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QSII win a boost for young entrepreneurs

Mosaic Manufacturing
Team members of Mosaic Manufacturing, from left, Mitch Debora, Derek Vogt, Danny Lloyd, Heather Evans and Chris Labelle, celebrate after taking the top prize in the Queen's Summer Innovation Initiative. Photo by Jim McLellan

After four months of planning, preparation and development, the students in the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII) made their final pitch presentations to a panel of judges. In front of a roomful of professors, peers, media and industry professionals, each business team made the case why their company should take the top prize. For a precious few minutes they succinctly explained their product, what they had achieved so far, and what they planned on doing with the money at stake before being needled with tough questions from the judges.  

For the summer break, the students assembled into small teams and were given a crash course in entrepreneurship, innovation and business management before brainstorming an idea for a start-up business. With $2,500 in seed money each team set about building and designing their businesses from the ground up, collaborating and competing with each other along the way.

“The students make real companies and they run them independently, generating commercial revenue,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Queen’s Innovator Connector, who oversees QSII. “It’s a program that we wanted to be as realistic as possible, giving students a chance for experiential learning outside of the classroom. They’re learning how to create and manage businesses; we’ve just removed some of the risks of entrepreneurship.”
To make QSII more available to a broader group of students, those participating are paid a stipend while they work on their businesses.

“Paying our students to participate makes us an anomaly in university entrepreneur internships. Neglecting to pay the students or making the students pay to participate creates a program that’s only accessible to those with the means to do so. This way we have the greatest number of applicants, making for a more intense competition process.”

Once up and running, the student-companies created products such as crowdfunding websites, hospital sanitization devices and a microbrewery. The team who took the top prize, Mosaic Manufacturing, invented an addition to consumer 3D printers, dramatically improving their ability to print in colour.

Winning the competition netted them a $40,000 prize to further build their business.

“After months of hard work, it’s fantastic to take first place,” says Chris Labelle (Comm’14). “We have access to excellent facilities and resources here at Queen’s and we couldn’t have won without the support we’ve received.”

Working out of the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall, all the QSII teams had access to SparQ Labs, a makerspace that has tools, fabricators and a milling machine to create their products. SparQ Labs is also accessible to Queen’s students throughout the academic year.

Mosaic and some of the other competitors have now moved their offices and operations to Innovation Park where they’ll continue to work on their products. For Mosaic, they have a clear plan of what to do next that includes hiring more staff, further developing their device and creating a crowdfunding campaign. Things don’t end there though, because they have big goals for the future. “We’ve spoken to a lot of people who have ideas about what they want to use 3D printers for, and the technology just isn’t there yet,” Mr. Labelle says. “We hope one day you can print anything you can imagine, and we want to help make that happen.”

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Mental health committee releases first report

Mental Health Report
Queen's students walk along University Avenue on Thursday. The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health has released its first annual report to the university community. University Communications

The Provost’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health (PACMH) has released its first annual report to the university community, highlighting Queen’s accomplishments and making recommendations for action over the next two years.

“Student mental health remains a priority for Queen’s and we continue to work to create a campus community that fosters wellness and encourages help-seeking behaviour,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The PACMH plays an important role in continuing the work of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health.”

The PACMH was created last year to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health (PCMH). Queen’s has already implemented many of the PCMH’s recommendations and other initiatives to promote mental health, including the launch of academic support programs like Q Success and Bounce Back, increased service capacity at Health, Counselling and Disability Services, and an Anti-Stigma Workshops in Residence program.

The 16 recommendations identified as priorities for assessment and action over the next two years include considering the establishment of a dedicated exam centre and distributing mental health referral information for faculty to share with students at the start of their classes.

The report also outlines results from the 2013 National College Health Assessment Student Survey. Queen’s was one of 32 Canadian post-secondary institutions that participated in the North American study. More than 90 per cent of Queen’s students surveyed said they felt “overwhelmed by all they had to do” at some point in the previous 12 months, and more than half said at some point they felt “things were hopeless.”

