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Monday, January 16, 2012

  • CECS adopts new organizational design
  • Waterloo supercomputer splits electron
  • Action on task force recommendations
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

CECS adopts new organizational design

A message from Co-operative Education and Career Services (CECS)

Co-operative Education and Career Services (CECS) launched a new organizational structure this term to enrich the overall co-op experience of students, employers, and faculty. This reorganization allows CECS to manage the employment process in a strategic, sustainable structure. The goal is to ensure a quality experience for our students and employers while accommodating an increase in the number active co-op programs at Waterloo and record-high numbers of students scheduled out to work each term. In 2011, almost 16,000 students were scheduled out to work across the three terms.

More students and growing competition for employers from other post-secondary institutions also offering co-operative education played a role in the move to reorganize. It is a logical next step in the department’s commitment to continuous improvement.

“The reorganization is just one piece in a much broader, longer-term renewal process that will continue another few years,” states CECS Executive Director Peggy Jarvie.

The organizational changes were implemented with the support and input of a number of groups on campus, including the Staff Association, the Co-operative Education Council, and the Federation of Students. Student, staff, and faculty representatives were given an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback throughout the process. Human Resources provided extraordinary organization design and implementation support.

Additional information about the redeployment of CECS staff to a new service team structure can be found on the department’s employer-focused HIRE WATERLOO website and the Co-op Student website. Other changes include the introduction of a new business development team and the uWaterloo team, which will integrate co-op support for academic programs as well as for Waterloo as a co-op employer. More detailed organizational change and operational impact details will be available directly to CECS stakeholder groups on campus.

These changes will provide an improved experience for students and employers, and will better allow CECS to address needs. Staff members look forward to enriching relationships with employers and students, and optimizing student success at Waterloo.

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Waterloo supercomputer splits electron

a news release from the media relations office

A three-member international team of theoretical physicists, including a University of Waterloo professor, made a notable discovery about the unusual behaviour of electrons, with implications for all of physics. Their findings appeared Friday in Science, one of the world’s pre-eminent journals for original, peer-reviewed scientific research.

Roger Melko.This work is a significant step in allowing physicists the rare opportunity to study seemingly impossible fractional particles. The research team includes professor Roger G. Melko (right) of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo, professor Matthew Hastings of the Department of Physics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and also of Microsoft Research at the University of California, and lead author Sergei Isakov, a post-doctoral research associate with the Institut fur Theoretische Physik in Zurich, Switzerland. They used the computer power and capacity that the Ontario-based supercomputing consortium SHARCNET provides to produce a simulation study that uncovered significant information about fractional particles when cooled to near absolute zero.

The researchers successfully created a simulated crystal of quantum material, which had just the right properties to be tuned to an unusual quantum state near absolute zero. When a particle with the fundamental electron charge was placed in that state, the team observed it fractionalize - or split itself - into two separate objects, each with a charge of half an electron. The researchers were then able to measure several values relating to the motion of the fractional particle. These numbers are universal, and so physicists can apply them across other areas of physics.

“What we have shown is not just that fractional particles can be created in a computer, but that they can affect universality at a phase transition. That means certain properties transcend the specifics of the system, in our case the simulated material,” said Melko. “These properties will be present in other systems - physical, chemical, biological - that contain the same type of fractional particle. Thus, our work can be used to guide future studies looking for these odd half-electrons across a variety of disciplines.”

Rather than study high-energy systems, the team took advantage of the fact that low-temperature matter can come together to exhibit remarkable collective behaviour as quasiparticles. The motion of these cooperating particles, when viewed from a distance, is essentially indistinguishable from that of a regular, free particle. And, as they demonstrated in this paper, under just the right conditions, these quasiparticles can contain a fraction of the fundamental electron charge.

“The potential impact of our work is still unknown. The discovery of fractionalization in the quantum Hall effect revolutionized the way we think of matter. It won a Nobel Prize, and we are still building on this success,” said Melko. “Understanding these fractional particles could influence our understanding of superconductivity, help us build better electronics, and even play a part in the design of quantum computers in the future.”

The researchers’ article entitled "Universal Signatures of Fractionalized Quantum Critical Points" follows the team's paper published last fall in the respected journal Nature Physics. That paper, which initially uncovered evidence for the existence of fractional particles in this low-temperature phase of matter was the result of months of collaboration and computer simulation work.

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Action on task force recommendations

A memo from Provost Geoff McBoyle sent to Executive Council members, deans, directors, and chairs, outlines some of the recommendations of the Task Force on Innovative Teaching Practices that will be put into effect this year.

