Monday, September 13, 2021

A blended re-opening to support blended learning

A message from the Student Success Office.

The Student Success Office (SSO) will be open to students on campus this fall while continuing to offer a variety of services and resources online. Students can now drop by the office Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to connect with staff in-person, or virtually through our new Live Chat Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Check out new and returning student services and opportunities below.

Academic development

Leadership development

International student experience

Global learning

  • Students who are interested in going abroad in fall 2022 or winter/spring 2023 can attend an information session to get started and apply during the month of October.
  • The Global Experience Certificate is a good way for students to showcase their achievements in internationalization – even from home.

Whether they’re learning from home or campus this fall, students can count on the SSO to offer flexible, accessible support. If you have questions about any of the services listed above or how to better support the students you work with, please contact

WEEF hits $20M

The front page of the February 1990 issue of the Iron Warrior, showing a headline that reads "94% say yes to $75 fee."

By Angela Pause. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

It’s September 1989. Two fourth-year engineering students are sitting in POETS drinking $2 beers.

Avi Belinsky (BASc ’90, electrical engineering) is regaling John Vellinga (BASc ’91, systems design engineering) with tales of his most recent co-op experience at Microsoft in Seattle.

He recounts how the young Princeton interns on his team had boasted of their well-equipped university labs stocked with the latest systems (Intel had just released the 80486 microprocessor) thanks to Princeton’s generous endowment fund founded in 1745 by 10 men pledging £185.

By the time Vellinga heard about  Princeton’s endowment fund 245 years later, it had grown to over $7 billion dollars with hundreds of millions of dollars in interest invested back into the university each year.

It was no wonder the university had world-class labs and banks of up-to-date computers and monitors, then a hot commodity as students did not own personal computers, recalls Belinsky.   

A far-seeing strategy

As the beers flowed, Belinsky and Vellinga figured Waterloo Engineering was just as good as the Ivy League engineering school, except Waterloo lacked the budget for cutting-edge equipment.

In those days, the Faculty's annual equipment budget was a paltry $200,000, roughly $409,000 in 2021 dollars.

With government funding cut to the bone during those recessionary times, engineering students constantly complained about the lack of resources.

The WEEF logoThe two young men concluded that the Faculty should start its own student endowment fund and, at that moment, the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation (WEEF) was born.

Finishing their beers, they walked to the nearest computer lab in Carl Pollock Hall and sketched out a detailed draft of a student-run and funded endowment that would see each student voluntarily contribute $75 per term –  $132 in today’s dollars.

Like Princeton’s fund, compound interest would eventually grow enough for equipment purchases and to financially support student success in other ways.

It was a far-seeing strategy designed to help students of the future as the early contributors would see nothing of their investment or the interest earned.

After a quick rubber stamping from the Senate and Board of Governors (who knew a good thing when they saw it), Vellinga, then EngSoc president, and Belinsky, acting as his de facto campaign manager, held two student referendums to pitch WEEF to both streams of students.

It was a resounding success with 95 per cent of students voting in its favour. WEEF was now official.

WEEF co-founder John Vellinga, second from left, watches as students vote in favour of the endowment fund.

WEEF co-founder John Vellinga, second from left, watches as students vote in favour of the endowment fund. 

A Canadian first

Remarkably, three decades later the endowment has reached $20 million. All of those small $75 contributions added up to a significant amount of which the interest is then directed toward enhancing the educational experience of Waterloo Engineering students.

A critical ingredient to the Faculty's success, WEEF has funded the purchases of many significant – and necessary – pieces of equipment engineering students have put to good use over the years.

As the first student-funded and run endowment fund in Canada, WEEF has been repeatedly emulated by other schools.

“I remember thinking at the time, if not us, then who and if not now, when?” says Belinsky, now retired from a successful career at Microsoft. “We also were so young and stupid we didn’t know how hard it would be to do, so we just did it.”

Read the rest of the article on Waterloo News.

May the Fifth Force be with you

Picture of Dmitry Pushin at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Centre for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Maryland, United States.

Dmitry Pushin at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Centre for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Maryland.

A group of researchers have used a groundbreaking new technique to reveal previously unrecognized properties of technologically crucial silicon crystals and uncovered new information about an important subatomic particle and a long-theorized fifth force of nature.

The research was an international collaboration conducted at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Dmitry Pushin, a member of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing and a faculty member in Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, was the only Canadian researcher involved in the study. Pushin was interested in producing high-quality quantum sensors out of perfect crystals.

By aiming subatomic particles known as neutrons at silicon crystals and monitoring the outcome with exquisite sensitivity, researchers were able to obtain three extraordinary results: the first measurement of a key neutron property in 20 years using a unique method; the highest-precision measurements of the effects of heat-related vibrations in a silicon crystal; and limits on the strength of a possible “fifth force” beyond standard physics theories. 

In collaboration with researchers from Japan, the U.S. and Canada, the latest work resulted in a fourfold improvement in precision measurement of the silicon crystal structure factor. 

Pushin, whose research specializes in neutron physics and interferometry, was instrumental in collecting neutron data and chemically etching samples, which led to examining unexplored forces beyond Standard Model.

“This was a multi-year experiment, and we had great results that are technically exciting and opens the door to future technologies,” said Pushin.

The Standard Model is currently the widely accepted theory of how particles and forces interact at the smallest scales. But it’s an incomplete explanation of how nature works, and scientists suspect there is more to the universe than the theory describes.

The Standard Model describes three fundamental forces in nature: electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear force. Each force operates through the action of “carrier particles.” For example, the photon is the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. But the Standard Model has yet to incorporate gravity in its description of nature. Furthermore, some experiments and theories suggest the possible presence of a fifth force.

The researchers are already planning more expansive pendellösung measurements using both silicon and germanium. They expect a possible factor of five reduction in their measurement uncertainties, which could produce the most precise measurement of the neutron charge radius to date and further constrain — or discover — a fifth force. They also plan to perform a cryogenic version of the experiment, which would lend insight into how the crystal atoms behave in their so-called “quantum ground state,” which accounts for the fact that quantum objects are never perfectly still, even at temperatures approaching absolute zero.

The study, Pendellösung Interferometry Probes the Neutron Charge Radius, Lattice Dynamics, and Fifth Forces, was published this week in the journal Science.

This project is supported in part by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund through the Transforming Quantum Technologies programs.

Read more about the research from NIST.

Welcome Week returns and other notes

WUSA Welcome Week logo."WUSA is welcoming all new and returning students back to class with a week of fun and free events," says a note from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA). "Students can attend free in-person and virtual events to meet new friends and connect with old classmates. They can test their knowledge at Virtual Boombox Trivia, and unwind at Headphone Disco or the Wes Barker Comedy & Magic Show. There’s also Sex Toy Bingo or our in-person Outdoor Movie Night. Events run from September 13 to 17. COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place and students are asked to register for events by visiting the WUSA Welcome Week page."

Human Resources has announced that the following employees have retired as of August 1, 2021:

  • Philip Regier, who started working at Waterloo in May 1982, retired as Network Systems Specialist in Electrical Engineering;
  • Paul Ludwig, who began his career at the University in November 1983, retired as Manager, Infrastructure Support in Electrical Engineering;
  • Wayne Whetstone, who started at Waterloo in April 1974, retired as Operations Assistant in Food Services;
  • Shelley Knischewsky, who began working at the University in July 2006, retired as Event and External Relations Coordinator in the School of Planning;
  • Walter Mittelstaedt, who joined Waterloo in January 1997, retired as Director, Campus Wellness;
  • Dianne Bader, who started at the University in January 2001, retired as Director, CEE Services in Co-operative and Experiential Education;
  • Sheila Hurley, who began her career at Waterloo in March 1980, retired as Safety Administrator in the Safety Office;
  • Mark Griffett, who started working at the University in November 2011, retired as Materials Engineering Technician in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering;
  • Scott Desomeaux, who joined Waterloo in January 1981, retired as Senior Mechanical/Civil Technologist/Designer in Plant Operations;
  • Liana Kreamer, who began working at the University in February 2014, retired as Canadian Water Network Staff in the Canadian Water Network;
  • Kevin Durst, who started at Waterloo in April 1999, retired as Stationary Engineer 2nd Class in Plant Operations;
  • Carolyn Stanley, who began working at the University in September 2006, retired as Food Services Assistant in Food Services;
  • Jane Moores-Stuart, who started at Waterloo in April 2006, retired as Patient Care Coordinator in the School of Optometry and Vision Science clinic; and
  • Professor Barry Ferguson, who joined the Unviersity in August 1986, retired as a Lecturer in the Centre for Education in Math and Computing (CEMC).

Congratulations all on reaching this milestone and best wishes in your retirement.

Link of the day

The Smurfs cartoon title card from 1981.

40 years ago: The Smurfs blue up Saturday morning cartoons

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.

Course templates are available within your course in LEARN to help you build and edit your content and assignment pages quickly.

The following workshops, webinars, and events are offered by the KL team (CTE, CEL, ITMS, LIB):

Employees can access resources to help them work remotely, including managing University records and privacy of personal information. Here are some tips for staying healthy while working from home.

Stay informed about COVID cases on campus by consulting the COVID case tracker.

The Writing and Communication Centre has virtual services and programs to help undergrads, grad students, postdocs and faculty members with academic writing.

Co-op students can get help finding a job and find supports to successfully work remotely, develop new skills, access wellness and career information, and contact a co-op or career advisor.

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) will be expanding some in-person services for fall 2021. The Tatham Centre will be open with front-desk support beginning September 7, with limited in-person appointments and co-op consults beginning September 20. All services will continue to be offered virtually this term. Book an appointment online or visit our Live Chat to connect with our Client Support Team. The CCA is here to help.

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 TreatmentGood2Talk is a post-secondary student helpline available to all students.

While the Library continues to focus on digital resources and consultations, our spaces are open for the fall term. Dana Porter Library is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Davis Centre Library is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for drop-in individual study space, bookable individual study rooms, drop-in access to computers and printers, book pick-up services and IST Help Desk support. Special Collections & Archives and the Geospatial Centre will be accessible by appointment. Library staff are available for questions via Ask us. Full details on current services and hours are available on the Library’s COVID-19 Update webpage

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.

The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) supports all members of the University of Waterloo campus community who have experienced, or been impacted, by sexual violence. This includes all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the main campus, the satellite campuses, and at the affiliated and federated Waterloo Institutes and Colleges. For support, email: or visit the SVPRO website.

The Indigenous Initiatives Office is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the university Indigenization strategy.

The Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, based at St. Paul’s University College, provides support and resources for Indigenous students, and educational outreach programs for the broader community, including lectures, and events.

WUSA supports for students:

Peer support  - MATES, Glow Centre, RAISE, Women’s Centre - Visit to book an appointment either in person or online for the Fall term!

Food Support Service food hampers are currently available from the Turnkey Desk 24/7 in the Student Life Centre. Drop off locations are also open again in SLC, DC, DP, SCH and all residences.

Bike Centre – Open for drop in and Rentals

Co-op Connection all available online. Check for more details.

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.caMore information is available.

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 (Online Fitness)

Warrior Rec Registration. Starts September 7. A wide range of programs are being offered this term. Intramural deadline: September 13, 11:00 a.m. Instructional deadline: September 19, 11:59 p.m. Register online.

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join your fellow Warriors, donate blood and help us win the Blood Battle against Laurier for a second year in a row. Set up a profile or add the PFL code: UNIV960995 to your account if you have a account already. Questions? Contact

Drop-in to Warrior Virtual Study Halls on Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Come together in this virtual space to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

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

NEW - WUSA Welcome Week, Monday, September 13 to Friday, September 17.

2SLGBTQ+ Fundamentals, Tuesday, September 14, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is an introductory workshop to help Waterloo students and employees develop greater understandings of 2SLGBTQ+ identities, gain knowledge about protected rights, and, identify and explore barriers to develop and foster actions that create a more welcoming campus environment and offer meaningful and relevant support. All are welcome.

Indigenous Employee Virtual Social, Tuesday, September 14, 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. The Indigenous Initiatives Office invites all Indigenous employees and retirees of the University of Waterloo and the Affiliated and Federated Institutions to a virtual social. All of Turtle Island’s First Nations (Status/Non-Status), Métis, Inuit employees and retirees are welcome.

Athletics and Rec Virtual Open HouseTuesday, September 14, 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Find out how to get active and engaged with Warriors Athletics and Rec this term. One lucky participant will win $25 to Freshii. Registration required.

Waterloo’s Equity Survey: Ask Us Anything About Data Collection & Security, Tuesday, September 14, 3:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Virtual event open to all campus community members to learn more and ask questions about Waterloo’s Equity Survey. All are welcome.

Women in Mathematics (WiM) virtual welcome event, “What I wish I knew then…” Thursday, September 16, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. RSVP today.

Take Back the Night, Thursday, September 16, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

NEW - Knowledge Integration seminar: “Knowledge Integration and public service for the digital age”, featuring speakers Skaidra Puodziunas and Sukhi Chuhan, Ontario Digital Service, Government of Ontario, Friday, September 17, 1:00 p.m

Warriors Football Home Opener. Saturday, September 18, 6:00 p.m., Warrior Field. Minor League Day, Residence and Employees Day, The Alliance “We Are One” Game. Purchase your tickets in advance (coming soon).

NEW - University Senate meeting, Monday, September 20, 3:30 p.m.

Anti-racism book clubWhite Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson (2018), Tuesday, September 21, 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

NEW - GEDI Exchange Webinar - A 30 Minute Exchange with HueX and Tim Hortons, Tuesday, September 21, 1:00 p.m. Join this discussion with HueX and Tim Hortons as they discuss improving the customer experience with technology by bringing voice-enabled conversational AI to the drive-through.

PhD oral defences

Computer Science. Sebastian Reynaldo Verschoor, "Quantum information in security protocols." Supervisor, Michele Mosca. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Monday, September 20, 9:00 a.m.

Geography and Environmental Management. Aaron Thompson, “Developing Parameter Constraints for Radar-based SWE Retrievals”. Supervisor, Richard Kelly. Available upon request from the Faculty of Environment, Administrator, Graduate Studies. Oral defence Wednesday, September 22, 1:30 p.m.

Computer Science. Jay Henderson, "Understanding Mode and Modality Transfer in Unistroke Gesture Input." Supervisor, Edward Lank. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Wednesday, September 22, 2:45 p.m.

Statistics and Actuarial Science. Dila Puspita, "Risk Modelling in Shariah Compliant Investment and Insurance Products." Supervisors, Adam Kolkiewicz, Ken Seng Tan. Thesis available from MGO - Oral defence Thursday, September 23, 9:00 a.m.