Friday, April 26, 2019

Computer science students win inaugural Pasupalak Velocity CS Capstone Award

 Pat Martinson, Campus Lead Mentor, University of Waterloo Velocity, with members of team CircleChek — Jason Williamson, Bing Xu Hu and Rebecca Brown.

L to R: Pat Martinson, Campus Lead Mentor, University of Waterloo Velocity, with members of team CircleChek — Jason Williamson, Bing Xu Hu and Rebecca Brown.

This article was originally published on the Cheriton School of Computer Science website.

A team of three computer science students has won the Pasupalak Velocity CS Capstone Award for its entry in the 2019 Computer Science and Software Engineering Capstone Design Symposium, an exhibition in which final-year students develop new products and practical solutions to problems across a variety of industries and sectors.

Team CircleChek, comprised of fourth-year computer science students Rebecca Brown, Jason Williamson and Bing Xu Hu, created an app that allows operators of large trucks, construction vehicles and other heavy machinery to complete and submit their mandatory daily inspection logs electronically using a smart phone or tablet. 

Although electronic devices are widespread, the heavy machinery industry relies largely on paper inspection logs that are completed manually by operators. CircleChek’s app would streamline log entry and allow operators to augment records with photographs and comments. Moreover, if the app were synched to the cloud it would increase the speed, accuracy and coordination of inspection log entries to management while ensuring that heavy machinery meets provincial and federal safety standards.

Valued at $15,000, the Pasupalak Velocity CS Capstone Award for their entry consists of $1,650 to each team member, along with acceptance into the Velocity Garage with $10,050 in seed funds to help the team transform their idea into a start-up. 

“After interviewing all applicants and discussion among our judges, I’m very pleased to announce that your team has been awarded the first-ever Pasupalak Velocity CS Capstone Award,” wrote Pat Martinson, Campus Lead Mentor at Waterloo Velocity in his letter to Team CircleChek. “We found a mix of technical execution and market understanding with your product, and we’re excited to see that continue through your involvement in the Velocity Garage.”

The Velocity Fund is a grant program to turn ideas into start-up companies. Velocity was established in 2011 with a $1 million donation from Kik founder and Velocity Residence alumnus Ted Livingston. The Pasupalak Velocity CS Capstone Award, conferred for the first time this year, was made possible through a generous donation from computer science alumnus Sam Pasupalak (BCS 2012), who co-founded Maluuba, an artificial intelligence start-up.

Grants awarded to Waterloo ExL Institute participants

Waterloo ExL is supporting the expansion of experiential learning (EL) on campus by awarding seven grants to Waterloo instructors, all of whom are working on developing EL components in their courses.

Instructors who participated in the Waterloo ExL Institute — an intensive two-day retreat focused on the integration of EL into courses and programs — were encouraged to apply for the grants, which offer up to $5,500 to assist with the implementation of EL. Applications were evaluated on whether or not they created new experiences, the quality of their EL frameworks, and their long-term sustainability. The Institute represented the culmination of a year-long process, in which faculty and academic support staff were engaged through communities of practice and an experiential learning symposium.

Grants were awarded to the following instructors:

  • Matthew James Borland (SYDE 361: Engineering Design), for creating a client-focused design project where student teams build accessible musical instrument interfaces for clients with physical disabilities;
  • Bryan Grimwood (REC/ENVS 433: Ecotourism and Communities), for creating a blended learning course involving a six-day field experience at the Kandalore Outdoor Centre and online learning activities;
  • Andrew Stumpf (PHIL 319J: Ethics of End-of-Life-Care), for partnering with Hospice Waterloo Region involving applied research projects tied to community engagement;
  • Zara Rafferty and Kim Lopez (REC 251: Therapeutic Recreation: Developmental and Emotional Disabilities), for developing interactive multimedia simulations that help students engage in real-life practice scenarios;
  • Chris Rennick, Ada Hurst, Derek Wright, and Sanjeev Bedi (Engineering Ideas Clinic), for piloting field experiences in four Engineering departments for process improvements in the capstone design project; 
  • Homeyra Pourmohammadali and Kamyar Ghavam (ME 212: Dynamics and ME 321: Kinematics and Dynamics of Machines), for vertically integrating projects in ME 212 and ME 321 where students build a machine together while each cohort analyzes their own part;
  • James Nugent (ENVS 205: Sustainability: The Future We Want), for developing a database of applied research projects related to sustainability.

To learn more about Waterloo ExL, the Institute, or any of the projects being funded by these grants, contact Amanda Brown at

Weekend work on QNC will see Ring Road closed

A campus map detailing closures for repair work outside the QNC.The exam-time journey to the Physical Activities Complex might be a bit more arduous for some people this weekend.

According to a notice from Plant Operations, a section of the Ring Road will be closed on Saturday, April 27 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to facilitate the replacement of several nitrogen tanks at the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre.

On the Ring Road’s west side, the stretch between Biology 2 and the Student Life Centre/PAC entrance will be closed while cranes and trucks change out the nitrogen tanks. There will be no access to the QNC's parking lot.

There will be a staging area for the tank transport trucks.

Drivers entering the University from its south campus entrance are encouraged to turn right at South Campus Hall rather than left on Saturday and pedestrians should use the south campus gateway to make their way to the PAC rather than take the Ring Road.

There will be signs, barricades and flagpersons on hand to ensure the safety of workers, drivers and pedestrians.

Friday's notes

The University Photography Calendar Contest banner, showing a campus vista.

