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Connecting Kingston teens with computer science

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

Brandon Turner leans over his keyboard and with a few key strokes shows what he’s spent this summer working on. A digital rendering of an enormous vertebra fossil appears on his computer screen, followed by a chipped femur and then the hulking skull of a haudrosaur, the duck-billed dinosaur of the Cretaceous period.

Brandon Turner is working this summer as an intern at the Queen's School of Computing.

As part of the Queen’s School of Computing’s (QSC) high school internship program, Mr. Turner is working during his summer break to create a digital catalogue of a collection of dinosaur bones. Under the supervision of Dr. David Rappaport, he’s made a system that links together 3D renderings of bones and display pieces with their provenance information to be used when staging museum exhibits.

A native of Kingston’s west end and a student at Frontenac High School, 17-year-old Turner has been working full-time at the QSC since July. “Everyone’s been really helpful and welcoming at Queen’s,” he says. “They’ve gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I’m so glad I applied and would suggest it to anyone.”

Interested in computer science from a young age, Mr. Turner first formally studied the subject when he was in tenth grade. Because of his aptitude for the subject, his teacher suggested he apply for an internship. “It’s taught me a bunch of new skills and given me job experience, which is great,” he says. “I’ve also had to learn a new programming language, which was tough at first, but I’ve gotten better at it.”

The QSC has been hosting high school internships since 2009, when they took on a single student. Now in its fifth year of operation, they host seven students, who have their computing interests matched to a professor’s project.

“The high school internships program is wonderful both for the students and for us,” says Dr. Selim Akl, Director of the QSC. “Getting to work with a variety of people in a university setting is a great opportunity for the interns and we love the chance to reach out to the community.”

Paid for by the QSC, the internships focus on a variety of different topics such as biomedical computing, cognitive science, software design and others.

When asked what his plans are for the future, Mr. Turner proudly stated he hopes to study computer science. “Queen’s is at the top of my list,” he says.

More information on the Queen’s University Internship in Computing (QUIC) can be found on their website.

Sign on for Isabel's inaugural season

By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer

 Violinst Sarah Chang will perform at the Isabel in February 2015 (photo: Seihon Cho)

If catching virtuoso American violinist Sarah Chang and passionate French pianist Cédric Tiberghien in concert at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts are on your winter to-do list, it’s time to think about tickets. Subscriptions for the Isabel’s inaugural season are now available for purchase online, with significant discounts available for Queen’s faculty, staff and students.

“We are extremely excited about the Isabel’s first musical season,” says Jerry Doiron, director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. “It will give Kingston audiences the opportunity to see some of the world’s finest soloists and ensembles in our extraordinary new performance space. These will be very memorable concerts.”

The Isabel’s inaugural season is divided into two series – the Soloists and the Ensembles – of four concerts each. The season kicks off with a performance by the Afiara Quartet, featuring pianist Maxim Bernard, on Sunday, September 21. They will perform works by Ravel, Schumann and Dvořák. It will also include performances by Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique, the Zukerman Chamber Players and Quebec City’s seasoned orchestra, Les Violons du Roy.

Subscribers will also be able to purchase tickets for two special performances at a reduced price: a performance by the world-renowned Salzburg Marionette Theatre on November 19, and Theatre Kingston’s production of Venus in Fur, which runs from November 20 through until December 7.

Subscriptions to the Queen’s School of Music Faculty Artist Series are also now available for sale online.

Single tickets for all performances will be available for purchase beginning on September 2.

For general information, visit the Isabel’s website. To purchase tickets, visit the online box office. You can also visit the Isabel on Facebook



A strong foundation in art

Wild Ducks by J.E.H. MacDonald, a founding member of the Group of Seven, is currently on display at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

This article is published in the Aug. 12 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus.

By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer

In Wild Ducks, a 1917 painting by Canadian artist J.E.H MacDonald, a founding member of the Group of Seven, a lone duck hunter is depicted against a dark and churning sky at the end of what appears to be an autumn day. The picture is striking in its hand-carved frame. Bold and dramatic, it is an image that is also touched with just a little melancholy.

But the mood was likely far more jovial when the members of the Queen’s University Art Foundation first purchased the substantial painting on the university’s behalf in the early 1940s. That’s when a group of alumni and friends, united by the belief that art is fundamental to education, banded together with a goal of starting an art collection at Queen’s. The paintings they managed to amass over the course of a five-year period (1940-1944) are currently on-view at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre as part of an exhibition called Mind, Heart and Spirit: The Queen’s University Art Foundation.

