Category Archives: Undergraduate Students

Reconciliation, Resistance, Resurgence

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On Thursday April 5, Dr. Heather Smyth’s ARTS 130 class will be displaying research posters in Porter Library reflecting what they’ve learned about the course theme, “Reconciliation, Resistance, Resurgence.” They have been learning about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the history of Indigenous resistance in Canada, and Indigenous literature. The poster session is also part of the ongoing “Unsettling Conversations” teaching series at UW. The students will be present from 10-11 am to meet with visitors but the posters will be up all day. Please drop by and see what they’ve been doing.

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Where is undergrad Tyler Black going?

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Waterloo English Undergraduate Research

By Paula de Villavicencio

University of Waterloo English undergraduate student Tyler Black secured a spot in the first round competition of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (ACM SIGDOC) Student Research Competition. The competition will take place this summer at the association’s annual conference, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Microsoft-supported event provides up to 500 dollars (US) to assist with travel costs for students selected to participate. Black’s research investigates several post-secondary courses that incorporate cross-disciplinary material, and the manner in which the course instructors communicate not only the core disciplinary content, but also cross-disciplinary lessons.

Black’s interest in cross-disciplinary technical communication stems from their own educational and work experience. Having worked as a technical communicator, and completed studies first in Physics and then in English, Black has a range of experience to help frame these pedagogical questions. Black also developed their research skills during several research assistantships as part of a Fall 2017 co-op term. Black worked on three different University of Waterloo projects: Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher’s Networked Expertise project; with the Games Institute’s Virtual Reality group (work Black has been involved with as a research assistant will be presented at the upcoming Lake Ontario Visionary Establishment 2018 Conference), and with Dr. Randy Harris’s Computational Rhetoric group (work Black has been involved with as a research assistant will be presented at the upcoming CMNA 2018 Conference and the IACS 2018 Conference).

As a continuing research assistant with the Networked Expertise project in the Waterloo Science and Technical Communication Group (@WatSciComm on Twitter), Black recognized their own research interests in terms of post-secondary education and training. “Being at the University of Waterloo itself has really allowed me to work in such an interdisciplinary field, and has given me a place to do this amount of research at an undergrad level,” commented Black. “Being part of the WatSciComm team has also aided me in my research, not just because of the amazing resources, but also the great team I’ve worked with.” Black was granted ethics approval for their study of cross-disciplinary classrooms, allowing them to publish the results, the culmination of which will not only be presented at the 2018 ACM SIGDOC student research competition, but will also form the basis for Black’s Undergraduate Honours Essay.

Black will be continuing their education at the University of Waterloo as a Master’s student in the Rhetoric and Communication Design program in Fall 2018. They will also stay on the WatSciComm team as a research assistant with Dr. Mehlenbacher. Black explained, “if you have something that you want to do, something that might benefit not just your own education but the education of other people, then you should go for it.”

Photo credit: Paula de Villavicencio

Full STEAM ahead for English students

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Maybe you have encountered the acronym STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) but haven’t yet run up against STEAM. Arts is the A, and in this guest post from undergraduate English student Tyler Black we learn all about a special STEAM initiative developed by English alumni, faculty, and students. Thank you to Tyler and all who participated!

“60 Minutes to Save the World” as the STEAM rises
By: Tyler Black – 4th Year English, RMPC

It all began as the brainchild of the English Department’s Advisory Council Chair, Mandy Lam (OpenText). The English Advisory Council is a group of alumni and friends of English who hold positions in several sectors and consult with the department to provide guidance about the future of literary and rhetorical studies in the department. Lam worked with the council’s Vice Chair Ricardo Olenewa (Google) and faculty liaison, Prof. Ashley Mehlenbacher, to plan a workshop for the 2017 Canadian Student Leadership Conference.

Prof. Mehlenbacher recently won an Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Science, and this opportunity to develop a workshop for CSLC dovetailed nicely with her research on multidisciplinary teams and education. Students from Prof. Mehlenbacher’s Qualitative Methods in Prof. Comm. & UX Research graduate seminar soon joined the team (Justine Fifield, Julie Funk, Stephanie Honour, Salman Jivani, Lindsay Meaning, Aliaa Sidawi, Kari Stewart), along with several research assistants (Tyler Black, Sara Majid, Shawn Corsetti, Zainab Salman, Devon Moriarty, Shania Trepanier), and set off to design a youth outreach workshop.

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The Qualitative Methods in Professional Communication and User Experience Research class at Google KW for the design sprint.

Ricardo’s words about the half day ‘design sprint,’ hosted at the Google Kitchener-Waterloo Office (pictured above), echoed into the very heart of the workshop the team was to create: “[A]ctivities like this session normalize the idea that both the University and industry are stronger when we collaborate. The EAC is critical because they create opportunities for that collaboration.” With this belief in mind, the team set forth to create a workshop that balanced education, innovation, and multidisciplinary thinking. The result: “60 Minutes to Save the World.”

