Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How Waterloo helped build BlackBerry Town

by Melanie Scott.

Cover art of book BlackBerry town with Kitchener buildingsIn his new book, BlackBerry Town, author and journalist Chuck Howitt documents how the resources and people of Waterloo Region, including the University of Waterloo, supported the rise of BlackBerry in the early to mid 2000s, then known as Research In Motion (RIM). Several former Waterloo professors and students were interviewed for the book, and the University features prominently in the story as foundational to the growth of the local tech sector.

As Howitt explains in his book, the smartphone was invented by a team of engineers and marketers led by BlackBerry co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. After years of explosive growth, the company lost its market share to other smartphone providers like Apple and Samsung. However, the company left a lasting legacy in Kitchener-Waterloo, which now has a robust digital and tech industry, a strong pool of talent and is known to be a hub for startups. BlackBerry and its executives also played a role in the creation of several local research institutions, including the  Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Portrait photo of Chuck Howitt

With incubators like Velocity and its pre-incubator program for Waterloo students, Concept, the University supports a large number of the region’s startups. Many alumni, such as Hongwei Liu, the CEO of Mappedin, a company that creates wayfinding technology, have founded their companies as students and continued to grow them after graduation. Waterloo allows entrepreneurs to retain ownership of their intellectual property, which has fostered the growth of local companies. In addition, through Waterloo’s experiential learning programs, students have an opportunity to work at many of these startups and gain new skills.

Howitt worked for the Waterloo Record as a business reporter covering BlackBerry and other Waterloo tech companies. He used his knowledge and contacts to write the book after he retired in 2013. “The Waterloo tech sector simply would not exist without the vital contribution of the University of Waterloo,” said Howitt. “Led by innovators such as Gerald Hagey, Wes Graham and Doug Wright, the University was always a step ahead of the competition when it came to engineering, computer science and math curriculum."

BlackBerry Town is published by Lorimer and is available through Indigo, Amazon and Words Worth Books in Waterloo.

LGBTQ2S+ Faculty and Staff Lunch set for October 30

A group of people eating lunch together

A message from the Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group (GSDWG).

Faculty and staff who identify as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community are invited to a free lunch and social gathering on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in MC 5501.

The lunch is organized by the Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group (GSDWG) as the beginning of a larger initiative to build connections between LGBTQ2S+ individuals on campus. Our goal is to create opportunities for networking and community-building by holding events for all members of the campus community throughout the year.

The GSDWG is a sub-committee of the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Equity (PACE), and we welcome all campus community members, particularly those with LGBTQ2S+ lived experience, to come and participate in our monthly meetings. Over the last few years, our work has been focused on education, visibility, and advocacy, and a key initiative was the creation of the Making Spaces program, which now has a network of over 150 Space Makers on campus. As the working group evolves, we will continue to be a forum for members to discuss concerns, organize and advocate around LGBTQ2S+ issues through an intersectional lens, and create opportunities for the LGBTQ2S+ community on campus to connect, engage, and build community.

We hope that LGBTQ2S+ staff and faculty will join us for our inaugural lunch gathering. All are invited, including those who work at the Stratford, Kitchener, and Cambridge campuses and the affiliate colleges. The invitation also extends to staff who are employed in part time or sessional roles, including postdoctoral researchers and research professors.

The October 30 lunch is sponsored by the Equity Office, Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, FAUW's Equity Committee, the University of Waterloo Staff Association, and the Library and Archivists Association of the University of Waterloo.

Please register for the lunch so that we know how many people to expect.

For more information about the GSDWG, please contact the chair of the committee, Clare Bermingham.

Whys and wherefores on a Wednesday

Two people are dwarfed by an imposing cliff face on the shore of a lake.

There will be a Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP) information meeting on Friday, October 11 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in EV2-2021. "We’ll cover requirements for new applications and reporting on funded projects (as well as recent changes to NSTP policies and practices)," writes Professor Andrew Trant, chair of the University's Committee for Northern Research. "NSTP funding is for senior undergraduate and graduate students to help offset travel and living costs when doing research in the north."

For more information, please contact Professor Andrew Trant at

Members of the Optometry Rack Pack pose for a group photo.

"The 2019 Optometry Rack Pack team completed the Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure on Sunday to support breast cancer research," writes Marie Amodeo. "The Rack Pack was again honoured with the ‘Post-Secondary Team Challenge Award’ for the institution with the most funds raised to support the cause - the current total is $10,485! That brings the team’s seven year total to over $76,746!"  

