Thursday, September 15, 2022

Volunteers needed for Fall Convocation

Five graduates in their robes holding diplomas.

A message from Community Relations and Events.

Want to be part of the most exciting time on campus and grow your UWaterloo network? Join the growing group of convocation volunteers who will bring this celebration to life.

There are four ceremonies taking place on October 21 and 22, we need over 100 volunteer and volunteer supervisor shifts to make this important milestone a success. We are also looking for volunteers who can be trained on site this fall in support of spring convocation next June, where many more volunteers are required to support our 14 ceremonies.

This is an opportunity to be the first to congratulate students as they prepare to cross the stage, assist with hoods and gowns, and interact with students and their guests throughout their celebration.

Training is provided; new volunteers can sign up for newly created “Shadow Shifts” where you are invited to work alongside previous convocation volunteers who will share their tips and tricks.

Want to learn more and sign up? Visit the convocation website for role descriptions and available shifts.

Managers, please consider releasing your staff to contribute to this important time for the University. Further information can be found on the convocation website.

United Way Campaign releases annual report for 2021

The University of Waterloo sign wrapped in red for the United way.

A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.

Our campaign in 2021

This was our second year of “going red” during a pandemic. As with 2020, we needed to keep our community safe so we continued with a virtual approach to our campaign. This meant a little more creativity and ingenuity – but like any other United Way Campaign, we were blown away by the generosity of the University of Waterloo and their ability to come together in a crisis.

The best and brightest moments

As we gear up for the 2022 United Way Campaign, we’d like to share our appreciation for the hard work, support, and enthusiasm from our campus community – committee members, volunteers, and donors – during our 2021 campaign. Whether you attended a virtual event, executed a fundraising activity within your department, or made a donation, every little bit helps. Your support helped to raise over $230,000 for the 2021 campaign. Read the full report online.

Our impact

  • Over 480 individual donors gave to United Way (employees, retirees and students).
  • 126 new donors supported the campaign.
  • Our Ambassadors executed 10 events, plus the four events organized by the Core Committee.

Event highlights

  • University of Waterloo Deans auctioned delicious food and unique items to raise over $1,700.
  • We repeated our popular cooking show, making butternut squash polenta.
  • New virtual events; House Plants 101 and Yoga Session, with over 170 participants between them.

Impact of your investment

Our campaign efforts contributed to:

  • Funding programs to help those in need of counselling and mental health services.
  • Supporting programs helping youth enhance their social and educational skills.
  • Funding programs connecting local immigrants to their community.
  • Supporting programs that help those living in poverty in our community.

2022 campaign is coming soon

As we look ahead to our 2022 campaign in October, we don’t want to forget our “every little bit counts” sentiment. By coming together as a campus community, we can help those who need it most.

Register for next Wednesday's online Safeguarding Science workshop

Safeguarding Science banner showing an interconnected computer network.

A message from the Office of Research.

Interested in learning about possible threats to research and how to mitigate them? Don’t forget to register for the Safeguarding Science workshop taking place on Wednesday, September 21 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Faculty members, staff (i.e., Research staff, Safety Office staff, Research Ethics staff, and Information Systems & Technology staff involved in research using biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear materials or technology) and students are invited to join Public Safety Canada (PSC) for this workshop.

Please register to receive a link.

Making a breakthrough in bricks

A close-up of bricks stacked together.

By Brian Caldwell. This article was originally published on Waterloo News.

A project inspired by a co-op work term on a construction crew has put a Waterloo Engineering student in the running for an international invention prize.

Adrian Simone, who is in his fourth year of the civil engineering program, was announced today as a national runner-up in the 2022 James Dyson Award competition for a proposal to make bricks using bacteria.

Bio-Brick, the project entered by startup MicroBuild Masonry, is now up against student inventions from 28 other countries for two top prizes of US $45,000. A short list of 20 international finalists will be announced in October from an initial field of almost 1,700 entries.

Simone was doing a co-op term as project manager for a crew laying asphalt when he was struck by the apparent impact of the hot, dirty work on the health of the workers.

“I started thinking there has to be a better way to do this,” he recalled.

Several pivots and iterations later, Simone is now working on a process that uses recycled aggregate and a natural microbial process to form it into masonry units with the same strength and durability as regular bricks.

