Friday, March 19, 2010

  • How the Waterloo web site might look
  • More co-op students with jobs, more without
  • Notes as a busy week winds up
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Screen shot]How the Waterloo web site might look

Some time before the end of the year, the university's web home page may look something like the graphic seen at left — part of a design presented to key committees this week by White Whale Web Services and discussed widely after it leaked into the blogosphere early yesterday.

"This is inspiring!" said the first comment to show up on the blog site after it was thrown open to reactions yesterday. Other posters, there and in other social media, had praise, but also suggestions, about the navigation, the photo (borrowed from a student's portfolio on Flickr, it turns out) and other aspects of the proposed site. "Pretty cool!" one student wrote on Twitter.

White Whale are the California-based consultants who have been working on the long-awaited site redesign, both for the home page and for the rest of Waterloo's complicated, half-million-page web presence. Two of the little company's staff flew in this week to present their work so far to the Web Advisory Committee and the "working group" and "task force" in charge of the web redesign project.

While they were here, a couple of mentions of the project on Twitter led people in the web development world to look at images on a White Whale test site, and by Thursday morning the news was out. Officials quickly decided they might as well go with the flow, and by mid-morning a summary of the White Whale proposal was posted on the site. A link to a beta site lets web users see how the home page would open up in multiple ways and lead to both promotional and informational sub-pages.

"Along the top in the grey bar are key touch points for prospective students and other external audiences," web communications manager Sarah Forgrave writes. "The bar is bookended in bold, showing the focus on learning about Waterloo and applying to attend.

"Through the middle are tools to find the information you are after quickly. Under 'Today @ Waterloo' you will find news, events, and weather, information that will change daily and draw from various campus sources including the Daily Bulletin. The 'Faculties & Academics' and 'Offices & Services A-Z' areas are designed to make it easy to find exactly what you need without requiring prior organization knowledge.

"Above the grey area are the gateways targeted at specific audiences both internal and external. These gateways will provide content relevant to each and guide them away from the homepage.

"The prominent slogan is complemented at right by four proposed breakouts each highlighting an important aspect of Waterloo real life. The proposal includes a panel over the slogan containing various types of information including video, quotes, links, and photos. These highlights act as an outline and a guidepost to help prospective students find their place at Waterloo."

Comments on the web proposal are being invited — not directly to Forgrave (by midafternoon yesterday she said so many messages had poured in that her cellphone was running out of juice) but through the site.

While we’re talking about online media, just a word about Twitter: It’s pleasant to report that as of Wednesday night, the number of people who have subscribed to postings there (“tweets”) from “uwdailybulletin” — known as “followers” — has passed 400. Twitter conversation from Waterloo in the past day or so has been dominated by discussion of the new web design, but a number of other topics have come up as well. Selected tweets: “Enjoy event planning and developing your leadership skills? Apply to be a StudentLife 101 Director” • “Check out our first Engineering Research Profile video featuring SYDE prof @C4Burns:” • “Grant Russell participation mark system FTW for slackers like me!” • “There’s Leprechauns in the Student Life Centre. Oops. Nope. That’s just people crawling out of Bomber.” • “UW campus looks rough today... window broken in SLC.” • “Check out our UWAFT sponsorship video via YouTube!” • “Grad House: I can hear your music in DP. Not all of us are celebrating today.” • “Do you want sidewalks on Westmount Rd and Seagram Dr?” •“Hey ES! Vote in the ESS Elections!”

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More co-op students with jobs, more without

More co-op students have jobs this term than in the winter term of last year, but there are also more students unemployed in what should have been their work term, the department of co-op education and career services says.

A final report on winter 2010 employment was issued this week by CECS director Peggy Jarvie. “I’m pleased to say that our final Winter term employment rate is 96.6%,” she writes. “This includes students employed and not participating for the Winter term.

