Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Last week to register for Teaching and Learning Conference 2024

An abstract image evoking lightning bolts and an explosion of light and colour.

A message from the Centre for Teaching Excellence.

Registration is about to close for the 15th annual University of Waterloo Teaching and Learning Conference taking place on  May 2, with a day of online workshops taking place on May 1.

We are at capacity for the lunch at Federation Hall, but you can still register for the online day and the in-person sessions. Schedules are now available!

Last year saw over 500 faculty members, staff, and students gather to learn from and with one another around the theme of embedding care and kindness into our teaching. Our 2024 conference theme is Sparking and Sustaining Engagement. We are excited to welcome Jessie Moore, Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University, as our keynote speaker, as well as Craig Fortier (Professor, Social Development Studies, Renison University College) and Suzanne Kearns (Professor, Geography, and Founding Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics), who will each recreate a successful instructional approach in our Igniting Our Practice plenary session, which showcases some of the excellent teaching being done on our campus. 

The registration deadline is Friday, April 19. Any questions can be emailed to uwtl@uwaterloo.ca.

Here's what happened at April's Senate meeting

A message from the Secretariat.

The University's Senate met on Monday, April 8. The following items were approved:

  • New type II graduate diploma in climate change, and major modifications to the MA plan in Recreation and Leisure Studies;
  • Recommendation of the 2024-25 annual University operating budget to the Board of Governors;
  • Reports to recommend the membership of Senate committees/council as well as elections of Senators to the Board of Governors, with some nominations acclaimed and others proceeding to elections;
  • Delegation of Senate’s authority for the approval of the roster of graduands jointly to the chair and vice-chair of Senate for convocation ceremonies scheduled in June 2024 and October 2024, with direction that reports on the complete roster of graduands be brought forward to Senate for information following their respective convocation;
  • Revisions to academic regulations:
    • Amendments to several sections of the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar, following a holistic review of the calendar that began in Fall 2023 with the aim of renewing and updating the calendar; and
    • Academic regulation revisions to Doctor of Optometry Academic Regulations, Course Grades and Credits, and Online Courses.

 Additionally, Senate received for information:

  • Recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Awards and the Amit & Meena Chakma Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Student;
  • Recipients of the University Professor designation; and
  • A presentation from a student on concerns with the University’s response to the ongoing situation in Gaza.

The University of Waterloo Senate is comprised of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, governors, and administrative staff who are both elected and ex-officio members. This governing body of the institution is the highest authority on academic matters and meets regularly to discuss topics such as academic programs, educational policies, appointments, and other academic priorities.

For more information

Visit the Senate website to find the meeting agenda and related materials for all recent Senate meetings, as well as dates for upcoming meetings. The Secretariat will make Zoom links available to those wishing to attend meetings virtually. If you have any questions, please contact the Secretariat at senate@uwaterloo.ca.

President's Office display a throwback to UWaterloo 70s and 80s computing glory

A Volker-Craig microcomputer terminal and monitor.

By Sam Toman.

Since the mid 1960s, the University of Waterloo has been a Canadian leader in the development of computer technology for commercialization. Much of this history is well-known. Perhaps less known are the pioneering developments made by UWaterloo in the evolution of computers as teaching tools. 

That’s the inspiration for a new display in the Office of the President on loan from UWaterloo’s Computer Museum. For a limited time, visitors to the office have the chance to marvel at artifacts including analog slide rules, publications on computing from some of the school’s original computer researchers, and a personal computer prototype. 

Museum co-founders Scott Campbell and Lawrence Folland along with fellow enthusiasts Charlotte Wipp and Trevor Grove chose the display items they thought best illustrated unheralded accomplishments from the 1970s and 80s that set the stage for UWaterloo’s reputation of applying theory and academic work to “real-world” problems.   

For those old enough to have lived through the dawn of home computers, the President’s Office display features a familiar-looking early computer named the MicroWAT by its UWaterloo creators. The MicroWAT was conceived to tackle a prevalent issue in programming education during the late 1970s: a scarcity of computers relative to the burgeoning number of students.  

According to Wipp, a Waterloo co-op student who serves as Computer Museum Assistant, "In the late 1970s, there were plenty of relatively inexpensive personal microcomputers, such as the Apple II, the Commodore PET, and the TRS-80. But they were also relatively underpowered for “real” programming languages like FORTRAN or APL that students needed to learn.” 

