All Posts Tagged With: "University of Waterloo"
After BlackBerry layoffs, career fair attracts more than 700
WATERLOO, Ont. – After BlackBerry helped build its reputation as the epicentre of Canada’s technology sector, Waterloo, Ont., is working against the odds to find jobs for hundreds of employees who have been laid off by the smartphone company.
At a convention centre on the outskirts of the city, nearly 700 people — about half of them former BlackBerry staff — gathered at a technology jobs fair this week where they hoped to find a position at another company.
But the overwhelming attendance suggested that most would face disappointment.
“My goal is to try and meet with prospective employers,” said Mike Holownych, a Kitchener, Ont., resident who lost his job with BlackBerry in 2012 but wants to stay in the region.
“I’ve been looking in the tech sector since August of last year. Most of the interest I’ve been getting has been outside of the area, both in Toronto and in the states.”
Waterloo’s VeloCity and Ryerson’s DMZ nurture startups
From our Future of Jobs report
Last year, Hongwei Liu, 22, dropped out of school. At first, he didn’t tell his parents. Until he took the leap, Liu was studying engineering at the University of Waterloo, but he found that more and more of his time was wrapped up in a non-academic challenge. GPS technology in cars, and Google Maps on cellphones, among other services, point lost travellers in the right direction. But, Liu says, no one had created a service to help people navigate the great indoors. Three years after he and his co-founders launched MappedIn, which now builds interactive maps and apps that replace clunky, static boards in shopping malls, Liu’s team has grown to 13 employees (median age 23) and is worth millions.
Liu is part of a generation of young entrepreneurs who, inspired by success stories like Facebook’s, which famously emerged from a Harvard dorm room, aren’t waiting to earn degrees before launching businesses. Some drop out while they build their businesses, others take an extra year to wrap up their degrees, and still others simply do both at the same time. According to a CIBC report, a record half a million Canadians were starting their own businesses last year. The trend is not due to a lack of other employment opportunities, noted the report, but a growing culture of individualism and new opportunities driven by technology. Young entrepreneurs are also benefiting from the dozens of business incubators popping up on university campuses across the country that hope to transform keener students into the next generation of Canada’s entrepreneurial elite.
Billionaire’s comments renew debate on female engineers
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, co-founder of PayPal, CEO of SpaceX and Hyperloop dreamer, once told Maclean’s he didn’t attend the University of Waterloo because there were more women at Queen’s, a fact he repeated recently in an interview with Queen’s alumni magazine:
“It was a close call for me between Waterloo and Queen’s. I was going to do physics and engineering at Waterloo, but then I visited the campus… and, you may not want to print this… but there didn’t seem to be any girls there! So, I visited Queen’s, and there were girls there. I didn’t want to spend my undergraduate time with a bunch of dudes.”
It sparked a discussion on the social site Reddit and an unexpected official response from Waterloo. In a YouTube video, a campus recruiter leans in and addresses Musk. “You’re right. In the 1990s, our women were significantly outnumbered by a bunch of dudes, as you put it, and we’re sorry for that. I’ll let you in on a little secret though. We may have had one or two women you missed.” She then adds, “we’ve spruced the place up,” and the camera cuts to a recruiter spritzing promotional materials with perfume. She then tours the campus and happens upon Canadian Federation of Engineering Students president Lisa Belbeck, Canada Research Chair Susan Tighe, Engineering Dean Pearl Sullivan and other notable females. The message: Waterloo is welcoming to women.
But the video has offended some who say it makes light of the fact that there are still relatively few women in engineering. Indeed, the proportion in undergraduate programs has stayed stubbornly low. It was 16.1 per cent in 1991, hit 20.6 per cent in 2001 and fell to 17.7 per cent in 2011. Filzah Nasir, a second-year student, pointed this out in a commentary criticizing Musk and the video that was printed in the Iron Warrior, Waterloo’s engineering newspaper. “Musk made a decision to attend a university where he would have a better chance of meeting women,” she writes, “because, of course, men go to university to learn, and women go to university so men can have something pretty to look at.” It goes on to say Waterloo should be “embarrassed” that their program is 81.5 per cent male and that sexism is prevalent, evidenced by posters that “terrorized” women two years ago. They showed Marie Curie and said women scientists would “nuke the whole Planet.”
The video hasn’t gone over well with some commentators on Reddit or YouTube either, where some suggest it was made by a feminist “who can’t take a joke” and others criticize the quality.
