Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Bundle up for our United Way campaign

United Way Campaign packages and soup kits.

A message from the United Way Campaign.

A few weeks ago, we launched our first virtual United Way campaign. Thank you to everyone who has donated thus far. Your generosity is making an impact in our community.  

If you are still looking for ways to give to the campaign this year, we have an amazing collaboration with the W Store. Through their online store, you can purchase: 

  • a United Way bundle box, containing one United Way tote bag, one United Way mask, one United Way water bottle, and two United Way hand sanitizers. 100 per cent of proceeds goes towards the campaign.
  • Soup meal kits, which are available for pickup on Wednesday October 28 and Thursday October 29 at Fed Hall. You may also wish to join our live virtual cooking class led by Chef Mark Meinzinger on Thursday October 29 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. 35 per cent of the proceeds of each kit will be donated to United Way.

You can also donate up to $20 to the campaignhassle-free through the W Store.

Every little bit counts. Together we can build a stronger Waterloo Region.  

Waterloo awards posthumous and honorary degrees to three students

The three students who will be receiving special posthumous degrees at fall convocation.

This article was originally published on Waterloo Stories.

The University of Waterloo will award posthumous degrees as part of its fall convocation in celebration of the academic accomplishments of Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani and Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan, two students killed in the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 in January 2020. An honorary degree has also been awarded to Jaya Gupta, an undergraduate Engineering student who lost her fight with cancer earlier this fall.

“The sadness at the loss of Mansour, Mari and Jaya has been profound both personally and across our University community,“ says Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor. “As we recognize our graduating students, we felt it important to celebrate the academic and personal contributions of each of these wonderful individuals to honour their memories. The University of Waterloo is most certainly a better place having had them as part of our community.”

Jaya Gupta.Waterloo awarded Gupta an honorary Bachelor of Applied Science degree in September 2020 before she lost her battle with a rare form of cancer. In addition to her degree, the Nanotechnology Engineering student also received her iron ring, a significant milestone for every engineer, at a special virtual ceremony attended by Hamdullahpur and Mary Wells, dean of engineering.

“Everyone in the Faculty of Engineering was deeply saddened by Jaya’s passing,” said Wells. “It was an honour to have the opportunity to come together and celebrate her Waterloo Engineering and many other accomplishments. Our hearts are with her family and friends.”

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani.Esfahani will be awarded  a Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering. He was conducting his doctoral research in the area of construction automation and management, focusing on adaptive reuse projects in the circular economy. 

“Mansour was a bright, well-respected young researcher who is greatly missed in our research community,” said Wells. “We are proud to honour his work and his memory with this degree.” 

Marizeh (Mari) Foroutan.Foroutan’s graduate work in the department of Geography and Environmental Management focused on the application of new algorithms and technologies in remote sensing to study climate change as well as researching planetary extremes from hyper-arid hot deserts to freezing worlds. She will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Geography.

“The entire Environment community was devastated at the loss of Mari. Her dedication to improving our world was an inspiration to so many,” said Jean Andrey, dean of the Faculty of Environment. “While we are heartbroken to be without her today, we are grateful for the opportunity to recognize her contributions, both personal and academic.”

Both Foroutan and Esfahani will be honoured on October 23 as part of the fall 2020 virtual PhD graduate celebration.

The University is creating memorial awards for Foroutan and Esfahani, with generous support from alumni and donors.

Concept partners with Rogers, NHL, Intel, and Sportsnet for hackathon

SportsNet Hockey Hack banner featuring a hockey goalie mask.

A message from Concept.

Students have a unique opportunity to spend a week in November hacking hockey and innovating with 5G technology. Concept is partnering with SportsnetRogersThe NHLIntelGEDI, and Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business to offer an incredible experience exclusively for UWaterloo students to be on the forefront of sports tech innovation.

Sportsnet Hockey Hack: Powered by Rogers 5G is a collaborative, week-long hackathon offering the unique opportunity for participants to work with Rogers’ groundbreaking, low latency 5G technology. Students will have access to real on-ice tracking data from 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs games and use it to test and implement their innovative solutions. The overall goal of the week is to take the problem statement and will devise innovative ways to increase audience engagement and enhance the fan experience for Sportsnet viewers.

Participants will spend the week hacking with an interdisciplinary team to create an innovative solution to following problem statement:

How might we provide Sportsnet and NHL fans (existing and new) an unmatched viewing experience that delivers immersive, social-safe, and fun engagements both inside and outside the physical arena, by leveraging 5G?

Each team will have an assigned mentor helping guide them through the week, access to experts supplied by The NHL, Sportsnet, Rogers, and Intel to assist in technical aspects, design, and solution delivery. The hackathon will culminate with a live pitch event featuring Q&A sessions for the teams to showcase their innovative prototypes and impress a panel of judges.

Winning teams from the week will take home some incredible prizes provided by the partners and have the potential to create a partnered venture. Rogers will be offering job placement opportunities to winning teams as well as providing additional resources and post event support to continue developing their ideas.

Beyond the opportunities to work with cutting edge technology and develop the future of sports tech innovation, involved partners have provided some amazing prizes for participants and winners of the hackathon. Rogers and Intel will be providing tech device prizes, job placement opportunities for winning teams, as well as the potential to continue working on your innovative solution with continued guidance and support. Winning teams will see increased resources and the potential to commercialize their idea through a partnered venture. Sportsnet will be providing participants with some great swag from their partners at Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment and the Blue Jays.

Applications close November 9. Apply today for your chance to change the way millions of NHL fans watch and get engaged with the sport of hockey.

Protecting your data

A person in a mask works on a laptop.