Fast-forward four months and all the gears are in place and the STEAM machine is ready to be turned on. The workshop title: “60 Minutes to Save the World,” represents what the workshop was designed to do. The team put together a three station workshop to draw on the innovative minds of the attending high school students to utilize both Arts and STEM knowledge, as well as technology relevant to various industries, to solve environmental and social crises.

The event took place at the Games Institute and consisted of three stations. One of which, the team designed for students to create their own augmented reality experience. This creation as well as those from the other stations contributed to an Impact Wall representing the breadth of knowledge and the broad ranging ideas the students used to solve the posed problems.

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One station utilizing LED lights and batteries to encourage a creative take on scientific practice.

For more coverage of the event, check out the Daily Bulletin article as well as the Faculty of Arts and the Games Institute, who will be providing coverage via their faculty pages and social media.

Addendum from Dr. Ashley Mehlenbacher: Tyler, who wrote this post, also deserves special credit for pulling all of this together and ensuring we ran a flawless event at the CSLC. Tyler’s outstanding work included planning and running practice workshops to ensure timing was spot on, and also troubleshooting the day of the event. All of this complemented the impressive work the rest of the team put in throughout the design process.

Photo Credits: Megan Hood, Devon Moriarty

UWaterloo Writing Contest

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The contest is open to all Waterloo students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

As part of the commitment to the UN Women’s HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, the University of Waterloo presents the Second Annual HeForShe Writing Contest, launching September 2017.

Gender equity calls for all of our voices and all of our stories. To achieve lasting change, we must connect experiences of gender to a diverse understanding of equity in the Waterloo community and in our world. Everyone in the University of Waterloo community — students, staff, faculty, and alumni — are invited to share their stories, real and imagined, about building a better and more equitable world.

The 2017-18 contest theme is INTERSECTIONS. Participants are asked to consider how gender equity fits into the larger equity story. Where are the overlaps and connections between gender and race, ethnicity, age, ability, class, faith, and/or sexuality? How do the perspectives of gender equity connect to the goal of equality for all people? Can working towards gender equity help to advance equity conversations more broadly?

Through poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, we welcome your reflections on the past and your hopes, dreams, and directions for the future. When gender equity is connected to the dream of equality for everyone, how is our world made better? Your stories are a part of the Waterloo landscape — today and tomorrow. In what ways are you #HeForShe?

A $500 prize will be awarded for the top submission in each category (poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction). Selected submissions will also be included in a special University of Waterloo anthology on gender equity that will be published on March 8, 2018 — International Women’s Day. Submissions must not have been previously published. Pieces submitted as part of Waterloo course work will be accepted.

Submissions are due October 27, 2017. For more information see the website.

Image source: BC’s 5to9Woodwork.

Game Jam!

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The UWaterloo Games Institute, led by English’s Dr. Neil Randall, is hosting a Game Jam, Friday, 29 September 2017 at 4:30 PM – Sunday, 1 October 2017 at 7:00 PM .

This event is an opportunity to make games, explore new game ideas, and interact with fellow game-lovers in an exciting and relaxed environment. Learn something, teach something, make something, and play something!

The Fall 2017 Jam welcomes special guests presenting a Unity 101 tutorial, Google’s Firebase games team, and St Paul’s Greenhouse social impact incubator.

The event is a community-based effort to increase the total knowledge, experience, and ideas available to community members. Do you know something about games that may interest others? Then volunteer! We want to know what you know!

  • LEARN: you can hear talks from invited experts about the tools and techniques involved in the design and creation of games.
  • MAKE: you can try your hand at building your own games from scratch along with helpful advice and guidance from our GI mentors.
  • PLAY: You can explore new kinds of games, try out some of the brand-new games that were made at the G.I. Jam itself, and give/receive feedback on yours and others’ creations!

Bring: Your own laptop, any supplies you might need  — construction paper and markers provided in limited supply.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Tickets are $15 and purchased online via Shopify HERE. Please note that both the online payment form AND this Eventbrite guest registration is necessary to attend this event. The cost of your ticket gives you access to the event, lunch on both days, and use of our equipment throughout the weekend.

 

FAQ:

Q: Where can I find more details and FAQs?

A: Please visit our website! https://uwaterloo.ca/games-institute/uwgame-jam  

Q: Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

A: The GI Jam organizers can be reached via the email: games.institute@uwaterloo.ca

Q: Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

A: You do not need to bring your printed Eventbrite ticket, but you should bring a piece of ID. Not only do we use it to double-check registrations, we trade you for your ID if/when you borrow our development equipment. Please make sure to have proof-of-payment available on your phone or printed out, especially if paying within a few hours of the event.

