Thursday, October 1, 2020

Are you RED-y? The United Way campaign starts today

 a tote bag, water bottle, and cloth mask.

A message from the United Way campaign.

Every year, our campus community comes together for the month of October to have some fun and help us support the United Way Waterloo Region Communities. Normally we’d be announcing GO RED day with our usual decorated campus, but this year it’s a bit different.

On Tuesday, President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur kicked off our campaign, with many of our volunteer ambassadors, donors, and committee members, in our first virtual event. It was an amazing success, with speakers from the House of Friendship, the United Way, and the President himself talking about the vital importance of this campaign. It was inspirational to hear about how your support helps to bring healing, counselling, and hope to many vulnerable citizens within our community. It was an incredible reminder that we can bring about real change with this campaign.

Go Red Day is here, and in this more virtual world, we’re challenging everyone who wants to participate in the campaign to decorate their office, their pet, their spouse….anyone and anything you can turn into a red-wrapped inspiration of fun and philanthropy (and send those pictures to for a chance to be featured in our next Daily Bulletin).

Also, we’re offering an amazing United Way Bundle Box that’ll keep you safe while you motivate others to make a donation. The Bundle Box, available at the W Store, contains one United Way tote bag, one United Way mask, one United Way water bottle, and two United Way hand sanitizers.

And, while we can’t gather in person for another successful United Way Souper Day, we’re bringing the soup to you. In partnership with UW Food Services, we’ll be selling Butternut Squash Soup Meal Kits, with all necessary ingredients, for you to make and enjoy our famous soup at home. It’s a great way to warm up this October while supporting the United Way Campaign. With your purchase, you’ll not only receive a meal kit, but you’ll also be able to join a live virtual cooking class led by Chef Mark Meinzinger. You’ll learn about the ingredients being used, variations on the soup, and about some of the great food security initiatives supported by the United Way.

Make sure you check out campus-wide events as they are posted throughout October, or connect with your area’s ambassador to find out what they have planned. We’re expecting some pretty creative ways to get involved this year, as we’re challenged with not all being on campus. The United Way committee is certain that our campus will rise to the challenge, donate and participate to help our community, and make this the best campaign year yet.

Alumni worldwide connect for a virtual celebration

A collage of tweets showing people participating in the virtual Fun Run.

On September 25 and 26, more than 550 alumni, students and Waterloo community members attended Alumni Black and Gold Day at home. It’s the first time our alumni network joined in a large-scale virtual event.

A tweet from a Fun Run participant showing a family getting in on the fun.The Virtual Fun Run was a great success, with participants connecting from all over the world to walk and run “together.” Attendees also tuned in for virtual lectures, panels, trivia challenges and social conversations with former classmates. Friday evening participants enjoyed a concert and a beverage from the Alumni Happy Hour Box, which featured alumni-owned businesses Craft Brand Co. and Lighthouse Lemonade.

“The Waterloo spirit was strong and vibrant with stories of innovation, out of the box thinking, problem-solving, networking and tremendous community engagement,” says Joanne Shoveller, vice-president advancement. “Thank you to all who organized, participated and joined!”

Thank you to all the alumni, staff and faculty who coordinated and spoke at these events. While we weren’t able to celebrate in person, we’re proud to be part of this passionate and talented community.

To see highlights from the event, check out #UWaterlooForever on Instagram and Twitter.

Lost and phoned

A lost phone displaying the Chaperone app.

By Joe Petrik. This article was originally published on Waterloo Stories.

Every month, some 23,000 Android devices are stolen or lost, with more than two-thirds never being recovered.

Even with Google’s Find my Device or Apple’s Find my iPhone, users are subjected to gaps in retrieval solutions, whether it’s from a dead battery or a thief has put the device on airplane mode.

But not anymore.

Jiayi Chen.For Jiayi Chen, a PhD candidate in the Cheriton School of Computer Science, combining both device and data loss–prevention solutions into one app bridges these gaps.

“I was in a restaurant and after I finished my meal, I left without taking my phone,” Chen recounts. “I was out the door and heading toward the bus stop when a waiter ran out and said, ‘Hey, you forgot your phone.’ I was lucky, but it got me thinking. What if a smartphone could detect whether it’s about to become unattended and then could alert the owner while the device was still within reach?”

That’s exactly the kind of system the Cryptography, Security and Privacy (CrySP) group student helped developed.

The app, Chaperone, uses a sonar-type method known as “active acoustic sensing” to detect a smartphone owner’s movements and locks the phone while alerting the owner when detecting a situation could lead to loss.

“When Chaperone is installed on an Android phone, it uses the device’s speakers to emit an inaudible high-frequency acoustic signal. It then detects the echo of that signal — its reflection from the phone’s owner as well as other people and nearby objects — using its microphone. Based on the changes in the reflected signals, Chaperone can distinguish nearby moving people from static objects. Then, Chaperone extracts the owner’s moving pattern and determines if the owner is about to leave the device unattended.”

