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Thursday, July 21, 2011

  • Student designs showcase gateway
  • SDE students tackle sports design
  • Waterloo girls create winning games
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Students design bold campus gateway

by Karen Kawawada, Communications and Public Affairs

 Winning design in i3Challenge contest

The gateway to Waterloo campus will be clearer, more inviting, more sustainable, and perhaps more inspiring by next year.

The results of the i3 Challenge student design competition were announced yesterday, and the winning team has a grand vision (pictured above) of how to turn the university's main entrance into what they call “space to inspire.”

The design of Team Inove, consisting of Amer Abu-Khajil and Jacqueline Doucet, both third-year civil engineering students, and Nader Alkadri and Josh Layton, both fourth-year urban planning students, focuses on a “grand pedestrian concourse,” to be located on the northwest corner of Seagram Drive and University Avenue.

“It’s supposed to be an inviting, inclusive space for students and all users,” said Abu-Khajil.

The concourse would include a large “uWaterloo” sign, seating, and wooden arches. The sign, composed of large steel letters, would be floodlit and raised, with the base serving as a planter and seating. It would be readily visible from University Avenue.

The arches would be modular, so the inspiring messages or facts inscribed on them could be changed.

“You’re walking through them, and as you get closer and closer to campus, you gain this understanding of where you’re going and what you’re going to accomplish at the university,” said Alkadri.

The team’s design emphasizes sustainability. Pervious concrete, developed at Waterloo’s Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology, would be used to pave the concourse, decreasing stormwater runoff. The green space would use native plants and drought-resistant xeriscaping. There would be an effort to use recycled materials.

There is also an emphasis on pedestrian and cyclist access, with a scramble crossing for pedestrians, and clearly marked bike lanes.

The $100,000 project will be funded by the Region of Waterloo and the Faculty of Environment.

“We were impressed by all the presentations, but I think the deciding factor for Team Inove was the elegance of their design, the simplicity of the design – really, the environment it creates in the entranceway to campus,” said i3 Challenge committee chair Jeff Casello, a professor in the faculties of environment and engineering.

Now that a winner has been chosen, another phase of work is about to begin – this time, with more help from the university.

“We need to translate the vision the students have presented today into contract documents that can be sent to tender,” said Casello, adding that his personal goal is to have a construction contractor chosen by early 2012, with the work to be done by the fall of that year.

The i3 Challenge – standing for Innovate, Integrate, Implement – marks the first time, to Casello’s knowledge, that a North American university has used a student competition to design an element of its campus. There are plans for similar challenges in the future.

2nd place winner, i3Challenge contestTaking part in the competition “taught me what it’s like to work in the real world,” and winning is just “icing on the cake,” said Alkadri. But the best part is the enduring impact on Waterloo. “It’s going to be so cool, coming back to the school, and being, like, ‘That’s mine.’”

Third-place winner, i3Challenge contestTwo other teams were also recognized as runners-up: Team Vier (right) and Team IDN (left).


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SDE students tackle sports design

University of Waterloo engineering students are displaying product designs this week that offer innovative solutions to challenges in sports as diverse as bike racing, judo, dragon boating, and tennis.

On Friday, 12 student groups in a third-year systems design engineering course will present a product design exhibition on sports engineering. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in room 1301 of the William G. Davis Computer Research Centre.

"We want to improve the quality of sports engineering and make life better for athletes," said John Zelek, professor of systems design engineering and event organizer. "The students were asked to select a challenge in a sports activity and come up with an effective solution."

The design prototypes address a variety of challenges:

  • improving synchronization for dragon boating
  • harnessing spectator energy in stadiums to power electronic devices
  • providing self-performance monitoring tools for swim training 
  • improving communications for ice hockey practices
  • reducing skidding in bicycle racing 
  • detecting a basketball referee’s gestures automatically
  • finding a low-cost method to detect if a ball is in or out for tennis
  • designing karate floor mats that minimize injury
  • designing a weight-lifting bench press that does not require a spotter
  • designing a mechanical judo training mechanism 
  • re-designing a rock-climbing glove to combat weather conditions

The student groups were each required to select a problem area, identify a design problem objective, and solicit needs from stakeholders. This laid the groundwork for the innovative concepts that were prototyped for display at Friday’s exhibit.

The course and theme meet several engineering design learning objectives. They expose students to real-world issues that may lead to cost-effective solutions. They also show that engineering plays a key role in society, improving the quality of life for all.

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Waterloo girls create winning games

University of Waterloo students have triumphed in the Games4Girls Competition for the second year in a row.

Waterloo teams not only took the top spot and the prize of $2,000 at this year's competition, they also took second place (and $1,500), and received an honourable mention as well. Their faculty advisor was computer science lecturer Lori Case.

