Wednesday, January 27, 2010

  • VeloCity goes national with summer program
  • Looking for ‘distinguished’ teachers
  • And a few other notes for a Wednesday
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[His brown mask, her red mask]

The drama department's "Masks on Meds" next week promises "a roller coaster of events featuring colourful masked characters inspired by the Commedia dell’Arte tradition, a form of popular theatre mostly performed in comic mode". Boasting doctors, confused bourgeois, cunning servants, and splendid lovers figure in two farces. From the 17th century comes Molière’s "The Flying Doctor"; the other is a modern work, Bari Rolfe’s "The Dumb Wife", featuring Lisa Massaro (left) and Kate Teddiman. Both plays are directed by Gabrielle Houle. Performances are February 3 to 6 at 8:00 in Studio 180, Hagey Hall. The Humanities box office has tickets.

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VeloCity goes national with summer program

from a news release issued by the media relations office

Some of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Canada will come to Waterloo this summer to learn how to help create the country's future economy.

The VeloCity Entrepreneur Bootcamp, which runs from May to July, will be based in Waterloo's VeloCity, a trail-blazing student residence and high-tech incubator which in less than two years has spawned several strong startup companies in mobile communications and digital media through its teamwork approach.

The BootCamp will enable top student entrepreneurs to fast-track the launch of their technology-based startups. Selected students will be mentored by some of Canada's most experienced and successful entrepreneurs. They will live rent-free at VeloCity and will work out of office space provided at no charge by the Accelerator Centre in the north campus research and technology park.

The students will each receive $3,000 (up to a maximum $9,000 for each team) and own 100 per cent of their intellectual property. As well, they will attend seminars and workshops on business-related topics.

VEB will be the first nation-wide, residence-based program of its kind in North America. Says UW president David Johnston: "VEB embodies Waterloo's reputation as the university that prepares young people to solve not only the problems of today, but also those of tomorrow.

Waterloo joined forces with the Ontario Centres of Excellence's Centre for Commercialization of Research to set up VEB. Other key partners include the Accelerator Centre; Communitech, which will provide programming and access to their network of mentors; and the student-led Impact Entrepreneurship Group, which will help promote VEB on campuses across the country.

At the end of the bootcamp, students will be ready to launch their products or services for the benefit of the Canadian economy. They will also be eligible for additional seed funding through the OCE's Centre for Commercialization of Research's new entrepreneur program.

"We are really excited to be part of this pioneering initiative," said Mario Thomas, managing director of the CECR. "In aiming this program specifically at students we are helping to create a culture of entrepreneurship among young people which is really critical to the long-term development of innovation."

Student applicants have to email their proposals to velocity@ by February. 14. Besides a resumé, students must submit an overview of their start-up outlining its novelty and marketability as well as a YouTube video promoting the idea. VEB is open to any post-secondary student in Canada. There’s more information on the VeloCity web site.

VeloCity, established in September 2008, is believed to be the only agency of its kind in the world to focus on mobile communications and digital media. In addition to 72 single residence rooms, the facility (the Minota Hagey Residence building) is equipped with a conference room, device lab and large collaboration space. VeloCity connects students with each other and with the start-up community, enabling them to move quickly on bringing their ideas to life (and to market). Several VeloCity alumni have launched their startups, including Allerta, Kik, and

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Looking for ‘distinguished’ teachers

The annual deadline is near, as UW prepares for its annual recognition of teachers who are way out of the ordinary. The nomination deadline for this year's Distinguished Teacher Award comes February 5 and the deadline for the Exceptional Teaching by a Student Award is a week later, February 12. So right now is a good time for appreciative students and colleagues to get things rolling and nominate those they think are deserving.

It takes ten nominators to bring up a professor or other instructor for consideration by the DTA selection committee, though the Centre for Teaching Excellence, which manages the process, stresses that (beyond the minimum) it's not the number of signatures that matters, it's the quality of information provided about why an individual's teaching is worthy of an award.

Ten nominators are required, including at least five present or past students of the instructor. Nominations should come, says the CTE web site, in "a typed or legible handwritten letter". Background information can range from letters written by colleagues, to "descriptions of teaching innovations".