 

Tentative Schedule (all in QNC 1502 unless otherwise noted):

Friday (the 29th):

  • 4:30 pm – Doors open  / Registration begins. During this time, teams can form, chat, and brainstorm before things kick off.
  • 5:00 pm – Opening remarks + theme reveal!
  • 5:30 pm – Tutorials/talks begin (Unity 101, Firebase games team from Google, St Paul’s Greenhouse social impact incubator). Quiet space is available in QNC 2502.
  • 9:30 pm – Doors close

Saturday (the 30th):

  • 9:00 am – Doors open
  • 9:30 am – Welcome back, reminder of available help.
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch begins
  • 2:30 pm – Check-in, mentors circulate
  • 5:00 pm – Show & tell (optional but highly encouraged: 2 minutes for each team to describe what they’re making)
  • 9:30 pm – Doors close

Sunday (the 1st):

  • 9:00 am – Doors open
  • 5:00 pm – Showcase/Jam awards
  • 6:00 pm – Closing
  • ~7pm – Join us for an after party at the Watchtower restaurant (280 Lester St, Unit #105) after the showcase!

Rating co-op and more: Alumna Sarah MacKeil

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Every so often I mention who is up next on the department blog, instigating mass enthusiasm about the individual. Sarah MacKeil is one of those students–her former instructors are uniformly positive. Now you can find out why!–JLH

JLH: How did you decide on UWaterloo and your program of study?
SM: Back in grade twelve, I felt pulled in so many different directions. I especially loved writing and international development; UWaterloo let me study both. While I didn’t end up pursuing the INDEV minor, I loved the freedom to choose courses from different programs or faculties. I also ended up with an Applied Language Studies minor and a term abroad. For me, flexibility was a more exciting fit than a strictly specialized degree.

Gaining co-op experience as an English major was also appealing.

JLH: What are your most memorable moments from English?
SM: I really enjoyed the rhetoric courses. One of my favourite courses was Language and Politics (ENGL 407). It was a fourth-year seminar that was surprisingly interactive. We studied texts and discussed case studies on a variety of topics, including digital ethics, creative cities and climate literature. There was a lot of camaraderie, and I think the active discussion helped with learning.

I also have fond memories of Criticism II (ENGL 251B). For whatever reason, its giant textbook put me in touch with my inner English geek. Sometimes people don’t connect with theory-based courses, but it felt like each lecture we got to explore a different way of looking at the world.

JLH: You did the co-op stream: do you feel it was a good fit for you? Did you ever find it overwhelming? In the end how would you rate the experience?
SM: Co-op was one of my favourite parts of my degree, and I would rate it highly: let’s say 9/10. I like how it provides the opportunity to try diverse experiences. I worked with small and large tech companies, the federal government, a law firm, and a small NGO in Germany.

It works well both ways: if you love your job, you can pursue similar roles in the future. If you realize you’re not well-suited to certain environments or types of work, it’s frustrating, yet you still develop skills and are only committed for four months. Moving so frequently is not for everyone, but I find most students get in the groove and appreciate the alternation between school and work.

I’m not a fan of unfair stereotypes about English majors being less employable, and it feels good to graduate with 20 months of relevant full-time experience.

JLH: You were part of a team that received a MESBURG Marketing Planning Award. Can you tell us a bit about that, and what it was like to work across disciplines?
SM: That was a great team experience. It was a term-long project where we had to innovate on an existing company’s offerings (our company was Indigo) and present a marketing plan.

It’s always encouraging to work with passionate people, and as cliché as it sounds, it is beneficial to pool diverse strengths. For instance, one of my teammates contributed some great statistical analysis. We all worked hard, and collaboration enabled us to have a broader perspective.

Marketing (ECON 344) was also my favourite business course, partly because its relevance to my field. Some courses felt less applicable, but they were part of the overall package.

JLH: Now that you’re done your degree, what are you doing next year?
SM: This fall, I’m moving to France to work as an English teaching assistant with the TAPIF program. I find language acquisition fascinating and had a positive experience in Germany last year, so I’m looking forward to teaching in a new cultural context. I’m also going to make a valiant effort at starting a blog. (Optimist in Motion)

Beyond that, I’m thinking of exploring applied linguistics or getting more experience in communications. We’ll see!

Back to School

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It’s back to school tomorrow, and there’s a lot of excitement on campus— friendly greetings, ritual cheering, lumbering mascots, dodgy rapping by orientation leaders. And while I met new graduate students and directed lost undergraduates yesterday, it was another student who stood out. He was standing between Hagey Hall and Arts Lecture Hall, listening to reports of Hurricane Irma on his phone. I stopped and listened with him and traded good wishes for our families, both in the path of the storm. It was an important reminder for me that students aren’t just arriving on campus overwhelmed by being new, navigating the campus, or worrying about different expectations or courses—they are arriving with geographies and histories and ties to events that we may not account for when thinking about the stress of university. Once again, I’m posting the link for counselling services on campus. Note that the link also includes additional regional resources for those in need.

Image from Canadian retailer Fieldworkco.