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Thursday, January 27, 2011

  • Student recalls 'lucky' start in co-op
  • Mechatronics team takes prize at Queen's
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Faces in colours not found in nature]

Student leaders spent the day in a dumpster yesterday as a fund-raiser for Pathways to Education, an agency that encourages youngsters to stay in school. Passers-by in the Student Life Centre made donations to bail them out of their constraint (or keep them there) and last night's count showed $1,223.63 raised. Showing off their faculties' colours were Brandon Wong (science, blue); André Gomes Magalhães (math, pink); Matt Heather (environment, green); Rob Fry (arts, orange); Scott Rankin (engineering, purple); and Dave Smith (AHS, turquoise). They're joined by Nick Soave, vice-president (education) of the Federation of Students. Photo by electrical engineering student Angelo Alaimo.

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Student recalls 'lucky' start in co-op

from an article by Avneet Dhillon in the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students

Numaira Obaid, a 2B chemical engineering student, had no previous work experience when she began searching for her first work term. While the job search process can be difficult for any student, it is especially challenging for an individual with no work experience to show for themselves, who must somehow set themselves apart from the stiff competition.

[Obaid]As the end of term was closely approaching, Obaid (right) didn’t think she would be hired through the JobMine process. Then she was granted an interview with Canadian Standards Association, a not-for-profit that works in Canada and around the world to develop standards that “address real needs, such as enhancing public safety and health, advancing quality of life, helping to preserve the environment and facilitating trade.” CSA also tests products to see if they are complying with these particular standards.

Not only was she hired by CSA for her first co-op job, but after completing her four-month term CSA wanted her back for all of her subsequent work terms and offered her a full-time job upon graduation. Obaid says that receiving a full-time offer “makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, especially when you’re in first year. That’s why I decided to go back for two more work terms. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

She was hired as an environmental co-ordinator at CSA. She compiled a greenhouse gas inventory and was also responsible for projects that would reduce the organization’s carbon emissions, as CSA has an “unwritten policy of becoming carbon-neutral.” Her initiative and dedication to her work impressed her employer and, as she took on more and more responsibility, her employers at CSA realized they would be wise to offer her a full-time position.

Obaid claims that she was lucky to receive the initial job opportunity so close to the end of term: “I got my job around the 20th of December, for the January work term,” she explains, “So I was really lucky because by that time I was about to start looking for a volunteer position.”

Although she may attribute luck to her success in finding a job, she worked hard to market herself in her application and during her interview. “Even though I did not have the work experience, I had the educational background that I needed,” Obaid says, “When I was in high school I did loads of environmental volunteering and was the president of our environmental club. So I did a lot of research and I knew so much, without having applied it. I made sure to bring that out in the interview.”

She also drew on an experience from her engineering studies to show her employer that she was a quick learner. “We used a new program in first year, called Visio, and I told them that within a few hours I was able to do my project very efficiently using this program. Small details like that can really set you apart.”

She is currently completing a work term with Research in Motion, after deciding that she should diversify her experiences. CSA agreed with this, and Obaid is looking forward to taking the next step in achieving her long-term career goals.

“I aspire to upper management in the future and I have a long plan for my life, where I see myself studying for many years,” she says, “I plan on doing a master’s in engineering, then I would like to join a company and complete an MBA.”

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Mechatronics team takes prize at Queen's

by mechatronics engineering student Mike McCauley

This past weekend, my team and I travelled to Queen's University to compete in the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition. After submitting our 50-page business plan back in November, we were selected as one of the top 16 teams of approximately 75 plans submitted from around the world. The top 16 teams presented to a panel of industry judges on Friday, and the top six teams were selected to present in the final round on Saturday.

[Lined up holding giant cheque]Of four teams from Waterloo at the competition, we were selected for the final round and were presented with the Innovation Award (photo, left, with event organizers) at the Final Gala on Saturday evening.

As we said in our presentation, a fundamental behavioural shift in today’s generation’s purchasing habits has created an unaddressed need in the parcel delivery industry. The industry has not addressed the cost inefficiencies and customer frustration stemming from an increasingly recurring problem — undeliverable packages when the end-receiver is not available. The BufferBox solution provides a highly cost-efficient, self-sustainable, accessible and convenient technology to lower costs for shipping carriers while increasing value to receivers: an easily accessible 24/7 self-service kiosk that is integrated across all shipping carriers. This unique proposition is achieved by leveraging self-sustainable kiosk technologies and a growing receptiveness to self-service processes.

The Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition is Canada’s largest international university level business plan competition. The QEC has received business plan submissions from as far as Australia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Scotland, South Africa, India, Singapore, Portugal, the U.S. and the Philippines. Now in its 23rd year, the competition brings together the brightest young entrepreneurs from across the world to compete for $25,000 in cash prizes. Competitors also have the chance to network with Canada's leading business professionals. Furthermore, QEC prides itself on the incredible judge to competitor ratio of 3:4 — a tremendous networking opportunity and ratio of almost one competitor to one judge.

All four of our team members (Aditya Bali, Vanessa Lee, myself and Jay Shah) are mechatronics engineering students and will be graduating in April. The BufferBox idea is the basis for our fourth-year design project to be completed and presented in March.


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Link of the day

Holocaust Remembrance

When and where

Library workshop: “Better Searching, Better Marks” 10:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library; repeated February 7 and March 17 at 1:30. Details.

Weight Watchers at Work 12:15 p.m., PAS building room 2438; information ext. 32218.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

International Spouses “Knitting with Maria” 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, fee $2, pre-register by e-mail lighthousenm@

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Getting  Started in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshops: “Interview Skills, Selling Your Skills” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Professional School Interviews” 5:00, Tatham room 1208. Details.

Howard Armitage, founding director of Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, “thank you celebration” 4:00 to 7:00, Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Details.

Math Faculty Awards Ceremony 5:30, dinner 6:00, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

An Evening with David Morrell celebrating 50th anniversary of the department of English, 7:00, Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome’s University, tickets $10. Details.

Warrior women’s hockey at Brock, 7:15.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Marilyn Perdue and David Logan, “Maintaining Mental Fitness for Life” Friday 9:00, IST seminar room.

Knowledge Integration lecture: Kim Jernigan, The New Quarterly, “Love of the Word — and More” Friday 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retirees Day at Warrior basketball games vs. Western, Saturday, Physical Activities Complex: women’s game 1:00, men’s game 3:00, family activities including Monster Hoops Showdown and paper airplane toss. Details.

Peter H. Nash, former dean of environmental studies, died January 19, memorial service Saturday 3:00, Erb & Good Funeral Home, visitation Friday 2 to 4 and 7 to 9.

Final date for fee arrangements for winter term, January 31.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Designing Blended Courses” Monday 9:00 to 4:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Board of governors Tuesday 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Job Fair Wednesday 10:00 to 3:00, RIM Park, Waterloo. Details.

Stratford Campus update event, remarks from president Feridun Hamdullahpur and others, Wednesday 5:00, Stratford Rotary Complex, registration online.

Development Social Night hosted by Engineers Without Borders: networking, collaboration, refreshments, Wednesday 5:00 to 10:00, Graduate House. Details.

Canadian Association of Planning Students annual national conference will be held at Waterloo February 3-5. Details.

FASS of the Titans annual musical comedy, February 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., February 5 at 2:00 and 7:30, Humanities Theatre, tickets at Humanities box office 519-888-4908.

Distinguished Teacher Award nominations due Friday, February 4. Details.

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