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Friday, January 6, 2017


Update on benefit changes for 2017

Human Resources has sent an update to Waterloo employees outlining how the maxima for extended health and dental benefits has changed, effective January 1, 2017. 

The amount available for reimbursement has increased to the new maxima as outlined below. For example, the coverage for paramedical practitioners (e.g. physiotherapy) has an annual reimbursement maximum of $671, instead of $649 per year.

Extended Health Plan
Provision Previous Maxima New Maxima
Paramedical/Hearing Aids $649 $671
Private Duty Nursing $19,653 per year $20,331 per year
Out-of-Pocket Cap $122 single/$245 family $124 single/$250 family

In addition, in keeping with the 2 year lag in the dental fee guide used to calculate eligible dental expenses, the 2015 guide will be used to determine eligible expenses commencing January 1, 2017.

Dental Plan
Provision Previous Maxima New Maxima
Basic Services $2,108 $2,150
Major Services $3,178 $3,242
Orthodontia $3,178 $3,242

Retiree life insurance, which provides coverage for eligible employees who retire on or after January 1, 2017, increases from $4,600 to $5,300. 

The maxima has also increased for the out-of-pocket cap. Eligible paramedical and prescription drug expenses are shared between the University and employees, with 80 percent reimbursement being provided until the out-of-pocket cap is reached and then 100 percent reimbursement applying, up to the benefit maxima, as outlined:

Extended Health Expenses
Eligible Extended Health Expenses per calendar year Employee reimbursement University reimbursement
Up to $620 (single coverage) or $1,250 (family coverage) 20 percent 80 percent
Over $620 (single coverage) or $1,250 (family coverage) $0 100 percent

*Subject to the annual maxima and dispensing fee maxima; note that expenses for out of country, ambulance, dental and private duty nursing do not apply to the out-of-pocket cap nor do any pharmacist fees charged over the prescription drug dispensing fee cap.

Please visit the Human Resources website for further information.

Waterloo researchers help launch autonomous car

The Renesas Electronics autonomous vehicle.

A research team at the University of Waterloo played a key role in the development of a highly autonomous vehicle that Renesas Electronics America unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Using sensors and powerful computers, the car is capable of detecting and responding to other vehicles, stop signs and traffic lights to provide a safer driving experience. For example, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications allow the vehicle to detect in advance when a traffic light will change.

More than 25 researchers from the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) contributed a framework architecture of computer programs to enable the car to operate autonomously, as well mechanisms to ensure safety in different driving scenarios. The team includes professors Sebastian Fischmeister and Steven Waslander, from Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering, and Krzysztof Czarnecki, cross-appointed to Waterloo Engineering and the Cheriton School of Computer Science in the Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics.

“Working with Renesas, we’ve made great strides in developing a reference design for autonomous driving, and greatly accelerated our research agenda in all-weather autonomy and functional safety,” said Waslander, the autonomy lead on the project and professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at Waterloo.

Prior to the demonstration, Waterloo researchers conducted extensive testing of the car at a local test track and in a parking lot in Stratford, Ontario, modelled on the Las Vegas demonstration site with the added complexity of adverse weather conditions.

“We are pleased to have the University of Waterloo as a contributing partner to our new autonomous vehicle,” said Amrit Vivekanand, vice president, Automotive Business Unit, Renesas Electronics America. “With Waterloo, we have established a deep working relationship, engaging with them beyond traditional academic levels of collaboration.”

The team is demonstrating the prototype on a closed course at CES. It uses the same Lincoln MKZ base model as Autonomoose, Waterloo’s automated car that received approval from the Government of Ontario in November as the first autonomous vehicle approved for testing on public roads in Canada.

Numerous other partners, including BlackBerry QNX, also contributed to development of the modified Lincoln MKZ sedan unveiled at CES. Acerta Systems Analytics, a UWaterloo spinoff, is providing performance and safety monitoring for the autonomous vehicle fleet.

Why not try a Skype meeting?

A message from Information Systems and Technology (IST)

With winter weather upon us, why not try Skype for Business (S4B) audio/video conferencing for your next meeting with attendees from across campus? Skype for Business is available to all users in academic support departments, and a meeting can be easily scheduled in Outlook, by clicking ‘New Skype meeting’. Your Skype meeting invitation will now be populated with all the pertinent information to determine the best method to connect to the Skype meeting. 

Any computer with speakers and a microphone can participate in the meeting with either the Skype for Business client or the Skype Web App. Additionally a webcam can be used for the full video conferencing experience. If you do not have an S4B account or a compatible device to join the meeting, you can participate via audio by dialing the conference number and conference ID provided in the meeting details. Skype for Business can also be made available in faculties through Information Systems and Technology (IST) at the request of the Associate Dean for Computing, or faculty IT Director.

For more information, visit our Skype for Business help site.

Remembering William Elsdon

Human Resources has reported that retired professor William Elsdon died December 5, 2016.

Elsdon, one of two founders of the University's co-operative chemistry program, joined the University in October 1958 as an assistant professor of the chemistry department.

Shortly after his arrival, he became involved in a study to see if Waterloo's concept of co-operative education could be applied to chemistry students, and he was involved in the design of Waterloo's science buildings. 