“Their real drive was to get Canadian artworks before they were no longer available,” says Alicia Boutilier, Curator of Canadian Historical Art at the art centre, explaining that they saw important paintings disappearing from the market while other universities built their own art collections. “They wanted to establish a history of Canadian art as they saw it, and especially wanted work by artists like Tom Thomson.”

Led by Lorne Pierce (Arts 1913), then serving as the editor of Ryerson Press and well connected to the Canadian art world, the group managed to make four small oil sketches by Thomson, now considered one of the country’s most influential painters, their first purchase in 1941.

“At the time his paintings were becoming difficult to obtain,” says Ms. Boutilier, of the four paintings. “Prices were going up.”

Spring, Algonguin Park, by Tom Thomson.

Rendered in 1915 and 1916, the paintings depict a number of different landscapes, including views of Algonquin Park, one of Thomson’s favourite subjects. The foundation’s many other acquisitions include works by Group of Seven members Lawren Harris and A.Y. Jackson, as well as by Paul Kane, J.W. Beatty, Mary Bell Eastlake and other key Canadian historical artists.

The group, who made their purchases with help from a number of supporters making regular contributions to the cause, would present the newly-acquired art works to the university community at spring convocation during their active period.

“That collection really ended up being the nucleus of what we now have at the Agnes, even though the gallery didn’t open until 1957,” says Ms. Boutilier. “It really got the ball rolling, because then people starting becoming more aware of the collection, and that encouraged others to donate.”

By 1944, she explains, there was enough momentum that the group decided that their work was done.

Musing on their accomplishments at that spring’s convocation, then-principal Robert C. Wallace declared “the ministrations of art are for the mind, the heart and the spirit. They contribute to a unified life…”
Visiting the collection today, it is hard to disagree.

Mind, Heart and Spirit: The Queen’s University Art Collection continues until Nov. 9, at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

Student entrepreneurs get innovative

Hasina Daya (Artsci'14) provides an update on her team’s start-up business, Cellblock Brewery, during a 3-2-1 meeting that is held weekly as part of the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative. University Communications

This article is published in the Aug. 12 edition of the Gazette. Pick up your copy of the newspaper at one of the many locations around campus.

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Friday mornings throughout the summer there is a group of students who gather in Beamish-Munro Hall. Divided into teams, they take their turn at the front of Room 313 and provide a progress report on their projects.

This is a 3-2-1 meeting. They have three slides, two minutes for presentation and one minute for questions.

These are young entrepreneurs and they are taking part in the Queen’s Summer Innovation Initiative (QSII).
Run by the Queen’s Innovation Connector (QIC), the program brings together students from a number of faculties, as well as St. Lawrence College, with a range of backgrounds. Their goal, however, is the same – to plan and create a product and then make it market-ready.

From a device providing digital video in boreholes deep in the earth to a microbrewery drawing upon Kingston’s a prison town heritage to an electronic device cleaner for hospitals, the projects are imaginative and diverse.

QIC itself was established in 2012 as a collaboration between Queen’s School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. The aim, along with that of QSII, is to build on the university’s strengths “in cultivating ideas and fueling discoveries.”

It is clear within a few presentations at the 3-2-1 meeting that those goals are being met.

Leading the way at the QSII are Jim McLellan, QIC’s Academic Director, professor and head of Chemical Engineering and Engineering Chemistry, Greg Bavington, QIC’s Executive Director, and Alix Murphy, QSII Co-ordinator. University Communications

Leading the way at the QSII are the trio of Greg Bavington, QIC’s Executive Director, Jim McLellan, QIC’s Academic Director, professor and head of Chemical Engineering and Engineering Chemistry, and Alix Murphy, QSII Co-ordinator. The 16-week paid internship program, now in its third year, is aimed at advancing innovation and entrepreneurship and each summer has a fresh crop of bright minds, eager to see their ideas come to fruition.

While there are similar programs at other schools, QSII differentiates itself in the breadth of programming and that it is a pan-university effort. Instead of belonging to a particular faculty the QIC reports to the Provost. There is tangible support from all the major faculties and even the Alma Mater Society.
In a short time, the team has seen a lot of progress.

“I’d say we’ve leap-frogged most of them,” says Mr. Bavington when comparing QSII to similar programs in Canada. “We don’t have the track record, we don’t have the scale but I’d say our programming is exceptional and at the leading edge.”

For example, Mr. Bavington and Dr. McLellan recently attended a symposium in Massachusetts where the organizers offered a list of around 20 best practices for on-campus incubation. QSII had already implemented all of them on its own.

One is that the teams are formed by the students themselves, rather than being pre-selected by the directors. The reason for this is simple: while there may be some hurt feelings and awkward moments for the students, it mirrors what really happens in the private sector.

