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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

  • The future of fresh: well-travelled greenhouses
  • Interference from duelling routers an issue
  • Wednesday's notes
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

The future of fresh: well-travelled greenhouses

by Karen Kawawada, Communications Officer, Faculty of Environment

What would it take to produce fresh local food year-round in northern B.C.? A master’s of environment and business (MEB) student thinks she has the answer, and believe it or not, it involves old shipping containers. All she needs to make it happen are clicks.

Karen Mason-Bennett and the fruit of her labours.In addition to being a student in the part-time, distance-based MEB program based in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Karen Mason-Bennett (right) is program co-ordinator of the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT), a not-for-profit environmental organization in northeastern British Columbia.

As an assignment in her environmental finance course, taught by Olaf Weber, Mason-Bennett wrote about a project she has been planning with NEAT, justifying it as a business case to various stakeholders.

She used that paper as the basis for an entry to Shell FuellingChange, which makes grants of up to $100,000 to grassroots environmental projects. Now her project has become a finalist in the online competition, meaning it will automatically receive at least $10,000. However, to really make the project happen, she needs lots of votes to win $90,000 more.

Though she grew up in Kitchener, Mason-Bennett has lived for the last four years in Fort St. John, a small and chilly city in British Columbia’s Peace River district. While there is agricultural land, it’s not very productive, and the growing season is short, so by far most food is trucked in, says Mason-Bennett.

“Being able to grow local fruits and vegetables in an economically feasible way is rather difficult, because we lose a lot of heat in greenhouses. People just aren’t willing to heat them all winter.”

Recently, Mason-Bennett heard about Freight Farms, an American startup seeking to grow food in insulated shipping containers, using hydroponic systems. The containers are virtually weather-proof, low in energy use, and can be used anywhere.

In consultation with Freight Farms, Mason-Bennett and NEAT came up with a plan to put containers on an old gas station lot in downtown Fort St. John. The containers won’t disturb the ground, which is great for a brownfield site, and solar and wind power can provide most of the energy necessary to power the LED lights that grow vegetables even through the long, dark winters, says Mason-Bennett.

Eventually, NEAT would like to have eight containers – enough to produce 400 heads of lettuce a week – but the plan is to start with two. Each container, with the necessary eco-friendly retrofits, will cost $30,000, and $40,000 would go toward communications and hiring a part-time staffer to run the program.

“She showed that from a financial point of view, it makes sense to do it, and it’s sustainable financially,” says Weber. “It’s a very good success, especially for us as a new program. I hope many will vote for the project.”

To vote for the project, go to Registering with the site earns 10 votes. People can earn more votes by collecting receipts from Shell stations or by sharing on social media. Voting ends in October.

Photographs by Sarah McKenzie, NEAT (Northern Environmental Action Team).

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Interference from duelling routers an issue

A message from Information Systems and Technology

IST has almost finished upgrading Wi-Fi in the 8 most heavily used buildings on campus, with the addition and upgrade of approximately 250 access points (APs) using the latest model supporting all common standards (802.11a/b/g/n). This is to provide better performance and coverage, particularly in high density areas like classrooms and common areas. Once these upgrades are complete, priorities for the next buildings will be set, with the expectation of another 250 APs being added/upgraded before the end of 2012.

However, we are experiencing issues with interference from wireless routers and APs installed in private offices, to the extent that we cannot provide dependable campus Wi-Fi service near those offices.

We are requesting that anyone who has installed a wireless router or AP in their office or residence room disconnect this device, and use the University provided eduroam service. If this service does not meet your needs, please contact IST's Director of Network Services, Bruce Campbell, to discuss options for meeting your requirements in such a way as to not disrupt the eduroam service for other users.

For additional information, please see the university's wireless guidelines .

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Wednesday's notes

The Staff Association Nominating committee is seeking applications for staff representation on the Advisory Committee on Traffic and Parking. The two-year term will begin immediately and run to April 30, 2014.

The terms of reference for the committee are as follows:

It is recognized that traffic and parking of vehicles affects most users of the campus. In order to obtain user views on existing and future traffic and parking policies, an Advisory Committee is established to permit a regularized basis for review of the policies and procedures associated with vehicle and pedestrian traffic and parking.