“The survey results are similar to the other Canadian institutions participating, and they underscore why promoting mental health remains vitally important,” says Deputy Provost Laeeque Daneshmend, chair of the PACMH. “The advisory committee will continue to work with its partners across campus to build a supportive and inclusive Queen’s community.”

The PCMH was established by Principal Woolf in September 2011 to assist the university in its ongoing efforts to be a proactive and responsive community that promotes every student’s success from the day they arrive through to graduation.

The full annual report of the PACMH is available on the Provost’s website.

Mixing medicine with art and literature

An unusual course in the School of Medicine asks questions other classes leave off the syllabus.

Medicine and Literature, an elective course offered to first- and second-year medical students, has participants discuss readings on the patient experience, gender and medicine, medical mistakes and a number of other topics.

The cover image of the Spring 2014 edition of Mixed Gears was created by Geneviève Rochon-Terry. Supplied image

The small class of about 12 students reads selections of poetry, fiction and memoir before coming together in a seminar-style setting to converse about them.

“A lot of current medicine practice focuses on developing empathy in the practitioner and I think engaging with writing is an excellent way to do that,” says Dr. Sadiqa Khan, one of the course’s instructors. “Reading allows you to see the world through a different set of eyes and absorb the experiences of another person.”

Now co-instructing the course with Dr. Shayna Watson, Dr. Khan, Meds’06, has been teaching at Queen’s since 2008. The Medicine and Literature course though, has a much longer history.

Originally offered to both students in the Faculty of Law as well as med students, the course was called “Images of Doctors and Lawyers in Literature.” Co-taught by Professor Mark Weisberg (Law) and Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, it became a solely medical course after Weisberg’s retirement in 2010.   

An enduringly popular course, Dr. Khan rotates the syllabus every year because so many students like to take it two years in a row.

“Medical school can be frightening,” she says. “You’re close to a lot of human suffering and there’s the potential to make serious mistakes. Doctors are always meant to project an aura of competence, but with this course we want students to engage with their vulnerabilities. Our readings, by people with medical and non-medical backgrounds, often echo the fears and experiences of the students.”

Medicine and Literature also has two optional creative writing classes, where students get to practice their storytelling. One is held in the class, while the other takes the class to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to look for inspiration.

From work done inside and outside of class, Dr. Khan and the students created Mixed Gears, an anthology that showcases their poetry, fiction, essays and visual art.

“I’m so proud of the students and I think the anthology is amazing,” says Dr. Khan. “The work they brought forward is excellent and the willingness they’ve shown to engage with difficult topics makes me feel optimistic about our future doctors.”

Hollis Roth, Meds’16, took the class in both her first and second years in medical school.

“It was a way of looking at medicine we don’t always get,” she says. “We spoke not just as students and prospective doctors, but as people who have ourselves been patients or have had experiences with medicine through family members.”

Because the class also welcomes drop-ins from those not enrolled in the course, Ms. Roth was able to meet upper-year medical students as well. “We mostly stick with our year’s cohort, so it was really nice to be able to connect with upper years,” she says. “To hear they had gone through the same experiences and had been overwhelmed like I was has been important for me.” 

This article is published in the Sept. 9 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus. Follow us on Twitter at @queensuGazette.

Queen's and quaffles

The Queen's Quidditch Club gets ready for its next season.

[photo of Quidditch match]

Since soaring off the pages of the Harry Potter series in 2011, the Queen’s Quidditch Club (QQC) is gearing up to make this upcoming season its best one yet.

QQC has been busy this past summer, with two players representing Canada in the 2014 Global Games in Burnaby, B.C. Vice-President Michael Beda (Artsci’17) is already planning for the return of students to campus.

“We’ve got some exciting things in the works for the upcoming quidditch season,” says Mr. Beda. “Last season was an incredible one for the team and culminated in the Global Games. We hope this next season will be even better.”

In the Global Games, Team Canada defeated Teams Mexico, France and Belgium and UK and placed third behind Teams USA and Australia.