“An unprecedented number of students participating during an uncertain economy and high unemployment has made this a notable achievement on the parts of the participating students and CECS staff. 425 more students were scheduled out to work this Winter term than this time last year, an 8.5% increase. 371 more students than in Winter 2009 found employment, and 184 were left unemployed, 50 more than in Winter 2009.”

Her report shows that the 184 unemployed students included 112 at the “junior”, or first and second year, level. Most of those without jobs, 88, are in engineering, with 29 in math and 22 in science.

Says Jarvie: “International visa student enrolment in co-op has been increasing steadily for the past few years, and employment rates slightly exceed those experienced by non-visa students. For Winter 2010, almost 300 visa students were scheduled out to work, and 96% of them are employed or not participating. This is 13% more international visa students scheduled out to work than in Winter 2009, and a 53% increase over Winter 2007. As with non-visa students, Winter terms have the highest number of visa students scheduled out to work, with the next highest in spring, and the lowest number in the fall.”

The co-op department now looks ahead to the spring term, when fewer students are seeking jobs, but those who do want co-op work terms are competing with regular (non-co-op) students for “summer” jobs. Jarvie reports: “The first round of co-op interviews was completed at the end of February, with the main match running March 1. About 300 more students are scheduled out to work than in Spring 2009.

“The current employment rate is 54%, compared to 52% this time last year. The higher rate reflects both a higher number of employed students and a higher number of students choosing not to participate this term. Currently, just under 2,300 students are seeking employment, an increase of 61 over this time last year. Senior students, those in their last and second last work terms, account for almost all of the increase in number of students scheduled out to work.”

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Notes as a busy week winds up

Tuesday's open house for future students and their parents seems to have been a success — not just because something like 6,200 visitors saw the campus on a mild and sunshiny day, but because many of them left behind favourable comments. A highlight, says Jessica Chow of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, was the midday entertainment, provided by the Warrior cheerleaders, a "flash mob" from Renison College, and the Water Boys a cappella singers. Other highlights: the "international experience lounge", a feature of the program this year for the first time; live online streaming of the information presentations on such topics as student finances and co-op education, and a "post-event" for female applicants to the engineering programs, which drew around 100 participants. Mark the calendar now: Tuesday of the schools' March break in 2011 is, let's see, March 15.

[Green shoots]And if the March open house is happening, it must be spring, right? Christine Gillis Bilton of the research office in Needles Hall confirms that with a couple of photos, including the one at right, showing greenery springing up outside the Tatham Centre early this week.

A page of "Guidelines in the Event of the Death of a UW Student" were distributed the other day after approval by Executive Council, the group made up of the university's top administrators. The document is a slightly revised version of a longstanding one that indicates how the university will take care of such issues as condolences, looking after a deceased student's possessions, even fee refunds. UW is normally represented at a student's funeral or memorial service by the associate provost (student services) and the dean of his or her faculty, the guidelines indicate. Also: "Faculty, instructors, teaching assistants, counselling, etc., will need to be aware of the student's death since this often has a serious impact on fellow students. . . . If the family or friends express a desire for some kind of on-campus memorial, Plant Operations will arrange for a tree to be planted in the student's memory."

Work is underway to offer "friendly" e-mail addresses to everybody who works on campus — that is, addresses that look more like your real name than "k3mason" or "k4king", to quote a couple of addresses that show up frequently in my inbox.  Traditionally, "" addresses are assigned through a mostly automatic process, using initials and surnames, truncated to no more than eight characters, and sometimes digits are inserted in the middle to avoid any duplication. But bjhicks (sorry, I mean Bob Hicks) of information systems and technology explains that there's interest in friendly addresses, enabling him to be "bob.hicks@", and such a service is being tested now. However, as a side effect of the project, database records were changed for something like 250 people across campus with long surnames or other special situations. They have both a "short" userid, no more than 8 characters, and a "long" one, and, says Hicks, "people may notice that outgoing emails have a longer form email id. This may cause an issue when sending to a moderated mailing list. This doesn't affect their incoming email, in that emails to either their short form or long form will arrive." It should all be sorted out shortly, he says.