Active acoustic sensing diagramWhile many loss-prevention solutions require additional hardware such as Bluetooth devices or wearable radio frequency ID tags, Chaperone is a stand-alone solution. All smartphones have a microphone and speaker, so they can perform active acoustic sensing.

To increase accuracy in detection, Chaperone uses four modules before alerting its user: trigger module (sensing user’s movement), acoustic-sensing module (detecting the echo using the device’s microphone to calculate distance and speed of movement), user-tracking module (locating the smartphone’s user in the immediate environment through echo filtration), and decision-making module (alerting the user if necessary).

Accuracy modules

You don’t have to worry about the alert being a blaring horn either.

“Because the alert is selected based on information collected by the trigger module, it’s tailored to the context,” Chen says. “That means if environmental noise is low as in a library, a gentle ringtone would be sufficient to get the user’s attention.”

So far, more than 1,300 experiments across different real-world scenarios have been evaluated. In 93 per cent of cases, Chaperone positively detected a user leaving their phone.

“Our current solution is designed based on a smartphone running Android 6.0 or newer,” Chen says. “The code is freely available so anyone can download it or improve it. Our experimental data and source code for our prototype is available on GitHub. This will help other researchers as well as let them contribute to the project.”

Virtual Fair takes place this weekend

A screenshot of the virtual fair website.

A message from Marketing and Undergraduate Recruitment (MUR).

The first Waterloo Virtual Fair will be held this Saturday, October 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Through the effort of hundreds of staff, students, and faculty members, prospective students from across Canada will have the opportunity to learn more about everything Waterloo has to offer. Representatives from our six faculties, four University Colleges, and many areas of student support services will be on hand to answer questions and share their experiences with the next generation of Warriors. 

 This event was created as a virtual alternative to the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF). In this new online environment, we’ve been able to offer even more access than we would at the OUF, including live chats, presentations, videos, PDF downloads, and more. Registration for the event can be accessed here.

If you have any questions about this event, please contact Laura Gordon (

October's first round of notes

A Canadian Blood Services banner.

"We can’t come to you like we used to, but you can donate blood at your local donor centre," says a note from Canadian Blood Services. "We know things are different, but one thing hasn’t changed — the need for blood remains constant and we need your support. Blood donation events have been cancelled for the year at the University of Waterloo. However, you can donate blood at the Waterloo Donor Centre, 94 Bridgeport Rd E., open 6 days a week." 

"Join UWaterloo Athletics, Warriors Helping Warriors, and have your blood donation count towards their pledge of 100 donations this year. Simply add their Partners For Life ID, UNIV960995, to your donor profile, and all donations will count towards Warriors Helping Warriors. Book now at or call 1-888-236-6283. Appointments must be made to ensure physical distancing."

"Most patients with dry eye disease use a lubricating eye drop to relieve symptoms of dryness. The relief gained from using drops can be short as the drops spill out of the eyes or drain away quickly from the eye surface. The Centre for Ocular Research and Education (CORE) is currently recruiting participants who suffer from discomfort due to dry eye. This study will investigate the comfort of an ocular insert for treatment of dry eye disease. The study will take place at the University of Waterloo. Participants will receive $180 upon study completion. Total time commitment of eight hours over nine study visits. Eligible participants must be willing to attend CORE every morning for five consecutive days. For more information regarding this study visit"

"All studies conducted at CORE have been reviewed and received clearance through a University of Waterloo Ethics Committee. To register to be part of CORE’s participant database and be the first to know about new studies, profiles can be created at"

Upcoming office closure

AccessAbility Services will be closed on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2 between 12:00 noon and 4:30 p.m. for staff training.

Link of the day

International Day of Older Persons

When and Where to get support

Students can visit the Student Success Office online for supports including academic development, international student resources, leadership development, exchange and study abroad, and opportunities to get involved.

Instructors can visit the Keep Learning website to get support on adapting their teaching and learning plans for an online environment. The following workshops are current offerings from the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Getting Ready to Facilitate Online Courses: TA Training, beginning Tuesday, October 13.

Remote Course Design Essentials, beginning August 26.

Independent Remote Course Design Essentials. Continuous self-enroll course in LEARN.

Thirty Minute Thursdays – PebblePad, Thursday, October 1, 2020, 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Assessment Design CafeTuesday, October 6, 2020 to 9:30 am to 11:00 a.m.

Thirty Minute Thursdays – PebblePad, Thursday, October 8, 2020, 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information.

Interested in learning more about engaging your students in an online course? The Centre for Extended Learning has created a new resource for you called "Fostering Engagement: Facilitating Online Courses in Higher Education"

This Open Educational Resource was designed for post-secondary instructors and teaching assistants who would like to better understand the critical role of facilitation in online course delivery, and build practical skills and strategies that are relevant, effective, and authentic.

Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

The Writing and Communication Centre is rolling out virtual services and programs for fall term: 

  • Undergrad students -- work with us to brainstorm, draft, revise, and polish assignments by meeting with our writing advisors in virtual appointments. Chat with our friendly and knowledgeable peer tutors in our virtual drop-ins and PJ-friendly writing groups. Or experience an online workshop at your own pace. 
  • First-year Warriors! Check out Waterloo Ready to Write to build your skills for writing success.
  • Graduate Students -- meet with an advisor in a virtual appointments, take an online workshop,  join the grad writing community at our Virtual Writing Cafés and #WaterlooWrites groups, develop your academic voice at Speak Like a Scholar, or make progress on your thesis at Dissertation Boot Camp.
  • Instructors and faculty -- Request and access WCC workshops for use in your courses, join a virtual writing group, or speak with a writing advisor about a writing project.

We understand that these circumstances can be troubling, and you may need to speak with someone for emotional support. Good2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline based in Ontario, Canada that is available to all students. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health Services or  Counselling Services. You can also contact the University's Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment.

The Library has published a resource guide on how to avoid information overload.

The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the FAUW blog for more information.

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) continues to advocate for its members. Check out the UWSA blog for more information.

WUSA supports for students:

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre. If you have any questions please email us at

The Bike Centre – Now open by appointment for your bicycle repair and rental needs in the Student Life Centre. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to:

Centre for Academic Policy Support - CAPS is here to assist Waterloo undergraduates throughout their experience in navigating academic policy in the instances of filing petitions, grievances and appeals. Please contact them at More information at

WUSA Commissioners who can help in a variety of areas that students may be experiencing during this time:

WUSA Student Legal Protection Program - Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time facing a legal issue. The legal assistance helpline provides quick access to legal advice in any area of law, including criminal. Just call 1-833-202-4571

Empower Me is a confidential mental health and wellness service that connects students with qualified counsellors 24/7. They can be reached at 1-833-628-5589.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Healthy Warriors at Home. Free programming including Online Fitness, Health Webinars, Personalized Nutrition and more from Warriors Athletics and Rec. Open to students, staff, faculty and alumni. Register today.

Renison English Language Institute continues to offer virtual events and workshops to help students practice their English language skills.

Water Institute Research Conference 2020: Can we achieve SDG6 in a post COVID-19 worldSeptember 30 to October 1, 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. 

Balsillie School of International Affairs presents “Global Insights: The Future of Work in a Post-COVID-19 World”, featuring Joël Blit, University of Waterloo and speakers from University of Warwick, Ritsumeikan University and American University, Thursday, October 1, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p..m. 

Akindi Live Training (Webinar), Thursday, October 1, 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 1, 3:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Coping with Flashbacks, a workshop for survivors of sexual assault, Thursday, October 1, 4:30 p.m.

IT Seminar: Zabbix Overview, Friday, October 2, 9:00 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Join online.

Concept Graduate Student Startup Fund Applications Open, Monday, October 5

Portage-Global Water Futures Research Data Management webinar series: “Enhancing Collaboration and Reproducibility Using GitHub” Tuesday, Oct 6, 1:00 p.m. Registration details  are available here.

Concept IP Series: Case Study, Tuesday October 6, 3:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

Portage Research Data Management webinar series: “Data Summaries: Distilling Best Practices,” Wednesday, October 7, 1:00 p.m. Registration details  are available here.

Managing Difficult Conversations Workshop, hosted and facilitated by the Conflict Management & Human Rights Office, Wednesday, October 7, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Concept Intro Session: The Business Model, Wednesday October 7, 5:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 8, 3:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Taking Responsibility in the Anti-Racist Movement, hosted by the Equity Office and facilitated by Janice Jo Lee, Thursday, October 8, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Xiao Qi Mu, "Gender Stereotypes and the Relational Consequences of Interpersonal Justice Violations." Supervisors, Winny Shen, Ramona Bobocel. Thesis available upon request from the Faculty of Arts Administrative Coordinator, Graduate and Research. Oral defence Wednesday, October 7, 10:00 a.m.

Kinesiology. Sherri Thomson, "Exploring the Role of Cervical Proprioception in Balance Control." Supervisor, William McIlroy. Email AHS Graduate Administration: for a copy. Oral defence Thursday, October 29, 12:00 p.m.

Recreation and Leisure Studies. Xiaotao Yang, "Privileging Indigenous voices: Narratives of travel experiences of Tibetans." Supervisor, Heather Mair. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (BMH 2212). Oral defence Friday, October 30, 9:00 a.m.

School of Accounting and Finance. Betty (Bin) Xing, "Tax-Planning vs. Coordination: The Du al-Role of Internal Capital Allocation." Supervisors, Joyce Tian, Ken Klassen. Thesis available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Tuesday, November 3, 1:30 p.m.