Two QQC players, Andrew Kusters (Sci’15) and Christopher Radojewski (MA’14), represented Canada at the Global Games. Mr. Kusters and Mr. Radojewski spent their past year playing keeper and chaser respectively for Queen’s.

“Winning the bronze in the Global Games and having two Queen’s representatives on the team shows that our school can produce great players for a game that’s still blossoming,” says Mr. Beda, a chaser for QQC. “We were pleased with the result and Andrew and Christopher did Queen’s proud.”

[photo of Quidditch match]

Now, QQC are calling all interested muggles to attend their September tryouts for the 2014-15 season.

Whether their specialty is seeking the snitch, catching the quaffle or beating a bludger, Mr. Beda is looking forward to recruiting new team members and revealing plans for the next season.

QQC has put in bids for holding tournaments for the 16 Canadian teams based on university campuses.

“We’re hoping to hold a couple of small tournaments in between October and November,” says Mr. Beda. “We’ve put in a bid to hold the Canada Cup in 2015 and we remain hopeful that we will be chosen as hosts.”

QQC tryouts will commence during the first week of classes, and teams will be announced the following week. For those who’d prefer to cheer from the stands rather than catch the snitch, QQC hopes to hold some exhibition games in the fall.

To keep up to date with Queen’s Quidditch tryouts or game schedule, visit their Facebook page or website.

A social media success story

Neil Bearse
Neil Bearse, Associate Director of Marketing at Queen’s School of Business, says that keeping in mind a few principles such as listening, adjusting your expectations and being interactive can help bolster a social media campaign. University Communications

With ever-growing numbers of consumers taking to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, droves of companies have followed close behind to get the word out about their products. With so many brands vying for space, it can be difficult to differentiate between what works and what just adds to so much online noise.

A study conducted by the professional networking site LinkedIn ranked the globe’s “Most Influential Brands” to determine what worked and what didn’t. By tracking page views, discussions, shared posts and other interactions, the study established who was winning the race for consumers’ attention.

In Canada, the Queen’s School of Business took one of the top spots due in large part to QSB Insight, an online platform dedicated to sharing knowledge generated at Queen’s with the greater business community. Since April 2013, QSB Insight has been regularly updating, attracting droves of readers. Neil Bearse, QSB’s Associate Director of Marketing who has taught a number of executive education classes shared some of the principles that led to their success.

“When a consumer needs to opt into your message by following you on Twitter, they need to be getting something out of it beyond a flat sales pitch,” he says. “That may have worked in a time when the audience had no choice but to listen to your appeal, but nowadays it’s different.”
During the age of television and radio’s dominance, advertisers were concerned with reach: getting the sales message to as many people as possible.

“At QSB, instead of gearing ourselves towards reach, we solved the equation for value,” Bearse says. “We certainly have those purely informative posts about the fact our MBA programs exist, but they only comprise about 10 per cent of our content. The rest is about showcasing the interesting work that’s happening in our building and our classrooms. We do that by sharing webinars, white papers or exciting conversations.”

Bolstering one’s success on social media can be done by keeping in mind a few principles.

Listen: “When people ask questions, you have to respond,” Bearse says. “Marketing used to be a one-way conversation, but now it’s a dialogue. You need to care about and react to what your followers say, even if they don’t have nice things to say.”

Adjust your expectations: “Companies get onto social media expecting it to be both magical and free. Creating good content requires work and time. Tacking responsibilities to someone’s portfolio without training them or giving them the resources to do it well will leave everyone disappointed.”

Limit choice: “Having too many options is overwhelming, so guide your reader into knowing what their next move should be. If you want them to share a post, design it accordingly, but don’t expect them to share, respond and follow a link,” he says.

Be interactive: “Social media algorithms are designed to quickly spread the posts that are being engaged with, so instead of ending a post with a period that says the conversation is over, end with a question mark that prompts feedback. Of course, be more imaginative than a last-minute, ‘what do you think?’ “

Tone: “I don’t want my bank making jokes,” says Bearse. “Remember to align your message with your brand values and to speak to people in the register you would if they called you on the phone. Every brand needs to ask themselves: Do we use smiley faces? There’s nothing wrong with doing so — just have the conversations in advance to ensure alignment with the image you’re trying to cultivate.

