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Thursday, January 19, 2012

  • Scholarships enhance English grad work
  • Fantastic weekend ahead
  • Thursday notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Scholarships enhance English grad work

by Wendy Philpott, Arts Communications

Building on a successful history of hiring co-op students and graduates from the Department of English Language and Literature, in 2010 Research in Motion (RIM) further recognized the department by committing $50,000 annually for graduate scholarships.

Now approaching its third year of enhancing graduate potential with individual awards of $5000 to $15,000, the scholarships have helped to attract top students (pictured above), as well as promote by association the department’s growing strengths in digital communications.

“The scholarships are a great vote of confidence in the department,” comments Fraser Easton, chair of English, “and a sure sign, I think, that it is a rather unusual English department, fully engaged with technology and new media, as well as the analytic and cultural traditions of literature and rhetoric.”

One of the recipients this year is Kent Aardse, a PhD candidate and holder of the prestigious SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholarship who transferred to Waterloo’s English department this year seeking a larger, more established intellectual home to continue his research on new media narrative in alternate reality games. “Kent was a very attractive candidate for our doctoral program,” says Randy Harris, associate chair for English graduate studies, “and two things helped to secure his recruitment: the Critical Media Lab, which affords him the analytical and physical space to do the research, and the RIM award, which made us very competitive against other universities.”

Open to candidates in any of the four English graduate programs (MA streams in Literary Studies, Rhetoric & Communication Design, and Experimental Digital Media, and the PhD program integrating literary, rhetorical, and digital studies), the RIM donation supports the broad disciplinary reach of these programs. “Ultimately, RIM is rewarding talent above all, without insisting on an immediate fit with their sector” adds Fraser Easton. And yet, for years firms in this area, including Open Text, Sybase, and AGFA, have hired students from all English program streams. Together with RIM, these leaders of the high-technology sector seem to increasingly recognize the value and scope of contributions offered by humanities researchers in designing, supporting and marketing their products.

“I think it's very prescient of any tech firm to make connections with grad students in English,” says Heidi Ebert, Experimental Digital Media student and recipient of a RIM scholarship, “not only because of the good work done here, but also because many of us are probably headed for positions in the tech sector that don't even exist yet, and which our research in humanities may help invent.” With her interest in studying the growing phenomenon of online memorials, specifically Facebook profiles after the subject dies, Waterloo English certainly offered Ebert the right fit. Significantly, though, she adds that the offer of the RIM scholarship made a big difference in her decision to leave the workforce and return to university.

Stephanie Jorgensen, a masters student in the Literary Studies program and holder of a RIM scholarship, sees the company’s support as also reflective of an enduring demand for people with communications ability: “studying Literature is a way to study to the world and develop advanced communication skills, which is something that high-tech firms will always require.” And Jonathan Doering of the Rhetoric and Communication Design program affirms his appreciation for the scholarship by its implicit “interdisciplinary gesture towards the human and technological practice of communication.”

Along with facilitating better knowledge transfer between academia and industry, and ultimately improved products, an important outcome of close ties between tech firms and researchers of digital communications is employability. “In today's academic landscape with tenure-track professor positions becoming less and less prevalent,” observes Kent Aardse, “this link between English programs and high-tech firms is crucial. Graduate students should be open to non-academic careers, and establishing relationships with a company such as RIM can hopefully ensure continued success for English grads.”

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Fantastic weekend ahead

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, and Staff Day logo."Cheer for the Waterloo Warriors at the 13th annual Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retiree Day as the men's and women's basketball teams take on the Guelph Gryphons," says a message from Alumni Affairs about this Saturday's event.

The women's game gets underway at 1:00 p.m., and the men's game starts at 3:00 p.m. in the Physical Activities Complex.

The annual Alumni vs. Staff Monster Hoops Showdown will take place during halftime at the women's game. Three staff members will battle alumni for the championship title.

The men's halftime show will feature the popular Airplane Toss where participants will have the chance to take home some amazing prizes, which include tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs game, tickets to Shrek the Musical, and a 46-inch Sony Bravia LED TV. One free airplane will be given to each registered guest and extra airplanes can be purchased for $2 each. All proceeds from the plane sales will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region.

Department of Athletics Communications co-ordinator Dan Ackerman writes "if you are unable to attend, the games can be viewed live via the Streaming Sports Network (SSN Canada).

There is no cost to attend the event. Register online.

