Wednesday, March 3, 2010

  • Federal public service seeking students
  • Student conference to examine sustainability
  • Everybody talks about . . . lots of things
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Federal public service seeking students

A lunch on Friday will celebrate and introduce a new “leadership” program that links UW with the federal civil service, and students who might be interested in entering the program are among those invited.

“Champions” in the senior level of the public service have provided $100,000 to get the program rolling, says the faculty member who’s coordinating it — Diana Denton of the drama and speech communication program. She is also director of a “Communication, Leadership and Social Innovation” unit that’s currently being launched in the faculty of arts.

The lure of the new program for students? “Discover the possibilities to make a contribution in your field in the federal public service and earn credit toward your degree at the same time!”

At Friday’s lunch, which starts at 12:00 in the Laurel Room of South Campus Hall, federal deputy minister Susan Cartwright will talk about what Ottawa has to offer. UW president David Johnston will also speak.

Denton gives some background: “The Canadian Federal Public Service, Canada’s largest employer, is entering into a new era of deep and widespread change and a need for public management reform. Exacerbating these changes is the demographically-driven wave of public servant retirements anticipated over the coming years.

“Preparing and recruiting this new generation of public servants is an important priority, and Canadian universities are undoubtedly their richest source for future leaders and professionals. In an effort to strengthen ties with Canadian universities and identify and recruit leaders for the FPS, the Canada School of Public Service created the Deputy Minister University Champions program. The program aims to deepen the relationship between universities and the FPS.”

The “champions” assigned to Waterloo and to nearby McMaster University have launched “an initiative that will identify and recruit students at these two Canadian universities who possess and can develop the professional competence and leadership ability needed to help meet the FPS’s challenges.”

Last August, Denton says, the presidents of Waterloo and McMaster signed a Memorandum of Agreement to create “a Public Service Leadership Curriculum for Canadian universities that will support efforts to develop students’ leadership capacity and understanding of the opportunities for leadership roles in the FPS”. Work is now under way to develop that curriculum, with Denton a key figure in the project. Target date for completion of the curriculum, she says, is the end of this month.

Says Denton: “The PSLC will be a rich resource for professors, students, and federal public servants as it will include case studies, research, lectures, and learning strategies (group work, discussion topics, and interactive learning). All PSLC curricular resources will be rooted in the four FPS leadership competencies: Values and Ethics, Strategic Thinking, Engagement, and Management Excellence. The format will be complementary to those already used in most universities — a blend of instructor-led options, research, and e-learning — and it will be interdisciplinary, allowing professors to adapt it to their specific fields of study. The PSLC will be flexible enough to be used as a stand-alone course, as part of a larger program, or as an impetus for the development of a leadership curriculum.”

Next step: “Student participants from diverse disciplines will be recruited at both universities. Participants will pursue a program of study that includes a spring-summer 2010 work placement in the FPS, enrolment in the PSLC course in fall 2010, and participation in an FS-related research project in winter 2011. In spring 2011, participants will have opportunities to enter full-time positions in the FPS. Students will be assessed throughout this one-year program of study and those hired will be tracked for two years once they enter the FPS.”

Anybody interested in finding out more can attend Friday’s lunch and get in touch with Denton by e-mail: ddenton@

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Student conference to examine sustainability

a release from the UW media relations office

Students skilled in blending scientific outlooks with business methods will explore how business, technology and science can sustain themselves at the Fusion conference to be held Friday and Saturday on the Waterloo campus. Students from five Ontario universities will examine sustainability issues with such companies as Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline during the annual event.

Fusion, hosted by the Science and Business Students' Association, aims to demonstrate how the disciplines of science and business can interact together to impact society and the economy. The conference brings together bright young minds of the future with current experts in many scientific and technological fields. 

