Thursday, January 28, 2010

  • Engineering students here to compete
  • Coffee house Saturday to aid Haiti
  • WPIRG 'activism school' starts Friday
  • The presidential search and other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Engineering students here to compete

Waterloo will draw talented engineering students from across the province this weekend to showcase their technical skills, communication proficiency and entrepreneurship at the Ontario Engineering Competition.

The Faculty of Engineering and student Engineering Society will host about 250 competitors, judges, sponsors and guests for the annual competition Friday through Sunday. The competition, which explores the theme of “redefining engineering”, also offers participants a keynote speech about the future of engineering, along with career and graduate studies fairs. The event is being held on campus and at the Delta Kitchener hotel.

"The Ontario Engineering Competition provides the rare opportunity to bring together the most talented and promising engineering students from across Ontario," said Stephen Lake, chair of OEC 2010 and a mechatronics engineering student. "This opportunity is invaluable, not only to the competitors who enjoy rich networking opportunities, but also to the hosting community and industry supporters. Industry sponsors benefit not only from the exposure and positive PR, but also from interaction with the students — the engineers of tomorrow."

The areas of competition will include junior design, senior design, engineering communications, engineering consulting, parliamentary debate and innovative design. A total of $25,500 will be given out in prizes. Winners qualify for the Canadian Engineering Competition to be held at the University of Toronto March 18 to 21.

Larry Smith, professor of economics at Waterloo, will deliver the keynote speech, entitled “Young Engineers in a Brave New World”. In his talk, Smith outlines why the challenges and opportunities facing young engineers will be dramatically different from those of their predecessors. He says the combination of global competition, economic disruption, social upheaval and explosive technologies means engineers will need a new strategic framework and sharply different tactics to achieve success.

The career and graduate studies fair will run from 10:00 to 4:00 on Saturday in the great hall of the Davis Centre, and is open to all Waterloo students, not just those involved in the OEC gathering. “It gives employers and universities the opportunity to directly meet with and market to a captured audience of some of the best young talent available,” organizers say in a pitch to employers, who are being charged $1,000 for a booth at the one-day event.

The conference also includes social events for the participants, including a “welcome dinner” tonight, an awards banquet on Saturday, and late-night bowling. They’re advised to gather for breakfast on Sunday at a Kitchener Tim Hortons outlet, any time between 6 a.m. and noon.

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Coffee house Saturday to aid Haiti

Students living at Conrad Grebel University College have issued a public invitation to “In Harmony With Haiti”, a student-planned coffeehouse in support of earthquake relief, scheduled to run from 2 to 5 p.m. this Saturday at Grebel. (It’s an afternoon event, not an evening one as I indicated in Tuesday’s Daily Bulletin.) Free-will donations from the event will go entirely to the Mennonite Central Committee, a group closely connected to both Waterloo Region and to Grebel, to benefit the hundreds of thousands of Haitians suffering because of the devastating earthquake.

“In addition to beverages and desserts,” the organizers’ announcement says, “there will be opportunities to learn more about MCC's relief work, see video from previous visits to the area, and send personal messages of encouragement to Haitians and relief workers alike. Josh and Marylynn Steckly, volunteers with MCC's Haiti projects who returned shortly before the earthquake will share their stories throughout the afternoon. Music will be provided by many talented students, ranging from classical performances to The Waterboys and The Unaccompanied Minors, two of the university's well-loved a cappella groups.”

Says Eric Kennedy, one of the event organizers: “From the very beginning, the question was not whether we should respond, but how we could make the most meaningful impact. Indeed, this initiative has only been possible with the huge support and ongoing effort from the student community at Conrad Grebel. The response from students was immediate and committed — community reaching out to community.”

The event is in a drop-in format, and “the regional community is encouraged to join us throughout the afternoon, and offer whatever they can to those in need.”

[Aerial photo]Left: an aerial photo of Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, after the January 12 earthquake, showing the ruins of the presidential palace. Before-and-after pictures will be part of tonight’s presentation on “The Geoscience of the Haiti Disaster”, sponsored by the UW faculty of science, starting at 7:00 in Rod Coutts Hall room 301.

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WPIRG 'activism school' starts Friday

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will host “a three-day out-of-the-box social justice and environmental activism school” this weekend, featuring half a dozen workshops, a musical evening and a keynote talk by one of the notorious “Yes Men”.

The weekend’s activities, under the title “inSPIre!”, are “your chance to develop new activist skills and meet others who want to change the world”, WPIRG says. A pass for the full weekend costs $8.

“Just coming off of his stint at Copenhagen,” a news release says, “the Yes Men's Andy Bichlebaum will be kicking off inSPIre! Getting worldwide attention for spoofing Canada's performance at Copenhagen, Andy will share his thoughts on how to Fix the World.

“The Yes Men are a pair of notorious troublemakers who sneak into corporate events disguised as captains of industry, then use their momentary authority to expose the biggest criminals on the planet. The Yes Men’s famed hoaxes include a collaboratively produced fake New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq War, a phony George W. Bush website celebrating the unsavoury details of the then-Presidential candidate, and the false announcement of the World Trade Organization's dissolution in order to shift focus to helping the poor.

“The prolific pranksters discuss their legendary hoaxes and identity corrections through storytelling and multimedia — featuring props used in the pranks and unreleased footage from their recent and classic exploits.” Bichlbaum will speak Friday at 8 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts; tickets, for those who aren’t spending the weekend at inSPIre, are $5.