Bio-Brick tackles two problems at once by reducing carbon emissions from production, a significant issue in the construction supplies industry, and the need for new raw materials in a carbon-neutral solution.

Rania Al-Sheikhly (left) and Adrian Simone co-founded MicroBuild Masonry, a runner-up for the national James Dyson Award for student inventions.

Rania Al-Sheikhly (left) and Adrian Simone co-founded MicroBuild Masonry, a runner-up for the national James Dyson Award for student inventions.

“The solution came from research on self-healing cement where microbes were used to fill gaps in cracked concrete,” Simone explained in his submission. “By readjusting this process we can create supplies with similar properties and a competitive price that makes the manufacturing process completely sustainable.

“There is a microbial process in which certain bacteria, in the right conditions, can create stone out of easy-to-find minerals. These bacteria are suspended in an aggregate and saturated using these minerals suspended in water.”

Track record of success

Waterloo Engineering has a long track record of success in the annual competition, which was launched by James Dyson, inventor of the popular bagless vacuum cleaner, to challenge university students to develop innovative products that solve problems.

“Young design engineers have the ability to develop tangible technologies that can change lives,” he said. “The James Dyson Award rewards those who have the persistence and tenacity to develop their ideas.”

Last year, two recent nanotechnology engineering graduates of Waterloo Engineering – Anneke van Heuven (BASc ’21) and Elias Trouyet (BASc ’21) – made the list of 20 international finalists for a flame-retardant product inspired by seaweed and that they pursued with a startup company called AlgoBio.

Exposure is 'incredibly helpful'

MicroBuild Masonry, which was co-founded by Rania Al-Sheikhly, a master of business, entrepreneurship and technology (MBET) student at Waterloo, previously enjoyed success in pitch contests through the Velocity incubator and the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business.

"Having exposure on this level is incredibly helpful," Simone said of its success so far in the Dyson contest. "It tells us that what we are doing is something that people are interested in learning about and that can lead to a lot more opportunities."

Main photo by Andre Moura from Pexels

Taming the Black Swan and other notes

Next 100 Symposium banner - Taming the Black Swan.

The Next 100 Symposium will be held next week from Wednesday, September 21 to Friday, September 23. Co-hosted by the Balsillie School, CIGI and GARI, the Next 100 Symposium is a unique and highly curated event where top minds in energy, defence, economy, and policy meet with the top minds in technology and natural science. The theme of the symposium is "Taming the Black Swan."

University of Waterloo speakers at the event include David Welch, Jatin Nathwani and Andrew Thompson.

Find out more online.

Call for Abstracts banner image.

This is a reminder that the University of Waterloo's Student Mental Health Research Conference will be taking place on Wednesday, October 19, 2022 during Thrive. Campus Wellness is "inviting abstract submissions for presentations on student and emerging adult mental health, with an emphasis on the following key themes:

  • Promotion of mental health-care strategies;
  • Suicide prevention;
  • Impact of trauma and sexual violence;
  • Equity and mental wellness e.g., effects of inequities on the mental health of equity-deserving groups such as Indigenous, Black and other racialized people, LGBTQAI2S+, people with disabilities;
  • Harm reduction approaches to substance use; and
  • Impact of COVID-19 and mental health."

The call for abstracts has been extended to 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 28. Visit the Thrive website to submit your abstract.

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 Lymphoma Awareness Day

When and Where to get support

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

Instructors looking for targeted support for developing online components for blended learning courses, transitioning remote to fully online courses, revising current online courses, and more please visit Agile Development | Centre for Extended Learning | University of Waterloo (

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):

Supports are available for employees returning to campus. Visit IST’s Hybrid Work and Technology guidelines and workplace protocols to assist with the transition.

Students with permanent, temporary and suspected disabilities and disabling conditions (medical conditions, injuries, or trauma from discrimination, violence, or oppression) can register with AccessAbility Services for academic accommodations (classroom accommodations, testing accommodations, milestone accommodations).

Instructors can visit AccessAbility Services' Faculty and Staff web page for information about the Instructor/Faculty role in the accommodation process. Instructors/ Faculty members are legally required to accommodate students with disabilities. AccessAbility Services (AAS) is here to help you understand your obligations, and to offer services and resources to help you facilitate accommodations.

