Wednesday, June 23, 2010

  • MBET students show off innovations
  • Senate discusses governance details
  • Facing the harmonized tax; other notes
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

MBET students show off innovations

Students in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program will unveil new and emerging technologies today after an eight-month effort to move them from concept to commercial success. Visitors to the Davis Centre can check out the future of virtual conferencing, waste management solutions, mobile applications and online engagement tools for athletes. 

Everyone’s invited to browse the displays and interact with the students in Davis room 1301 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The showcase, says a news release, highlights the accomplishments of students in the program, and provides an advance viewing to the public of up-and-coming start-up ventures in the community. Each year, MBET students spend eight months on commercialization practicum projects in combination with their course load. This component of the program challenges students to construct a new venture and see it through the commercialization process, or work with an external sponsor on a developing technology that requires a strategy to effectively move it to market. 

"The class of 2010 has proven to be another exceptional group of students with industry changing ideas, and it’s crucial that we provide opportunities for them to share their hard work with the community,” said Howard Armitage, executive director of the Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology.  “Our students are passionate about their work, and it’s fascinating to witness how a basic concept can evolve into something of true value in a matter of months given the right resources and learning environment.” 

Past years’ MBET graduates have successfully created many local start-up operations, including recent newsmaker Clearpath Robotics, the release notes.

More than 50 students will present innovative projects in a trade show format today for industry guests, academia and their peers. Many working prototypes, designs and models will be available to engage the audience and provoke questions. Among the projects:

  • SportMetrix “is creating a web 2.0 platform designed to maximize athletic performance potential and improve motivation for a new generation of star athletes. To achieve this, the web domain compiles stats for individual athletes and teams. An intuitive interface displays performance trends, while providing analysis and prescriptive techniques for personal improvement. It serves as a collaborative environment for players and coaches, by giving them access to a sports-focused network, and allowing them to compare stats and attain competitive intelligence.”
  • Synapse ID is a green technology start-up stemming from the chemistry department. It consists of a unique bioreactor that turns algae into bio- fuel.
  • Clip Mobile is a mobile application system designed for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android, with plans for compatibility with the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm Pre. The application functions using GPS technology to provide a platform for the distribution of mobile coupons based on where the shopper is located.
  • Snipia is web-based micro-blogging software created for corporate use. It provides a bird’s eye view of the user’s projects by displaying tasks on a 2D timeline. These items (referred to as “snips”) can be imported from an existing email account or inputted as Twitter-like messages directly into the software. Snipia allows team members to contribute to projects, send messages, and delegate tasks on a central interface.
  • The Centre for the Advancement of Female Entrepreneurship is a not–for-profit program initiated by CBET in partnership with the Dubai Women’s College. The main objective of CAFE’s program is to promote, sustain and develop female entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates, Middle East and North Africa by offering entrepreneurial training, building entrepreneurial capabilities, motivating, and developing local and external networks. Additional training with new technologies for future business development is also available.

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Senate discusses governance details

Monday night’s meeting of the university senate ran overtime — and it wasn’t for discussion of the Warrior football controversy (which was aired only briefly) or even the closing of the Waterloo Institute for Health Informatics Research (which was approved unanimously after a couple of questions and answers).

The big issue, it turned out, was the governance of the proposed new Centre for Social Innovation and Resilience, based in the faculties of environment and arts. It’s to be headed by Frances Westley, who already holds a Chair in Social Innovation as one of three faculty members at “SiG@Waterloo”.

Difficulties were raised by George Freeman, the president of the faculty association, who assured the senate that “our interest in this is not how good the centre is — it’s probably super-good!” Rather, he said, the problem is with the rules under which the centre is to operate, and which senate was being asked to approve.

Some of the provisions, Freeman said, allow for “undue influence” by donors, particularly the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation, the source of much of the funding for the centre. Among other issues, he said, was the power given to the centre’s board, which would be able to “suspend or terminate” researchers from the project “for activities it regards as impeding or harming the Centre’s pursuit of its stated goals”. Add it up, he said, and there are issues of both academic freedom and the terms of employment of faculty members.

After some discussion, the senate agreed to send the proposal back to a committee for some rewriting. And George Dixon, UW’s vice-president (university research), noted that he’s thinking of “bringing in a senior colleague from another institution to review our procedures” for the governance of research centres in general.