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Thursday notes

The Staff Association reports that Waterloo Women's Wednesdays (W3) meetings for the winter term will be held in the Green Room of the Grad House the last Wednesday of each month from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. The next event is on January 25.

Systems Design Engineering Ph.D. student Apurva Narayan received the best paper award at the 35th Annual National Systems Conference, held from December 9-12 December, organized by the Systems Society of India and jointly by Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India for the paper entitled "Neuro-Fuzzy (m-ANFIS) based Technique for Short-Term Load Forecasting in Large Geographical Area: Ontario, Canada" co-authored by Professors Fakhri Karray and K. Ponnambalam.

Apurva was also invited to give a talk at the International School on Quantum and Nano Computing Systems and Applications (QANSAS-2011), Dec 1-4, 2011 at the Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, India, where he talked about Design Optimization Under Uncertainty, focusing on techniques for modelling uncertainty and stochastic search techniques as Quantum Evolutionary Algorithms.

Waterloo architecture professor John McMinn and his partner, Waterloo architecture graduate Melana Janzen, have won a 2011 North American Wood Design Citation for their CP Harbour House. The Wood Design Awards are a program created by the Canadian Wood Council and implemented through their Wood Design & Building magazine. It is the only North American-wide awards program to publicly recognized and award excellence and innovation in wood architecture.

Renison student Heather Wogden has been chosen as one of fifteen students from across Canada to attend the third annual Japan - Canada Academic Consortium (JACAC) Student Forum in Kyoto, Japan in February. Hosted by Ritsumeikan University, the forum will run from February 19 - 26. The theme for this year's event is "Co-operation and Mutual Understanding between Canada and Japan in the Post-Disaster Era." Students will participate in group projects that examine the global role of Canada - Japan relations. The forum aims to promote mutual understanding among both Canadian and Japanese students.

Waterloo professor and Chair of the Dept. of Germanic and Slavic Studies James Skidmore is the latest recipient of the 3rd annual GO (German Online) Award. The $1,000 award, jointly administered by and the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German (CAUTG) and sponsored by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD, or the German Academic Exchange Service), recognizes the work that German instructors put into course design and the development of teaching materials.

Skidmore's German 271/272: German Thought & Culture is an online course that teaches German cultural history from its beginnings to the 21st century.

"The committee highlighted the wide range of resources and tools students can access to enhance their learning experience," reads the press release. "The materials include videos, primary sources, links to scholarly websites, exercises for the different course units, and excerpts from lectures with the accompanying PowerPoint presentations."

"These courses would not have earned this recognition without the help and support of the department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, CEL, CTE, the folks at UW-ACE/LEARN, and the Library" says Skidmore.

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Link of the day

Christian Unity

When and where

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.

Career Exploration and Decision Making session, Thursday, January 19, Tatham Centre 1112.

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

Warriors Band practice, Thursday, January 19, 5:30 p.m., PAC 1001.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

AIDS Awareness Fundraiser, Race for Dignity, Saturday, January 28, 9:30 a.m., SLC Great Hall, hosted by UW Dignitas Youth Club.

Petition to the Registrar to Register Late form required after January 31 to become fees arranged.

Dr. Edward Breuer lecture: "Can Jews and Christians be friends?" Tuesday, January 31, 7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's University, free and open to all.

PhD Oral Defences

Electrical and computer engineering. Rajesh Palit, “Modelling and Evaluating Energy Performance of Smartphones.” Supervisors, Kshirasagar Naik and Ajit Singh. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, January 20, 9:30 a.m., Engineering 5 room 5047.

Optometry. Jyotsna Maram, “Contact Lens Fitting Characteristics and Comfort with Silicone Hydrogel Lenses.” Supervisors, Trefford J. Simpson and Luigina Sorbara. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, January 23, 10:00 a.m., Optometry room 309.

Biology. Johan A. Wiklund, “Hydrolimnological Dynamics of Lakes in Peace-Athabasca Delta: Controls on Nutrients, Chemistry, Phytoplankton, Epiphyton and Decomposition of Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PACs).” Supervisors, Roland I. Hall and Brent B. Wolfe. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Thursday, January 26, 1:00 p.m., Physics room 352.

Electrical and computer engineering. Ahmed Elwishi, “Message Forwarding and Scheduling in Delay Tolerant Networks.” Supervisors, Pin-Han Ho and Kshirasagar Naik. On display in the faculty of engineering, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, January 27, 2:30 p.m., CEIT building room 3145.

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