That’s experiential learning and that is key to the program. It is not an academic certificate course and isn’t run as such. The projects really are start-ups and there are no grades.

The teams do not work in isolation either. While there is plenty of competition, with a $30,000 first prize on the line to help grow the team’s business, there also is a massive amount of collaboration. The weekly meetings are an example. Not only are the teams giving a progress report, they are turning to their peers for ideas, support, and perhaps most importantly, constructive criticism. Teams and individuals are held to account.

“They enjoy problem solving and they enjoy brainstorming and they enjoy critical thinking and they enjoy creativity,” Dr. McLellan says. “And where you will see that is in these 3-2-1 presentations where each venture will say ‘here is what we have done, here is our timeline and here are some of the obstacles.’ They just sort of put it out there and they get feedback. Everyone understands that it is time for a constructive but potentially critical feedback.”

Now with the third group of students working on projects, the team is confident in saying that there is a large amount of interest in such a program and that Queen’s students are showing that they are self-starters and bring a strong mix of initiative, creativity and critical thinking to the table. Yet, they aren’t perfect, Mr. Bavington says.

“One of the things that I’ve learned personally is that I am absolutely convinced not only is there a lot of pent-up demand, there’s a lot of talent in these young people” he says. “They’ve got a ton of talent, they’re nice kids, they’re well-intentioned kids, they’re bright, eager, highly motivated, they’re organized and they’re fun. But one of the weaknesses that they have is that they have failed very rarely in their lives.”

Many of the students have been the top of their class throughout their education. The QSII program will challenge them like never before and by the time the program is over there are plenty of students who realize that entrepreneurship is not for them.

However, they will have gained much.

“Some of the important qualities for entrepreneurship are thinking on your feet, being able to say something succinctly, take an idea, figure out what you don’t know, what you don’t know and being able to go dig and figure out what you need to know,” Dr. McLellan says. “Those are all sorts of critical thought qualities you want in students anyway.”

Agreement supports student learning experience

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities recently signed Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA) with all of Ontario’s publically funded colleges and universities, including Queen’s. Provost Alan Harrison spoke with Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, about what the SMA means for Queen’s.

Craig Leroux: What exactly is the SMA?

Alan Harrison: Two years ago the province began a process with all Ontario colleges and universities to define their mandates using, as context, the province’s differentiation framework for postsecondary education. The government intends that the framework will inform the development of policy, procedures and funding levers over the coming years.

The outcome of this process, the Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) between Queen’s and the province, affirms our mandate as the research-intensive university with a transformative student experience.

CL: What does it mean for Queen’s?

AH: The SMA is descriptive rather than prescriptive, in that it describes much of what Queen’s has been doing, and plans to do, to enhance the student learning experience, with an emphasis on expanded credentials at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and experiential and entrepreneurial education. It will help inform government decisions with respect to Queen’s over the life of the agreement, from 2014 to 2017.

CL: Does the SMA point Queen’s in a new direction?

AH: From the beginning we approached the SMA process as a way to advance Queen’s existing vision, so, no, it is not a new direction. The SMA was developed in parallel with the Strategic Framework, and it is entirely consistent with the university’s focus on continuing to be known as a place where the student learning experience is second to none. In turn, the framework is appropriately reflective of our Academic Plan and our Strategic Research Plan.

CL: Institutional autonomy is an issue that some have raised in connection to the SMAs. Is that a concern for you?

AH: No, I don’t have that concern. The SMA is an agreement, not orders, and the principal would not have signed if he felt it was pointing us in a direction that was inconsistent with where we as an institution have already decided we are going.

CL: The SMA allocates roughly 300 new graduate spaces to Queen’s. Is that a good result?

AH: It is an excellent result. We take it as an indication that the government recognizes Queen’s as a place with a particular strength in graduate education. Included among the new spaces are 10 from the government’s Priorities Envelope for a proposed master’s program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Read the Strategic Mandate Agreement 2014-2017

Students meet with Premier and Kingston MPP

Queen’s students Liz Boag (second from left) and Taylor Jennings (third from left) met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) and Kingston and the Islands MPP Sophie Kiwala at Queen’s Park on Aug. 13. The students stopped by to congratulate Premier Wynne (Artsci’77) on her recent election victory, and present her and MPP Kiwala with some Queen’s clothing. Ms. Boag (Artsci’15) is a member of the women’s basketball team, while Ms. Jennings (Artsci’15) is the president of the Queen’s Student Alumni Association. During their visit, the students chatted with Premier Wynne and MPP Kiwala about their experiences at Queen’s and in Kingston. 



Making the connection

EngQonnect from Queen's Engineering on Vimeo.

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer
Maria Lahiffe, outreach coordinator in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS), is preparing a full schedule of event and activities for the EngQonnect program with the support of a $40,000 Innovation Generation grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
The engineering outreach programs include Go ENG Girl, Take Your Kids to Work Day and the Emphasis on Engineering program.
Go Eng Girl encourages female youth to get involved in engineering.
“We want youth from across Canada to come to Queen’s to study engineering,” explains Ms. Lahiffe. “We are sending engineers into schools, we are supporting the engineering students currently attending Queen’s and we are partnering with the Faculty of Education to bring our programs to the wider community.”
To help her raise the engineering program profile, Ms. Lahiffe is providing paid and volunteer opportunities for engineering students and a chance for Grade 4 to 12 students to experience engineering in a variety of ways:
  • Go ENG Girl on Oct. 25 is being co-hosted by Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada. It is a chance for girls in grades 7-10 and their parents to visit Queen’s campus, meet engineers and engineering students, and learn what career opportunities await anyone who chooses to study engineering. Admission is free and lunch is included.
  • Take Your Kids to Work Day is running Nov. 5. Youth in Grade 9 can spend part of the day at Queen’s and learn about engineering. Admission is $30, which includes lunch. Subsidies are available.
  • Emphasis on Engineering is a workshop that will be offered in two versions: one for Grade 11/12 students and another for Grade 7/8 students. It is a great chance for youth to meet engineering students and learn how to be an engineer. The workshop will appeal to creative students who enjoy a challenge. The program has different costs depending on age and length of workshop, and subsidies are available.
  • Queen’s students will also visit elementary and secondary school classrooms to lead hands-on engineering problem-solving activities that are linked to curriculum expectations in math, science and careers. Teachers in Kingston are encouraged to contact Queen’s for information.
“We want to help our engineer students develop professionally,” Ms. Lahiffe says. “It’s a chance for them to expand their communication and leadership skills and learn to work with people who do not have a technical background. It’s a chance for them to pass their love of engineering along to others. They need to be passionate about what they do.”
For more information visit the EngQonnect website.

Provost clarifies Limestone Queen's pathway admission policies

A recent newspaper report regarding admission standards for international students incorrectly suggested that Queen’s had lowered standards for participants of the Limestone Queen’s Pathway. Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, spoke with with Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) for clarification.

Craig Leroux: What is the Limestone Queen’s pathway?

Alan Harrison: It is a new initiative between the Limestone District School Board and Queen’s that provides high achieving international students with the opportunity to be pre-evaluated for Queen’s Bachelor of Arts (BA) program and to complete their high school studies in Kingston through the Limestone District School Board.

CL: Does Queen’s lower admission standards for pathway participants?

AH: Participants must meet all of the university’s academic and language requirements and deadlines in order to obtain an offer of admission. Students entering the pathway are not given a “conditional offer of admission to Queen’s.” They are pre-evaluated for the Queen’s BA program. Anyone who takes part in the program is required to follow the normal admissions process and apply to Queen’s through the Ontario Universities Application Centre, and meet the same academic and language proficiency requirements as everyone else. 

 Provost Alan Harrison

CL: Is the pathway an “easy way” into Queen’s?

AH: The pathway targets students who would be competitive for admissions at top universities. It is actually a very demanding program, with participants having to complete Grade 12 in English in a new curriculum while performing at a high academic level. They also have to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which is a requirement for earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and successfully complete intensive English language training at both LDSB and Queen’s.

CL: Does the pathway ensure students are prepared for university?

AH: Queen’s is committed to supporting the success of all students, including international students. The pathway provides a highly supportive environment and its aim is to ensure that students are prepared for success in university. And we hope they choose Queen’s. In addition to the language training, they are immersed into the local culture and Queen’s and LDSB provide many other supports to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

CL: Does Queen’s actively recruit for the pathway?

AH: No. Queen’s is a partner in the program but the LDSB does its own recruiting. However, attracting international students is a priority for Queen’s and Principal Daniel Woolf. Attracting international students to campus promotes cultural awareness and enriches the student learning experience for everyone. The university’s aim is to double the proportion of international undergraduates to 10 per cent.

Opening a door to the world

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

The flights, trains and buses needed to get to Kingston from the other side of the world may be a stressful ordeal, but the effort is all worthwhile when there’s a warm bed at the end of the trip. That’s why the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) is looking for volunteers from the university community to house international students for the first few days they arrive in the city.

For one to three days, host houses provide welcoming spaces for international students while they search for a more permanent place to live. Each year, between the fall and winter semesters, about 50 students are in need of accommodation.

“After their many hours of travel, students can be jet-lagged and exhausted,” says Hanna Stanbury, QUIC’s Promotion and Volunteer Co-ordinator. “Having a volunteer house open to them softens the landing; from there, we at QUIC can help them settle in.”

Accommodations needn’t be fancy either. “All we ask is that the host houses provide a safe and friendly place. These conditions are temporary, so students are happy to have a pull-out couch if a spare room isn’t available,” she says.

Prabeen Joshi (Sc’15) came to Queen’s from Nepal in 2010. Arriving a few days before he had access to his apartment, Mr. Joshi was welcomed into the house of some undergraduate students near campus. “This is a great program for anyone who’s an international student. It can be hard to come to a new place and this makes the transition much easier,” he says.

Now settled, and with a place of his own, he’s been hosting international students in need ever since. “I feel like I’ve been able to pay back what I got,” he says. “It’s been very satisfying to be able to help them settle in — I’ve taken the time to show them around town a little bit too, so they’ve got their bearings.”

Queen's in the World

Having hosted people from Holland, Austria, Mexico, China and elsewhere, Mr. Joshi says it’s broadened his network. “Now I know people from half a dozen more countries than I did before. I’ve got friends across the world.”

Anyone interested in offering a place to stay can find more information at QUIC’s website or contact IHC@queensu.ca.

Sports camps supervisor hones his skills

Lucas Matheson has been working with the Queen’s summer sports camps for the past three years and is currently the camps supervisor. (University Communications)

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Sometimes there's just no denying what you are good at.

For Lucas Matheson (Artsci’14, Ed'15) he has come to accept that, well, he's good with kids. And for that, many parents around Queen's and Kingston are grateful.

Mr. Matheson is the supervisor of the summer sports camp program at Queen’s and has worked his way up over the past three years from counsellor to assistant supervisor to the top spot.

Each day he’s responsible for the goings-on at the camps, as well as the young charges who have arrived to hone basic physical skills but also to just have fun. It’s a job that lines up well with his education as well as his future plans.

Mr. Matheson graduated from the physical and health education program this spring and will be be pursuing a Bachelor of Education here at Queen’s in the fall.

“There was no plan of becoming a teacher before working here. It planted the idea that being around kids is something that I am good at and really have a passion for as a career. Being in the phys-ed program, people always assumed ‘Oh. You’re going to be a gym teacher,’” he says. “I guess out of spite I would always say ‘No, I’m not going to be a phys-ed teacher, just because you said so, that was your first assumption.’ But working at the camp it really made me realize that I am good at this. I have the patience, I have the empathy to be able to relate to the kids, because I was a camper before. It really showed me, hey, I could do this as a career. I really enjoy my day, every day here.”

On a busy day at the Athletics and Recreation Centre, the gym is filled with the sounds of bouncing balls, whistles as well as squeals and laughter. It’s clear that Mr. Matheson is in his element.
His duties range from scheduling and making sure the counsellors are comfortable and doing their jobs correctly, to dealing with parents on any issues, including assuring them that their kids are safe. He also visits the camps and spends some time with the kids.

“It’s nice always saying hello to a little eight-year-old around each corner. That puts a smile on my face every day,” he says.

The summer sports program provides two main camps – divided by age groups: 5-7 and 8-13 – that teach kids the active fundamentals. By introducing them to a range of sports and activities, the kids learn fundamental motor skills as well as lateral movements, spatial awareness and the proper way to catch and throw. In the older group they hone these skills further.

He also oversees the specialty camps – such as football, soccer, volleyball, even fencing – that are run through the varsity sports program. Some of the top competitive athletes at Queen’s are the instructors at the camps while counselors, who are more used to the intricacies of youth camps, act as liaisons with the kids and their parents.

The camps have been running for 25 years and this year have drawn approximately 1,500 kids.

New to the program this year is incorporating the Canadian Sport for Life model that promotes learning the fundamentals at an early age. As a result the sports camps program has adapted to get the kids to learn these skills through fun games. Another area of development, Mr. Matheson points out, is basic social interaction as many of the camp attendees return each summer and meet with friends they haven’t seen over the school year.

While he enjoys the job immensely, responsibilities and all, Mr. Matheson also knows that he is also learning his own fundamentals that will form the foundation of his future studies and, hopefully, career as an elementary school teacher.

“It’s been the perfect job to have considering it actually has an effect towards my career,” he says. “Putting it on a resume as a counsellor and supervisor looks really good trying to apply not only for teachers college and getting into teachers college but now moving forward after that, applying to school boards, showing that I’ve been able to move up all the way from a counsellor to supervisor. Working at a camp looks pretty good and keeps me pretty confident moving forward.”


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