Belbeck thinks the video has been mostly misinterpreted. “It was to poke fun at what Elon said and people are taking it too seriously,” she says, pointing to the scene where recruiters spray perfume on promotional materials. While she won’t speak for other women, she says she hasn’t experienced sexism at Waterloo and wasn’t offended by either Musk’s words or the video. “I thought it was fun.”
Plus six schools that are majority male
The Maclean’s Canadian Universities Guidebook keeps track of the male-to-female ratio on each campus. Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax been admitting men since 1974, but is still mostly female. The Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. is the only one that’s strongly male. Of those aged 25 to 34 with university degrees, 59 per cent are women, so they’re (unsurprisingly) a majority on most campuses.
These 11 schools are more than two-thirds female (with the percentage female):
1. Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax 75%
2. NSCAD University, Halifax 74%
3. Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gatineau, Que. 71%
4. Alberta College of Art + Design, Calgary 70%
4. Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Que. 70%
4. Université Sainte-Anne, Church Point, N.S. 70%
7. Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver 69%
7. OCAD University, Toronto 69%
9. Brandon University, Brandon, Man. 68%
9. Nipissing University, North Bay, Ont. 68%
9. St. Thomas University, Fredericton, N.B. 68%
And here are 6 with more men than women (with the percentage male):
1. Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ont. 82%
2. University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Ont. 59%
3. University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont. 57%
4. Algoma University, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. 52%
4. Carleton University, Ottawa 52%
4. Saint Mary’s University, Halifax 52%
Buy the Maclean’s Book of Lists, Vol. II online, from the iBookstore, or on newsstands now.
Why you should always go straight home after the bar
Students from two Ontario universities are no longer in legal trouble for dumb things they did while drunk but their cases serve as reminders that youthful indiscretions don’t just disappear.
At least not when newspapers write about the cases allowing Google searches to forever link names to drunken behvaiour that some (though not all) potential employers will look down upon.
Exhibit A: Two University of Guelph students, both 19, pleaded guilty this week to mischief for shooting passing cars with paintballs around 2 a.m. one January morning. They apologized and got absolute discharges from a judge but the Guelph Mercury still printed their names.
“Peeping toms” reported on campuses from coast to coast
Police in Waterloo, Ont. arrested a 31-year-old non-student on Thursday and charged him with voyeurism after he was, “observed using a cell phone to take video of unsuspecting females as they used a staircase on the campus.”
It wasn’t an isolated incident at Waterloo, nor are “peeping toms” rare on Canadian campuses. During the last school year there were at least half-a-dozen media reports of men filming, photographing or otherwise spying on female students from New Brunswick to British Columbia.
Multiple students reported a man lurking in the women’s washroom at Toronto’s York University.
York professor and Waterloo student deserve a closer look
A men’s issues event I reported on in March at the University of Toronto drew masked protesters who were there to intimidate people, city police there to keep things in order and it was, inevitably, delayed by a fire alarm. What followed was a rather lightweight critique of women’s studies from University of Ottawa professor Janice Fiamengo.
I was pleased that free speech prevailed, as it was by no means assured. A lecture a few months earlier hosted by the same men’s issues group, The Canadian Association for Equality, was almost shut down. Protesters accused professor Warren Farrell of “hate speech” for, among other things, his controversial views on date rape.
CAFE will host another provocative professor, Lionel Tiger, tonight in Toronto. That event will be at a private venue off campus where the group will raise funds for a men’s centre.
Students programming at university level
When Robert Arkiletian heard Google was interested in interviewing him for a computer programming job, he wasn’t interested.
He told the Google recruiter, who found Arkiletian’s work posted in online forums, that he wasn’t the type of person the company was looking for and that he already had a job he loved.
He’s known as “Mr. Ark” to the students he teaches computer programming to at Eric Hamber Secondary School, where programming prodigies are winning national competitions and 17-year-old whiz kids are confused with graduate-level computer scientists.
“I’ve got the best job in the world,” Arkiletian said. “When I get up in the morning and come to work, I’m going to work to have fun. In some ways I’m not that different from the kids. I’m still a kid at heart.
Eight universities’ departments among top 50 worldwide
The QS World University Subject Rankings 2013 are out now. The London-based company’s report offers a rare peek at how our school’s history, engineering and law programs—30 subjects in all—are viewed internationally.
Unsurprisingly, the top three universities from the Medical Doctoral category of the Maclean’s University Rankings—the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill University—are also the top Canadian schools on the list. Those three are top five in Canada in 29 of 30 subjects and top 50 worldwide in many.