There's still time to enter the W Store's Calendar ContestThis is a multi-season photography contest run in partnership with the @uofwaterloo Instagram page. The contest started on February 11 and runs until November 1.

There are two ways to enter. The first way is sending submissions to, and the other is entering by using #wstore and #uwsocial on Instagram. All of the information about the contest can be found on the W Store website.

The grand prize winner of the contest will have their picture featured on the front of the 2020 University of Waterloo Calendar, get a copy of the calendar and receive a $100 W Store gift card. The 11 other runners-up will also have their pictures featured in the Calendar and receive a $25 W Store Gift Card.

The Faculty Association’s Equity Committee is looking for new members, particularly faculty members who identify as and/or advocate for underrepresented groups. The committee meets once a month on Fridays at 9:30 a.m., September through June. If you are interested, please read more and apply online by Friday, May 3.

Upcoming office closure

The Arts Undergraduate Office will be closed on Tuesday, April 30.

Link of the day

World Intellectual Property Day

When and where

Examination period, Wednesday, April 10 to Saturday, April 27.

MFA Thesis One exhibition, Thursday, April 11 to Saturday, April 27, UW Art Gallery.

Staff appreciation menu at the University Club, Wednesday, April 24 to Friday, April 26, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

Convergences: French Studies Grad Student Conference / Colloque jeunes chercheurs, Friday, April 26, 9:00 a. m. to 5:00 p.m., EV3 4408. Conference program.

“ Ink: Mastectomy Tattooing and Self-Care as Digital Feminist Body Politics,” featuring Professor Reisa Klein, Visiting Scholar from the University of Alberta, Friday, April 26, 10:00 a.m., HH 373.

LGBTQ+ Making Spaces Train-The-Trainer, Friday, April 26, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., COM 116E.

The Annual Ziva Kunda Memorial Lecture featuring Professor David Bunning, University of Michgan, "We are all flawed intellects: so can we really judge expertise in self and others?" Friday, April 26, 2:30 p.m., PAS 2083.

QPR Mental Health Training, Monday, April 29, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., NH second floor.

W Store, W Store Essentials and W Print locations closed for inventory, Tuesday, April 30.

See the unseeable: A black hole discovery conversation with physicist Avery Broderick, Tuesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

2019 Teaching and Learning Conference, Thursday, May 2, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Science Teaching Complex and Federation Hall.

NEW - UW Formula Motorsports 2019 unveiling, Thursday, May 2, 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sedra Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

Spring 2019 Ensemble Auditions: Open for registration, Monday, May 6 to Wednesday, May 22.

Distinguished Lecture Series, Systems research — construed broadly, Margo Seltzer, Canada 150 Research Chair in Computer Systems, University of British Columbia, Tuesday, May 7, 3:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Entangled: The Series - QUANTUM + Pop Culture, Tuesday, May 7, 7:00 p.m., Apollo Cinema, Kitchener.

Webinar: Authors' Rights, Wednesday, May 8, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Project and Portfolio Management Community of Practice Chat, Sponsorship and Change Management topics, May 8, 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., DC 1568. 

Coping Skills Seminar - Challenging Thinking, Wednesday, May 8, 4:00 p.m., HS 2302.

“New Fraktur” Exhibit Launch, Thursday, May 9, 7:30 p.m., Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, Conrad Grebel University College.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, “There Will Be Rest,” Saturday, May 11, 8:00 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Lutheran and Sunday, May 12, 3:00 p.m. at Trillium Lutheran.

NEW - Mother's Day Brunch at the University Club, Sunday, May 12, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

Coping Skills Seminar - Thriving With Emotions, Monday, May 13, 3:00 p.m., HS 2302.

More Feet on the Ground - Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Tuesday, May 14, 1:30 p.m., NH 2447.

Eating Disorder Support Group, Tuesday, May 14, 4:00 p.m., NH 3308.

Alleviating Anxiety Seminar, Wednesday, May 15, 1:00 p.m., HS 2302.

Coping Skills Seminar - Cultivating Resiliency, Wednesday, May 15, 4:00 p.m., HS 2302.

UWaterloo Intellectual Property Workshop Series, What’s next? Panel Discussion, Thursday May 16, 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., DC 1304. Events are open to all UW faculty, staff, and students. Registration is required for each event to ensure there is enough Pizza and Pop for all!

safeTALK Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff, Thursday, May 16, 1:00 p.m., NH 2447.

PhD oral defences

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Reza Babaee Cheshmeahmadrezaee, "Predictive Run-time Verification of Stochastic Systems." Supervisors, Derek Rayside, Vijay Ganesh. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Thursday, May 2, 12:00 p.m., EIT 3142.

English Language and Literature. Patricia Ofili, "Contextual Complexities and Nelson Mandela's Braided Rhetoric." Supervisor, Frankie Condon. On deposit in the Arts graduate office, PAS 2428. Oral defence Monday, May 6, 10:00 a.m., HH 373.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Mohammadreza Hirmand, "Non-differentiable Energy Minimization for Cohesive Fracture in a Discontinuous Galerkin Finite Element Framework." Supervisors, Katerina Papoulia, Hamid Jahed. On display in the Engineering graduate office, E7 7402. Oral defence Tuesday, May 7, 9:00 a.m., E5 3006.

Kinesiology. Brittany Baechler, "Examining the Role of Autophagy and Mitophagy in Regulating Muscle Differentiation." Supervisor, Joe Quadrilatero. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Wednesday, May 8, 10:00 a.m., AHS 1686.