Distinguished Teacher Awards have been given at UW for more than three decades. The honour includes a certificate, presented at Convocation, as well as funding to be used for future teaching activities. Four awards are generally given each year, "in recognition of continued record of excellence in teaching at the University of Waterloo".

The award, the official criteria say, "is open to all those who teach students at the University of Waterloo and is not limited just to those holding faculty appointments. The Selection Committee will look for evidence of intellectual vigour and communication skills in the interpretation and presentation of subject matter, along with evidence of educational impact beyond the classroom.

“The teacher's human quality and concern for and sensitivity to the needs of students are obvious criteria. The Selection Committee will look for a clear indication that the nominee has favourable and lasting influence on students and, where relevant, on colleagues. Evidence of successful innovation in teaching or publications/presentations on teaching and learning would support a nomination, but it is also clear that excellence in teaching does not necessarily require either.

"Members of the University community are urged to renominate candidates who have not won an award in previous years and who continue to show excellence in teaching performance. It only takes one nomination letter in the current year to make a whole file of accumulated past support admissible. Of course, new evidence is always desirable.”

As for the ETSA — aimed at honouring teaching assistants and students in similar roles — the process is very similar. Says the CTE web site: "Nominations should consist of detailed statements making the case for the award. A complete nomination consists of at least five signatures from present or past students of the nominees and from past and present faculty supervisors of the nominee. A minimum of three of the signatures must be present or past students."

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And a few other notes for a Wednesday

From the January issue of the university’s alumni e-newsletter: “In the 2008 alumni survey, many of you told us you'd like to be more involved with UW, but you weren't sure how. So we created the Alumni Challenge, a contest that shows you how to connect with your university while earning chances to win UW prizes. Each month of 2010, we'll propose an activity that connects you with Waterloo. Every time you complete an activity throughout the year (and let us know about it), your name will be entered into a draw for monthly prizes and the grand prize — a Nikon D5000 camera. The more activities you complete, the more chances you have to win. So watch the alumni e-newsletter to find out ways you can connect with Waterloo — and maybe win a reeeeeaaaaaaaalllly nice camera. Our First Alumni Challenge Activity: Wear your UW gear. Display your diploma. Flaunt a ‘Glad to be a Grad’ sticker. Anything that shows you're a proud UW alumnus. Then take a photo of yourself with said gear, diploma, sticker, etc. and send it to us. Photos will be posted, so even if you don't win a prize this month, you can still be famous.”

The weather forecast web site that was operated by the Waterloo Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, based in UW’s department of earth sciences, has closed down for lack of money, as director Jim Sloan has retired and shifted the emphasis of his work. “I was supporting the service from my research funds,” he explained this week, “and when these ran out, I could not persuade anyone in the Science Faculty to support a systems programmer to keep it running.” The site used worldwide weather data to make hour-by-hour forecasts for Waterloo and the whole Great Lakes area. “The immediate cause of the termination,” says Sloan, “was a problem with downloading some of the input required to make the forecast.  Our automated system began to fail to download these data.  I think the data providers (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) changed something about the website on which they provided these data and we lacked a systems person to make a corresponding change. As a result, the forecast codes were proceeding without those data and the predictions were inaccurate.  I didn't want to provide inaccurate forecasts to the community, so I terminated the service.” He says the forecast site drew about 70,000 web hits over its roughly two years of operation.

“Wanted,” says a memo from Ryan King, “a student to appear in a short Waterloo Residences recruitment video. Students must be outgoing, have an entertaining personality, have experience living in residence, and a willingness to have fun.” King is marketing coordinator for the department of housing and residences, and the student-made video will be used as part of the department’s “Get Ready for Residence” web pages. “To apply,” says King’s memo, “upload a 15-20 second video showcasing why we should hire you to be our Rez star. Submission deadline is February 1.” Details are on the housing web site.

Saturday afternoon will bring the annual Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day — an opportunity for whole new audiences to check out the basketball Warriors, both men and women, in action. It's very much a family event, with halftime activities aimed at both kids and adults, and there are prizes, though not exactly the ones mentioned in this space in Monday's Daily Bulletin. Some of the publicity has accidentally referred to the prizes that were up for grabs last year, says Jenny Mackay of the athletics and recreational services department. The revised word: participants in the Fantastic afternoon may stand to win a Wii console, an 8-gigabyte iPod Touch, a Canon Powershot 12.1 digital camera, a family-pack of tickts to "Beauty and the Beast", and a gift certificate (plus mugs) for Boston Pizza. The event is free to those who register ahead of time; details are on the alumni web site.


