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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

  • Keystone trail leads to an indoor picnic
  • 'Stringing the thread' through energy issues
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Cartoon: cowboy on horse]Keystone trail leads to an indoor picnic

It's been raining on the lone prairie this morning, and organizers of the annual Keystone Campaign picnic have made the hard decision to move it all indoors. So the event, which was scheduled to get under way at 11:30 on the green behind the Graduate House, will be held in the Student Life Centre instead. Most details are unchanged: the theme this year is "Wild Wild Waterloo", and the event will feature western-style food, music and entertainment, and a western-themed photo booth. Keystone is the continuing campaign inviting financial support for the university from faculty, staff members and retirees, who are the audience for today’s light-hearted event (and its organizers too). Prize draws and speeches take place at 12:30, and the event winds up about 1:30. Everybody’s encouraged to bring a reusable bottle or cup for water. A follow-up celebration for evening staff will be held Friday at 6 p.m. in Environment 1 room 250.

The pool in the Physical Activities Complex will be an official location next Tuesday as kids and adults around the globe unite to set a new record for “the world’s largest swimming lesson”. Last year almost 4,000 people on three continents took part in the event, designed to build awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning. (The World Health Organization says drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle collisions and falls.) Learning to swim “is a life skill for all Canadians,” a news release says, “and is available at the PAC pool.” Tuesday, at 11 a.m. Eastern time, aquatic facilities from Disney's Typhoon Lagoon waterpark near Orlando to locations in Mexico and Dubai will teach the same swimming lesson at the same time with the same goal in mind. “Learning to swim is a vital first step towards enjoying all Canada has to offer, without tragedy,” says Rebecca Boyd, aquatics coordinator in the athletics department. “It is an important life skill that can be learned at any age, by anyone. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson is a perfect way to bring the message to life.” All members of the university and Kitchener-Waterloo communities are welcome to register (phone ext. 35869), come with their bathing suits in time for the 11:00 lesson next Tuesday, and stay for a reception afterwards.

The first annual Digis Awards, celebrating high school students’ achievements in digital media "rocked in Stratford on May 28," writes Jodi Szimanski, marketing manager for the university's Stratford Campus, which sponsored the event. [McWebb smashes the electronics]One highlight: Christine McWebb, director of Waterloo's Global Business and Digital Arts program, presented the award for Best Music Video, and had to smash a cellphone (right) to find the winner's name. Says Szimanski: "The night started with the red carpet outside Stratford City Hall, where students in their formal rock star gear could have their photos taken. Once inside, the auditorium was transformed into a night club atmosphere with lights and a DJ. Actor/ comedian Seán Cullen hosted the awards and kept the audience thoroughly entertained, alongside a live band. Nominees were from all over Ontario, Québec and Saskatchewan, and 17 awards were handed out. It was amazing to see the high calibre of work that high school students are doing in digital media and be a part of a fun, fast and loud evening!"

The Federation of Students says in a news release that it “has approved a fee increase from Grand River Transit which will see the UPass cost students $60.64 per term. The decision will need approval from the University’s Board of Governors before it can come into effect for the Fall 2011 term.” Prashant Patel, the Feds’ vice-president (administration and (finance), says student negotiators are “happy with the balance that was struck” in discussions with GRT. “Transit is becoming an increasingly important issue in Waterloo,” adds Federation president Matt Colphon. “We are committed to monitoring this increase and ensuring it benefits students and the routes they frequent. Feds is also dedicated to making certain GRT continues to distinguish student ridership from adult ridership.” A number of service improvements, worth a total of $4 million, are being introduced, the release says, including greater frequency on the iXpress (effective June 27), more service on the Columbia Street branch of route 7, and a new express service along Fischer-Hallman Road.

The process for selecting the university's next vice-president (academic) and provost is moving ahead. The university secretariat has announced results of an election in which staff members could select the two staff representatives on the vice-presidential nominating committee. Receiving the most votes, a memo says, were Ken Lavigne, the university's registrar, and Kim Gingerich, administrative assistant in the provost's office.

The Commuter Challenge continues all week (the organizational and human development office is coordinating the university's involvement) and tomorrow morning there's a Bike to Work Breakfast, 7:30 to 9 a.m., in front of the Clay and Glass Gallery on Caroline Street. • The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will hold a meeting for volunteers today (11 a.m., Environment I courtyard) in preparation for this summer's on-campus farm markets, with the first one scheduled for June 23. • As in the past, the staff association has tickets for Ontario Place, the African Lion Safari and Canada's Wonderland on sale to its members at discount prices.

And . . . the plant operations department routinely puts out notices of utility shutdowns in university buildings: electrical power, hot water, or whatever will be off between certain hours for maintenance or construction. And then there's the less-than-routine: this Thursday, from 8 a.m. to noon, the soft water system will be out of operation in the CEIT building. "Reason: Hook up Great Lakes to soft water." It's a bit of an anticlimax to realize that they don't mean the actual Great Lakes, just the fountain sculpture that graces CEIT's lobby.

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'Stringing the thread' through energy issues

by Karen Kawawada, Communications and Public Affairs

When thinking about the world’s energy crisis, most of us focus on generation – that is, whether we burn coal or install solar panels. However, inefficiency is a huge part of energy consumption. 

