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Friday, January 11, 2013



  • Inside the university's heart of glass
  • OHD offers retirement planning course
  • Avanti shows support with print system


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Scientific glass blower Ron Neill heats up a glass container.
Inside the university's heart of glass

A mercury diffuser pump.Were you aware that the University of Waterloo is home to a scientific glass blowing shop, where everything from chromatography columns to mercury diffusion pumps (pictured at right) to rotary evaporators can be crafted by hand?

Funded jointly by the departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, the shop was located until recently in Doug Wright Engineering, moving to its current location in room 1122 of Engineering 6 last fall. The shop’s primary clients are still found in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Each department once had a glass blowing shop of its own, but they were merged several years ago.

“There’s a real art and science to it,” says Tom Dean, the Director of Technical Operations for the Chemical Engineering department. “It’s an eclectic combination of science, black arts, and tribal knowledge.”

The glass blowing shop offers a wide range of repair and custom assembly services for general quartz and borosilicate (or Pyrex) glass, producing specialized items of glassware and glass lab apparatuses for research and teaching. It also offers design services for complicated custom projects. The shop provides speedy turnaround times, and is capable of doing emergency jobs in one full day. However, their emphasis is on scientific glassware, not household glass or leaded items like goblets or chandelier prisms.

Most scientific glassware projects start with lengths of tubing, manufactured by Pegasus Glass in Cambridge, which then are strapped into a heavy-duty lathe so that glass blower Ron Neill (pictured above) can use torches and a mouthpiece to shape the glass. It takes fine control to heat the glass to its melting point so that fittings, stopcocks, stopper ends, and flasks can be affixed. Once the piece is assembled from its various component parts, it is placed in a large annealing oven, which takes the stress out of the glass as it heats up to 600 degrees and then slowly cools.

The shop is equipped with two lathes, both of which date back to the 1960s, and also has a diamond core drill, a belt sander, polishing wheel, a diamond circular saw, and all manner of fume hoods and exhaust snorkels, for operator safety.

Ron Neill uses a breath-controlled device to melt glass.Neill has been in the glassblowing business for 30 years, the last 24 of which have been spent at Waterloo when he replaced George Hill, longtime glass blower at the university. He is a certified scientific glassblower, and is one of the glassblowing community’s old guard who did his apprenticeship at the University of Toronto when he was just out of high school.

“I got an apprenticeship after high school to try it out, and I liked it,” says Neill. “It’s indoor work, which is good because I hate the cold, and you get to work with fire.”

Such an apprenticeship, which is distinct from an artistic glass blowing program, is no longer offered in Canada, which means that aspiring scientific glassblowers must study in the United States, Mexico, or Germany, which still have active education programs in that trade.

“It looks cool when it’s done, so it’s rewarding,” Neill says of his work. “If someone gives you a difficult job, you feel good about it afterwards.”

The glass blowing shop is part of the Chemical Engineering department’s Technical Support Team, which handles the design and supply of scientific glassware, computer and server support, mechanical operations services in more than 49 laboratories, and departmental safety systems. The shop is open weekdays, and projects require a requisition form. Ron Neill can be contacted by email for more information.


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OHD offers retirement planning course

Organizational and Human Development (OHD) is running an evening program for University of Waterloo employees called Retirement 101.

The program is a 4-week course facilitated by financial planner Libor "Lee" Pirchuta and will examine topics like appropriate investment strategies, sources of income in retirement, maximizing pension income, reducing income tax expense, downsizing, retiring outside of Canada, and other important non-financial issues.

The course segments retirement planning into four sessions, run on Wednesday evenings: retirement, financial, investment, estate planning. The first session will include a 30-minute presentation about the University of Waterloo's pension plan.

Each course participant will receive a personalized Retirement Cash Flow Projection upon completion of the course.

"There will be no discussion of products and no attempt to sell you any service during the course," the promotional materials are quick to point out. The course is open to all members of campus, and attendees are welcome to bring their spouses or partners.

The course dates are January 23, 30, February 6, and 13, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Registration takes place through myHRinfo. The course costs $150 per employee, and spouses can attend for free. Mark Lisetto-Smith of OHD is available to take questions about the course.

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Avanti Systems owners pose with University of Waterloo staff.
Avanti shows support with print system

by Cathy Wessels

Avanti Systems has donated $75,000 to the University of Waterloo and annual maintenance support, valued at $13,000, for the Avanti Print Management System. 

New Media Services and Creative Services installed the Avanti system in 2011 in order to accurately capture, track and manage the print service process from the point at which an order is created, to when the job is completed. A second phase of the print solution, known as E-Access, will enable campus users to place a print job, review previous jobs, billing information, and other details associated with their order. The enhanced service will be offered in the New Year.

Pictured above are (l-r) Peter Funnell, CFO, Avanti, Erin Sargeant Greenwood, Associate Vice President, Office of Advancement, University of Waterloo, Stephen McWilliam, EVP, Avanti, May Yan, Director, Retail Services, University of Waterloo, Patrick Bolan, President and CEO, Avanti and Randy Dauphin, Operations Administrator, Retail Services, University of Waterloo.

Funnell, McWilliam, and Bolan are all University of Waterloo alumni.  After graduation, they remained friends, while pursuing different career paths in different geographies. After years of talking about working together, they formed a business partnership and purchased Toronto-based Avanti in 2004. They have since tripled the size of the company and continue to grow, as Avanti expands globally.

“The University of Waterloo played such an important role in both our professional development and in bringing the three of us together, that we wanted to give something back,” says Patrick Bolan, Avanti’s President and CEO.