A friendship, not a campaign: “If the first time someone met you they were asked for a big favour, they likely wouldn’t be interested in developing a relationship. If instead, over a period of time you relate to them, engage with them and genuinely want them to be happy, eventually they’ll be happy to help,” he says. “If you’re not getting responses to your posts, ask what you’ve contributed to the relationship that deserves a response.”

Money talks with the chaplain

In her role as University Chaplain, Kate Johnson offers students advice, support and counselling during challenging times. One issue that comes up again and again for students is money. It’s for that reason she’s decided to start hosting workshops on financial literacy.

Chaplain Kate Johnson has begun hosting new financial literacy workshops for students.

“Students are under huge commercial pressures and are advertised to more than ever,” says Ms. Johnson. “A lot of students lack financial literacy and can find themselves in debt; having the words to talk about these things helps you deal with them before problems arise.”

Consulting with three different financial planners, Ms. Johnson has created a workshop that discusses budgeting, money management, online tools for planning and how to identify and spend according to one’s values.

“The role of the chaplain should be concerned with helping people’s whole lives, not just the religious or spiritual side,” she says. “Asking people what’s important to them and how their spending can match those values can help set them on the right path. Beginning adulthood is much easier when you’re on sound financial footing.” 

Having recovered herself from significant debt accrued while a student, Ms. Johnson wants students to know the workshops will be non-judgemental. “I’ve seen students manage meagre finances well but still end up in trouble and I’ve seen those with means but who have never been offered the skills to deal with their money responsibly. In any event, being intentional about spending can set students up for better financial health in the long-run.

The workshops can be tailored to run between one and two hours in length, depending on the depth of interest in the values component. Workshops are available to student groups who request them, with Ms. Johnson currently scheduled to do talks with the School of Graduate Studies and Residence Life.

She is also offering a 30-minute workshop on grief response that’s aimed at Queen’s staff and campus first responders. “Financial literacy and grief response are two topics that I feel need a more prominent place in campus dialogue and I’m happy to discuss them wherever I’m invited.”

More information can be found on the Chaplain’s website.

New courses focus on experiential learning

The 2014-15 academic year comes with a host of new course offerings from the Queen’s faculties, many of which have been adapted to new teaching subjects and practices.

“Queen’s makes providing students a transformative learning experience a top priority,” says Dr. Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “We’re proud that our faculties are constantly enhancing their offerings, whether in terms of bringing in new research in the field, integrating transferable skills or expanding experiential opportunities in the classroom. Every semester brings fresh ideas and innovative pedagogies.”

The following are a selection of new Queen’s courses.

Faculty of Arts and Science

HIST 212 - Experiential Learning in Historical Practice
Offers credit for non-academic work in historical practice at locations such as museums, archives, historic sites, etc. Students must write a proposal prior to the work experience and a report after its completion.

RELS 268 - Religion and Bioethics
Studies the moral and religious norms of ethical judgment in bio-medicine; specific issues will be chosen such as population control, abortion, genetic control, experimentation, consent, behaviour control, death and euthanasia.

Faculty of Education

GDPI 811 – Innovation in Teaching and Learning
Helps students develop a foundational understanding of innovation in the workplace grounded in exploration of historical, sociological, and philosophical contexts and frameworks. Student will explore case studies and develop a plan of action rooted in the particular needs of their workplace.

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

APSC 223 – Global Project Management at the Castle
Covers the knowledge areas and processes of project management with a focus on a practical and applied approach. The course utilizes the global city of London, its engineering firms, experts, practitioners and massive engineering undertakings (The Shard, Cross-Rail, the Eurotunnel, the Thames Barrier, etc.) to investigate the problems, challenges and successes of managing global engineering projects.