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Link of the day

Patron saint of Canada

When and where

Architecture student co-op job interviews for spring term, today in Toronto; rankings Monday-Tuesday. Details.

Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival sponsored by Waterloo Public Interest Research Group, through Sunday, Princess Twin Cinemas. Details.

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

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

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

Knowledge Integration seminar: Rob Gorbet, Centre for Knowledge Integration, “Solar Collector: A Solar-Powered Interactive Sculpture” 1:30, Math and Computer room 4061.

Arts Gala 2010: “Gangsters, Glitz and Glam” 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Inn.

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” 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall.

‘Arcadia’ by Tom Stoppard, drama department spring production, tonight and Saturday 8 p.m., Theatre of the Arts, tickets $12 general, students $10. Details.

Rhythm Dance Competition Saturday, Humanities Theatre.

Online voting for senate: Seven faculty at large positions and one St. Jerome’s University faculty position, polls open Monday-Friday, March 22-26. Details.

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.

Kitchener Public Library presents Gary Bruce, UW department of history, “After Work I  Came Home and Did the Crossword: The Life and Times of East German Secret Police Officers” Monday 12:00, KPL main branch.

Heritage Resources Centre lunch-and-learn session: Geoffrey Lewis, faculty of environment, “Urban Energy” Monday 12:00, Environment I room 221.

Career workshops Monday: “Academic Interview Skills” 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 4:30, Tatham 1208; “Pharmacy School Interviews” 5:30, Tatham 2218. Details.

Design symposium: mechatronics engineering student projects Monday 1:00 to 5:00, Student Life Centre.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation presents public lecture by Leigh Tesfatsion, Monday 3:00, Tatham Centre room 2218.

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.

Waterloo Centre for German Studies presents Alfred de Zayas, Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, “Ethnic Cleansing 1945-1948” Monday 7:30, Arts Lecture Hall room 113.

Women’s Centre presents “A Monologue, a Memory, a Rant, a Prayer: Writings to End Violence Against Women and Girls” Monday 8:00 (Arts Lecture Hall room 124) and Tuesday 8:00 (Hagey Hall room 180), tickets $10.

‘Documenting Your Teaching for Tenure and Promotion’ workshop sponsored by associate vice-president (academic) Tuesday 11:45 a.m., Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Speed networking career event for science students, Tuesday 5:30, CEIT foyer and room 1015.

Silent auction in support of the Colour Me Educated campaign, Wednesday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Student Life Centre great hall.

University Choir spring concert: “Voices of Light” March 27, 7:30 p.m., St. John’s Lutheran Church, 22 Willow Street, tickets $10 (students $8).

Earth Hour Saturday, March 27: celebrations 7:30 p.m. to midnight, Student Life Centre; lights out 8:30 to 9:30.

‘Rethink Modern Leadership and Innovation’ presentations by corporate executives, sponsored by Waterloo chapter of IEEE, March 30 through April 1. Details.

PhD oral defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Mohamed A. El Sheikh Mahmoud, “Switchless Electrostatic Vibration Micro Power Generators.” Supervisors, Ehab F. El-Saadany and Raafat R. Mansour. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, March 29, 9:00 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Computer science. Jian Wang, “Numerical Methods for Continuous Time Mean Variance Type Asset Allocation.” Supervisor, Peter Forsyth. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Monday, March 29, 10:00 a.m., Davis Centre room 1331.

Electrical and computer engineering. Xinxin Fan, “Efficient Cryptographic Algorithms and Protocols for Securing Mobile Ad Hoc Networks.” Supervisor, Guang Gong. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, March 30, 8:30 a.m., CEIT room 3142.

Chemistry. Zhipei Qin, “Thin Film Microextraction.” Supervisor, Janusz Pawliszyn. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, April 1, 10:30 a.m., Chemistry II room 361.

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