In 1963, Elsdon was promote to Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry. He taught thermodynamics and physical chemistry.

In 1983 he was one of 14 people named to Waterloo's 25-year club.

He retired in October 1987 after 29 years with the University. He continued to serve as an adjunct professor in the chemistry department for several years. Chemistry later established the William Elsdon Thermodynamics Award in his honour. The award, valued at $400, is presented to the highest ranking Science student in second-year thermodynamics courses offered by the Chemistry Department.

He was predeceased by his spouse, Faye Elsdon.​

Registration for Three Minute Thesis (3MT) closes in one week

1 slide.  3 minutes.  Outstanding ideas!

Register to compete for the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition before Friday, January 13!

The 3MT is a university-wide competition for research-based master’s and doctoral students, where competitors have 1 static slide and 3 minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research to a non-specialist audience.
For more information, visit the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition website.

Link of the day

1,000 years ago: King Canute

When and where

Knowledge Integration Seminar featuring Professor Susan Elliott, "Medical what?? The role of geographers in shaping health policy through integrated knowledge translation," Friday, January 6, 2:30 p.m., EV3 1408.

Winter Welcome Week, Monday, January 9 to Friday, January 13.

Warrior Breakfast, Monday, January 9, 9:00 a.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall. Part of Winter Welcome Week.

Beyond 60 anniversary kick-off lecture, Monday, January 9, 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Sex Toy Bingo, Monday, January 9, 7:00 p.m., Bombshelter Pub. Part of Winter Welcome Week.

The Writing Centre presents "Professionalism in your communication: How to talk to your professors", Tuesday, January 10, 10:30 a.m.

MBET information session webinar, Tuesday, January 10, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 

Warriors on Ice, Tuesday, January 10, 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Columbia Icefield.

The Writing Centre presents "Say it in your own words: paraphrase & summary," Wednesday, January 11, 10:00 a.m.

Campus Life Fair, Wednesday, January 11, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Faculty Writing Café, Wednesday, January 11, 2:00 p.m., SCH 228F.

Student Success Office presents "Get This Term Started!" Wednesday, January 11, 5:30 p.m., SCH 108A.

Clubs and Societies Day, Thursday, January 12, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

The Writing Centre presents "STEM lab reports: Improve your lab report writing," Thursday, January 12, 1:00 p.m.

WaterTalks Series featuring Christian Stamm, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, "Unravelling the Impacts of Micropollutants in Stream Ecosystems," Thursday, January 12, 2:30 p.m., QNC 0101.

Clubs and Societies Day, Friday, January 13, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

The Writing Centre presents "Literature reviews for grads (Part A): Organizing research," Friday, January 13, 1:00 p.m.

Knowledge Integration Seminar: Summer off? No — summer on! Friday, January 13, 2:30 p.m., EV3 1408.

The Writing Centre presents "clarity in scientific writing," Tuesday, January 17, 10:30 a.m.

The Student Success Office presents Test Preparation and Test Anxiety, Tuesday, January 17, 3:00 p.m., SCH 108A.

Research Seminar: Eric Fillion, University of Waterloo, Exploring and Exploiting New Reactivity of Alkyl-Tricarbastannatranes in Lewis Acid and Transition Metal Catalysis”, Wednesday, January 18, 11:00AM, Pharmacy 1008.

Health City Panel Discussion, Wednesday, January 18, 7:00 p.m., Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Grammar Studio Series, "Nuts and bolts: Basic grammar and sentence structure," Tuesday, January 24, 1:00 p.m.

MAREP presents "Paving the Way: Excellent Dementia Care and Support: A three-part learning series," Part 1, Tuesday, January 24, 11:30 a.m., DC 1302.

WICI Talk: Blake LeBaron presents "Self-Generating Economic Forecast Heterogeneity", Tuesday, January 24, 2:30 p.m., QNC 1501.

KWCSSA 2017 Chinese New Year Festival Gala: Year of the Rooster, Tuesday, January 24, 7:00 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Grammar Studio Series, "Putting it together: Advanced grammar and sentence structure," Thursday, January 26, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Research Talks featuring Professor Joanne Atlee, “Detecting and resolving software errors,” Friday, January 27, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., DC 1302. Please register – seating is limited.

Noon-Hour Concert: From Vienna With Love, Friday, January 27, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University Chapel.

Waterloo Women: Ideas, Makers and Innovators, Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, 

Master of Taxation Open House, Saturday, January 28, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 220 Yonge St, Unit 115, Toronto.

Weight Watchers at Waterloo sign-up deadline and meet-up, Tuesday, January 31, 12:00 p.m., EV2 1001. Contact mmfloyd@uwaterloo.ca for more information.

Grammar Studio Series, "Connecting the dots: Structure and organization," Tuesday, January 31, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Noon Hour Concert: Russian Songs & Sonatas, Wednesday, February 1, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel Chapel.

Grammar Studio Series, "Making it shine: Conciseness and revision strategies," Thursday, February 2, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies featuring Dr. Kenneth Nafziger, “Melting the Boundaries of Our Being: Explorations in Singing Together,” Friday, February 3, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel Great Hall.