It was more controversy than usually arises in senate, which is mostly a review body for proposals that have been aired in detail in committees and the faculties. But somewhat similar issues came up a few minutes later with a revision of the regulations for listing faculty members as ADDS — Approved Doctoral Dissertation Supervisors. Again, Freeman said, the proposal that had made its way to senate didn’t provide adequate safeguards, and senate agreed to make a change to the appeal procedures for someone whose ADDS status is being taken away.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the senate…

  • approved new guidelines on graduate student financial support, with changes that associate provost Sue Horton said were “mostly housekeeping”.
  • agreed to a student request to move the deadline for dropping a course from its present position, in week 7 of each term, to week 10, so students have more time to judge from their midterm results whether they’re likely to pass.
  • officially deleted the Cultural Management specialization that has been available in the arts faculty for the past 28 years. “This comes in response to the retirement of the director,” a memo explained, “and is necessitated by a number of challenges in the undergraduate landscape, both locally at UW and more generally across Canada.”
  • heard a report on September first-year admissions, and was told that the university will live up to its guarantee of residence rooms for first-year students, at the cost of telling some upper-year students they’ll have to look elsewhere for housing this fall.
  • was told by dean of science Terry McMahon that a “former” laboratory space is being turned back into a lab to help deal with an influx of students this fall, and as a result, “there will be no Friday night labs.”
  • heard reports from the president about Convocation, from the provost about the executive council retreat at Kempenfelt Bay, and from the vice-president (external relations) about fund-raising achievements.

And senate approved the closing of WIHIR, as recommended by a review committee. “If this motion passes, I will pull together a closure committee,” vice-president Dixon said. “I do not see that taking more than six weeks.”

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Facing the harmonized tax; other notes

The new Harmonized Sales Tax comes into effect in Ontario July 1, and of course one place it has to be charged is in the university bookstore and other retail stores. Says May Yan, director of retail services: “Preparations started in April to be ready for the new HST implementation. Programming and testing for our Point-of-Sales (POS) registers will be completed by the end of this week. This project is managed by Randy Dauphin, Retail Services IT administrator. No extra training is required for cashiers since the taxes are applied automatically by the system for the appropriate product categories and payment tender type. The POS will be programmed to handle changes for internal department purchase transactions and for goods and services subject to the new HST rate. Effective July 1, department purchases with a 31 digit account number will be HST exempt in all Retail Services stores regardless of the product category. For non-departmental purchases, books and children's clothing will be taxed at 5% HST. All other goods and services are subject to the full 13% HST.”

News arrives from the engineering faculty that four engineering professors have been honoured as Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Raafat Mansour, electrical and computer engineering; Mike Worswick, mechanical and mechatronics engineering; Allan Plumtree, distinguished professor emeritus, mechanical and mechatronics engineering; and Peter Silveston, distinguished professor emeritus, chemical engineering, were among the 48 new fellows inducted on June 4.

A note in the engineering faculty’s online newsletter says that Waterloo’s Alternative Fuels Team won the Best Mechanical Integration Award and the National Science Foundation Outstanding Long Term Faculty Advisor Award in the recent EcoCAR Challenge held in San Diego. The team is supervised by professors Roydon Fraser of mechanical and mechatronics engineering and Mike Fowler of chemical engineering.

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology has a visitor due tomorrow with a sonorous title and a promising topic. “Professor Sir Michael Pepper” will be on hand, says WIN communicator Alain Francq, to speak in the WIN Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS). “We only do a couple of these big ones a year,” says Francq. “Our DLS's are usually sold out shows.  Standing room only. They are really good scientific lectures with relaxed but really engaging post talk among the speaker, faculty and graduate students — like the old days!” Pepper, who was knighted in 2006 "for services to physics", is a faculty member at University College London. He will speak on “Semiconductor Nanostructures”, including “the spin incoherent regime arising in the low carrier concentration limit when the exchange energy between neighbouring electrons becomes small and the spin direction can no longer be defined”. The lecture starts at 3:30 Thursday in CEIT building room 1015.

