Ontario Climate Change Plan Input

The new Ontario government quickly trashed the beginnings of an approach to reducing carbon emissions and climate change, i.e. a “cap and trade” system in collaboration with California and other provinces and states.

Now the government is looking for input into their promised new and improved approach, which you can provide at https://www.ontario.ca/form/tell-us-your-ideas-climate-change .   It’s open until November 16 2018.

A recent report has re-confirmed that we only have until about the year 2030 to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions, before the goal of keeping the global average temperature increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius becomes physically impossible.  (This is actually not surprising news since it’s been known for many years in the scientific literature, while the world at large continues to do nothing substantial).

Young people, and parents or grandparents of young people, should be commenting because these are the ones who will be inheriting the problem and all of its consequences over the next few decades.

Ignore the Rankings

A group affiliated with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education has put out an interesting analysis and report “A ‘Fit’ Over Rankings:  Why College Engagement Matters More Than Selectivity”.   Basically it says that college rankings are not a useful indicator for quality or outcomes from a student’s perspective.  Students and parents would be better off ignoring rankings when choosing a college or university.  “Selectivity” (how hard it is to get an offer) is not a reliable indicator either.

What is important is “engagement” inside and outside the classroom.  Opportunities for internships (or co-op), mentors, long-term projects (maybe like student design teams?) are all examples of “engagement” that they cite in the report.  There are lots of other interesting details and observations, so I highly recommend having a look at it if you’re thinking about applying to university.

AIChE Fellow Frances Arnold Is One of Three Winners of 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry | AIChE

Nice to see a Chemical Engineer receive a Nobel prize, for work on random mutagenesis for industrial enzyme selection and improvements.  My PhD work was in enzyme applications, though not this particular area.

Dr. Arnold’s research has produced methods now routinely used to create new catalysts. Her work has led to new enzymes for pharmaceuticals, sustainable biofuels, and other environmentally friendly products.

Source: AIChE Fellow Frances Arnold Is One of Three Winners of 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry | AIChE

Life extending technology | TheRecord.com

A story at the link below about a company started by one of our nanotechnology engineering graduates (and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, according to his LinkedIn page).  The technology is based on SPR, or Surface Plasmon Resonance, and interesting material property that appears at the nanoscale.  Some of my research work is based on this phenomenon, and this seems like a nice piece of equipment.

Kitchener startup’s ‘life extending’ technology helps researchers study disease and develop new medicines

KITCHENER — Ryan Denomme pursues cutting edge science from inside an old factory building where his grandmother used to work.

Denomme is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Nicoya Lifesciences, which recently launched the second version of its desktop device that measures interactions between some of the most important building blocks in the human body — proteins.

Source: Life extending technology | TheRecord.com

Problem Lab

Application Trends and Other Stuff

The admissions work is now at full speed with most applications submitted by now.  Before I review some trends, a few important suggestions:

  1. For those within reasonable travel distance, our March Break Open House occurs on March 10 2018.  Highly recommended if you haven’t been on campus before.  Also a good time to visit if you’re not in Grade 12 but are thinking ahead to future years.
  2. Our “Quest” system will be down for a significant software upgrade from February 16 to 22.  Applicants won’t be able to work on submitting their AIF during this period.  (also, when finished with your AIF don’t forget to click on “submit”.  “Save” is not sufficient, and we won’t be able to review it.)

As far as application trends go, the numbers are up again this year to just over 13,000 for about 1,675 spaces in Engineering.  An increase of about 1,500.

Applications for the Canadian spaces (about 1,450 available) are up about 10% overall to around 8,700.  Some programs have a bit stronger increases, like Biomedical, Computer, and Systems Design.  Nothing too unexpected however, just the normal fluctuations we get from year to year.  I can’t go into details about specific program numbers, but generally there are 5 to 10 applicants per available space.

The bigger surprise is the applications for our non-Canadian spaces (about 220 available).  These are up around 25% to well over 4,000.  This seems to be the case across the whole university as well as many other Ontario universities.  The theory among admissions and recruiting people is that recent political turmoil in the U.S. and U.K. have driven applicants to seek education in other English-speaking countries like Canada.  I’ve seen articles about dramatic drops in foreign student applications to U.S. colleges, so the theory seems to make some sense.

We’ve added extra staff to handle the additional volume.  It will definitely be challenging again this year to select the few applicants from among so many good ones.

Architectural Engineering is Here!!

The University of Waterloo recently approved the launch of a new program in Architectural Engineering for September 2018 (subject to approval by the Ontario Quality Council).  We will be looking to take in about 85 students in the fall, and we’re rapidly gearing up space and teaching resources.  The official announcement is here, and applications are now open!  Here are a few key points about the program and admissions for this coming Fall. Continue reading

Rough waters turn to smooth sailing for student team

UWAST’s autonomous sailboat in action

Anderson:  I didn’t know we had a robotic sailing team!  I learn something new every day. 
Source: Rough waters turn to smooth sailing for student team | Engineering

By Nancy Harper

The University of Waterloo Autonomous Sailboat Team (UWAST) may be new to robotic sailing, but like every hardworking engineering team with one eye on the horizon, its goal is to win, not just compete.

That mindset served UWAST well in June at the 2017 International Robotic Sailing Regatta in Annapolis, Maryland.

UWAST team members Seamus Johnston, Richard Li and Jessen Liang are congratulated by event chairman Paul Miller (left).

With five main challenges over five days, UWAST members proved they were up to the task of facing seasoned veterans. The team finished sixth overall — not bad for a university that had entered this kind of international competition just once before in 2006.

Team leads Richard Li and Seamus Johnston were joined by Lily Liu, Jessen Liang, Jonathan Parsons, Chris Carnduff, Trevor Van Leeuwen, Dominic Faryna and Julian Howarth, plus faculty advisor Professor Jan Huissoon.

Representing the full spectrum of engineering – from mechatronics and mechanical, to electrical and chemical – members are optimistic they set the stage in Annapolis for future success. Continue reading

Canadian Co-op Programs Blend Classroom, Work Experience | Best Global Universities | US News

A nice overview article about co-op education from U.S. News , featuring one of our Management Engineering students.  Follow the link for the full article.

Sarb Majumdar, of Singapore, is a fourth-year management engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. But if you go to Waterloo and search for him right now, you won’t find him.

He’s in Toronto this term, working full time as a software developer.

Source: Canadian Co-op Programs Blend Classroom, Work Experience | Best Global Universities | US News