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March 1996


Mark these dates on your calendar:

March 20th: Student Papers Night,
University of Waterloo, Davis Centre, Room 1302, 7:00 p.m.

March 21st: Leonard Chow on Simple Capacitance Formulas,
University of Waterloo, Davis Centre, Room 2577, 5:30 p.m.

April 16th: From Information to Knowledge - Andrew Wong,
University of Waterloo, Davis Centre, Room 1302, 5:30 p.m.

Section Officers


Presented by: K-W Section; Student Branch A,
University of Waterloo; and Student Branch, Conestoga College.

Date: Wednesday March 20, 1996, 7:00 p.m.
Place: University of Waterloo Davis Centre, Room 1302

You are cordially invited to the annual Student Papers Night.

Students from Conestoga College and the University of Waterloo will deliver oral presentations of their technical papers. The best paper from the College is awarded the Ken McKenzie Award and the best paper from the University receives the George Dufault Award: the awards include cash prizes.

Refreshments will be provided.


Date: Thursday, March 21, 1996, 5:30 p.m.
Place: University of Waterloo, Davis Centre 2577
Speaker: Professor Leonard Chow, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo

Dinner: Meet the speaker for dinner after the seminar. Please contact Shesha Jayaram for details (519-885-1211, ext 5337).

Refreshments will be served at 5:00 p.m.



Date: Tuesday April 16, 1996, 5:30 pm
Place: University of Waterloo Davis Centre, Room 1302
Speaker: Dr. Andrew K.C. Wong, University of Waterloo

Dinner: Meet the speaker for dinner at the University Club after the seminar. Please contact Manh Le for details (519-884-1710).

Refreshments will be served at 5:00 p.m.



Apr 17-18
TechNet Canada 96 "Government and Industry Info Exchange on Transition to the Future" presented by AFCEA Canada (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association). Ottawa. M. Fuller 613-563-0093
Apr 23-25
Broadband Communications 96. Montreal. L.G. Mason 514-765-7836. e-mail:
Jun 2-5
18th Biennial Symposium on Communications, Queen's University. Kingston, Ont. 613-531-9210. e-mail: Deadline for abstracts to H.T. Mouftah 613-545-2934, e-mail, Jan 22 1996.
Jun 16-19
1996 IEEE International Symposium on Electrical Insulation. Montreal. R. James 615-574-6213
Jun 19-22
ICCI 8th International Conference of Computing and Information. Waterloo, Ont. Farhad Mavaddat 519-885-1211
Jul 9-11
3rd Workshop on Finite Element Methods in Electromagnetic Wave Problems. Halifax. Z.D. Chen fax 902-422-7535 or G. Pelosi e-mail
Aug 15-16
Selected Areas in Cryptography. Queen's University. Stafford Tavares 613-545-2945, email Deadline for papers June 7 1996
Aug 18-21
IEEE International Engineering Management Conference EM 96. Vancouver. W.A. Wallace 518-276-6854, e-mail:
Aug 26-27
International Conference on DSP in Telecom. Toronto. GAO Research & Consulting 416-292-0038.


May 20-22
IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Technology Conference IMTC 97. Ottawa. R. Myers 301-287-1463, e-mail:
Jun 8-12
ICC 97 - IEEE International Conference on Communications. Montreal. Celia Desmond 905-615-6507. e-mail:
Jul 14-18
IEEE AP-S International Symposium and URSI Radio Science Meeting. Montreal. Stanley Kubina 514-848-3093, or G. Delisle 514-765-8202, e-mail:
Oct 7-10
IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium. Toronto. S. Foster e-mail:


May 4-7
1998 IEEE/IAS Industrial and Commercial Power Systems Technical Power Conference (I&CPS). Edmonton. M. Bince 403-468-6673


Jul 18-22
1999 IEEE Power Engineering Society Summer Meeting. Edmonton. D. Fraser 403-448-3554


For further information contact
Jean Webster,
ICR, University of Waterloo,
Tel: (519) 885-4530, Fax: (519) 885-1208,


A team of computer science and computer engineering students from the University of Waterloo captured third place in an Association for Computer Machinery international computer programming contest recently held in Philadelphia. The students, Michael Van Biesbrouck, Philip Chong and Ka-Ping Yee, were required to solve eight questions in five hours. Waterloo has placed in the top 10 for the last four years in a row. Forty-three teams competed in the final competition with the University of California Berkeley taking first place and Harvard placing second.

Ka-Ping Yee also earned $1000 for winning the inaugural ACM Student Webbie Award. This prize is awarded for the best World Wide Web page created by a student .


