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Friday, June 17, 2011

  • Convocation sessions today for math …
  • … and Saturday for the engineering faculty
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Keeping an eye on the lobby monitors]

Today's the big day for about 4,500 co-op students who are planning on finding jobs for the fall work term. The main employer interview period wound up yesterday, those weeks of dressing up and haunting the Tatham Centre (photo by Natalie Cockburn). Online rankings open at 1:00 today and will be open until 2:00 Monday, when the JobMine algorithm starts clicking away. Job match results will be posted Monday at 4:00.

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Convocation sessions today for math …

The 102nd Convocation is half way through now, with two more ceremonies today and two tomorrow to complete a week of pride, spiffy clothes, clicking cameras and last-minute advice from speakers on the Physical Activities Complex stage.

[Still behind construction fence]Today, the convocation emphasis turns to mathematics — and, of course, it's because of Convocation that interested parties hung the iconic Pink Tie on the almost-finished Math 3 this week to greet graduates and visitors (right). Amy Aldous, director of communications for the math faculty, says the department of statistics and actuarial science, as well as members of the math business program, will be moving into the new structure in July. Classes have been scheduled in the new 392-seat lecture theatre for the fall term, she adds.

A total of 322 degrees and diplomas are to be awarded at the 10 a.m. ceremony today from a range of math disciplines, including 13 members of the first graduating class from the Bachelor of Computing and Financial Management program, which is offered jointly by math and the faculty of arts. “We are excited about the potential of these graduates as they begin their careers in the financial industry and in other technology-dependent businesses,” says Kenneth Vetzal, co-director of the CFM program.

Steven Karp, graduating with a degree in combinatorics and optimization, will be the valedictorian, speaking on behalf of the graduates. The alumni gold medal, honouring the top bachelor’s degree from math this year, will be presented to Mihal Nica, whose degree is in pure math.

The honorary degree recipient and speaker this morning is Shing-Tung Yau, a professor of math at Harvard University who is internationally known for work in geometric analysis, as well as for an interest in training new generations of researchers and promoting women in math.

Stanley Burris, retired from the department of pure mathematics, will be honoured as “distinguished professor emeritus”. (“World renowned for his research in universal algebra,” a citation says, “he has also made significant contributions in automated theorem proving, asymptotic enumeration and the history of 19th century logic. Professor Burris’ ‘Women of Mathematics’ poster, commissioned in 2009 by the Mathematical Association of America, is displayed in universities across North America.”)

Bob Truman, who retired last year as Waterloo’s director of institutional analysis and planning, will be installed as an “honorary member of the university”.

In the afternoon session, 534 degrees will be presented in the fields of actuarial science, computer science, statistics, and software engineering. Among the students receiving them: Sarah Sun, whose degree is in statistics and who will speak as the valedictorian. A Governor General’s Silver Medal for top academic achievement at the bachelor’s degree level will be presented to Robert Xiao, whose degree is in computer science.

There are two honorary degrees at the afternoon ceremony. One goes to Bruno Buchberger, an influential Austrian computer scientist, who will give the Convocation address.

The other recipient is a home-grown software and high technology leader, Ian McPhee. Here’s how the Convocation program summarizes his work: “A highly respected software entrepreneur, businessman and community builder, Ian McPhee has also made many exceptional contributions to the University of Waterloo and helped to provide a solid foundation for the Waterloo software industry through his co-founding of Watcom (now iAnywhere). He has served several terms on the University of Waterloo Board of Governors and acted as vice-chair of the board. He has also used his entrepreneurial and business talents to support newly evolving technology businesses as chair of the board of the Accelerator Centre in the David Johnston Research and Technology Park and chair of the centre's Entrepreneurship Council.”

Mary Thompson, retired from the department of statistics and actuarial science and an acting dean of the math faculty in 2001, will be installed as a “distinguished professor emerita”. This year’s J. Wesley Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation goes to Zach Urlocker, formerly of the software firm MySQL and now with Zendesk.

Two students will be recognized for “outstanding achievement in graduate studies”: Ryan Henry (master’s degree, computer science) and Daniel Roche (PhD, also in CS). Terry Anderson, receiving a master’s in CS, will be presented with the Amit and Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student.