CIVL 372 – Water and Wastewater Engineering
Introduces the general concepts of water/wastewater engineering for the protection of human and ecosystem health. Alternative and innovation urban water management strategies will be discussed and emerging issues for water managers will be introduced.

Faculty of Health Sciences

The Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School (QuARMS) program has been improved for its second year of operation. Along with a full slate of courses in an Arts and Science Honours degree program, QuARMS students now have access to additional courses in topics like Population and Global Health and Skin and Special Senses. Continuing this year will be the First Patient Project, where students are partnered with and learn from a patient in the community, as well as Patient Contact in Internal Medicine, where students work with an internal medicine physician on the examination and observation skills. 

Faculty of Law

LAW 527 – Queen’s Family Law Clinic
Students provides services at the Family Law Clinic, providing legal advice, assistance, information and representation to low income individuals in the Kingston area involved with the family justice system. Instruction is provided through lectures and class discussion, simulation exercises in interviewing and advocacy and individual supervision of student casework by the clinic’s project director.

School of Business

COMM 356 – Gender and Diversity in Organizations
Studies diversity and difference in the workplace, and emphasizes the importance of equity and inclusivity in modern organizations. Classes are discussion-focused and will help students grow comfortable discussing, addressing and managing issues of gender and diversity in their careers and organizations.

COMM 433 – Marketing Analytics
Explores the technological and marketing innovations that have been enabled by the advent of “big data.” This course equips students to transform information to insight and insight into shrewd judgement, allowing them to make better marketing and resource allocation decisions. 

Classes start at the Isabel

Matt Rogalsky (Music) leads his class at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in an exercise in acoustic design. He described it as “an exercise in listening to sound through the fingertips.” He plays a tone and the students walk around the class holding balloons, noting how different parts of the room affect the sound.  (University Communications)


It was a day of firsts Monday.

First day of classes at Queen’s but also the first day of classes at the newly built Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

On a beautiful, sunny morning, small groups of students walked along King Street and down the entranceway, some getting their first glimpse of the building.

The anticipation of a new start was clear.

“I think the building is absolutely brilliant — the big windows give a beautiful view,” says film student Nicholas Simonds (Artsci’16), who arrived a half hour early for class so he could look around. “I love that they’ve used limestone throughout. It really makes it feel like a Kingston building.”

Mat Kahansky (Artsci’16) also decided to get an early start and ended up being one of the first students to arrive.

As he wandered the halls trying to locate his classroom, he was impressed by what he saw. The ancient limestone, concrete and the steel and glass of the main lobby elicited a wide-eyed reaction.

He’s hopeful about the building’s future.

“It’s very pretty,” he says, as he settles into a sitting area for students that provides a stunning view of Lake Ontario. “It will be interesting to see how much Queen’s facilitates students as well as make use of the building to its full potential.”

The Isabel not only hosts the Department of Film and Media and acts as a working and learning space for the university’s other creative arts disciplines, but also boasts a film screening room, black box theatre sound studio and a world-class concert hall.

“I think it’s excellent for Queen’s to have its own state-of-the-art music facility,” Mr. Kahanksy says, adding that it boosts the reputation of the school.

Matt Rogalsky (Music), who was teaching a class on recording techniques, acoustics and radio production Monday morning, also says he is excited to be teaching at the Isabel.

“My class and I will be making great use of the new sound studio,” he says. “It’s the most advanced space on campus for mixing audio and I’m excited to put it to use.”

With files from Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer.

The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts was made possible by a transformational gift from Alfred Bader (SC’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and his wife Isabel (LLD’07) as well as the financial backing of the federal and provincial governments, the City of Kingston and additional philanthropic support.

New professional development training for graduate students

For busy graduate students working in labs, libraries and the field, it can be difficult to find time to chart life after graduation. Thanks to a new set of online training resources, it’s becoming easier to prepare for the working world.

A group of Ontario universities have collaborated together to create MyGradSkills.ca, a free online professional skills training website that’s tailored to graduate students’ distinct experience. Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities through the Productivity and Innovation Fund, the site cultivates skills and abilities needed to thrive both during and after a student’s degree program.

