Thursday, December 3, 2015

Student Life Centre closed for emergency maintenance

The Student Life Centre is closed until further notice due to an emergency maintenance situation. All businesses and services are closed, and activities within the building have been postponed or otherwise suspended.

The Turnkey Desk, as is their custom, is still staffed and available by phone at (519) 888-4434. 

Further details will be posted on the Student Life Centre's Twitter feed

Additionally, the Federation of Students will be communicating updates through its website and on its social media channels, where re-opening details will be outlined.

Plant Operations is working to perform the necessary maintenance to get the building back open.

Update: As of noon today, the Student Life Centre has reopened, and so have the businesses, save for the Bombshelter, which will open at 2:30 p.m. today.

Donation launches climate change resilience centre

Dean of Environment Jean Andrey, Intact Financial Corporation CEO Charles Brindamour, Vice-President, University Research George Dixon, and Blair Feltmate pose with a plaque at the announcement.

Dean of Environment Jean Andrey, Intact Financial Corporation CEO Charles Brindamour, Vice-President, University Research George Dixon, and Professor Blair Feltmate pose at the announcement event in Toronto.

Intact Financial Corporation and the University of Waterloo announced the creation of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (ICCA) on Monday, November 30. The centre will focus on research and building awareness for innovative adaptation solutions to climate change risks facing Canadian homeowners, communities, industries and governments.

The ICCA, based in the Faculty of Environment, will be an incubator for new adaptation measures to climate change. Under the leadership of Professor Blair Feltmate, university researchers, consultants, industry specialists and NGOs will:

  • monitor applied research developments on adaptation solutions and technologies from around the world;
  • conduct their own research; and
  • mobilize adaptation technologies and practices that are most promising to reducing climate-related extreme weather risk

“Addressing the effects of climate change and extreme weather is a pressing challenge for everyone. This unique national partnership applies Waterloo’s research excellence in a way that serves communities across the country,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur. “Together, we share the vision to understand and tackle the effects of climate change in communities across Canada.”

With funding of $4.25 million provided by Intact, the ICCA’s initiatives include implementation of a green infrastructure program aimed at reducing the impact of severe precipitation in Canadian communities. Another program will identify the extreme weather vulnerabilities of various Canadian industrial sectors and recommend appropriate industry-specific adaptation strategies.

“While political leaders from across the world gather for COP21, we should remind ourselves that climate change is already a reality here in Canada. We must step up our efforts towards building strong, prosperous, resilient and sustainable communities,” said Charles Brindamour, chief executive officer of Intact Financial Corporation. “Our partnership with Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment will foster innovative solutions that will reduce the physical, financial and social impacts of extreme weather.”

The ICCA will also launch its national Home Adaptation Audit Program (HAAP) to assess the vulnerability of homes to flood damage, and make specific recommendations to help homeowners across the country avoid costly damage from extreme weather.

The ICCA represents the next step in a five-year partnership between Intact and the University of Waterloo in tackling the impacts of extreme weather. Previously, the organizations partnered on The Climate Change Adaptation Project which identified the most vulnerable areas of Canadian society to climate change, provided a national roadmap for adaptation and identified numerous solutions to protect Canadians against the growing threat of severe weather events. 

Photograph by Stephanie Lake, the Canadian Press.

Quest Mobile - The year in review

A screenshot of a smartphone with Quest Mobile loaded on it.In early May 2014, Information Systems & Technology (IST) partnered with the Registrar’s Office (RO), Centre for Extended Learning (CEL), and Graduate Studies Office (GSO) to implement a mobile interface to the Quest student system.

A primary goal of this collaborative project was to increase the usability of Quest on mobile devices while also presenting a branded user interface (UI) aligned with Waterloo’s Student Portal and digital standards. The result was the implementation of Quest Mobile (Nov 2014), a secure interface that supports Android, Apple, and BlackBerry devices.

Now, when students navigate to the Quest website from a mobile device, they are automatically directed to the Quest Mobile interface where they can:

  • view grades, class schedules, and appointments,
  • add, drop, and swap classes,
  • search for classes,
  • view and update personal information,
  • upload citizenship documentation,
  • view program and advisor information,
  • register for a GO pass, and more!

Incorporating feedback received from students, updated versions of Quest Mobile were released in August, October, and November 2015 that included further UI and user experience (UX) enhancements (e.g. “pinch-to-zoom”, swiping gestures, menu-based navigation).   Popular new features help students and applicants to quickly and easily review and manage their financial information; upload and e-mail important documents; view application statuses and offers; and, accept/decline offers, to name a few.

As this project comes to a close and the Quest Mobile team determines “what’s next” for the mobile interface, one thing is certain -- Quest Mobile is another excellent example of how Waterloo is improving the university experience for our students. 

Visit the uWaterloo Connect IT blog for more information on Quest Mobile.

Young women explore software engineering at Waterloo

Young women work at laptops at the Code Squad event.

by Claire Heymans.

On Saturday, November 21, 26 young women in grade 10 joined the Code Squad at the University of Waterloo. This year-long engineering outreach program, sponsored by TD Bank Group, encourages the next generation of women to pursue study software engineering.

Starting with hands-on activities to demonstrate how computers store information, each participant made a nametag, tiny pixel by tiny pixel. Then, the computers were switched on! Using a simple online environment, we dove into the basics of the Ruby programming language. Ruby is a high-level language used to create things like websites. By the end of the morning, the participants were working together to write the code for a tip calculator. Simply type in the cost of a meal, and it returns the tax, tip, and total amount due. How convenient!