Workshops to be held Saturday and Sunday (in the Student Life Centre) include “Inclusive Activism”, “Social Justice Theatre” (led by Andrew Houston of UW’s drama and speech communication department), “Collective Songwriting”, “Documentary Filmmaking”, “Political Advocacy”, and “Creative Food Activism”.

Saturday night, participants in the WPIRG weekend will adjourn to the Huether Hotel on King Street for “an evening of music, spoken word, activism and much more”, featuring a performance by Halifax-born musician and activist Faith Nolan, who’s also leading the songwriting workshop.

Says WPIRG: “Drawing on a career of over 20 years of creating music firmly rooted in Black North American musical traditions showcasing Black history, the lives of women and working people, and explorations of queer identity, Faith’s performance is sure to inspire.” The evening also includes other “musicians, spoken word artists, and performers”. Again, admission is $5 for those who aren’t spending the full weekend.

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The presidential search and other notes

A memo went out to staff and faculty members on Monday, inviting comments about the sort of person UW’s next president should be. “As prescribed by Policy 50," it read, “the Presidential Nominating Committee has begun to solicit the opinions of the members of the university with respect to the institution’s sixth president and vice-chancellor who is expected to take office July 1, 2011. One way in which the committee is seeking opinion is by inviting written comment. The committee is particularly interested in knowing your views on the issues and challenges the president will face, what the next president should accomplish in her/his first term (you may wish to refer to the Sixth Decade Plan) and the qualities a president should possess to achieve this. Written comments and opinions should be submitted to the committee through the Secretary of the University, Lois Claxton, Needles Hall, Room 3060 on or before March 31, 2010. If you prefer to make your comments orally, please feel free to contact any member of the committee. This invitation for comment is only one means by which the committee will solicit the views of the university community. Any information or comments provided to members of the committee will be held in confidence by the committee."

There’s a position to be filled on that same nominating committee seeking UW’s next president. The reason: Deep Saini, dean of environment, was just announced as an elected member of the committee, but he’s now leaving Waterloo to take up a new role at the University of Toronto Mississauga. “I need to replace him on the nominating committee,” writes Tracy Dietrich of the university secretariat. And so: “Nominations are requested for a senator of professorial rank from the Faculty of Environment, elected by a vote within the Faculty of Environment. Completed nomination forms should be sent to the Chief Returning Officer, Secretariat, NH3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2010. Elections will follow if necessary.”

Graduate student Kathleen MacLean writes from the department of kinesiology that she’s recruiting participants for her thesis project: “Curious about how your body weight affects the health of your knees? Heavier individuals may have an increased risk for developing arthritis of the knee. In order to better understand this relationship, The Spine Biomechanics Lab is conducting a research project to compare the walking, lifting and stair climbing characteristics of healthy-weight and overweight young adults. Knowledge gained from this project will lead to a better understanding of how body weight can affect the risk for developing arthritis of the knee. If you are interested in volunteering in this study and would like more information, please contact k4maclea@ This study has been reviewed by and received ethics clearance through the Office of Research Ethics, University of Waterloo.”

Chemistry graduate student Sabrina Martens was recognized for the best poster presentation at the Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Research Conference, held recently in Montréal. The CBGRC invites graduate students from across Québec, Ontario, the Maritimes and the northeastern United States to present their research. This year there were 103 participants. Awards were available from the Canadian Society for Chemistry for best oral presentation and best poster presentation. Martens presented her research on the structures and energetics of several molecules commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry, including fluorinated analogues of DNA/RNA base pairs uracil and cytosine. Her research involved the use of infrared multiple-photon dissociation, a technique utilized in mass spectrometry to fragment molecules for structural analysis. Of particular interest to her research is 5-fluorouracil, an anti-cancer drug that has been used for 40 years in cases of pancreatic, colorectal and aggressive forms of breast cancer. “My poster presentation was interesting to people because the molecules are biologically relevant,” Martens says. “The results show excellent agreement between experiment and theory and unambiguously demonstrate the structures of these species.”


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Link of the day

Alexander Mackenzie

When and where

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

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

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Interactive Teaching Activities” 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, 12:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Career workshops today: “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, 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” 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre. Details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Trevor Bain, “Exchange 2010”, Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

University Club “Themed Fridays”: January 29, Eastern European food, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 33801.

Federation of Students election debate Friday 12:30 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Jeff Anders, The Mark, “Knowledge Explosion and the End of Traditional Media” Friday 1:30, Math and Computer room 4061.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Teaching Dossiers” Friday 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Philosophy colloquium: Angela Mendelovici, Princeton University, “A Moderate Position on the Phenomenology of Thought” Friday 3:30, Hagey Hall room 373.

‘Orientation 2.0’ at Federation Hall, music by Waterboys, motivational speaker Andy Thibodeau, booths for student services, dance party, Friday, doors open 6 p.m., free.

Big Rude Jake concert Friday 8 p.m., great hall, Conrad Grebel University College, $10 at door (students $5).

Warrior Weekend activities in Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 p.m., including food, crafts, movies. Details.

‘Training for the Skill and Soul of Nonviolence’ workshop 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’ featuring UW adoptees and adoptive parents and others, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 116. Details.

The New Quarterly launch of winter issue, presentation of Edna Award, Saturday 5 p.m., Manx Pub, Ottawa.

Application deadline for pharmacy program, entrance in January 2011, is January 31, 2010. Details.

Richard Holmes, department of philosophy, retirement reception Tuesday 4:00 to 6:00, Environment I atrium.

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