Thursday, March 18, 2010

  • Study measures the effects of co-op
  • Some light on photovoltaics, lasers and more
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[He and she]

'What do fractal geometry, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, iterated algorithms, chaos theory, classical horticulture, gothic architecture, carnal embrace, and Lord Byron's sex life have in common?' If that is the question, the drama department's "Arcadia" is the answer — continuing tonight through Saturday at 8:00 in the Theatre of the Arts. Dave Morgan is Valentine and Kristi Dukovic is Hannah.

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Study measures the effects of co-op

by John Morris, Communications and Public Affairs

Co-op students earn the highest salaries and get the most prestigious jobs after graduation, a major study led by Waterloo researchers concludes. Even after co-op and regular students are matched for family background, academic achievement in secondary school and post-secondary field of study, there is still a co-op advantage.

Maureen Drysdale, a professor of psychology at St. Jerome's University, and John Goyder, a professor of sociology on the main campus, are the co-investigators of the three-phase study, the first and largest of its kind. It examines the role of co-operative education in the transition from post-secondary education to the labour market.

Using data collected by Statistics Canada in its Youth in Transition Survey, researchers tracked close to 10,000 students from their high school days (in 2000) through to their campus careers and to their early years in the work force (in 2006). The study compares university co-op students with university regular (non-co-op) students, as well as college co-op students with college regular students.

"Co-op students earn the highest salaries and get the most prestigious jobs after graduation compared with their non-co-op peers," says Drysdale, who is also a research associate with the Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education.

Researchers looked at the students' transition characteristics from high school to campus, including gender, grades, homework habits, sense of belonging and interests. They then reviewed the students' post-secondary education characteristics — fields of study, grades, job market skills — and compared co-op students with non-co-op students. Finally, they explored the students' transition characteristics from university to work, taking into account their salaries, job satisfaction and prestige, along with their skills in computing, writing and problem-solving.

The study finds that a student’s decision to enter a post-secondary co-op program is not a random occurrence at either the college or university levels. Gender and socio-economic status are important, with women more likely to be in co-op at the college level and men at the university level. Co-op also appears to assist access to post-secondary education: those from lower socio-economic families are most likely to be in co-op.

And more: a student entering a university co-op program tends to be especially studious and serious. This student enjoys a better relationship with teachers, has a strong work ethic, scores higher grades and has fewer close friends. The student also tends toward engineering, applied and physical sciences and mathematics.

Meanwhile, the typical college co-op student, while working harder and achieving higher grades than a non-co-op peer, feels less respect from high school teachers. The college bound co-op student tends to express an interest in the fine and applied arts and the humanities.

Grades for university co-op students are significantly higher than for university regular, college co-op and college regular students. But the grades are not a function of entering characteristics: gender, socio-economic status and high school performance do not predict university performance.

The researchers also report that during post-secondary studies, the "serious student syndrome" seems to disappear. And co-op and non-co-op students have similar relationship patterns with friends and professors and similar work habits — attendance, keeping up with assignments and meeting deadlines.

Drysdale and her colleagues speculate that higher postsecondary grades for co-op students could be a transfer-of learning-factor, as the co-op work experience brings something back to the classroom and ensures better connections between theory and practice.

Co-op and non-co-op students in university and college all agreed that after their second year of post-secondary studies, they had acquired the skills and abilities to do well and plan for the future.

After graduation, university co-op students reported higher salaries in their first year in the workforce. Setting aside the effects of gender, field of study, socio-economic status, post-secondary grades, length of time employed and hours worked per week, the researchers found co-op graduates are making 15 per cent, or $5,075 per year, more than other grads.

Co-op students were also in more prestigious jobs than their non co-op peers. University co-op graduates also assessed themselves as having better computing, mathematical and problem-solving skills.

Phase 4 of the study — tracking the same co-op and non co-op students during their careers — is currently underway.