A close-up of a MicroWAT museum display showing the circuit boards and a written description.As a result, UWaterloo computer scientists were inspired to build their own more powerful microcomputers which they named the MicroWAT. Combined with the many terminals already on campus mass-produced by Waterloo-based Volker-Craig Ltd., the new arrangement provided both computational capabilities and the kind of terminal functionality needed to propel research and teaching at the highest level in Canada.  

Sadly, despite its promising design, production remained limited, with only 100 units or so manufactured by Northern Digital Inc (NDI). Those units however laid the foundation for the establishment of centralized management of classroom computers, eliminating the need for students to bring their own memory storage devices, and facilitating centralized backup of students’ work. This innovation addressed excuses such as "the dog ate my floppy disk," said Wipp.  

That wasn’t the end of the story, however. In true UWaterloo fashion, the MicroWAT paved the way for the Commodore SuperPET which used the same technology as the MicroWAT.   

The SuperPET was designed at Waterloo, built in Canada, and marketed by Commodore and sold in the thousands, and the rest they say, is history.

Board of Governors meeting today; other notes

The University's most senior governance body, the Board of Governors, has its meeting today in NH3407 at 1:30 p.m. Among the agenda items:

  • A motion to approve changes to the Pension & Benefits Committee's terms of reference to include one member of OPSEU (the union representing the Special Constable Service), appointed on recommendation of the President of OPSEU. This motion comes with the recommendation of the Pensions & Benefits Committee and the Governance Committee;
  • A motion to approve the 2024-25 Operating Budget on the recommendation of the Finance & Investment Committee;
  • A motion to accept and approve revisions to the Memorandum of Agreement between the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo; and, to accept and approve revisions to University policies 76 – Faculty Appointments, and 77 – Tenure and Promotion of Faculty Members, and, that the foregoing are approved in accordance with the agreed terms between the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo and the University of Waterloo, effective September 1, 2024. This motion has the recommendation of the University's Senate behind it;
  • Also on the recommendation of Senate, a motion to accept and approve revisions to University policies 3 – Sabbatical and Other Leaves for Faculty Members (Policy 3), and to 43 – Special Conditions for Employment for Deans (Policy 43); and
  • The consent agenda includes an item to approve the list of sabbaticals and administrative leaves for faculty members.

Board Committees will be providing their reports to the Board and the President's Update will include a report on University Professor designations.

A protest sign that reads "No Data? No Science? No Lockdown!"Members of the University community are invited to join the Waterloo Climate Institute for a guest talk featuring Holly Buck from the University of Buffalo will draw upon multiple methods to explore what new political subcultures mean for climate politics broadly and the politics of solar geoengineering research in particular. Post-covid freedom discourses and their influence on the politics of climate intervention will take place on Wednesday, April 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in DC 1304.

Dr. Rajibul Islam.Tomorrow, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) will host a public lecture featuring Dr. Rajibul Islam, IQC faculty member and associate professor in the Physics & Astronomy department, entitled “Open Quantum Computing, One Atom at a Time.” Dr. Islam is also co-founder of Open Quantum Design.

"Quantum computing promises to advance our computational abilities significantly in many high-impact research areas," says the lecture promo. "In this period of rapid development, the experimental capabilities needed to build quantum computing devices and prototypes are highly specialized and often difficult to access."

The lecture takes place Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. in QNC 0101 and is being held in recognition of World Quantum Day.

Upcoming office closure

Waterloo International in EC5 will be closed today for the day for staff to attend Professional Development. Email responses to Waterloo International will be delayed.

Safetyabroad@uwaterloo.ca will be checking this email periodically. We are prioritizing responses and only urgent messages will be responded to. If you have a travel-related emergency, please contact the local authorities at your destination and University of Waterloo Special Constable Service +1-519-888-4911. Access is available 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. If you require medical assistance, contact your medical insurance provider. Other emergency contact points are detailed on the Waterloo Safety Abroad website.

Link of the day

It's World Voice Day today, so raise yours!

When and Where

The Student Health Pharmacy (located in the lower level of the Student Life Centre) is offering flu shots with no appointments needed daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 519-746-4500 or extension 33784 for more info. COVID shots will be available on appointment basis only. You can register online at studenthealthpharmacy.ca.

Warriors Youth Summer Camps. Basketball, Baseball, Football, Hockey, Multi-Sport and Volleyball. Register today!

Final examination period, Thursday, April 11 to Thursday, April 25.

Board of Governors meeting, Tuesday, April 16, 1:30 p.m., NH 3407 and Zoom.

