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Wednesday, February 13, 2013



  • President updates campus at Town Hall
  • A new way to choose your courses at Waterloo
  • $5,000 prize supports collaborative thinking
  • Never too late
  • Wednesday's notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


President Hamdullahpur updates campus

The university community came together at 3:00 p.m. yesterday in Hagey Hall, on Twitter, and via the web for the University of Waterloo's Winter 2013 Town Hall.

President Feridun Hamdullahpur kicked off the meeting with a twenty-minute update about his administration's core strategic priorities, and a scan of the challenging post-secondary education environment. Fielding questions from the floor as well as via Twitter and email, an hour of lively and constructive Q&A followed, with Interim Provost Geoff McBoyle joining the president on stage to address the community's questions and listen to concerns and ideas.

"My core focus areas are the development of our university strategic plan, adopting multi-year integrated budgeting, and moving forward with our strategic enrolment management system," President Hamdullahpur reported in his update.

Based on the feedback gained from the campus community through the Mid-cycle Review process, and with a view to leveraging the institution's particular strengths, the University of Waterloo is preparing its strategic plan to guide the university's development over the next several years, the president reported.

A strategic plan, supported by a multi-year budget and enhanced enrolment management, is important in "enabling the University of Waterloo to prepare our graduates to face the challenges of the 21st century." Waterloo graduates will have the "confidence and competence", as well as the communication and analytical skills, to build successful, meaningful careers.

The president touched on the importance of improving the university's record on equity, and particularly in ensuring gender balance within the faculty. "Our main objective is always to find the best person for the job. We also need to make sure we're reaching out to the broadest and most representative pool of candidates possible, and the university benefits when there is gender balance within employee groups." The president reported that, at his request, the Secretariat is making progress on developing an Equity Services position at the University of Waterloo for the explicit purpose of advancing the equity file on campus.

During his presentation and in the Q&A session following, President Hamdullahpur touched on the increasing importance of balancing access to education with maintaining the highest academic standards. "Demand for post-secondary education is on the rise, particularly in developing countries, and we need to capitalize on the opportunity to make our campus more internationalized, while ensuring our standards are very, very high," he said.

"The quality of the educational experience provided at the University of Waterloo is foremost."

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A new way to choose your courses at Waterloo

"Enrollment appointments have been discontinued!" says a note from the Registrar's Office sent to students earlier this week. "Instead, you’ll be choosing your Fall 2013 classes during Course Selection week."

Course Selection week will follow immediately after Reading Week, from Monday, February 25 to Friday, March 3.

The Registrar's Office has the following to say about the new course selection arrangement:

  • You’ll get one chance to pick the Fall 2013 courses you want through your Quest account.
  • Depending on your program or plan/major, your core or required courses will be placed into your course list.
  • You can still adjust your schedule during the drop/add period from July 29 – September 20, 2013.  You can drop a course without penalty until September 27, 2013.
  • Want to avoid lineups and course override forms? Select your Fall 2013 courses between February 25 and March 3, 2013.


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$5,000 prize supports collaborative thinking

Thinking Scaffold Design Competition showing a human brain with a scaffold next to it with "Facts, challenges, feelings, innovations, benefits" on each rung of the ladder.Design a responsive, user-friendly web-based tool that will allow people to communicate, learn and collaborate, and you could win $5,000.

That’s the goal of Fanshawe College’s Thinking Scaffold Design Competition, open to individuals and groups, with the goal of enabling people from all over the world to collaborate on some of the biggest issues facing the planet that are currently being worked on in isolation. An anonymous donor has offered a $5,000 prize to any individual or team that can design such a tool.

“How can we best pool our collective knowledge, sort through all the print and electronic noise, share credible information and collaborate with others to achieve meaningful, global change?” the contest organizers ask.

Enter the concept of a Thinking Scaffold. Thinking Scaffolds “provide a framework to support both individual and group thinking,” according to the contest website. “They are phrases or prompts that help people consider, reflect upon, and discuss knowledge. Thinking Scaffolds can be used to help structure thinking about a topic. They are flexible tools that can be adapted to the type of thinking required.”

Contestants are being challenged to build such a tool with an intuitive, user-friendly interface. The design needs to be a web-based, responsive tool that functions with computers, phones, tablets, and interactive white boards. Contestants must register by Wednesday, February 27 and entries are due by May 15.

The competition will be adjudicated by a “highly qualified panel of business and academic leaders” from Bridges Canada Ltd., Carnegie Mellon University – Open Learning Initiative, Engineers Without Borders, SMART Technologies, University of Toronto’s Institute for Knowledge, Innovation and Technology and Fanshawe College.

Results will be announced July 30, 2013. For more information, contest rules and entry forms, visit the Thinking Scaffold Design Competition website.


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Never too late

By Becca McElrea, Co-operative Education & Career Action

Originally published in Inside sCo-op, Winter 2013 ed. 1

“When asked about my story, I always say that it’s never too late to go back to school or to accomplish your dreams.” - Justin Sohl

Justin, a 2B Electrical Engineering student, spent his first three work terms working for PCL Constructors and will be returning for his fourth with the company. “[When I was in high school] I just coasted. I was completely disinterested with it,” Justin says. Before he even began the process of getting back into the education system, he had sleepy ambitions to be the first of his family to attend the university that he drove by so often.

Justin says there are a few reasons why his ambitions woke up: one, the recession hit and where he was working in California was hit hard financially; and two, he felt like he was plateauing in his work life. So, after spending six years as an electrician, and a total of eight years in construction, Justin went back to high school to upgrade his marks, and was accepted into Waterloo.