The Writing and Communication Centre has in-person and virtual services to support grad and undergrad students, postdocs and faculty with any writing or communication project. Services include one-to-one appointmentsdrop-ins at Dana Porter Libraryonline workshopswriting groupsEnglish conversation practice, and custom in-class workshops.  

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) has services and programs to support undergrads, grad students, postdocs, alumni, and employees in figuring out what they value, what they’re good at, and how to access meaningful work, co-op, volunteer, or graduate/professional school opportunities. Questions about CCA's services? Live chat, call 519-888-4047, or stop by our front desk in the Tatham Centre 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drop-in to in-person Warrior Study Halls on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in DC and DP. Join a Peer Success Coach to set goals and work independently or in groups each week.

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

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.

The Library is here to help, both in person and online. Our spaces are open for access to book stacks, study space, computers and printers, and the IST Help Desk. For in-depth support, meet one-to-one with Librarians, Special Collections & Archives and Geospatial Centre staff. Access our resources online for anywhere, anytime learning and research. 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 Office of Indigenous Relations is a central hub that provides guidance, support, and resources to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous campus community members and oversees the University's 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 - MATESGlow CentreRAISEWomen’s Centre - Click on one of the links to book an appointment either in person or online for the 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.

Co-op Connection all available online. 

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

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.

GSA-UW supports for graduate students: 

The Graduate Student Association (GSA-UW) supports students’ academic and social experience and promotes their well-being.

Advising and Support - The GSA advises graduate students experiencing challenges and can help with navigating university policies & filing a grievance, appeal, or petition.

Mental Health covered by the Health Plan - The GSA Health Plan now has an 80 per cent coverage rate (up to $800/year) for Mental Health Practitioners. Your plan includes coverage for psychologists, registered social workers, psychotherapists, and clinical counselors.

Dental Care - The GSA Dental Plan covers 60 to 70 per cent of your dental costs and by visiting dental professionals who are members of the Studentcare Networks, you can receive an additional 20 to 30 per cent coverage.

Student Legal Protection Program - Your GSA fees give you access to unlimited legal advice, accessible via a toll-free helpline: +1-833-202-4571. This advice covers topics including housing disputes, employment disputes, and disputes with an academic institution.

The Graduate House: Open Monday to Tuesday 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. We’re open to all students, faculty, staff, and community members. The Graduate House is a community space run by the GSA-UW. We’re adding new items to the menu. Graduate students who paid their fees can get discounts and free coffee.

When and Where (but mostly when)

Warriors vs. Laurier Blood Donation Battle. Join our “Waterloo Warriors” team on the website or app. #ItsInYouToGive

Warriors Game Day Tickets and Season Passes, on sale now. Cheer on your Warriors W/M Basketball, Football W/M Hockey and W/M Volleyball teams at home during the 2022-23 season. Purchase today.

Farm Market, Thursday, September 15, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Lower Atrium SLC.

Mohawk Institute Virtual Tour, Thursday, September 15, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

WaterTalk: Microplastics in the environment and pitfalls in their analysis presented by Jacob de Boer, Thursday, September 15, 2:30 p.m., DC 1302.

Warrior Rec Instructional Registration Deadline, Friday, September 16, 1:00 p.m. Find out more.

Knowledge Integration seminar: “Connecting the Dots”, featuring speaker Mary Stewart, Visiting Fulbright Scholar Professor Emerita, Friday, September 16, 2:30 p.m., EV3-1408.

2SLGBTQ+ Fundamentals, Monday, September 19, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., online.

University senate meeting, Monday, September 19, 3:30 p.m., NH 3407.

Organ Donor Awareness with Eric Celentano (BSc ’79), drop by to hear from a lung transplant recipient and how you can register to give the gift of life, Tuesday, September 20, 12 noon to 4:0 p.m., Health Expansion (EXP) foyer.

NEW - The Next 100 Symposium, Wednesday, September 21 to Friday, September 23. Find out more.

NEW - WaterLeadership: Evolution of Science Communications, presented by David Janzen, Tuesday, September 20, 3:00 p.m., DC 1304.

NEW - Welcome Back Lunch Friday, September 23, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the BMH Green. Free for the campus community. RSVP not required but let us know if you plan to attend.

University of Graz x University of Waterloo Erasmus+ Staff Mobilities 2022 application deadline, September 30.