Prabeen Joshi
Prabeen Joshi, a PhD candidate in Civil Engineering, participated in the modules' beta testing. 

“We’re excited about the opportunity MyGradSkills.ca provides to our graduate students and proud of the role we played in its creation,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Preparing our students for careers after graduation is of the utmost importance to Queen’s and we believe the skills cultivated by these modules will serve them in academia and beyond.”

The modules, which feature articles, videos, quizzes and other interactive content, aim to develop skills that will serve graduate students in industry, governmental, non-profit and academic work. Of the available 18 modules, Queen’s was responsible for the creation of three on the topics of mental health (in collaboration with the University of Guelph), intercultural competency and the versatile graduate. Recognizing that graduate students have a distinct university experience with different challenges, the modules are tailored to their needs.

“The university experience is different for graduate students than it is for undergraduates,” says Brenda Brouwer, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. “With their energies spent conducting high-level research, combing through literature and writing papers, it can be a challenge to allocate time to planning for life after graduation. These professional development modules, which can be accessed online at any time, will help our students prepare for what’s next.”

Sandra den Otter, Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies adds that “the modules give students the tools and the confidence to translate the skills that they are cultivating in their academic programs into skills that employers in a wide variety of occupations want.”

MyGradSkills.ca adds to the roster of programming already offered through the School of Graduate Studies’ Expanding Horizons series. These workshops and seminars are provided by the SGS in partnership with faculty and student service providers at Queen’s to support academic, personal and professional success.

“Because of the flexibility afforded by the online modules, they serve as an excellent complement to the in-person programming we offer year-round,” says Dr. Brouwer. “We also want the site to remain up to date, so every three years the modules will undergo thorough revisions. Minor changes will be made along the way as needed.”

Students gain access to the site through their university email accounts and can choose which modules they wish to take part in.

“The modules are easy to navigate, and are great at keeping you engaged,” says Prabeen Joshi, a Queen’s PhD candidate who took part in testing the modules. “MyGradSkills.ca covers a wide range of topics not usually covered in departmental courses. These modules are not just convenient, I think they’re essential.”

University grads succeed in the workplace

Students collaborate in one of the new Ellis Hall active learning classrooms.

Newly released survey data shows that Ontario university graduates are succeeding in the workplace and using the skills they developed during their studies.

The survey of 2011 graduates, conducted for the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) by an independent research firm, shows that 93 per cent were employed two years after graduation, up from 87.4 per cent six months after graduation. The average salary of a university graduate in full-time employment was $49,398 two years after graduation.

The survey also shows that a university education leads to valuable and relevant skills for the job market, with 88.6 per cent of graduates saying the skills they learned at university are closely or somewhat related to the skills they use on the job two years after graduation.

“We hear a lot of talk about a skills gap, but this survey shows that a university education does an excellent job of preparing students for success in the workplace,” says Jill Scott, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “Queen’s is a leader in providing an exceptional student learning experience with an increasing emphasis on transferable skills.”

Supporting the development of transferable skills is one of the aims of both the university’s Academic Plan and the Teaching and Learning Action Plan.

“We want our students to get the most out of their education at Queen’s, and that means ensuring they graduate with the skills and knowledge that will lead to success throughout their careers,” says Dr. Scott. “That’s why we are working to consistently embed learning outcomes directly into course delivery and promoting active and collaborative learning through initiatives like the Ellis Hall project.”

Following a recommendation of the Teaching and Learning Action Plan, Queen’s recently announced the appointment of Peter Wolf as Queen’s inaugural associate vice-provost (teaching and learning), effective Oct. 1. He will direct the Centre for Teaching and Learning and support the implementation of the Teaching and Learning Action Plan.

Enhancing the student learning experience at Queen’s is a strategic driver in the university’s Strategic Framework, and many of Queen’s teaching and learning initiatives are highlighted in its Strategic Mandate Agreement with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.


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