New website encourages research partnerships with Waterloo
A new website that showcases Waterloo’s groundbreaking research and opportunities for partnership is now available.
The Corporate Research Partnerships website is a landing spot for existing and potential corporate and industry partners to learn more about research innovation at Waterloo, connect with corporate research managers, and leverage their dollars through collaborative funding programs.
Research and partnership opportunities are categorized by research theme areas to make it easier for new partners to navigate partnership potential in areas such as health and wellbeing, quantum information and nanotechnology, and manufacturing and devices.
When leaving home becomes finding home
By Michelle Pressé. Waterloo is celebrating International Education Week with a variety of on-campus activities, as well as a series of stories showcasing some of the international experiences of our students, faculty, and staff.
Besides growing up in the United Arab Emirates and immigrating to Canada at the age of seven, Faisal El Hussein didn’t venture outside of the Greater Toronto Area except for the rare trip to Niagara Falls or Montréal.
That all changed when he went on exchange to the University of Oulu in Finland during his 3B term. Oulu is the world’s northernmost tech hub, which appealed to the now fourth-year management engineering student. With Scotland and Germany as other exchange options, Faisal felt that Scotland’s culture and language wouldn’t challenge him, and Germany wasn’t as unique as he wanted since it was a popular choice amongst his classmates. Finland was an obvious choice, but that didn’t stop him from exploring other countries as well.
“While I was studying in Finland, I also had the opportunity to visit Norway, Sweden, Estonia, and Russia,” says Faisal. “Every country was unique in its own way. Sweden was beautiful. I visited Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia, which felt like travelling back in time. I’ve read about and seen pictures of St. Petersburg, but it’s so different in person.”
He says visiting Norway’s Lofoten Islands was his favourite trip outside of Finland. The archipelago is bursting with rich wildlife, sweeping beaches, and mountains capped with grass or snow, depending on the season.
Faisal and some of the friends he met during his exchange rented an Airbnb with a host who talked about the great fishing in the village. They decided to give it a try for themselves, but didn’t catch anything. When they told the host about their failed fishing expedition, she told her husband, who went out and successfully caught several fish, leaving some on their doorstep.
“We ate Norwegian fish caught the same day for dinner that night,” says Faisal, laughing. “It was incredible.”
Norway wasn’t the only place where Faisal had a memorable meal. Wanting to make the most of his experience, he made sure to eat adventurously, which included trying reindeer meat.
“The first time I tried it, it was cooked as a steak at a quality restaurant, so it was a good introduction,” says Faisal. “It’s common amongst Finnish cuisine. You can also buy it in a can.”
Through international exchanges and co-op work terms, Waterloo has more than 3,000 term-long experiences internationally for students annually, with that number climbing higher each year.
“Waterloo encourages its students to go explore new horizons and internationalize their education,” says Ian Rowlands, Associate Vice-President, International. “We want our students to have the opportunity not just to learn about other cultures, but to live them. Experiencing how other people live helps us appreciate the world that extends beyond our borders.”
Faisal says the experience changed his perspective on the kind of education Waterloo offers.
“The exchange made me appreciate what the University can do for you. I’ve never met anyone who went abroad and regretted it. You learn so much about the world around you, but also about yourself. It made me more patient and humble.”
Going on exchange inspired Faisal to pursue his current co-op in Germany, where he hopes to move permanently after graduating.
“When I left Europe, I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” says Faisal. “It’s crazy how much your life can change based on one decision.”
Graduate parental leave program wins national award
The University of Waterloo has won the 2017 Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS) Award for Excellence and Innovation for Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience.
Waterloo won the award for its parental leave and day care bursary programs, which make graduate education more accessible for the 20 percent of Waterloo students who want to raise a family while pursuing a PhD or master's degree.
Waterloo is the only university in Canada to have a paid parental leave policy for both PhD and master’s students that aims to maintain their income at 95 percent of the average level of income (net tuition) they received prior to their leave (to a maximum of $8,000 in total). Students may take up to three consecutive terms off for parental leave, with a bursary available for up to two of those terms.
Unlike the parental leave bursary, the day care bursary is awarded based on financial need. The value is assessed based on the combined (student and spouse) annual income (net of tuition and fees), as well as the number of children requiring day care and the actual childcare costs.
Graduate students, along with faculty and staff at the University, are also given priority access to Bright Starts Co-operative Early Learning Centre.
“A robust parental support program that minimizes the financial pressure of balancing graduate studies with building a family is crucial to attract top graduate students,” says Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Jeff Casello. “Our bursary programs also promote the retention of graduate student parents. Studies show that family and personal responsibilities are one of the main factors that hinder completion of the PhD.
“Graduate studies already are demanding. Men and women who add to these demands the myriad pressures of parenthood often feel forced to choose between children and degree completion.” These bursaries allow students to choose the best time to have children based on individual family, health, or personal factors, rather than stage of degree or supervisor expectations. They also permit students to choose childcare arrangements best suited to their family’s needs.
While both bursaries have existed in some form for decades, they have been expanded to become a pillar of Waterloo’s graduate student retention and degree-completion initiatives. They are part of a larger, university-wide commitment to accessibility and gender equity which has included hiring for new roles such as Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion.
“Financial assistance is an important component of increasing accessibility to graduate education, and key to recruitment and retention of the best and brightest students,” says CAGS president Dr. Brenda Brouwer.
“Waterloo’s programs showcase not only their direct response to students’ needs but also dedication to important values such as gender equity, the removal of systemic barriers and the provision of a supportive environment.”
The Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Experience is offered annually to a CAGS institution or one of its graduate programs. This year’s winner will receive their citation in November at the CAGS conference in Quebec City.