University of Calgary

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U of C research team tackles water crisis in Bolivia

A group of University of Calgary researchers is teaming up with counterparts in Bolivia to ensure residents of the South American country have improved access to clean water and to reduce the prevalence of negative water-related health effects.

The $1-million project, announced in November at the U of C, is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency and is a key piece of Bolivia’s ongoing efforts to overhaul its water supply and sanitation.

“Right now, 70 percent of Bolivians are getting their supply of water from the ground, which is not clean. If you compare that to Canadian standards, we only use about 30 percent of groundwater,” says David Bethune, a research associate in the Faculty of Science, who is leading a team of three from the U of C on a multi-year research project.

The six-year project is designed to increase the number of skilled workers in the country so they can solve problems related to water sanitation, hygiene and access to clean water.

University of Calgary-Qatar welcomes first nursing students

For a group of new students, the start of 2008 was met with excitement and eagerness as they stood on campus ground for the first time at the University of Calgary-Qatar (UC-Q)—ready to start their first term in nursing.

In September 2007, the U of C opened a campus in Doha (named UC-Q) to serve as a world-class school in nursing education and research. To date, 60 students are now enrolled in one of the two nursing programs offered at the university.

New student orientation at the U of C is an honored tradition—one that UC-Q has adopted with some personal touches. The new students toured the facility, met with staff and professors, received their class schedules and program plans, and gained an overview of the university’s expectations for the coming term.

UC-Q student Afrah Saleh Ali says she’s very proud to be a Qatari working in the field of nursing. “Every day it feels as though you’re being reborn because it’s such an exciting and rewarding career.” Classmate Aisha Al-Khayarin agreed. “We’re looking forward to getting into our classes. We want to develop our skills further. It’s important to continue learning and growing, but we also want to advance this profession in Qatar.”

Schulich I to race in North American Solar Challenge

Back from Adelaide, Australia, the solar car team is preparing for future races, which include racing in the North American Solar Challenge, July 13-21, 2008. The team will drive from Dallas, Texas to Calgary, covering approximately 4,000 kilometres.

As the team prepares for the summer, design work on the University of Calgary’s third solar car began in January using the insight gained from the original solar car, Soleon, and Schulich I, the car driven in the 2007 Panasonic World Solar Challenge.

“The design of the next car, to be raced in the 2009 Panasonic World Solar Challenge and 2010 North American Solar Challenge will happen simultaneously as the 2008 race team prepares Schulich I for its race from Dallas to Calgary in July,” said George Demian, the team’s chief fundraiser.

The multidisciplinary team is made up of students from several faculties, including the Schulich School of Engineering. The car is named after the school’s benefactor, Seymour Schulich.

Research Chair focuses on domestic violence

Thanks to a generous $1.5-million endowment from the Brenda Strafford Foundation, a fully-funded research chair in domestic violence prevention is now a reality at the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. This chair will be one of two in Canada, and the only one in western Canada.

The establishment of the Brenda Strafford chair is critical to helping prevent domestic violence. The chair will conduct world-class research in collaboration with community groups such as the Brenda Strafford Centre, the YWCA, the Prairie Action Foundation and RESOLVE, amongst others, all in an effort to help prevent domestic violence in Alberta.

“This important initiative will build hope in the domestic violence response community, and will make a vital—perhaps even life-saving—difference to the lives of countless vulnerable women, children and men,” said Gayla Rogers, dean of the Faculty of Social Work.

In the last five years, 90,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported in Alberta. “It’s not possible to change attitudes, policies and programs without research,” said Rogers. “Our goal is to conduct research that creates, builds and evaluates knowledge that impacts programs, practices and policies.”

Engineering success in Iran

The U of C held its first convocation ceremony in Iran this fall, celebrating the graduation of 63 engineers, all from the National Iranian Oil Company, in the U of C’s MEng program offered in conjunction with the Sharif University of Technology.

“We have developed a model, under extreme conditions I should add, for delivering a high-quality master’s program that can now be implemented elsewhere in the world,” says Janaka Ruwanpura, director of the Project Management Program, a joint effort of the Schulich School of Engineering and the Haskayne School of Business at the U of C.

The program uses existing curriculum, customized to specific industries and taught by academics and professionals. Ruwanpura says the biggest hurdles were not the program or politics, but the concerns of sending U of C faculty and industry professionals to Iran to teach, adding that some people were afraid they were going into a war zone. “I haven’t even seen anyone carrying a gun in the two times I’ve been there,” he says.

“People there are very quick to distinguish Iranians from the geopolitical issues associated with Iran,” says Wilf Zerbe, a Haskayne professor who also teaches in the program. “The students were talented, serious about the courses and very participatory in class.”

The master’s program consists of ten courses, offered over a condensed period of 15 months. The program will repeat with a new cohort of students in May 2008. Ruwanpura hopes to expand the offering of similar programs in Dubai, Sri Lanka, China and Mexico.

Jarislowsky Fellowship connects executives with business students

The Jarislowsky Fellowship in Business Management welcomes former Enbridge CEO Brian MacNeill as the first mentor to be a part of the fellowships roster of retired executives from business and other sectors who will offer career advice to students, provide guest lectures in classes and participate in the Haskayne School of Business’ mentorship program.

The new program is a result of a $1-million endowment from philanthropist Stephen A. Jarislowsky announced in October.

The program will see executives interact with students and faculty at the Haskayne School of Business for terms ranging from a few days to a full semester or academic year.