The highest ranked Canadian subject is geography at the University of British Columbia, which is tenth globally. There are also several subjects in the top 15: environmental science at UBC along with medicine, philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, sociology, geography, education, English and history at University of Toronto.
Students and staff embrace an unofficial mascot
It’s Canada Goose nesting season at the University of Waterloo and that means students and staff are tiptoeing across campus avoiding sharp black beaks and mucky grey puddles.
“You don’t need to antagonize or even get near the nest for the alpha male to get aggressive,” says geography and environmental management student Alex Harris, who spent the past year studying the five-to-seven kilogram beasts.
Those alpha males and their pregnant partners take up residence in dozens of places at the sprawling Ontario campus every year where grassy lawns provide food, buildings offer shelter and there are few coyotes, foxes or wolves to keep them in check.
Facebook is king but Twitter, LinkedIn grow
One in three anglophone Canadians won’t let a single day go by without checking into their social media feeds, suggests a new report by the Media Technology Monitor.
The report is based on telephone surveys with 4,001 anglophone Canadians in the fall and found almost seven in 10 Internet users declared they were regular social media users, logging on at least once a month. That figure was up by about six per cent compared to 2011.
Those growing numbers didn’t surprise Aimée Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, who researches digital culture.
“It’s becoming a mainstream part of how we get the business of life accomplished and you’re at a disadvantage increasingly if you don’t do it,” says Morrison.
As more students ask for extensions, profs ask: is this real?
I met Anna Drake, a University of Waterloo assistant professor, at recent event in Toronto and asked: what are professors talking about these days? She said they’re discussing how many students are presenting with notes from counsellors or doctors saying they’ve been mentally unwell or extremely stressed and are in need of extensions or exam deferrals.
Drake, a political scientist, doesn’t recall this being an issue when she was an undergraduate or when she started teaching as a master’s student in 2001. But a few years ago, a professor warned her and other teaching assistants at Queen’s University that, “it seemed to be fairly easy for students to get notes of this kind.” Too easy, perhaps.
Later, teaching her own course at the University of Victoria, she was surprised when four students out of roughly 40 presented with notes near the end of the term asking to defer their semesters.
What students are talking about today (April 10th)
1. Alex Harris, a student at the University of Waterloo, and his dog Molson are calling themselves the “Geese Police.” The pair are patrolling the southern Ontario campus twice daily. Molson, a border collie-golden retriever cross, disperses the nuisance birds while Harris takes notes for his undergraduate thesis project. Canada Geese dominate the university’s campus, making a big a mess and scaring humans while trying to defend their territory. During mating season they get especially aggressive. It’s such a commonly discussed problem that the university’s bookstore now sell t-shirts that read, “I survived nesting season.” See CBC News for more.
2. Today is International Day of Pink, which means students everywhere are showing their opposition to bullying, homophobia and other discrimination by wearing, you guessed it, pink. It was started after high school students in Nova Scotia to support a pink-loving gay student who was bullied. It has high profile support from the likes of Rick Mercer and the Day of Pink Gala in Ottawa will be attended by former governor general Michaëlle Jean and radio host Jian Ghomeshi.
What students are talking about today (March 15th)
1. At a University of Ottawa Campus Pride event last week, a heterosexual man was told by a former vice-president student affairs of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa that he was wearing too much pink and that he must change his clothes. Cody Boast, a third-year political science student, says he showed up to support the GLBTQ friends when Amy Hammett, the former student politician, approached him. Boast told The Fulcrum Hammet likened it to “dressing up like Bob Marley at a Black History Month event,” and forced him to change. Kate Hudson, the current SFUO vice-president student affairs told The Fulcrum his pink clothes, feather boa and flute, “gave the impression that he was mocking the event.” I don’t see why they think it’s their job to police people’s clothes. Boast is welcome at my pride party this summer wearing whatever he likes.
2. “The University of Waterloo is investigating after an anti-abortion Conservative MP was blocked from delivering a lecture Wednesday night by protesters led by a man dressed as a giant vagina,” reports National Post. You can’t make this stuff up. Stephen Woodworth only made it a third of the way through his talk before it was cancelled. A representative of the university said that the MP will be invited back. What might he have said that was so dangerous? Woodworth believes life begins at conception, not birth. He tried to have Parliament study the definition of the words ‘human being,’ last year, but his motion got 91 votes, though from some high-profile MPs, like Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney supported it.