Boost from Extra Experience

For Justin, interviews went smoothly; his interviewers were “pleasantly surprised with the amount of experience [he] had” from his apprenticeship and work experience as an electrician. Once he took the job with PCL Constructors, he found that his electrical background was helpful to build new bridges among co-workers. Justin and his first manager shared a common electrical background and, with eight years of construction experience to draw from, communication ran smoothly between him and all co-workers.

As a Building Systems Coordinator, part of Justin’s duties is to liaise with the varying teams working on the same project. For example, the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hospital Justin is helping to manage isn’t built by one person; electrical, mechanical, structural and architectural subcontractors all play a role. PCL, as the General Contractor, aids in design, sets schedule deadlines, manages each discipline, and ensures the project and project team are working as a cohesive unit. Justin takes the time to wander over to the people in charge of areas he hasn’t studied in to ask questions and continue to learn after the working hours are over.

“It was hard to go from full time work to attending school, but the opportunities are worth it. If I hadn’t gone back, I would have never stood out to an industry leading company.” - Justin Sohl

Perfect Fit

“Perfect fit” is how Justin describes his terms with PCL. They provided him with the opportunity to challenge himself by taking on extra responsibility when his supervisor was away. PCL Constructors also recognized Justin’s dedication by awarding him two co-op awards. He was nominated on his first work term for the Jim Brown Scholarship Award as the top student in the Toronto district, and won it on his second work term. Recently, while on his 2B study term, Justin found out that he also earned PCL’s Canadian Buildings Student Scholarship. This award was both “a moment of pride and a humbling one,” Justin says, as he was selected for this recognition out of all of PCL’s co-ops across Canada for the year of 2012.

There are other monuments for Justin’s success as a co-op student; the building he worked on last work term and willl be working on next term, is a reminder of how far he’s come. He’s been with it since the project was an empty lot, and will be there when the first light is switched on. Justin reminds his fellow students and prospective ones that not every light comes on right away, and that it’s never too late to re-evaluate and try again.

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Last week’s question: we had a technical glitch last week and our poll didn’t work properly – sorry! For those of you who are wondering about the answer, 169 organizations participated in last Wednesday’s Job Fair.

This week’s question: We offer a variety of options to employers who can’t make it to campus for interviews. How many Skype, phone, and video interviews took place last year? (Hint: check out this infographic.) Take a guess and enter to win a lunch bag.

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Wednesday's notes

Human Resources has reported that Iris Brown, who retired from the University of Waterloo in March of 1976, died on December 28, 2012. She had worked in Systems Design Engineering as the Department Secretary, and had started work in September 1962. A 36-year retirement? Not bad, not bad at all.


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Centre for Teaching Excellence Closed Today

The Centre for Teaching Excellence will be closed for the day today for their for their annual professional development day.

Link of the day

Ash Wednesday

When and where

Waterloo Women's Wednesday, Wednesday, February 13, 12:00 p.m., DC 1301. Details.

Senate Finance Committee meeting, Wednesday, February 13, 2:00 p.m., NH 3001.

VeloCity Campus Event: "Customer Discovery #1 Cold Calling, how to ask customers for money," Wednesday, February 13, 7:30-8:30 p.m., EV3 4412, Details. FREE pizza.

Observations and Free Inquiries seminar featuring Hamid Tizhoosh, Systems Design Engineering, "Good, Evil and other Ideations - Why morality and ethics are useless," Thursday, February 14, 5:30 p.m., E5 6004. Details.

WIN Seminar Series featuring Professor Christof Schulz, University of Duisburg-Essen, "Laser diagnostics and kinetics studies for the combustion synthesis of nanoparticles", Friday, February 15, 11:00 a.m., QNC 1501. Details.

Conversation from Space with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Friday, February 15, 11:30 a.m., Hagey Hall. Details.

Family Day, Monday, February 18, most university services closed.

Loving to Learn Day, Tuesday, February 19, all day. Details.

WISE Lecture Series featuring André Lucena, Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), "Brazil's Energy Plans and Strategies: Challenges Related to Climate Change," Tuesday, February 19, 1:00 p.m., CPH 4333. Details.

UWRC Book Club meeting, featuring "The House I Loved" by Tatiana de Rosnay, Wednesday, February 20, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

Retirement party for Linda Kieswetter, Wednesday, February 20, 3:30 p.m., University Club.

Stratford Campus Open House, Wednesday, February 20, 6:00 p.m, Stratford Campus. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring George Baird, "Thoughts on "Agency", "Utopia", and "Property", in Contemporary Architectural and Urban Theory," Thursday, February 21, 6:45 p.m., Cummings Lecture Hall, School of Architecture. Details.

Vision Science Research Seminar Series featuring Professor Agnes Wong, University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children, “Skew Deviation: From the Laboratory to Bedside”, Friday February 22, 3:30 p.m. OPT 1129. Details.

Senate meeting, Monday, February 25, 3:30 p.m., NH 3001.

VeloCity Recruiting Event: For Startups & Waterloo's Tech Talent, Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. Register here.

Waterloo Women's Wednesday featuring Jeremy Steffler and Katrina Di Gravio, "Sexual Orientation and and Gender Identity Workshop," Wednesday, February 27, 4:00 p.m., Grad House.

Department of English Language and Literature lecture featuring Wayde Compton, Emily Carr University, “Vancouver Versus Hogan's Alley: Urban Renewal, Negro Removal, and the Myth of Livability”, Thursday, February 28, 4:00 p.m., HH 373.

Positions available

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

Job id# 2017 – Administrative Assistant – Economics – USG 7

Job id#2010 -  Custodian I – Plant Operations

Job id#2019 – Administrative Assistant – Police Services – USG 6

Job id#1928 – Administrative Assistant – Institutional Analysis & Planning – USG 5

Internal Secondment Opportunity

Institutional Programs Co-ordinator - Office of Research - USG 8

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