required. All students are reminded that their fees must be arranged and they must present their SIN card and government-issued photo ID at the time of funding pick up. OSAP students also need to provide confirmation/proof of their gross earnings for 2009.”


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[Lectern with Grebel logo]

A new perspective: that's what Angela Hostetler says she found when she came from Goshen, Indiana, to study at UW and Conrad Grebel University College. She spoke as valedictorian when Grebel held its convocation April 11 recognizing 65 students graduating in peace and conflict studies or music, or other fields after living at Grebel. "We came to study here intentionally," she said; "we have lived intentionally."

Link of the day

Anzac Day

When and where

Fee payment deadline for spring term is April 26 (promissory note) or April 29 (bank transfer). Details.

Stratford Campus announcement of UW-Zambia initiatives, with High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia, Monday 11:00, University Club, by invitation.

‘Making Assessment Meaningful’ annual symposium on “learning about teaching”: today, Presidents’ Colloquium, address by Catherine Wehlburg, Texas Christian University, 2:00, Humanities Theatre, reception follows; Tuesday, faculty workshops 9:00 and 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Graduate Student Research Conference April 26-30, Davis Centre. Details.

UW-ACE upgrade to Angel version 7.4: system will be down Tuesday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Biochemistry and molecular biology seminar: Stephen G. Withers, University of British Columbia, “New Approaches to Enzymatic Glycoside Synthesis” Tuesday 10:30, CEIT room 1015.

UW Recreation Committee presents Chloe Hamilton, Warm Embrace  Elder Care, “Brain Fitness” Tuesday 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks on “Working and Living in Space”, as keynote for the Graduate Student Research Conference, Tuesday 5:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Opportunities and New Directions conference on post-secondary teaching and learning, sponsored by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday. Details.

Health services closed for staff training Wednesday morning, will open 1 p.m.

All Science Challenge for students in grades 6-8, Wednesday. Details.

Advances in Health Informatics Conference 2010 hosted by NIHI, WIHIR, and schools of optometry and pharmacy, Wednesday-Friday, Health Sciences Campus, Kitchener.

Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference April 29-30, Ryerson University, Toronto. Details.

UW International Spouses potluck lunch Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Engineering alumni and friends reception, “Designing the Future” Thursday 6:30 p.m., Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum. Details.

Ontario University Athletics “Women of Influence” luncheon honouring top female student athletes, Friday 12 noon, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Details.

Gourmet Trail 2010 tour of local restaurants in support of KidsLink, beginning with champagne reception at Federation Hall, Saturday, tickets $100. Details.

One click away

Record sees north campus development as 'doubling' the university
Football spring camp opens in a tense atmosphere (Record)
How a library book helped recover student's lost luggage
WiFi improvements in Stratford before Canada 3.0
'Visions' for the Northdale neighbourhood
'Up to 1,000 spots' to be cut from teacher ed programs
U of Guelph approves new year's budget
'New pilot initiative' for commercialization projects
WLU announces honorary degrees for June
Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences opens May 28
Push for collaboration among North American universities
Waterloo researchers help study electric hydro truck
Earth sciences prof helps investigate ancient landslide
Why Are Professors Liberal?

Friday's Daily Bulletin