This year's conference theme is "Sustainability: Success for Today and Tomorrow". "Sustainability, and what is needed to achieve it, has vastly different meanings for each industry, company and individual," said Sean Elliott, co-president of the SBSA. "We hope the Fusion conference will help participants understand sustainability and improve their knowledge of how to fuse together science and business." 

Registration for the conference is sold out, with more than 200 students participating from Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Guelph, Queen's University, University of Toronto and Waterloo.

The conference begins on Friday at 6 p.m. with a registration reception at Federation Hall. The reception will give students the opportunity to network with many of the event's sponsors and speakers. It also features a keynote presentation by Bill Buxton, principal researcher at Microsoft. For more than 30 years, Buxton has been involved in the areas of research, design and technology. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a researcher at Xerox PARC, a professor at the University of Toronto, and chief scientist at Alias Research and SGI Inc., where he was the co-recipient of an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement in 2003. 

On Saturday at 9 a.m., UW president David Johnston will welcome participants. After his opening remarks, students will attend lectures with such companies as GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and Ontario Power Authority, with topics focusing on the areas of health care, energy and technology. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a case study, sponsored by Open Text, and an employer exposition, where speakers and sponsors will represent their respective companies and possibly recruit students for future employment. 

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Everybody talks about . . . lots of things

The university's second annual "climate change colloquium", organized by the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change (IC3), is taking place today and tomorrow in South Campus Hall. Things begin with a keynote speech at 4:00 today, given by Georg Kaser, a tropical glaciologist at Austria's University of Innsbrück who is lead author of the IPCC WG1 report on the physical science basis of climate change. (His work includes a dramatic analysis of why the snows of Kilimanjaro are no more.) Kaser's talk will be followed by poster presentations and refreshments from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight. Tomorrow, from 8:00 to 5:00, the colloquium turns to oral presentations on climate change impacts and adaptations; prizes of as much as $250 were offered for the best student presentations during the event. Lunchtime speaker tomorrow will be Jason J. Blackstock, also based in Austria, at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, but currently in Waterloo at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He'll speak on “The Science and Politics of Geoengineering Research”.

Now maybe this item is totally unrelated — maybe — but Frank Seglenieks of the UW weather station, giving his monthly statistical summary, says February was "another dry month, with only 30.9 mm compared to the average of 51.3 mm. Almost half of that came during the 22nd when 13.2 mm of precipitation came down. That storm prevented it from being a historically dry month, but it was still below average. The total snowfall of around 30 cm was pretty much exactly the long term average, but as most of it came during one storm and as we had not seen much so far this winter it sure did feel like a lot. However, what we were missing in February was the rain component of precipitation, which is usually around 25 mm. With a dry first two months of the year, the total precipitation for 2010 of 58.8 mm is only about half of the 117.0 we would expect by this time of year." He does say, however, that temperatures in February were "very much within the average range".

The February 26 issue of MathNews includes a report on planned changes to the (often very complicated) curriculum rules in the faculty of mathematics. "Students in the Faculty of Math," the newsletter says, "will now be allowed to enroll in as many as three different academic plans, after new rules take effect in September." It continues by quoting David McKinnon, associate dean (undergraduate studies) in math: "The new rules are designed to be much more flexible and allow many more combinations than the old rules did, and to be much clearer than the old rules were. There are parts of it that students can take advantage of earlier — consult your academic advisor for details." And "Due to the natures of the various plans, it may take more than the traditional 40 courses or 8 academic terms to complete multiple plans. There are, of course, some restrictions to the possible plan combinations."

Still in the faculty of math: Jen Nissen is coordinating plans for this summer's International Olympiad in Informatics, and sends this invitation: "With the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver over, the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing is still in pre-production for the IOI, which is set to take place August 14-21. IOI 2010 is looking for volunteers of all ages to help out with the many different aspects of the weeklong event. Volunteers who can communicate clearly, enjoy working with others, and meeting people from around the world are encouraged to apply. Mathematical and/or technical inclination is not a requirement for most of the volunteer positions. However, the ability to speak another language is an asset, as there will be some teams from non-English-speaking countries at the event. High school student volunteers will receive credit for their hours for use toward the Community Involvement requirement for Secondary School Graduation. And public transportation and meals will be provided for IOI volunteers during the week." Anybody interested can fill out an application form, available online; the deadline for returning it to Nissen is March 31.