After lunch, the participants learned how to use “if-then” statements. They applied this new skill by writing the code for a game of rock, paper, scissors. The game is designed for a single player to play against the computer. Parents served as game testers. Everyone left looking forward to the next event on Saturday, February 6, 2016. Stay tuned!

16 Days of Activism Banner.

According to a 2011 study, disabled women are twice as likely to experience severe physical violence and three times as likely to be forced into sexual activity. 

Registrar's Office, Student Awards and Financial Aid closed over lunchtime today

The Registrar’s Office and Student Awards & Financial Aid will be closed from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. today for a holiday event. The drop box outside our office will still be available.

Link of the day

50 years ago: The Beatles' Rubber Soul bounces into record shops

When and where

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Andrew Grosvenor, Department of Chemistry, University of Saskatchewan, “A solid-state chemist’s journey into mining”, Thursday, December 3, 10:00 a.m., C2-361.

Retirement celebration for Pennie Schrader, CECA, Thursday, December 3, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., TC 2218.

WIN Distinguished Lecture featuring Dr. Kang L. Wang: Spin-Orbitronics for Energy Efficient Systems, Thursday, December 3, 3:00 p.m., QNC 1501.

St. Paul’s Social Impact Showcase, Thursday, December 3, 4:00 p.m., Alumni Hall (STP 201), St. Paul’s University College.

Battle of Waterloo: Local legacies 200 years later, Thursday, December 3, 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Public Library main auditorium. Register online.

Lectures end, Friday, December 4.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Tsun-Kong (T.K.) Sham, Department of Chemistry, Western University, “Synchrotron solutions for the length scale science of matter and time”, Friday, December 4, 10:00 a.m., QNC 1501.

National Day of Remembrance Vigil, Friday, December 4, 10:30 a.m., Engineering 5 Sedra Student Design Centre.

CAFCE and WatCACE present a Sense of Belonging, Peer Support & Social Media seminar, Friday, December 4, 12:00 p.m., TC 2218.

Staff Relations Committee Meeting, Friday, December 4, 12:30 p.m., NH 3001. 

Pre-exam study days, Saturday, December 5, Sunday, December 6, and Monday, December 7.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, Sunday, December 6.

University of Waterloo Staff Association presents Winterfest 2015, Sunday, December 6, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Columbia Icefield.

Drop, Penalty 2 Period ends, Monday, December 7.

WatITis (Waterloo Information Technology and Information Systems) conference, Monday, December 7, Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quatum-Nano Centre (QNC).

LEARN Instructor User Group (CTE686), Monday, December 7, 2:00 p.m., EV1 241.

Gender and Equity Scholarship Series featuring Dan Brown, Cheriton School of Computer Science and Cecilia Cotton, Statistics and Actuarial Science, “What’s wrong with a recent paper on sexist behaviour in video games?” Monday, December 7, 11:30 a.m., DC 2568.

On-Campus Examinations begin, Tuesday, December 8.

Getting Started in LEARN (CTE656), Tuesday, December 8, 1:00 p.m., EV1 241.

Public lecture featuring Jonathan Reinhardt, associate professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Arizona, “Digital Games for Language Learning: State of the Art, Research and Practice,” Tuesday, December 8, at 4:00 p.m., Stratford Campus.

WIN Seminar featuring Dr. Carole Rossi: Nanoenergetics, A New Technological Area through the Integration of Reactive NanoMaterials into MEMS, Tuesday, December 8, 10:30 a.m., QNC 1501.

Book Launch event featuring Ken McLaughlin, "Innovation and Entrepreneurship Are In The Waterloo Genome," Wednesday, December 9, 3:30 p.m., QNC 0101.

On-line examination days, Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12.

CBB Workshop: How to Start a Spinoff Company: Some Key Steps and Who Can Help, Friday, December 11, 1:00 p.m., DC 1302.

Waterloo This-Idea-Must-Die Day, Monday, December 14, 1:00 p.m., AL 208.

Retirement reception for Bob Gillham, Thursday, December 17, 4:00 p.m., EIT Atrium. RSVP to Mary Anne Hardy, ext. 32658 or

Co-operative Work Term ends, Friday, December 18.

On-Campus Examinations end, Tuesday, December 22.

Christmas holidays, Thursday December 24 to Thursday, December 31, most University services and buildings closed.

New Year's Day, Friday, January 1, 2016, most University services and buildings closed.

PhD oral defences

Civil and Environmental Engineering. Melissa Barnard, "Impact of Glaciation and Permafrost on Groundwater Flow." Supervisor, Jonathan Sykes. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3003. Oral defence Friday, December 11, 10:00 a.m., E2 2350.

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Fei Chen, "Development of Advanced Characterization Techniques for Organic and Colloidal Material of Relevance to UF Membranes in Drinking Water Treatment." Supervisor, Peter Huck, Sigrid Peldszus, Raymond Legge. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3003. Oral defence Monday, December 14, 9:00 a.m., E2 2350.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Keyvan Irani, "Information Fusion Methodology for Enhancing Situation Awareness in Connected Cars Environment." Supervisors, Fakhreddine Karray, Mohamed Kamel. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3003. Oral defence Tuesday, December 15, 9:30 a.m., EIT 3142.

Computer Science. Tenn Chen, "On the Modelling of Hyperspectral Light and Skin Interactions and the Simulation of Skin Appearance Changes Due to Tanning." Supervisor, Gladimir Baranoski. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Tuesday, December 15, 10:00 a.m., DC 1331.