“What a thrill, for me personally, to come back to see a campus with all the familiar icons from my time at Waterloo, integrated with all of the new facilities,” says Stephen McWilliam, EVP at Avanti, after visiting the campus for the first time in many years. “Memories of my days as both a student and Residence Don came flooding back!”

“Many of Avanti’s long-term and new employees are University of Waterloo graduates. They have played, and continue to play, a vital role in our product innovation,” says Peter Funnell, Avanti’s CFO. “We are excited to be supporting the University of Waterloo and we look forward to continuing to tap into both the co-op program and graduates for new Avanti team members to support our grow.

Look for the enhanced services the next time you use New Media and Creative Services.


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Link of the day

40 years of designated hitters

When and where

Open online class enrolment ends, Friday, January 11.

Warrior sports this weekend: Track at Can Am Classic Friday, 9:00 a.m., Saturday, 9:00 a.m.; • Men’s hockey vs. Western Friday, 7:30 p.m.; vs. Brock Saturday, 7:30 p.m. • Men’s volleyball at RMC Saturday, 1:00 p.m.; at Queen’s Sunday, 2:00 p.m. • Women’s volleyball at Ottawa Saturday, 2:00 p.m.; at Queen’s Sunday, 12:00 p.m. • Women’s hockey at Ryerson Saturday, 4:00 p.m.; at Toronto Sunday, 4:00 p.m. • Swimming at Guelph Invitational Sunday, 11:00 a.m. • Women’s basketball at Windsor Sunday, 1:00 p.m. • Men’s basketball at Windsor Sunday, 3:00 p.m.

Knowledge Integration seminar: KI students share their international experiences, Friday January 11, 2:30pm, Environment 3 (EV3), room 1408. Details.

Philosophy Colloquium featuring Anita Superson, University of Kentucky, visiting professor at the University of Waterloo, "Moral Bindingness," Friday, January 11, 3:30 p.m., HH334. Co-hosted by Women's Studies. Details.

Facebook Hackathon, Friday, January 11, 4:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall. Details.

FIRST LEGO League West Ontario Provincial finals event, Sunday, January 13, 10:45 a.m., Physical Activities Complex. Details.

Frost Week 2013, Monday, January 14 to Friday, January 18. Details.

Senate Graduate & Research Council meeting, Monday, January 14, 10:30 a.m., NH 3001.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Simon Blakey, Department of Chemistry, Emory University, "The Development of Versatile Iminium Ion Initiated Cascade Annulation Reactions: Application Towards the Synthesis of the Malagashanine Alkaloids – a Structurally Unique Family with the Potential to Impact both Malaria and Cancer Chemotherapy," Monday, January 14, 2:30 p.m., room C2-361.

The Library presents "New Faculty and Grad Students: Research Tools and Library Services," Tuesday, January 15, 10:00 a.m., DC 1658. Details.

The Centre for Career Action presents "Success on the Job," Tuesday, January 15, 10:30 a.m., TC 1208. Details.

Feds Get Involved Fair, Tuesday, January 15, 11:00 a.m., SLC Great Hall.

Leadership Lunch event, Wednesday, January 16, Student Life Centre Great Hall.

The Library presents "New Faculty and Grad Students: Research Tools and Library Services," Wednesday, January 16, 1:30 p.m., FLEX Lab. Details.

Grade 10 Family Night, Wednesday, January 16, 6:30 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

The Water Institute presents Rick Everdell of OPG, "The Niagara Tunnel Project: Planning, design and construction," Thursday, January 17, 11:30 a.m., DC 1302. Details.

Retirement reception for Dawn McCutcheon, celebrating 27 years of service, Thursday, January 17, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Burt Matthews Hall Fireplace Lounge. RSVP to Christina Yee.

Faculty of Mathematics graduate studies information session, Thursday, January 17, 4:30 p.m., MC2066. Details.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring Peter Clewes, "Toronto Intensification: Policy, Politics, and Design," Thursday, January 17, 6:45 p.m., Cummings Lecture Hall, University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Federation of Students Clubs and Societies' Days, Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, SLC Great Hall.

Open class enrolment ends, Friday, January 18.

Pension & Benefits Committee meeting, Friday, January 18, 8:30 a.m., NH 3004.

CECA Volunteer and Internship Fair, Wednesday, January 23, 11:30 a.m., SLC Great Hall.

Arriscraft Lecture featuring John van Nostrand, "Settlement/ reSettlement," Thursday, January 24, 6:45 p.m., University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Details.

PhD Oral Defences

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Farshad Arfaei Malekzadeh, "Mathematical Modeling of Extended Interface During Gravity Drainage with Application of CO2 Sequestration." Supervisors, Maurice Dusseault, Leo Rothenburg. On deposit in the Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, January 17, 2:30 p.m., E2 3356.

Chemical Engineering. Mousa Jafari, "Design, Characterization, and Application of Amphipathic Peptides for siRNA Delivery." Supervisor, Pu Chen. On deposit in the Engineering Graduate Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, January 18, 2:00 p.m., E2 1307G.

Biology. Dinushan Nesan, "The Role of Glucocorticoid Receptor Signaling in Zebrafish Development." Supervisor, Matt Vijayan. On deposit in the Faculty of Science graduate office, ESC-254A. Oral defence Monday, January 21, 11:00 a.m., B1 266.

Chemical Engineering. Aijaz Baig, "Development of a Green Heterogeneous-Catalyzed Process for the Production of ASTM-Standard Biodiesel from Multi-Feedstocks." Supervisor, Flora T.T. Ng. This thesis is restricted but on display in the Engineering Graduate Studies Office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Tuesday, January 22, 1:00 p.m., E6 2022.

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