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Permalink to this day Thursday, September 12, 2002

Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Waterloo and Microsoft Canada:
  • 'Microsoft and UW have been discussing the basis on which Microsoft will provide to UW, over a five year period, $490,000 in funding for education solutions to facilitate the delivery of online laboratory components of 8 E&CE courses.'
  • 'This non-binding memorandum of understanding is not a legally enforceable agreement'

10:27:16 PM  Permalink to this item []

UW-Microsoft Forum

Sounds to me like some administrators got their hands caught in the funding cookie jar and as a result we saw *a lot* of back peddling tonight. I would have blogged live but RCH 101 doesn't have a wireless AP? And I would have asked questions but I've been too busy with school/work/house/drinking to prepare.

If you have anything to add/correct leave a comment and I'll edit as necessary.

  • 75-100 people? 40% engineers? 1 self-proclaimed 'old fart' who huffed, puffed and scoffed all throughout the 2 hours
  • Item of most note is that President Johnston admitted that he made a mistake though I don't believe there was an apology (am I wrong?): 'it was a mistake for which I take responsibility'
  • Other Johnston-isms: he 'welcomes student interest' (that had me laughing) and they 'should not have announced that agreement at that stage' (all quotes approximate)
  • The university has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding which reflects the recent changes back peddling.
  • The current agreement and future agreements regarding to the grant money *will not be made public*
  • Sounds like the curriculum agreement will be made public
  • They will spend 1 year investigating using C# for ECE050 & ECE150 and if after that year they decide it's worthy to pursue it then they'll approach Microsoft for the $561,000 and if Microsoft denies the funding then UW will go ahead without the funding(!)
  • The other $2.3mil-$561k in MS funding is not contingent upon curriculum changes
  • While they plan to make ECE050 a non-mandatory pre-university course 'accessible' by allowing students to connect to a 'big server' I don't believe it will be truly accessible because students will still require access to an Internet enabled machine
  • When pressed about our school's reputation and the damage it's suffered the administration clearly showed that they had no real strategy for dealing with this problem except to say that they'll work hard to convince us students that they're doing the right thing and then hopefully we'll convince the rest of the world. Sounds very sketchy.
  • I wasn't aware of this earlier but the Dean of Engineering was left almost completely out of the loop and he blamed the fact that it was summer/the slow season for the reason it took him 2-3 weeks to get his fact sheet up.
  • Lots of questions raised with regards to the choice of C# as the language. I.e. What if MS dumps .NET, how accessible will it be for other students using other OSes, will it cost more than the $561k..
  • It's been pointed out that Dean Chaudhuri appeared very uncomfortable. Almost as if 'this whole announcement went ahead without his knowledge and he's been left to pick up the pieces'. I agree. He was not happy.
  • With regards to Computer Science
    • Frank Tompa was representing the School of Computer Science
    • Communication breakdown occurred between Frank Tompa and the curriculum committee not between the UW Microsoft people and the CS curr. committee
    • CS began considering C# (I believe independently?) in April-May and one (unnamed) instructor investigated doing a course pilot
    • The curriculum committee (in first week of August) didn't reject the idea of doing a pilot but wanted more time to consider the course curriculum point of view before jumping into a pilot
  • Karen Yeats was the only person whose question got applause. Her question/statment was in regards to a couple statements comparing ECE050 to the Descartes contest and she wondered that wouldn't it be more appropriate to compare ECE050 to a computer contest where most notably the contests are language independent
  • Where was Ragde?
  • What's very clear is that the funding would be better spent on mandatory public speaking classes for mathies and engineers

Now remember I first brought you news of this UW-Microsoft fiasco back on July 18th. Though this photo from the June 19th bulletin should have tipped us off that something was amiss.

I must admit that seeing seven? men sit in front of us defending, justifying and attempting to rationalize their actions smelled especially Enron-esque to me and in my eyes at least I have a lot less faith in our school. And you then begin to wonder what other shady dealings have we not noticed? Of course Johnston worked hard to paint the picture of how dire a situation our school is in. For example he went to great pains to point out that Princton has $100k USD a year to spend on each student while Waterloo has only $12k CDN.

My question is, and I guess I should have asked it, was, What where they expecting to happen? with this alliance. Did they expect that no one would notice the summer announcement (made while no one was on campus, including the dean of engineering)? Did they not plan on having to move this up through many (in fact, 8) committees?

My other question is, why aren't we more riled up? Or am I just oblivious to it all? Are the engineers up in arms? Are they signing petitions? Or is this just going to blow over and a term from now we'll all be learning C#?
7:43:23 PM  Permalink to this item []


Remember: Keg party next Friday @ 161 Erb W. You're all invited.
4:24:42 PM  Permalink to this item []

From our mayor via UW Student: Student housing One perspective from City Hall.

I'm busy now, hopefully I'll comment later, because as I'm sure my tenants will tell you, I'm one hell of a slum lord :).
3:43:42 PM  Permalink to this item []


Nat Gordon, The Weblog

Okay Maeve, you're next.
2:38:40 PM  Permalink to this item []


So I would like a subscription to Wired, what's the cheapest way to do that here in Canada?

...A year ago Natalie signed up for a Wired subscription from Chapters, it never arrived, then she got a notice saying they were going to refund her money but that she still might get one issue and to consider it a gift. Instead of just one issue we ended up getting a whole year.
2:38:17 PM  Permalink to this item []


UW-Microsoft forum is this afternoon at 5pm in RCH 101. Be there.
10:09:53 AM  Permalink to this item []

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Updated: 4/11/2005; 7:30:08 PM.