In this contest, hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teams of up to four female university or college students are challenged to create computer games that will appeal to senior public school or high school girls.

The contestants all use Game Maker, a PC-based game-development tool that allows novice designers to create interesting games with basic technical skills, while providing a built-in programming language so more advanced users can customize their game program.

The winning games may be downloaded from the contest website (click on Winners).

Image from computer game "Prince"First-place team members, for “Prince” (pictured):

  • Denise Chan (science)
  • Wing Shan (Sara) Kam (CS)

Second-place team members, for “Korora”:

  • Estelle Wan Pang Cheung (CS)
  • Christine Li (CS)
  • Komal Sandhu (CS)

Honourable Mention team members, for “Love Adventure”:

  • Yeming Ma (mathematics)
  • Jennifer Qiao (CS)
  • Sammy Zhang (CS)
  • Sasa Zhong (mathematics)

Results were announced on April 25, but because it was end of term and the students were writing exams and moving to their co-op positions at the time, the details were collected only recently, says computer science professor Nancy Day, chair of the Women in Computer Science committee.

 “It's worth noting that in this year's contest, the students had only a few weeks to prepare their games and it was at the busiest time of year,” Day says. “In previous years, the contest started in December with a deadline of March. This year, the contest started in mid-March with a deadline for submission of mid-April.

“This year, as well, there were the highest number of participants ever in the competition: 31 teams for a total of 80 team members from 18 different universities. Our teams did exceptionally well!”

CPA staff

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Link of the day

Marshall McLuhan 100

When and where

Farm market today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Environment I courtyard.

WatPD information session on elective professional development courses. today, 1-1:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1208. Pizza will be provided.

Career workshops today: “Interview Skills: Preparing for Questions,” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; “Job Information Session for Graduating Students,” 3:30, Physics Building room 145. Details.

Chevrolet Volt, silver-grey

The Chevrolet Volt is on campus today, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., at the Student Life Centre and E5 (Student Design Centre atrium). GM staff (including Waterloo co-op students) will field questions on the first extended-range electric vehicle and show a tablet control app for the car. All welcome.

"Just Food" art exhibit official opening today, 4 to 6 p.m. in Conrad Grebel UC atrium. Information: 519-885-0220 and online.

WPIRG Seeds of Resistance workshop: Grassroots Facilitation. Today, 5 to 7 p.m., Student Life Centre room 2135. For information or to register:

CEO Factory: panel discussion and networking with consulting firms. Today, 7-9:30 p.m. CEIT building room 1015. Cost $5; refreshments provided. Details and registration on website.

Student Life 101 visits for future first-year students, July 22-23.  Details.

International Spouses' Potluck Lunch. Friday, 12:45 p.m., indoors at the air-conditioned CLV Community Centre, off Columbia between Westmount and Fischer-Hallman. More information on website.

Alumni on Pelee Island Saturday, 11:15 to 2:00, lunch at Pelee Island Winery. Details.

Canoeing the Grand River expedition sponsored by International Student Connection, Saturday, bus leaves 2:00, tickets $30 at Federation of Students office, Student Life Centre.

Huron Natural Area walk and picnic hosted by UWS, Sunday, leaving outside Davis Centre 11 a.m. Tickets $5 at Environment Coffee Shop or FEDs office in the Student Life Centre; deadline to buy is Thursday, July 21. Information at

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: first-time students, ends Sunday; open class enrolment Monday, July 25.

Library hours during exams, July 24-August 13. Davis is open 24 hours except closed Sundays, 2-8 a.m. Porter is open Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

UW Instrumental Chamber Ensembles concert: Monday, July 25, 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel. free.

Get to Know UWS (Stratford campus) Day for university staff, includes restaurant lunch and tour of Stratford Shakespeare Festival costume warehouse. July 25 or 26. Information here. SOLD OUT.

Last day of classes for spring term, July 26.

SDE Seminar: James M. Tien, dean, College of Engineering, University of Miami, "Towards a Calculus for Services Innovation." Tuesday, July 26, 2:30, Engineering 5, room 6111.

English department guest lecture: Prof. Jennifer Harris, Mount Allison U., "From Montreal to Boston: Mystery authors and a secret cache of 19th-century Canadian writings." Wednesday, July 27, 3 p.m., Hagey Hall room 150. All welcome.

Sandford Fleming TA Awards: engineering students, nominate your most deserving teaching assistant. Ballots at EngSoc and at reception in CPH 1320. Deadline to nominate is July 29, 4:01 p.m.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (grades 10-12), August 8-12. Details.

Peace Camp for students aged 11-14, August 8-12, Conrad Grebel University College. Register by July 20. Details.

Ontario Mennnonite Music Camp August 14-26, Conrad Grebel University College. Details.

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