A teaching conference for Waterloo instructors, called Opportunities and New Directions, will occur on April 25 and 26. "The call for proposals will be out shortly and will seek both practice- and research-oriented sessions," the provost writes.

Workshops and instructional support for New Faculty Members, provided by the Centre for Teaching Excellence, will be "significantly augmented" in 2012, with details forthcoming.

"The funds for the Learning Initiative grants will be allocated to create Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement (LITE) grants to support a broad range of initiatives that encourage innovation in teaching," the memo continues.

One requirement that will begin immediately, agreed to by Deans' Council, is that applicants for faculty positions will be required to give a seminar or teach a class so that their teaching potential can be assessed.

"A University Teaching Fellow or an Associate Dean (Teaching) will be appointed in each Faculty and will normally serve for a three-year period," says the memo. "The individual will be appointed from the regular faculty complement by a process determined by each Dean.

Financial resources will be allocated to each Dean to make appointment and assist the "individual carry out his/her duties."

The memo concludes by saying that further task force recommendations will be addressed later this year, and that a mid-year update will be provided.

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Link of the day

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When and where

University senate Monday, January 16, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Studies in Islam Speaker Series, Professor Ali Zaidi, Monday, January 16, 7:00 p.m. Dunker Family Lounge, Renison University College.

Mathematics grad studies info session for undergrads, Tuesday, January 17, 4:30 p.m., MC 2065.

Water Institute seminar: Dr. Roland Hall, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo. "Information across broad spatial and temporal scales is important for water resource management: A case study from the Peace-Athabasca Delta." Wednesday, January 18, 11:30 a.m., DC 1302.

New 30% Off Ontario Tuition Campaign campus outreach team visit to uWaterloo, Wednesday, January 18, Student Life Centre.

Chinese New Year at Mudies, Wednesday, January 18, 4:30.

MDEI Student showcase, Wednesday, January 18, 5:00 p.m., Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Mennonite/s Writing in Canada: The First 50 Years lecture series featuring David Waltner-Toews “From A Brotherly Phillippic to Tante Tina to the mysteries of disease, death and transformation: Mennonite reflections on a life of poetry and science,” Wednesday, January 18, Conrad Grebel College Chapel, 7:00 p.m.

Allen Loney, President and CEO of Great West Life lecture, Thursday, January 19, 2:30, DC 1350, reception 3:00 p.m., in Math 3 second floor alcove. Register online by Monday, January 16.

Centre for Career Action Webinar: Writing an A+ resume, Thursday, January 19, 4:30 p.m. Details.

Pension and benefits committee Friday, January 20, 8:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Engineering Alumni Ski Day, Friday, January 20, Osler Bluff Ski Club, 8:30 a.m.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: My Experience with the Beyond Borders program, featuring speaker Brilé Anderson, Friday, January 20, 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College room 105.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel U College , lunch seminar, “What Is CFIB Doing to Assist Family Businesses?” Friday, January 20, 11:00, Bingemans Conference Centre.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty and Staff Day Saturday, January 21, 1:00 p.m., Physical Activities Complex.

Official Chinese New Year at Chopsticks, Bon Appetit Monday, January 23, 5:00, featuring a live performance by the Central Ontario Chinese Cultural Centre Lion Dancers.

Drop, No Penalty Period ends January 23.

Volunteer/Internship Fair Tuesday, January 24, 11:00 a.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

uWaterloo NYC alumni event, Tuesday, January 24, The Hurricane Club, 360 Park Avenue, New York, New York. Register online.

Noon hour concert, Ben Bolt-Martin, acoustic and electronic solo cello, Wednesday, January 25, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel. Free admission.

Canada's Digital Economy, 49 Pixels Study Wednesday, January 25, 5:30 p.m., Waterloo Stratford Campus.

Centre for Career Action Webinar: Perfecting your interview skills, Wednesday, January 25, 4:30 p.m. Details.

Maintaining Mental Fitness for Life, Thursday, January 26, 12:00 p.m., DC 1304.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday, January 26, 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

VeloCity Venture Fund finals, Thursday, January 26, 3:00 p.m., Davis Centre foyer.

uWaterloo alumni networking event in Bermuda, Thursday, January 26, 6:00 p.m., Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: John Baker, founder, president, and CEO, Desire2Learn, Friday, January 27, 2:30 p.m., St. Paul's University College room 105.

Benjamin Eby lecture with Professor Jim Pankratz "Gandhi and Mennonites in India" Friday, January 27, 7:30 p.m.  Details.

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