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Some light on photovoltaics, lasers and more

We have an announcement today about what's probably the least-known full-sized building on the main campus. I mean the Photovoltaic Research Centre, located between Matthews Hall and the smokestack at the General Services Complex. It was begun in 2006, and finished a couple of years later, as a home for, well, photovoltaic research. But there's more going on inside than just that. As a result, Adel Sedra, dean of engineering, has issued this memo: "After some consideration, a decision has been made to change the name of the Photovoltaic Research Centre (PRC) to the Energy Research Centre (ERC). The name change better captures the research now taking place throughout the building, and will take effect immediately. Plans to officially open the ERC building are now being discussed with Communications & Public Affairs. Details will be forthcoming."

The annual Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival starts today — an event now held off campus (at the Princess Twin Cinemas in central Waterloo) but started a decade ago by the campus-based Waterloo Public Interest Research Group and still co-sponsored by WPIRG. Islai Côté, a student of English and an organizer of the festival, says the films to be shown over these four days "will encourage viewers to challenge mainstream conceptions of queer experiences, while also entertaining." Things begin with a "Gay-la event” tonight, including a screening of John Greyson's film “Fig Trees”, a documentary-operetta “that highlights the careers of AIDS activists Tim McCaskell and South Africa's Zackie Achmat through a narrative involving Gertrude Stein and a singing albino squirrel”. The festival will showcase the work of local filmmaker Melissa Sky, who will be introducing her film and answering questions. Her documentary, "Three Questions" examines lesbian sexuality in the Kitchener-Waterloo community. Individual film tickets will be sold at the Princess Twin Cinemas on the day of screening. Festival passes and Gala tickets are available at the Princess and at the WPIRG office in the Student Life Centre.

[Strickland]The world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the invention of lasers this year, and Phys 13 News, published by UW's department of physics and astronomy for high school science teachers, has published a special issue marking the occasion. "It is good to remember that this realization of the laser took about 50 years of research," writes physics professor Donna Strickland (left), herself a pioneer of an important branch of laser technology, chirped pulse amplification. She notes that the patent on the original laser was issued to Gordon Gould, who had been a graduate student at Columbia University when the key work was done: "After a very lengthy court battle, the laser patent was awarded to Gould because he had made notes in his lab book in 1958 about how to extend masers to optical frequencies. This is a very good lesson on keeping excellent lab books!"

Online voting is scheduled for next week, as faculty members elect eight of their representatives to the university senate. "Brief campaign statements are available online for the candidates who are contesting the positions," says a memo from the university secretariat. Eight candidates are seeking seven positions as faculty-at-large representatives: Eric Croiset, Chemical Engineering; Paul Guild, Management Sciences; Bruce Hellinga, Civil & Environmental Engineering; Keith Hipel, Systems Design Engineering; Susan Leat, Optometry; Stephen McColl, Health Studies & Gerontology; David Porreca, Classical Studies; Metin Renksizbulut, Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. (Regular UW faculty are eligible to vote on that ballot.) Two candidates — Tracy Penny Light, Sexuality, Marriage & Family Studies and History, and Ryan Touhey, History — are seeking one position representing St. Jerome's University faculty members. The elections run from Monday, March 22, through Friday, March 26.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation announces that it has launched a video blogwhich will serve as an engaging platform for continuous coverage of and insight into the Balsillie Campus while it undergoes construction . . . a full range of topics surrounding the Balsillie Campus, from inspiration to building design and new construction technology, as well as faculty, student and community perspectives.” The first posting in the series features Jim Balsillie, founder of the campus and co-CEO of Research In Motion, who discusses his motivation for creating the campus (in central Waterloo next to CIGI’s building on Erb Street) and how it will contribute to global leadership. Coming soon: an interview with Bill Cooper, president of Cooper Construction, the contractor for the project, who discusses the challenges the space has presented and how Canadians are going to be “wowed and proud” with the end result. The news release explains that “Under CIGI’s leadership and direction, the Balsillie Campus will create resources and facilities to run programs of studies in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and other universities in Canada and internationally. The campus will house several schools and programs, including the already established Balsillie School of International Affairs.”

A note from the engineering faculty's e-newsletter: "Hiren Patel of electrical and computer engineering won top honours in the Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference for a paper he co-authored entitled SCGPSim: A Fast SystemC Simulator on GPUs. The conference, considered one of the premier events in design automation, was held recently in Taiwan."