As a video presented at the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 yesterday explains, using the example of a light bulb: “If coal is the fuel burned in a power plant, fully 65 per cent of the energy is lost right at the source. Another three per cent is lost during transmission to your home. Of the energy that does reach the light bulb, almost all is wasted as heat. Less than two per cent of the original energy from the coal is actually converted into light. To light just one 100-watt incandescent bulb around the clock for a year, you have to burn a third of a ton of coal.” 

[Nathwani at Equinox]There are, however, people working on making the distribution of electricity more efficient. One of the most prominent in Canada is Jatin Nathwani (right), Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy and Sustainable Energy Management, director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, and a professor in the faculties of engineering and environment. 

Not only do we have to improve the efficiency of the energy distribution system, we have to reduce the cost, Nathwani said in the opening session of the summit on Sunday. That means an evolution from centralized generation to a system in which households become energy generators, and smart grids collect and distribute electricity when it’s needed, where it’s needed. 

Nathwani is playing two key roles at the high-profile summit, which is presented by the Waterloo Global Science Initiative, a partnership between Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. One is as a member of the core team organizing and hosting the conference — he is the scientific advisor of that group. 

The other role is as one of eleven “advisors” who interact with the ten world-renowned scientists who form the “quorum” and the nearly 20 members of the “forum” of international youth leaders. Together, the three groups will come up with a set of recommendations on how to bring today’s most promising technologies from idea to implementation within 20 years. 

While his grasp of particular subfields may not be as detailed as some of the quorum members, Nathwani has a breadth of knowledge about energy surpassed by few. His task is to “string the thread” through the scientists’ various fields of study, to ensure a “coherent picture of what’s the path forward,” he said in an interview. “The summit is a very significant event. We hope it will be the turning point of how we think about and meet the challenge of decarbonizing the global economy.”

There’s more about yesterday’s plenary session, which focused on emerging technologies for generating electricity, on a special Equinox Summit web page.


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Link of the day

Daniel Boone

When and where

Co-op employer interviews for fall work term (main group) continue through June 16. Rankings open June 17 at 1:00, close June 20 at 2:00; match results available 4:00.

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses: continuing students, June 6-11; for first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Chemistry seminar: Harald Hillebrecht, University of Freiburg, Germany, “Syntheses in Molten Metals” 10:30, Chemistry 2 room 361.

Career workshop: Careers Beyond Academia, 12:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence workshop: “Quantitative Data Analysis for Researching Teaching and Learning” 1:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Stress management workshops from Counselling Services, today and June 14 and 21, 5:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 2080. Details.

Retirees Association bus tour of Grand River villages north, lunch at Flesherton, Wednesday, tickets $59, information 519-744-3246.

Boosting Your Metabolism Naturally session sponsored by UW Recreation Committee , Wednesday 12:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Career workshop: Career Interest Assessment, Wednesday 2:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

International barbecue for charity, Thursday 11:30 to 1:30 at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, $7 per person.

Design at Riverside gallery, Architecture building, Cambridge, opening of “Installations by Architects” Thursday 6:30 p.m.; lecture and book signing Thursday, July 14, 6:30; exhibition continues through August 6.

Conrad Grebel University College fundraising banquet for Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training, speaker Rebecca Slough, Associated Mennonite Bible Seminary, Thursday 6:30, Grebel dining room, tickets $50, ext. 24237.

Vic Neglia, Arts Computing, retirement party recognizing 39 years at Waterloo, Friday 3 to 5 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, information ext. 35206.

Matthews Golf Classic (21st annual), Monday, Grand Valley Golf Club. Details.

Board of governors meeting Tuesday, June 14, 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Spring Convocation: Wednesday, June 15, 10 a.m. (AHS and environment) and 2:30 p.m. (science). Thursday, June 16, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (arts). Friday, June 17, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (mathematics); Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (engineering), all ceremonies in Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Deadline for 50 per cent tuition fee refund for spring term courses, June 17.

25-Year Club annual reception June 21, 6:00, Physical Activities Complex, information ext. 32078.

Young alumni get-together at Boiler House pub, Toronto, June 21, from 8 p.m. Details.

Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, June 29, at BMO Field, Toronto, bus sponsored by Waterloo athletics department leaves 4:45 p.m., tickets $65. Details.

Canada Day, Friday, July 1, university closed.

PhD oral defences

Chemical engineering. Amir Iravani, “Adsorptive Removal of Refractory Sulphur and Nitrogen Compounds from Transportation Fuels.” Supervisor, Flora T. T. Ng. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Monday, June 13, 1:30 p.m., Doug Wright Engineering room 2534.

Electrical and computer engineering. Jean-Paul Haddad, “Bounds and Approximations for Stochastic Fluid Networks.” Supervisor, Ravi Mazumdar. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Wednesday, June 15, 9:30 a.m., CEIT building room 3142.

Psychology. Martin Day, “System Justification and the Defense of Committed Relationship Ideology.” Supervisor, Aaron Kay. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Thursday, June 16, 2:00 p.m., PAS (Psychology) building room 2086.

Electrical and computer engineering. Albert Wasef, “Managing and Complementing Public Key Infrastructure for Securing Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks.” Supervisor, Sherman X. Shen. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, June 17, 1:30 p.m., CEIT building room 3142.

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