  • To receive and consider any submissions by individuals or groups on traffic and parking matters;
  • To consider and recommend University policies on traffic and parking and in particular;
  • Review and recommend on amounts, application, and methods of collecting parking fees;
  • Review and recommend the updating and maintenance of traffic and parking rules and regulations and the publication of booklets, notices, etc., publicizing these.

The application can be filled out and submitted online or sent to Gail Spencer, the chair of the UWSA Nominating Committee, at uwsanominate (DC 3609) by Friday, May 25.

And here's the part where I torture the Daily Bulletin's readership with a targeted event request: The Engineering Student Alumni golf tournament is being held Sunday, May 27, at Baden's Foxwood golf course. Current Waterloo Engineering students and Engineering alumni are invited to participate. The cost is $45 for current students and $55 for alumni. To sign up, visit the Engineering Society Office in CPH 1327, or contact mseliske

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Countdown to Congress: 11 days remaining

Factoid: Congress of the Humanities has been held in Canada since 1931.

Congress 2012 takes place May 26-June 2, 2012, and is co-hosted by University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and organized by the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Crossroads: Scholarship for an Uncertain World, the theme of Congress 2012, explores the real-world impact of the humanities and social sciences. Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is the largest annual multidisciplinary academic gathering in Canada.

Link of the day

Biographers Day

When and where

Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest April 23, standings and official grades available May 22.

Waterloo Unlimited Grade 10 "Change" program, Sunday, May 13 to Thursday, May 17.

The Chemistry Department Seminar Series features Prof. Boniface Fokwa, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, RWTH Aachen University, Germany, "Understanding and Designing New Magnetic Materials," Wednesday, May 16, 2:30 p.m., room C2-361.

Student Team Open House, Wednesday, May 16, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Student Design Centre, Engineering 5 first floor. Refreshments provided.

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science distinguished lecture series, featuring Cynthia Dwork, Microsoft Research, "Lipschitz Mappings, Differential Privacy, and Fairness Through Awareness," Wednesday, May 16, 4:30 p.m., DC 1302. Details.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Venkataraman Thangadurai, Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary, "Solid State Materials for Lithium Ion Batteries and Solid Oxide Fuel Cells," Thursday, May 17, 10:00 a.m., C2-361.

Warriors band practice, Thursday, May 17, 5:30 p.m., PAC 1001.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Stephanie Brock, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, "The Role of Synthetic Levers for Control of Phase, Size and Morphology in Nanoscale Transition Metal Pnictides: Consequences for Catalytic and Magnetic Properties," Friday, May 18, 10:00 a.m., C2-361.

UW International Spouses presents "Cooking Risotto Italian-style," Friday, May 18, 12:45 p.m., CLW Community Centre. To pre-register email elena.cecchetto@

Victoria Day holiday Monday, May 21, classes cancelled, university offices and most services closed.

University senate Tuesday, May 22, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Biology seminar featuring Dr. Janet Braam, Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University, "Plant Defense: Roles for Touch and Time," Wednesday, May 23, 2:30 p.m. EIT 3142, refreshments provided. Special meet and greet with Biology students, staff, and faculty from 2:10 to 2:30 p.m.

Farewell reception for Alan George, Thursday, May 24, 3:30 p.m., Festival Room, South Campus Hall. RSVP by May 18 to Michelle Mank, ext. 36448 or mank@

Chemical Engineering seminar featuring Jean-Pol Dodelet, “Replacing Pt at the Cathode of H2/O2(Air) PEM Fuel Cells with Highly Active
Fe-based Electrocatalysts,” Thursday, May 24, 3:30 p.m., E6-4022.

School of Public Health and Health Systems research seminar featuring Dr. Jennifer O'Loughlin, Université de Montréal, "Quit-It: New perspectives on youth cessation from NDIT," Thursday, May 24, 4:00 p.m., LHN 2703.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• Data Analyst – Report Developer – ODAA – Advancement Services, USG 10
• Instructional support Coordinator – WatPD, USG 8-10
• Financial Aid Assistant – Registrar’s – Student Awards, USG 6
• Computing Consultant, LMS Training and Support – Information Systems & Technology, USG 9
• Administrative Assistant – Centre for Bioengineering & Biotechnology, USG 6
• Associate Director, Public Affairs – Communication & Public Affairs, USG 11
• Senior Manager, Institutional Budget and Planning – Institutional Analysis & Planning, USG 14
• Chemical Preparation Technician – Chemistry, USG 6
• Study Abroad Coordinator – Waterloo International, USG 8

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