Post-covid freedom discourses and their influence on the politics of climate intervention, Wednesday, April 17, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., DC 1304.

IQC Public Lecture featuring Dr. Rajibul Islam, “Open Quantum Computing, One Atom at a Time,” Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 p.m., QNC 0101.

The Foundation: Building Inclusive Research Teams, Thursday, April 18, 10:00 a.m. to 11: 00 a.m. Register here.

Games Institute (GI) research symposium, “Disrupting Disciplinary Divides for Digital Futures”, Friday April 19, East Campus 1.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, conducted by Leonard Enns, Professor Emeritus at Conrad Grebel University College, concludes their 25th season with Dualities, Saturday, April 20, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April April 21, 3:00 p.m., Trillium Lutheran Church, Waterloo. See www.dacapochamberchoir.ca for tickets and details.

Green Labs Earth Week Challenge, Monday, April 22 to Friday, April 26.

Earth Day Campus Clean-up, Monday, April 22, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., supplies available at DC Green.

WISE Public Lecture,Virtual Power Plants: Navigating through Foundational Concepts, Technologies Involved, Strategic Impacts, and Development Challenges” by Amir Miragha, (PhD, SMIEEE, Global Senior Principal Architect, Schneider Electric.), Monday, April 22, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., CPH Fourth floor 4335., in-person and on Zoom. Register today!

Operating Budget Town Hall, Tuesday, April 23, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., NH 3407.

Deadline to get "Fees Arranged," Wednesday, April 24.

An Evening with Astrophysicist Dr. Avery Broderick, Wednesday, April 24, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Federation Hall.

Waterloo Innovation Summit, Thursday, April 25, McKinsey & Company, Toronto.

Spiritus Ensemble, conducted by Kenneth Hull, Professor Emeritus at Conrad Grebel University College, concludes their 15th season with Bach Vespers After Easter, on Sunday April 28, 4:00 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener. Admission by donation. See www.spiritusensemble.com for details.

Safeguarding Science workshop and more, throughout May and June. Public Safety Canada invites faculty, staff and students to attend a series of virtual event via MS Teams. Register to receive a link.

Quantum Connections 2024: Quantum Perspectives, Wednesday, May 1 to Thursday, May 2, QNC.

Spring Tree Planting, Thursday, May 2, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., main campus.

Master of Taxation virtual information sessionSaturday, May 4, 9:00 a.m.

BioBlitz, Monday, May 6 to Sunday, May 12.

Equitable Recruitment and Selection, Monday, May 6, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Spring Tree Planting, Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9, 12 noon to 2:00 p.m., main campus.

Bridging Black: Building Black Connections for Black Flourishing, the 2024 Inter-Institutional Forum of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education, Thursday, May 9 and Friday, May 10, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University campuses.

GOODHack24, Saturday, May 11, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 151 Charles Street, Kitchener.

PhD oral defences

Chemical Engineering. Yatian Zhang, "Rational Design of Engineered Porous Transition Metal-based Electrocatalysts for Rechargeable Zinc-air Batteries." Supervisors, Dr. Zhongwei Chen, Dr. Aiping Yu. Thesis available via SharePoint. Contact eng.phd@uwaterloo.ca to request a viewing link. Oral defence Tuesday, April 23, 11:00 a.m., remote.

Computer Science. Greg Philbrick, "Writing My Own Line Drawing Software as an Artist." Supervisor, Dr. Craig S. Kaplan. Thesis available from MGO - mgo@uwaterloo.ca. Oral defence Wednesday, April 24, 9:00 a.m.

Systems Design Engineering. Kevin Laven, "Practical Application of Machine Learning to Water Pipe Failure Prediction." Supervisor, Dr. Kumaraswamy Ponnambalam. Thesis available via SharePoint. Contact eng.phd@uwaterloo.ca to request a viewing link. Oral defence Wednesday, April 24, 4:00 p.m., remote.

School of Planning. Anahita Shadkam, “Reclaiming the Urban Public Realm as a Site for Children’s Play.” Supervisor, Dr. Markus Moos. Available upon request from the Faculty of Environment, Administrator, Graduate Studies. Oral defence Tuesday, April 30, 9:00 a.m.

Computer Science. Andrew Na, "Efficient Machine Learning Methods for Solving Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman Equations in Finance." Supervisor, Dr. Justin Wan. hesis available from MGO - mgo@uwaterloo.ca. Oral defence Tuesday, April 30, 9:00 a.m.