Pre-enrolment for fall term undergraduate courses continues through Sunday on Quest. • Graduate students can vote online until Thursday midnight in a pair of referenda, one about a compulsory bus pass and one about expansion of health services. • Nominations close today in the election of 16 faculty members and two graduate students to the university senate. • A week from now we'll know much more than we currently do about the intentions of federal and provincial governments towards education, research and other matters; the series of announcements begins with a federal Throne Speech this afternoon.


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A 'comprehensive collaborative agreement' signed in late February links Japan's National Institute for Materials Science with nanotechnology researchers at Waterloo. NIMS president Sukekasu Ushioda poses with the executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, Arthur Carty.

Link of the day

Norman Bethune

When and where

Refworks workshop aimed at members of Teaching-Based Research Group, 10 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Free noon concert: “Paraguay Primeval”, music by Carol Ann Weaver and Rebecca Campbell, 12:30, Conrad Grebel UC chapel.

School of planning seminar: Nancy Button, director, rapid transit, Region of Waterloo, 12:30, Environment I room 354.

Israel on Campus presents Barry Rubin, “The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Understanding the Current Impasse” 12:30, Wilfrid Laurier University, Alvin Woods Building 2-106.

Chemistry seminar: Mario Leclerc, Université Laval, “Conjugated Polymers: From Micro-Electronics to Genomics” 2:30, Chemistry II room 361.

Career workshop: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 3:30, Tatham room 1208. Details.

Short Attention Span Math Seminars hosted by Pure Math Club, Wednesday-Thursday 4:30 to 11 p.m., Math and Computer room 2066.

‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ events organized by Students for Palestinian Rights: humanitarian Hannah Carter, “A Journey Through the West Bank” 6:30, SLC multipurpose room.

Perimeter Institute public lecture: Joseph Emerson, Institute for Quantum Computing, “The Quantum World, from Weird to Wired” 7:00,  Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association presents BBC documentary, “Did Jesus Die?” 7:30 p.m., Math and Computer room 2065.

Observatory night with brief talk on astronomy, tour of UW observatory and chance to look through telescope, 8:00, Physics room 308.

Library workshop: “Advancing Government Information” Thursday 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Staff career workshops Thursday: “Networking Is Not a Dirty Word” 3:00; “Job Search Solutions” 5:00, Tatham Centre, register lkoblyk@

Chemical engineering seminar: Jiujun Zhang, National Research Council, “PEM Fuel Cell Catalysis” Thursday 3:30, Doug Wright Engineering room 2529.

Author at St. Jerome’s University: Mary  Swan, novelist, Thursday 4:30, StJ room 3027.

Fifth Annual International Women’s Day Dinner, Thursday 4:30 p.m. cocktail hour, 5:30 p.m. dinner, University Club. Tickets at Humanities box office, 519-888-4908. Details.

Work reports from fall co-op work term marked by field coordinators available for pickup from Tatham Centre, Friday.

38th annual Hagey Bonspiel for staff, faculty and friends, Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, Ayr Curling Club. Details.

Positions available

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

• Manager, information technology, Institute for Quantum Computing, USG 11
• Associate director, international and outreach programs, faculty of mathematics, USG 10/11
• Manager, information systems, human resources, USG 12/13
• Information systems specialist, information systems and technology, USG 10-12
• Institutional programs coordinator, office of research, USG 8
• Student services assistant, graduate studies office, USG 4/5 (7.5-month secondment or contract)
• Administrative assistant, architecture computer media, school of architecture, USG 5 (13-month secondment or contract)

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