Student wins Best Presenter at the Virtual Research Colloquium
A message from Waterloo International.
Nikolay Videnov, a master’s student at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) has won the title of Best University of Waterloo Presenter at the virtual research colloquium, jointly hosted by the University of Waterloo and the University of Strathclyde, last Thursday.
Nikolay’s presentation was selected from a short list of 11 presenters, out of a field of 28 submissions from Waterloo, which focused on research areas such as, Nuclear Engineering, Quantum Technology, Digital Health, Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship.
The IQC student’s presentation of his research on Building an Open-access Quantum Information Processor won a $500 award. Nikolay said he was extremely impressed with the diversity of the research shared by his colleagues at both institutions. He added that he valued the opportunity to receive feedback from international scholars.
“Collaboration with different institutions is very useful to see what other people are doing,” he said. “On top of that, there’s an element of discipline collaboration, which is also extremely useful to get new ideas from fields that you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to interact with.”
President Feridun Hamdullahpur and Principal of the University of Strathclyde Sir Jim McDonald opened the one-day research colloquium with a fireside chat that discussed the challenges facing higher education in light of COVID and the value of strengthening international collaboration among strategic partnerships. They also reiterated their commitments to working together to continue to provide ideas and research that solve vexing global challenges. The video of this chat will be available on UWaterloo YouTube channel.
“We hope this colloquium opened international research and networking opportunities for our students, who received valuable feedback from international experts while gaining conference and presentation experience,” said Bessma Momani, Interim Assistant Vice-President, International Relations, Waterloo International.
Organized by Waterloo International, in collaboration with Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, the Office of Research, and several faculties, the virtual research colloquium drew wide campus involvement and strengthened international partnerships.
Skiing over moguls in the Dragons' Den
This is an excerpt of an article originally featured on Waterloo Stories.
One of the surest signs that Sam Dugan, 22, is a born entrepreneur might be this: he got the brainwave for his latest business venture, completely out of the blue, when he was on a date.
Two years later, while juggling studies as a third-year mechatronics engineering student at the University of Waterloo, he has turned that idea into a startup technology company to reduce injuries at ski resorts.
And on Thursday night, Dugan will realize a childhood dream when he appears in an episode of the CBC show Dragons’ Den to explain his product, SmartPatrol, and pitch the resident moguls for investments.
“I always secretly hoped I would be on the show one day, so it was surreal to be there in person,” he says of the taping in early September. “I mean, don’t we all, or was that just me?”
Dugan - who brought along his younger brother Jeff, a second-year systems design engineering student at Waterloo, to give a demonstration in full ski gear - can’t say too much about his eight-minute segment on the show until after it airs at 9 p.m.
But it went well enough that he and mentor Dean Pacey, an angel investor and adjunct business lecturer at Waterloo, have rented a local theatre to watch it with as many friends, relatives and supporters as COVID-19 restrictions will allow.
“This is a young man who has always been building and tinkering and creating stuff - and trying to make money,” Pacey says. “He is destined for success, whether it is with this business or not, because he is willing to listen and do the work to the nth degree.”
An avid skier who took half a year off between high school and university to work as an on-hill photographer in Whistler, Dugan developed SmartPatrol to monitor danger zones using a combination of computer vision and artificial intelligence.
A video camera mounted on a pole is aimed at areas, such as steep inclines and the landing zones of jumps, that approaching skiers and snowboarders can’t see.
Q and A with the experts: COVID-19 and the insurance industry
The University of Waterloo has a number of experts available for comment on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life in Canada – and that includes the insurance we pay.
Tony Wirjanto, a curator for Insurance and Asset Management for the World Economic Forum and professor at the School of Accounting and Finance, as well as the Department of Statistics & Actuarial Science at Waterloo, takes us through how COVID-19 has affected the insurance industry, and what can be done about it.
How has COVID-19 affected the insurance industry in Canada?
The insurance industry in Canada was projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 4.1 per cent between 2020 and 2024. This has been revised to 1.7 per cent in the wake of COVID-19.
The impacts of COVID-19 creates three challenges: rising claims, business continuity, and eroding capital reserves. There is an increase in life and health insurance claims. To support policyholders on claims and coverages, insurers offer grace periods on premiums, extend eligibility and coverage periods to customers, and relax underwriting requirements to expedite and encourage new policy issuance.
In maintaining business continuity, the sector encounters challenges from operational and back-of-office perspectives, and faces impediments in transitioning workforces and critical functions to a virtual work environment. Mergers and acquisitions are also affected by the pandemic. The pandemic creates a capital and liquidity problem on several fronts. On the asset side, brokers struggle to bring on board new proposals as clients cut their spending. On the liability side, payouts rise over claims, increasing outflows. On the investment side, the low interest rate environment reduces investment returns in a volatile market.
What do industry changes mean for consumers?
In the wake of COVID-19, insurance companies are making an effort to increase their online communication with customers. Some products are becoming out of step with reality, however, and no longer meet the needs of customers. What good is health coverage if it only pays for a surgery that is suspended? Is travel insurance worth buying if a disruption like COVID-19 is not included in the coverage? In addition, there is an increased demand in products, such as disability and life insurance, and hospital indemnity, critical illness and/or business disruption policies with broader coverage. Income protection and other savings and retirement products that offer income certainty such as annuities are in demand as well. Home coverage is more valued given the amount of time that customers have to spend in their homes if working from home remains a viable option for them.
Is there a role for the government to play in helping the industry recover from COVID-19?
At a high level of engagement, government can respond to COVID-19 by taking concrete steps in support of promotion of continuity of operations; management of solvency and liquidity risks; and policyholders that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
With regard to the solvency issue, Canada’s OSFI has introduced measures to ease some regulatory policies to reduce the operational burden. Other measures that governments can take would be to provide (re)insurance or financial guarantees to support the availability of insurance coverage for certain losses that are either becoming far too difficult to cover due to the impacts of the crisis, or are traditionally not covered by private insurance markets. The first measure is in the form of trade credit insurance and aims at providing insurance companies with coverage against payment defaults demanded by commercial customers. The second measure addresses a longer-term issue associated with the lack of insurance coverage for pandemic-related business interruption losses.
Professor Wirjanto is a member of the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, jointly appointed with the School of Accounting and Finance and cross-appointed with the Cheriton School of Computer Science. His research interests lie in the intersection between statistics and econometrics. In particular, he conducts research in the field of financial time series with a focus on volatility modeling/forecasting and financial risk management, and in the field of financial mathematics with a focus on portfolio optimization in a high-dimensional setting and on global climate change risks.
Winter is coming, so get a grip and don't slip
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 44,000 Canadian workers are injured each year in fall accidents with 67 per cent occurring from slips and trips at the same elevation.
Each year, the Safety Office receives a large number of incident reports for outdoor slips, trips and falls that occur at the same elevation and involve snow or ice. Many of these incidents are related to inappropriate footwear and inattention to weather conditions.
The Safety Office is asking everyone to please wear appropriate footwear and adjust your pace for weather and surface conditions, and leave yourself enough time to reach your destination safely.
If you’re working or studying on campus, you can also keep others safe by reporting unsafe conditions to Plant Operations at extension 33793.
You can also spread salt from the green or yellow sand bins placed throughout campus to aid with traction on slippery areas.
If you’re working remotely, make sure that you're being a good neighbour by clearing your sidewalks for pedestrians and your front porch for the inevitable delivery drivers, and put your favourite ice melting product down where necessary.