What students are talking about today (March 13th)
1. First-year University of Waterloo student Celeste Anderson has won $100,000 and the title King of the Nerds on the eponymous American reality TV contest show. Contestants competed in events like Segway races, debates and Cosplay (costume play), according to Metro News. Before the show, Anderson traveled across North America competing in video game tournaments where she excelled at Halo. She’s considering a career in video game design. The show’s finale is tonight on Slice. Totally missed this sleeper hit? Don’t worry, it has been renewed for a second season.
2. Even supposedly conservative Alberta has spent so much that they are now forced to make drastic cuts to post-secondary education. An editorial writer for The Gateway student newspaper isn’t pleased, in part because programs at some schools could be eliminated if others offer them nearby. “The new plan for Alberta education doesn’t see the point in the same programs being offered between two nearby schools,” writes Andrew Jeffrey. “But this policy hurts post-secondary accessibility as fewer students will be able to qualify for these programs… with tougher competition.” Alberta has traditionally provided more funding than other provinces, which are now cutting too.
What students are talking about today (March 11th)
1. Groups of students from more than two dozen universities in Canada are participating in 5 Days for the Homeless, a fundraiser for which students started five nights of outdoor sleeping on Sunday. The initiative has raised nearly $1 million since starting in 2008 at the University of Alberta, according to its website. Different student groups are supporting different charities. Queen’s University students are raising money for the Kingston Youth Shelter, which provides food, shelter and other aid for those aged 16 to 24.
2. Here’s another indication of how gloomy the job market is for new teachers. A task force set up to explore ways to restructure the Bachelor of Education program at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education has recommended eliminating undergraduate teacher training altogether. The one-year program will need to change regardless as all teacher training in Ontario must be two-years long by 2014. The Varsity stresses this is only one of several proposals.
3. Students at Dalhousie University who want advice picking a career have to wait up to two months for appointments. There aren’t enough counsellors to meet the demand and it’s unlikely any will be hired. The Dalhousie Career Counselling Centre, “asks for more money every year, as does every university department that’s ever existed, and they never get it,” reports the Dalhousie Gazette. Access to career counselling is a problem that certainly isn’t limited to Dal.
4. There was a “high-risk takedown” at the University of Waterloo on Saturday, reports The Record, “and although a semi-automatic rifle, a box of ammunition and a Frankenstein mask were all found in the suspect’s car, officers said a 25-year-old Waterloo man facing several charges didn’t intend any harm.” The man was pulled over in his truck at the university two hours after reports of shots in a rural area. He told police it was target practice and the mask was a coincidence. Police apparently believed him, since he was released after being charged, reports The Record.
5. The Gazette at Western University has investigated the use of the ADD/ADHD drug Adderall by students looking for an edge while studying. This story is nothing new. Vivien Chang investigated this in February. Still, reporter Julian Uzielli does a good job summarizing the issues and points out that, surprisingly, it’s not considered cheating to illegally use concentration-boosting pills.
Meanwhile, Shire Canada, the pharmaceutical company that makes Adderall, is being lauded for a new scholarship for students with Adult ADD/ADHD. Scholarship recipients will get $1,500 for tuition and a year’s worth of ADHD coaching. Call me cynical, but this is a transparent marketing ploy. Included in their press release is the claim that approximately 1.5 million adult Canadians are living with ADHD. Imagine that: 1.5 million potential customers!
This English professor begs to differ
Google “university” and “real world” and you’ll see what you probably already know: to most people, they are very different things.
It’s amazing to me how often and how easily this anti-intellectual smear is repeated in the media, and even by universities themselves—as in this piece from my own alma mater, the University of Waterloo. The implication is that, at best, education is an ethereal paradise where no one has challenges or stresses or the difficulties that one encounters in actual reality. Or, worse, that education is a waste of time—because nothing you learned in that cushy little classroom means anything out here where things get real.
Anyone who has ever been in university—or at least has been and has tried to be successful there—can attest to the falsehood of this notion. University life is full of both hard work and stress. It is very real. Deadlines are numerous and hard to change. Evaluation is rigorous and frequent and comes not just from one supervisor but by numerous instructors, and a whole new set of them the following year.