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… and Saturday for the engineering faculty

Two Convocation sessions on Saturday will recognize graduates from the faculty of engineering — 671 of them at the morning (10:00) session and a further 555 in the afternoon (at 2:30). Among the features of Saturday’s proceedings: at both morning and afternoon ceremonies, the singing of “O Canada” will be led by professor emeritus Reinhold Schuster, retired from the school of architecture and department of civil and environmental engineering.

Saturday morning will see two honorary degrees presented: to George Baird, dean emeritus of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, and to Robert Magee, a Waterloo chemical engineering graduate who now heads the Woodbridge Group manufacturing enterprise. Baird will give the Convocation address.

Jay Shah, receiving his degree in mechatronics engineering, will be the valedictorian, speaking on behalf of the graduates.

On Saturday afternoon, the honorary degree recipients are Jamal Dean, a Canada Research Chair in information technology at McMaster University, and John Keating, chief executive officer of the Cambridge-based firm Com Dev. Deen will give the Convocation address.

Victor Quintana, retired from the department of electrical and computer engineering, will be recognized as a “distinguished professor emeritus”. An Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision will be presented to Omar Ramahi, also of E&CE.

The valedictorian, on behalf of graduating students, will be Calvin Chan, whose degree is in systems design engineering. The Governor General’s Silver Medal for top academic standing will be awarded to Nahid Dawood (electrical engineering), and the alumni gold medal to Alexey Fridman (also electrical).

Two more students will be recognized for “outstanding achievement in graduate studies”: Christopher Morton (master’s degree, mechanical and mechatronics engineering) and Ali Kabiri (PhD, E&CE).

Engineering Convocation is always rich with medals and presentations; among the other honours being given today is the George Dufault Medal for Excellence in Communication, this year going to Kyla Gwen Tan of civil engineering.

A correction: Kieng Iv, valedictorian at yesterday morning’s session, is graduating with a degree in accounting and financial management and an economics minor, not a degree in economics as I said here yesterday.


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Link of the day

Fathers' Day on Sunday

When and where

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

Library workshop: “Exploring the World with Google Earth” today 2:15, or June 30, 10:15, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Heritage Resources Centre workshop on “Cultural Heritage Landscapes” Saturday-Sunday, Picton, Ontario. Details.

Bike repair workshop sponsored by WPIRG and Bike Centre, Saturday noon to 5 p.m., Student Life Centre room 101A. Details 519-888-4882.

Conrad Grebel University  College Mennonite Heritage Dinner, fund-raiser for Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Saturday 6:30 p.m., Grebel dining room, tickets $100, information clichti@

Roads closed for Waterloo Classic race, Sunday 9 a.m. to noon: University Avenue (Philip to Westmount); Westmount (University to Columbia, northbound only); also Seagram Drive (Albert to University), 9 to 10:30 only.

Classical Dance Conservatory performance: “The Red Shoes” Sunday 2:00, Humanities Theatre.

Pre-enrolment for winter 2012 undergraduate courses, June 20-26 on Quest. Details.

Heritage Resources Centre study trip to Cotswolds area of England, June 20-25, details e-mail kjonas@

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

Applied health sciences alumni networking reception at Canadian  Public Health Association conference, Monday 4:30, Palais des Congrès, Montréal. Details.

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

Summer Solstice celebration and fund-raiser for Heartwood Place, music by Steven Page and Alysha Brillinger, Tuesday 7:00, Federation Hall.

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

Co-operative Education and Career Services reunion of present, former and retired staff, Wednesday 3:00 to 6:00, Tatham Centre, information ext. 33926.

‘Managing Your Personal Brand as a Woman Engineer’ talk by Sandy Kemsley, 1984 systems design graduate, sponsored by Women in Engineering, June 24, 12:30, Carl Pollock Hall room 3604, RSVP rwittke@

Canada’s Wonderland trip organized by Federation of Students, June 25, $54 in advance at Feds office, Student Life Centre.

4-on-4 beach volleyball tournament organized by Campus Recreation, June 25, Federation Hall courts, registration ($40 per team) at athletics office, PAC.

Canada Day, Friday, July 1, university closed. Canada Day celebrations on the north campus (details).

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

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