By Meghana Anthannagari. This article was originally featured on Waterloo Stories.

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” is a philosophy many hackers have exploited during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In recognizing October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute (CPI) at Waterloo is hosting a series of panel discussions with industry leaders exploring issues of cybercrimes and threats to Canadians’ privacy. 

In a recent discussion, panelist Chris Lynam, director of the Cybercrime Coordination Unit with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), shared that his department has received 5,000 COVID-related cyber scam reports in six months, generating more than six million in losses for Canadians. These higher-than-usual numbers are prompting departments like his to remind everyone to question all content and read beyond the headline.

“I don’t think you can ever have too much awareness prevention, education, training in cybersecurity as prevention is very important,” Lyman said. “If we can get businesses and individuals to increase their cyber awareness, that could go a long way.” 

Best practices for remote work

As more individuals are switching from their usual office networks to their personal laptops, opportunities to breach sensitive data have increased. Home networks and electronics are less secure than the usual office online spaces, leaving users — specifically cyber-security employees — more susceptible to cyber-attacks. Use of anomaly detection software (which can indicate critical incidents like technical glitches or breaches) and setting up virtual private networks (VPN) are important steps to protecting users’ and businesses’ data. 

“The attacks often require an action from the user to be successful. It becomes really important [for the hacker to] target the user, for example, by making the email look like it’s from a friend,” Urs Hengartner said, an associate professor in the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “Be vigilant, watch out for attacks on your computer or your data as these could be attacks on yourself.”

Hengartner added that connecting with cybersecurity professionals for assessments of office online spaces and remaining updated on upcoming cyber security features are beneficial to protect businesses’ and users’ data. 

Staying cyber-safe at home

On the personal front, rising anxieties related to COVID-19 also leaves users more vulnerable to cyber-attacks at home. Whether it’s learning more about the symptoms of coronavirus or accepting an email from someone without analyzing the contents of the information first, it’s important to seek information from trusted sources. 

“Scammers are taking advantages of anxieties people are feeling as well as those experiencing the isolation related to physical distancing,” Cassandra Cross said, professor at Queensland University of Technology. “No one wakes up in the morning thinking they’re going to a victim of cybercrimes. The vulnerabilities and potential for exposure leave them for risk. The anxieties have contributed to people behaving in ways they wouldn’t have normally outside of the COVID crisis.”

Interested audiences can learn more and register for the final two, free, online events in through CPI’s website.

Upcoming office closure

Campus Wellness locations will be closed today from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. due to an all-staff meeting.

Link of the day

World Osteoporosis Day

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. Self-directed, continuous self-enrollment course in LEARN.

Getting Ready to Facilitate Online Courses: TA Training, Tuesday, October 13 to November 10.

Supporting Student Mental Health (for Instructors): self-directed, continuous self-enrollment course in LEARN.

Learning from Our Remote Teaching Experiences, Tuesday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

NEW - Arriscraft Speaker Series: What is Solidarity? | Breaking the Code: Designing for Non-Conforming Bodies, Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m.

PebblePad Users Group, Wednesday, October 21, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Thirty Minute Thursdays – PebblePad, Thursday, October 22, 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Integrative and Experiential Learning Session, Wednesday, October 28, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 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 foodsupport@wusa.ca.

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: https://wusa.ca/bikecentre

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 caps@wusa.ca. More information at http://wusa.ca/caps

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.

Portage-Global Water Futures Research Data Management webinar seriesLook Before You Leap: Adventures in Curating and Preserving Research Data, Tuesday, October 20, 1:00 p.m. Registration details are available here.

Free Yoga on Warrior FieldWednesday, October 21, 12:00 p.m. Class free for all Students, Staff and Faculty. Register today.

Noon Hour Concert: Duo Tubello, Wednesday, October 21, 12:30 p.m., online, free.

Workplace Harassment Prevention Workshop, hosted and facilitated by the Conflict Management and Human Rights Office, Wednesday, October 21, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

QPR Mental Health Training for Faculty and Staff , Wednesday, October 21, 1:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

Concept Intro Session: Metrics 101, Wednesday, October 21, 5:00 p.m., Virtual Event.

Equity 101, hosted and facilitated by the Equity Office, Thursday, October 22, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Grad Student Community and Conversation Circle, Thursday, October 22, 3:30 p.m., Online – Register on GoSignMeUp.

NEW - OER Workshop (Copyright, Licensing, Searching, and Selection), Friday, October 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Zoom. Register by October 21. Contact kblair@uwaterloo.ca or cpeters@uwaterloo.ca to register.

What's Next/What Now - Women in Engineering Conference, Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Daniel Todorovic, "Choosing what to read out loud while studying: The role of agency in production." Supervisor, Colin MacLeod. Available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Friday, November 6, 1:30 p.m.

Economics. Zong Jia (Jack) Chen, "The Relative Performance of Internatinal Students and their Academic Program Choices." Supervisor, Mikal Skuterud. Available upon request from the Faculty of Arts, Graduate Studies and Research Officer. Oral defence Friday, November 13, 11:00 a.m.

Applied Mathematics. Brendon Phillips, "Viewing Trends in Graph Connectivity as Early Warnings of Epidemics and Vaccine Crises." Supervisor, Chris Bauch. Thesis will be available from MGO - mgo@uwaterloo.ca. Oral defence Friday, November 13, 10:00 a.m.

Pure Mathematics. Gulizar Seda Albayrak, "Sparse Automatic Sets." Supervisor, Jason Bell. Thesis available from MGO - mgo@uwaterloo.ca. Oral defence Wednesday, November 18, 10:00 a.m.