Marilyn Malton, director of Renison University College’s Institute of Ministry, has been named “Lay Canon, Congregational Development” by the Bishop of Huron, the diocese that includes Kitchener-Waterloo. “Malton feels both excited and daunted by the appointment,” says a Renison news release, “but she is eager to work within her new role.” It explains that the title “Canon” is usually bestowed on senior clergy, not lay people, “so this appointment indicates the high regard that the Bishop has for Malton’s work.” Says Renison chaplain Megan Collings-Moore: “It is wonderful to see Marilyn’s ministry receive recognition in the diocese!”

And from researchers in Matthews Hall: “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 in the department of kinesiology 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.”


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One click away

Another arrest in football drug scandalFootball recruits ‘feeling the sting of suspension’‘Waterloo entices frosh to stick around’
Iron Warrior’s ‘exclusive preview’ of Engineering 5
‘Turnover at Balsillie School raises questions of academic freedom’
Protester with Waterloo roots active at G20
Visualizing the exam schedule (correct link, not like last time)
Stratford’s second great transformation: technology arrives
The man who proved Hawking wrong: Waterloo’s Laflamme
Lives Lived: Waterloo’s Mak Kassa (Globe and Mail)
Environment orientation week preview (video)
Call for proposals for research about co-op
WLU mourns Maureen Forrester
More collaboration among Canadian granting agencies
‘Trent leads in recognition of indigenous knowledge’
‘Does centralizing research hurt Canada’s provinces?’
Photos of Dana Porter Library walkway construction
Maclean’s: ‘Why textbooks are so expensive’

Link of the day

Air India flight 182

When and where

Ring road closed between PAS building and Needles Hall, because of Environment 3 construction work, through July 12.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2011 undergraduate courses, June 21-27 on Quest.

Wilfrid Laurier University convocation today, two ceremonies in Brantford. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence open classroom session for AFM 331, 11:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

QPR suicide prevention program training session 12:00, Math and Computer room 4068, register ext. 33528.

Career workshops today: “Career Exploration and Decision Making” 2:00, Tatham Centre room 1112; “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 3:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Jake Thiessen, school of pharmacy, retirement reception 3:00 to 5:00, Pharmacy building 7th floor, RSVP ext. 84499.

Lorraine Nesbitt, counselling services, retirement reception 3:30 to 6:00, University Club, RSVSP cbernard@

Centre for International Governance Innovation dinner followed by panel discussion, “Danger, Disaster and Deadlines: Canadians Reporting from Abroad” 5:30, 57 Erb Street West. Details.

Queen Street Conservatory dance recital 7:00, Humanities Theatre.

Department of biology public lecture: Trevor Charles, “The Science of Synthetic Biology”, followed by panel discussion, 7:00, Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 302.

Innovators in Action speaker series sponsored by Social Innovation Generation: Bruce MacDonald, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, 7:00, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery. Details.

Farm market Thursday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Student Life Centre lower atrium (also July 8, 15, 22).

‘Healthy You’ barbecue supporting K-W Community Foundation, Thursday 11:30 to 1:00, TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard.

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

International spouses monthly gathering, tour of Brubacher House museum, Thursday 12:45 p.m., meet at community centre, Columbia Lake Village. Details.

External relations staff golf and mini-putt day, Thursday, Merry Hill Golf Course and Max’s Golf Centre.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” Thursday 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Female faculty networking opportunity sponsored by faculty association Status of Women and Equity Committee, Thursday 4:00 to 6:00, Graduate House upstairs lounge, information ext. 33468.

‘Drop, penalty 1’ period for spring term courses ends June 25.

Staff career workshop: “Trends in Leadership from UW Recruiters” Friday 9:00, Tatham Centre. Details.

Warrior Weekend with food, activities, crafts, movies, performance by Engineering Jazz Band, scavenger hunt, Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m., Student Life Centre. Details.

‘Celebrate Canada’ luncheon, University Club, June 28-30, 11:30 to 2:00, reservations ext. 33801.

Positions available

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

• Network support specialist, information systems and technology, USG 11-12
• Recruitment assistant and webmaster, school of accounting and finance, USG 6
• Administrative secretary/ research finance support, electrical and computer engineering, USG 4
• Marketing coordinator, retail services, USG 7 (12-month secondment or contract)

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