Donations are accept until the end of October. "The Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure was inspiring to all who attended. Be ready to tie up your laces for next year’s event," Amodeo writes. "Thanks for supporting a great cause!"

Christopher Bagan sits in front of a harpsichord.If it ain't Baroque, don't fix it: The next installment of the Noon Hour Concert Series will certainly strike a chord as it features Treasures of the German Baroque. Taking the stage will be Christopher Bagan, who is harpsichordist for the Canadian Opera Company and Opera Atelier, and holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance from the University of British Columbia with a specialization in the piano music of Arnold Schönberg. 

Bagan has performed with many of the leading baroque singers, instrumentalists and conductors in North America and abroad with recent engagements including appearances with I Furiosi, Apollo's Fire, Les Dèlices, Catacoustic Consort, Daniel Taylor and Ellen Hargis. Bagan is a regular performer in the Early Music Vancouver main series and Summer Festival as well as Vancouver’s Music on Main concert series. For this performance, Bagan will feature the music of Bach, Telemann, and Graupner.

The concert takes place at 12:30 p.m. in the Conrad Grebel Chapel.

The Centre for Career Action's drop-in hours for this week are as follows:

  • Undergraduate students (résumé, cover letter and interviews): Monday to Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Tatham Centre;
  • Undergraduate students (résumé, cover letter and interviews): Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library;
  • Undergraduate students (résumé, cover letter and interviews): Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Davis Centre Library; and
  • Graduate students and Postdocs (résumé, cover letter and interviews): Monday to Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Tatham Centre.

Further Education advising drop-in appointments this term are as follows:

  • Further Education advising drop-in appointments (online registration through WaterlooWorks begins at 11:00 a.m.): Mondays and Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tatham Centre;
  • Further Education advising drop-in appointments (online registration through WaterlooWorks begins at 11:00 a.m.): Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., STC 2024; and
  • Further Education advising drop-in appointments (online registration through WaterlooWorks begins at 11:00 a.m.): Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., BMH 1023.

You’re invited to the City of Waterloo’s first-ever neighbourhood summit. "Join local neighbours at our first-ever neighbourhood summit to share stories and ideas, and learn about the good things happening in neighbourhoods across Waterloo," says a note from the City of Waterloo. "All are welcome and the event is free. Childcare is also available for free, and dinner is included. Reserve your spot online so we know you're able to join us."

The event takes place on Saturday, November 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in UpTown Waterloo. Visit the Waterloo Neighbourhoods website for more information.

The United Way Thermometer.

Link of the day

World Post Day

When and Where

Special on-campus election polls, Monday October 7 to Wednesday, October 9, 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., SLC 2135 and MC 2037A. Students, staff and faculty can vote for their hometown riding (with proof of address in that riding).

Legal & Immigration Services United Way Trivia competition, Wednesday, October 9. Takes place every Wednesday in October. All proceeds to the United Way.

Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, October 9, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor).

Cyber Security Pop-Up Booth, Wednesday, October 9, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., SLC marketplace.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI)’s Speaker Series, featuring "Michael Varnum: How and Why do Cultures Change?" Wednesday, October 9, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., QNC 1501.

Noon Hour Concert:  Treasures of the German Baroque, Wednesday, October 9, 12:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel University College Chapel. Free admission.

CBB-[CREATE Series] Ethical Research with Human Participants by Dr. Heather RootWednesday October 9, 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., E7-7303. Registration required.

Coping Skills Seminar – Thriving With Emotions, Wednesday, October 9, 6:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on LEADS.

100 Debates on the Environment, Waterloo Electoral District, Wednesday, October 9, 7:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Concept by Velocity - Intro Session: Validation Exploration, “Different techniques for facilitating interviews with potential customers in order to validate the severity of your problem and whether your solution is a fit.” Wednesday, October 9, 7:30 p.m., South Campus Hall 2nd Floor.

University Club Thanksgiving Luncheon, Thursday, October 10 and Friday, October 11, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., University Club.

More Feet on the Ground Mental Health Training, Thursday, October 10, 9:30 a.m., NH 2302 – Registration is on LEADS

Pre-Election Party Platform Panel Discussion, Thursday, October 10, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., DC 1301.

Exploring Your Personality Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Part II, Thursday, October 10, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., TC 1214.

Velocity Launches Concept! “Launched this Fall, Concept is the pre-incubator program for University of Waterloo students and community. Join us for contests, games, information, demonstrations, and loads of swag!” Thursday, October 10, 1:00 p.m., Student Life Centre Great Hall.