What do you call microprocessors which are used to control conventional nuclear reactors?



Reviewed by Tom East.

The British Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) presented their annual Faraday Lecture before a live audience in London: they and the IEEE broadcast it by satellite simultaneously on February 7th at 1 pm EDT: it was transmitted on Rogers Channel 20 (KW and Cambridge), and has been repeated since on Channel 20.

The "lecture" consisted of a dialogue between a British engineer, Nicholas Storer, and an actor playing the part of a French engineer, Thome de Gamond, who, in 1830, proposed a channel tunnel from France to England (not the first one to do so, but a contemporary of Faraday). The dialog, in which the Brit acted as straight man to the Frenchman's clowning, was interspersed with a few diagrams and film clips of construction and the trains.

I found the dialog very tedious (perhaps my taste for English humour has faded since I left England 44 years ago), but some interesting facts emerged. The question period afterwards (involving Canadian and US viewers as well as those in the theatre) was somewhat marred by communication difficulties, but brought out further ideas.

In 1830, Thome de Gamond, using very crude home made diving equipment, picked up samples of the seabed to confirm that it was practical to tunnel beneath it - the final tunnel runs through chalk marl.

Earlier this century, a tunnel was actually started, but abandoned.

In the late 1980s, the tunnel was bored from each end, using English and French Tunnel Boring Machines: they cut two running tunnels 9m dia (7.6m after being lined with concrete segments) and a service tunnel 4.8m dia in between. The TBMs progressed at 11 km per month. The French TBM was pulled back to France, but the British one is buried under the middle of the tunnel and is used as a system ground connection. The tunnels start from the loading stations at Folkestone and Calais and descend at 1 in 90 (1.1% grade) to get 40m below seabed: the UK tunnels turn under the water at Dover.

The TBMs were guided by lasers. When they were about 100m apart, a test hole was bored and it was found that the two tunnels were only a few centimetres out of line. There is a small amount of seepage of water: there are five drainage pumps in the system, and only three are normally in use.

About 12,500 jobs were involved in the project, which cost about eight billion pounds (about $18B Can) including inflation and interest, and was financed by 200 banks. Traffic has been running for a year, and is covering costs of operation: to recover the total project cost will take "into the next century".

It takes about 2,500 people to operate the system. Trains run every 3 minutes in each direction (with an improved signalling system this could be reduced to 2 minutes). Half the trains, called "le Shuttle", are car and truck ferries, built by Bombardier of Quebec, and run from Folkestone to Calais - this takes 35 minutes (28 minutes under the water): each train is 800m long. The other trains are passenger trains, mainly from London to Paris and Brussels, and freight trains which can continue over major lines in Britain and Europe. The electric locomotives contain power converters using Gate Turn Off (GTO) thyristors so they can operate from British, French and Belgian supplies (25kv AC, 750v DC and one other). Each loco has traction power of 5 MW, so that it can pull a train up the grade at 140 km/hr, and, in an emergency, push a dead train out of the tunnel in front of it. The system uses up to 200 MW from each end.

There are, of course, extensive safety measures. For instance, each railway carriage has its own fire detecting and extinguishing system so an affected carriage would be pulled out of the tunnel to be dealt with on the surface.

There are several communication systems. One of them uses a fibre optic cable running through the tunnel, with converters at intervals to radiate signals to the trains.

Much attention was paid to environmental factors during construction, and Eurotunnel received awards from environmental organisations. It is hoped that the tunnel will boost the use of rail freight and hence relieve the congestion and pollution on highways.


Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd now owns a plot of land at the north end of Phillip Street behind the Parkdale II Plaza and has started construction of a 7000 square metre office/factory building for the Panacom Automation Division, which designs and manufactures X-stations.

Open Text Corporation is now quoted on NASDAQ as a result of a recent $69,000,000 US share offering: the shares rose sharply in price after they were put on sale. The company has been recruiting software developers and others again.

Waterloo Maple Inc. signed a contract with a Malaysian company during the trade mission lead by the Prime Minister. It involves a Malaysian version of Mathplus for Malaysian schools. Also, under another contract, CRC Press of Florida will use math software from Maple in a CD-ROM version of its widely used tables.


The CANARIE National Test Network is being combined with CA*net to make a high speed ATM network. Several Internet providers and provincial and municipal research networks will be connected to the network to start with.


Students at the University of Montreal are to use multimedia displays to learn human anatomy instead of cadavers, which are costly to maintain.

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