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Link of the day

Victims of the Holocaust

When and where

Federation of Students annual elections campaign period, through February 8. Polls open February 9 at 10 a.m., close February 11 at 8 p.m.

‘Better searching, better marks’ workshop on doing research in the UW library, offered today 10:00,  February 11 at 1:30, March 15 at 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Leaving Academia” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Basics of Starting a Business” 4:30, Tatham 1112; “Business Etiquette and Professionalism” 4:30, Tatham 1208; “Careers in Digital Media” 4:30, Tatham 2218; “Thinking About Dentistry?” 5:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Water Environment Association student chapter presents “Carbon Footprint Implications from Biosolids Management Practices” 2:00, Environment 2 room 2002.

Bruce Lennox, information systems and technology, retirement reception 3:30 to 5:00, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP elmartin@

Dana Porter Library hot water shut off today 4 p.m. to Thursday 7:30 a.m.

Computer Help and Information Place (CHIP) will close at 4 p.m.

Town hall forum organized by Federation of Students, discussion of the first-year experience, 5:00 to 7:00, Student Life Centre.

Columbia Lake Health Club lifestyle learning: “RSPs, RESPs, TFSAs and the Road to Retirement” 5:30, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

Warrior basketball at Western tonight, women 6:00, men 8:00.

Social Innovation Generation lecture: Adam Kahane, Reos Partners, “Power and Love” 7 p.m., CIGI, 57 Erb Street West, admission $25 includes copy of book, registration e-mail siglecture@ Free live webcast.

Tim Hortons Hockey Day in Canada concert by Randy Bachman, 8:00, Festival Theatre, Stratford. Details.

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs begin January 28.

Library workshop: “PubMed and Web of Science” Thursday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Interactive Teaching Activities” Thursday 12:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education seminar: Maureen Drysdale, St. Jerome’s University, on research about school-to-work transitions, Thursday 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Career workshops Thursday: “The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas” 12:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Career Exploration and Decision Making” 2:30, Tatham 1112; “Hot Tips from the Pros” 4:00, Tatham 2218. Details.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, central stores, East Campus Hall, off Phillip Street.

International Spouses group: Ruth Kropf, health services, “Navigating Ontario’s Health Care System” Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

Flu shots (H1N1 and seasonal) available at health services Thursday 2:30 to 4:00.

Chemical engineering seminar: Kim Knudsen, Haldor Topsoe, “Hydrotreating Catalysis from Molecular Understanding of Reaction Pathways” Thursday 3:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Faculty of Mathematics 23rd annual awards ceremony Thursday 5:30, Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Arriscraft Lecture: John McMorrough, Ohio State University, “Afterlife”, Thursday 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

‘The Geoscience of the Haiti Disaster’ by Steve Evans, professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Keith Delaney, PhD student, Thursday 7:00, Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

Movies at the Critical Media Lab: “Pulse” (Japan 2001), Thursday 7:30 p.m., 191 King Street West, Kitchener.

Last day to register and pay fees for winter term, January 29.

Ontario Engineering Competition hosted by UW this year, including displays, debastes, career and graduate studies fair, keynote address by Larry Smith (economics), Friday-Sunday. Details.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group presents “inSPIre! Creative Activism” Friday-Sunday, workshops, keynote talk by Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, conference pass $8. Details.

Warrior Weekend activities in Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 p.m., including food, crafts, movies (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” Friday 11:00, “Zombieland” and “Time Traveller’s Wife” Saturday 9:00). Details.

‘Training for the Skill and Soul of Nonviolence’ workshop, sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario, Saturday 9:00 to 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC great hall, registration e-mail matthewbd@

‘Adopted to Adopting: Reflections on International/ Transracial Adoption and Its Future’ sponsored by Social Innovation Generation, featuring UW adoptees and adoptive parents and others, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

Job Fair sponsored by UW and other post-secondary institutions, February 3, 10:00 to 3:30, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Event and external relations coordinator, school of planning, USG 4

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin