Remembering Professor Safieddin Safavi-Naeini
The Faculty of Engineering has announced that Professor Safieddin (Ali) Safavi-Naeini passed away on October 10 after a recent illness.
Safavi-Naeini was a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the director of the Centre for Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems (CIARS). As the NSERC/C-COM Industrial Research Chair in Intelligent Antenna and Radio Systems for Next Generation Millimeter-Wave Mobile Communications, he was a globally recognized researcher in the field of electromagnetics.
Ali received his BSc degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tehran and his MSc and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ali joined the University of Waterloo in 1996 as an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and was cross-appointed to Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering. He was appointed full Professor in July 2002.
"Since the news of his passing, I have heard from many of Ali’s current and former students who spoke of the CIARS research group as a family," wrote Dean of Engineering Mary Wells in a message sent to the faculty yesterday. "They specifically noted that Ali connected with his students beyond the role of research supervisor. Through his compassionate and caring spirit, he strived to be a research mentor and a friend. His dedication to his research and his ability to create a world-leading facility in electromagnetics and wireless technology at the University of Waterloo was an inspiration to many."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ali’s wife Marzieh and his sons Kasra and Amir who is an alumnus of our electrical engineering program," Wells writes. "Details on how we will honour Ali’s life and contributions will be shared as they are made available."
If you are struggling with this news, there are supports available. The Employee Family Assistance Program provided by Homewood Health has counselling/bereavement services for employees at 1-800-663-1142 or by visiting Homeweb.ca.
Students can contact the University’s Campus Wellness services. There are also community supports, including:
- Here 24/7 - 1-844-437-3247
- Good2Talk - 1-866-925-5454
- Crisis Services Canada - 1-833-456-4566 or by text 45645
- K-W Counselling
Waterloo co-op program sets record highs in post-pandemic workforce
By Stephanie Longeway. This the third in a series of articles focused on the developing talent framework as outlined in Waterloo's strategic plan.
When “business as usual” came to a screeching halt in March 2020, the University of Waterloo quickly pivoted to develop new ways for students and employers to continue to realize the co-op advantage. This resilient response helped retain 78 per cent of Waterloo’s co-op students through the beginning stages of the pandemic, and supported the shift to a remote, online workforce.
Rising to employment challenges experienced nationally and globally was not an easy feat, but demand for the Waterloo co-op program continues to rise.
In 2021, more than 23,760 students have been hired for co-op work terms— a record high for the number of employed students in the University’s history.
“We are now seeing 10,000 plus, students scheduled out for this upcoming winter 2022 work term, which is remarkable. It’s also the most ever for a single term at Waterloo and for any Canadian institution,” says Norah McRae, associate provost of Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE).
This is partly due to the number of students who enrol in co-op, which continues to increase year-over-year, but also due to the University’s strong employer network who continue to hire Waterloo students amidst the pandemic.
Evolving alongside our employer network
Waterloo has always been a pioneer in experiential learning. The University was established in 1957 in conjunction with local industrialists concerned with foreshadowed skilled labour shortages — establishing a hyper-focus on co-operative education to develop talent for the workforce of tomorrow.
Today, amid a pandemic, the value of resilient and skilled talent has never been more important. Waterloo continues to build on the strength of industry partners to create educational opportunities that tool students to become changemakers and leaders in a complex future.
“At Waterloo, we’re very fortunate to have such an extensive and global network of employer partners — and we strive to maintain strong partnerships with these employers and with our broader campus community,” McRae says. “This ongoing support and dedication for our students has offered much-needed supports through a challenging year, especially since many organizations have adapted to hire students for remote work terms.”
To help employers adapt to remote working, Waterloo introduced flexibility in the recruitment process to allow for quicker hiring cycles and the capacity to “bulk hire” hundreds of students to support their changing needs. The University also expanded its employer network by connecting with smaller businesses that needed additional support to pivot their services online.
For many employers, this was the first time they’ve recruited, onboarded and managed talent remotely. Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education team developed a tool-kit of resources to support co-op employers and ease the transition to remote managing.
Equipping students for success
Waterloo also developed resources to support students who were experiencing their first remote work term. Co-op students were offered free Digital Skills Fundamentals courses in conjunction with industry partners like Shopify, Vidyard and Kiite Academy to prepare them for drastically changing workplaces.
The pandemic put many businesses at risk because they lacked a strong digital approach. By equipping students with these digital skills, it helped them to find work and make a significant contribution to organizations of all kinds.
Demand for co-ops showing no signs of slowing down
Industry partners, including Deloitte, Manulife, Microsoft, Vidyard and D2L, have enthusiastically welcomed these changes. Businesses from across sectors continue to employ Waterloo co-op students at record numbers with 7,204 placements in the current Fall 2021 term — the highest Fall term in the University’s history.
The pandemic has also not slowed down the demand from students to participate in co-op work terms. Co-op enrolment at Waterloo increased during the pandemic by more than nine per cent from fall 2019 to fall 2020. Co-op students currently make up 64.8 per cent of all undergraduate and graduate-level students.
“Waterloo’s co-op program started in 1957 with the idea that work and learning do not need to be mutually exclusive. When it is well-organized, well-integrated and supported, it empowers students to develop the most in-demand, transferable skills needed for success in an evolving and unpredictable future workforce,” McRae says. “I’m very proud of how we’ve weathered the pandemic. The future looks bright and I know our talented students will be at the forefront of our post-pandemic economic recovery.”
Cheriton School of Computer Science tops Maclean's rankings for second year
Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science has again been ranked first in Canada according to the Maclean’s 2022 university rankings just released. Based on program and research reputation, computer science at Waterloo shared the podium for first place with the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia.
“It’s gratifying to see the Cheriton School of Computer Science in the top spot nationally once again,” said Raouf Boutaba, Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science.
“Our undergrad and graduate students are truly exceptional and they excel both in their computer science studies and in their extracurricular activities, including entrepreneurial pursuits that lead to innovative start-ups and top placements at international programming contests. As well, each year our faculty receive many prestigious honours, awards and recognitions — from international fellowships, accolades and lifetime achievement awards to early career researcher awards to numerous best paper awards.”
The University of Waterloo continues to excel overall. Waterloo was ranked number one by Maclean’s in the innovation category, thanks to its tech start-up culture and the ongoing work of researchers in computer science who break new ground across a range of research areas. The university also remained number one for experiential education, spurred on by the co-operative education and internship model embedded as fundamental components of degree programs.
The results of the Maclean’s 2022 university rankings were released on October 7, 2021. Find out more about Maclean’s university rankings methodology for 2022.
Read more about the university’s ranking in the article on Waterloo News.
Free workplace yoga program continues in the fall term
A message from the Workplace Yoga Program.
Staff are invited to participate in the Free Workplace Yoga Program, which is currently happening virtually with our wonderful instructors Eva and Joshua (Kunga). Classes are at 12:05-12:55 p.m. on Tuesdays with Eva and on Wednesdays with Joshua. Something new: on the first Tuesday of every month, Eva will be teaching Pilates!
Both classes are following the campus return to work plan and the hope is for an eventual return to campus when safe and as resources allow. Please stay tuned for further details.
Your Daily Inspiration continues, Sustainability Action Fund, and other notes
Today's Daily Inspiration
It's KW@W Conference Day 1
- KW@W’s Opening Keynote, Anthony McLean, on The Intersection of Mental Health & Anti-Racism at 10:30 a.m.
- A healthy lunch break activity at noon
- Concurrent workshop sessions at 1:30 p.m.
The Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) is now receiving applications for campus projects that advance Waterloo’s sustainability efforts, according to a note from the Sustainability Office.
The SAF launched in 2017 and has funded over 20 projects generated by students, staff, and faculty to improve campus sustainability. These have included events and marketing campaigns, infrastructure improvements, and new technology solutions. If you have a project idea that would improve the campus’ environmental footprint or would engage students and employees in sustainability topics, you can apply for between $2,000 to $30,000 in funding.
Applications are due by November 12. For more information and to view the application form, visit the Sustainability website. Projects will be reviewed by the President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability.
While we're on the subject of sports tickets, this is a reminder that Warriors Game Day tickets and season passes are now on sale. Tickets for football, hockey, basketball and volleyball games are available.