Developing Your Compassionate Mind, Thursday, October 10, 3:00 p.m., NH 2447 – Register on LEADS.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 10, 3:30 p.m., HS 1106 – Register is on LEADS.

Canadian Engineering Graduate Studies Consortium, Thursday, October 10, 3:30 p.m., Engineering 7 second-floor atrium.

Hult Prize University of Waterloo kickoff, Thursday, October 10, 4:00 p.m., Engineering 7 second-floor event space.

Alleviating Anxiety Seminar, Thursday, October 10, 5:00 p.m., HS 2302 – Register on LEADS.

Warriors Football Vs. Laurier Think Pink Game, Federation of Students Food Bank Drive and Senior Night  Thursday, October 10, 7:00 p.m., Warrior Field.

Benjamin Eby Lecture: Witnessing Passion, “Musical depiction of minor characters in Passion music by Bach, Ešenvalds, MacMillan and Pärt”, Thursday, October 10, 7:30 p.m., 140 Westmount Rd N, Waterloo.

History Speakers Series presents Ida Mukuka, Friday, October 11, 12:00 p.m., HH117. Refreshments will be served.

Not just a lab report: The recipe for communicating in all research disciplines, Friday, October 11, SCF 228F.

Chemistry seminar, "Molecular and Mechanistic Underpinnings of Signal Transduction in Membranes - NMR Inspired Studies of the Conformational Landscape in Enzymes & GPCRs," featuring R. Scott Prosser, Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Toronto, Friday, October 11, 1:00 p.m., C2-361 reading room.

Thanksgiving Holiday, Monday, October 14, most University buildings and operations closed.

Fall Reading Week, Tuesday, October 15 to Friday, October 18.

Eating Disorder Support Group, Tuesday, October 15, 4:30 p.m., NH 3308. Register on LEADS.

Maple Conference 2019, Tuesday, October 15, 6:00 p.m. to Wednesday, October 16, 5:30 p.m., Federation Hall.

Keeping Well at Work 2019, Wednesday October 16. Please register.

Legal & Immigration Services United Way Trivia competition, Wednesday, October 16. Takes place every Wednesday in October. All proceeds to the United Way.

Research Ethics drop-in session for faculty and students, Wednesday, October 16, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Dana Porter Library (study booth on the main floor).

Mindfulness Meditation: A Stress Reduction Program, Wednesday, October 16, 2:00 p.m., NH 2447 – Register on LEADS.

NEW - Academic Career Conference, Thursday, October 17, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., STC Lower Atrium.

W Print Open House, Thursday, October 17, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., GSC and SCH locations.

We Are Here: The why and how of territorial acknowledgements (an orientation for faculty), Thursday, October 17, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., EIT 3142. Registration required.

Research Talks - Boosting Vaccine Uptake featuring Waterloo researchers Heather MacDougall and Nancy Waite, as well as Edward Thommes of Sanofi Pasteur North America and Natasha Crowcroft from the Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases, Thursday, October 17, 11:45 a.m., DC 1302. Please register as seating is limited.

CBB and the Games Institute present: UWaterloo Intellectual Property Workshop Series, “IP Case Study,” Thursday October 17, 12:30 p.m., DC 1304. Registration required.

Developing Your Compassionate Mind, Thursday, October 17, 3:00 p.m., NH 2447 – Register on LEADS.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 17, 3:30 p.m., HS 1106 – Register is on LEADS.

Warrior Women's Hockey vs. Laurier Home Opener, Battle of Waterloo, Thursday, October 17, 7:00 p.m., CIF Arena.

Lectures in Catholic Experience series, “Gender: But that is what the church has always taught!” featuring Myroslaw Tataryn, Professor Emeritus, St. Jerome’s University, Friday, October 18, 7:30 p.m., Vanstone Lecture Hall, St. Jerome’s University.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable on the UWaterloo Talent Acquisition System (iCIMS):

  • Job ID# 2019-4649 - Director, Operations and Development - WUSA (Federation of Students), USG 12
  • Job ID# 2019-4737 - Residence Life Co-ordinator - Housing & Residences, USG 7
  • Job ID# 2019-4723 - Stakeholder Relations Officer - WUSA (Federation of Students), USG 8
  • Job ID# 2019-4720 - Administrative Manager  - Spanish, USG 6

Internal secondment opportunity:

  • Job ID# 2019-4628 - Custodian I - Plant Operations-Custodial, CUPE