Deaths of three retired staff members have been reported in recent days. Jean Ball-Dolinsek, who was a housekeeper in Village I from 1990 to 1999, died February 21. Maria Ditner, a housekeeper in Village I from 1973 to 1985, died February 27. Makonnen Kassa, who was a computer technician in information systems and technology from 1982 to 2004, died February 28.

A delegation from White Whale Web Services has been on campus this week to talk with key committees about the new design they’re developing for the university’s web presence. • Jason Goetz, whose record-setting triple jump earned a silver medal in the national university track and field championships the other day, has been named to the Ontario University Athletics all-star team for 2009-10. • There’s one of my favourites, Montreal smoked meat on rye, for lunch today at the Festival Fare cafeteria in South Campus Hall.


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Link of the day

Biodiesel Day

When and where

Co-op job interviews for spring term positions, “continuous” phase March 9-31, rankings open every Tuesday and Thursday. Details.

Waterloo Unlimited design program for students in grade 11, through Friday. Details.

Architecture student co-op job interviews for spring term, today in Cambridge, Friday in Toronto; rankings March 22-23. Details.

Blood donor clinic today 10:00 to 4:00; Friday 9:00 to 3:00; March 31, 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room, appointments call 888-236-6283.

Career workshop: “Work Search Strategies” 10:30, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

Book publishing seminar: Randy Schmidt, UBC Press, speaks on scholarly publishing in humanities and social sciences, 11:00, Humanities room 373.

Matrix impaired driving simulator, sponsored by Waterloo Regional Police and health services peer educators, 11:00 to 2:00, Student Life Centre.

Library workshop: “Keep Current in Your Field” 1:30 p.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Department of English presents Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago, “Time Out, Human Resources and the Neoliberal Present” 4:00, Humanities room 373.

Classical studies lecture: Mark D. Fullerton, the Ohio State University, “Cameo Appearances: Roma, Augustus, and the Julio-Claudian Clan” Thursday 4:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 105.

Leave the Pack Behind presents “WoulduRather Wrap-party” with presentation of stop-smoking prizes, 4:30, Bombshelter pub, Student Life Centre.

Arriscraft Lecture: Neil Spiller, University College London, “Communicating Vessels” 6:30 p.m., Architecture lecture hall, Cambridge.

Anthropology lecture: David Price, St. Martin’s University, “Anthropology and Counterinsurgency” 7:00, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

‘Grand Illusion Show’ children’s magic performance 7:00, Humanities Theatre. Details.

Jewish Studies Lecture: Michael Higgins, St. Thomas University, "Luminous and Vexed — Benedict XVI and the Jews: A contorted alliance” 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3004.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Jeff Voskamp, “eduroam: Wifi for the University and Beyond” Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Conference on Financial Reporting Quality in Emerging Markets, hosted by school of accounting and finance, Friday, Hagey Hall room 2104.

Sociology lecture: Neil McLaughlin, McMaster University, “Whither Canadian Sociology?” Friday 1:00, PAS building room 2438.

St. Jerome’s University Somerville Lecture in Christianity and Communications: Joe Gunn, Citizens for Public Justice, “Muted and Maligned Voices: Public Justice and the Canadian Churches” Friday 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

Dragons’ Den open auditions (looking for aspiring entrepreneurs to appear on CBC series) Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., CBET, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

University senate monthly meeting Monday 4:00, Needles Hall room 3001.

Cultural Encounters, Encountering Cultures series: Gerd Hauck, drama and speech communication, “Theatre at the Crossroads of Intermediality and Convention” Monday 4:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Alumni outing in Calgary to Flames vs. Ducks hockey, Tuesday, 5:00 reception preceding game. Details.

UW Chamber Choir concert, “Early English Baroque” March 28, 7:30 p.m., Waterloo North Mennonite Church, tickets $15 (students $10).

Application deadline for September admission is March 31, with some exceptions; Ontario secondary school student deadline was January 13, later if spaces still available. Details.

Good Friday holiday Friday, April 2. Classes not held; UW offices and most services closed.

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