What students are talking about today (February 15th)
1. Toronto’s Payam Rajabi had to leave his girlfriend Clare behind when he moved to San Francisco for a job, so on Valentine’s Day he did something extra special for his long-distance love. NPR reports that he “jumped on his bike, opened his iPhone to a map of San Francisco, and tracking himself with a GPS, he rode 27 miles around the city, taking 2 1/2 hours, burning 1,135 calories and carefully etching a heart shape onto a city map.” After his bike shop shared the story, Verizon Wireless called and asked him to do it again for an advertisement.The commercial is on YouTube already where it has 230,000 views.
2. Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and soon-to-be Commander of the International Space Station talked to University of Waterloo students live from space today. It’s worth watching the whole thing, but here are some highlights. Asked to describe how he felt leaving earth, he said: “My apprehension was low. I was more concerned about not going to space than going to space because there are so many complexities leaving Earth. I had a lot of eagerness to put all that training into practice. So it was with a sense of buoyant energy and readiness that I left Earth’s protective sheath.” Asked what feature on Earth’s surface he was most surprised to be able to see, he said noctilucent clouds, which are hard to see from down here too and may be useful for tracking climate change. He took photos that he says “may be one of the most enduring legacies of our time up here.” He also offered advice for wannabe astronauts: stay healthy, get an advanced education and be able to “make big decisions when consequences matter.” Oh, and don’t be boring: “Are you going to be an interesting person to go to Mars with or not?”
3. A political science professor at West Liberty University in the U.S. recently gave his students an assignment where they were to record their reactions to various new articles and the professor listed two sources they couldn’t use: The Onion, which is a satire, and Fox News because, she says, it’s “biased.” Biased it undoubtedly is but uncovering biases is sort of the point of analyzing news, isn’t it? Robin Capehart, the school’s president, thought so, telling Inside Higher Education that the professor was wrong. “Isn’t the idea that you use what sources you can and then you have to defend the facts?” he said. “To me that’s what college is all about — being able to conduct your research and conduct your own conclusions, and the professor needs to be able to challenge it.” The rule has been changed.
4. Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau continues to travel across the country stopping on university campuses. The Queen’s Journal got a shot of him looking like a sasquatch (scroll down after the link to see it) when he spoke in Kingston, Ont. earlier this week. He spent Valentine’s Day at Trent University where 250 people showed up. One interesting policy idea he floated is a gap year between high school and university during which young people could be funded to serve their country through programs like the now-canned Katimavik, in other countries or in the military.
4. The Harlem Shake trend continues to capture attention from Canadian university students. The University of Guelph’s version has now shot to first place in the competition for the most views of any student version at 1.85 million views compared to Western University’s 1.39 million. The University of Toronto is at 334,000 and Brock University is at 200,000—not bad for late entrants.
What students are talking about today (January 9th)
1. A student newspaper blog has taken a swipe at a video parody of the MTV stunt show Jackass made by the University of British Columbia’s Chinese Varsity Club.”It’s mostly some dudes standing on a dock performing tame hijinks. Cinnamon eating! Purple Nerples! Syrup chugging! HILARIOUS. (The part where they shoot bare asses with a B.B. gun is a little less tame, I guess.),” wrote Andrew Bates of The Ubyssey. That might be a little unfair to these guys, who are trying hard to walk the fine line between funny and irresponsible. Then again, they deserve any criticism they get after uploading it to YouTube.
2. Sam Minniti, executive director of the McMaster Association of Part-time Students, was paid $126,151 in 2011, according to the provincial public salary disclosure list. (McMaster University included him on their submission to the Ontario government because they process his pay). The Hamilton Spectator newspaper notes that many of his counterparts are paid much less. Sandy Hudson, executive director at the much larger University of Toronto’s student union, told The Spectator she makes “less than half” as much. The university has withheld part-time student fees this year while it looks into MAPS more closely.
Donors, schools and profs disagreed on big gifts
Billionaire philanthropist Seymour Schulich is a man of maxims — one of which stands out after a bruising year of donor controversies in Canadian academia.
“Giving away money intelligently is truly more difficult than earning it,” Schulich, 73, likes to say.
Donors, university administrators and professors are looking for a smoother path forward in 2013.
Schulich, Canada’s most generous education benefactor, rolled out a new set of $60,000 scholarships this year that he hopes will rival the Rhodes.
Yet he’s sounding concerns that a donor chill might follow all the bad press that has surrounded benefactions amid concerns over academic freedom and integrity.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers, or CAUT, has been threatening sanctions against schools over donor deals that give benefactors influence on the curriculum, hiring practices and academic management of the sponsored program.