Editorial – Issue 4

Kirsten Ehlers - 2A Biomedical Engineering
Posted on: November 14, 2019

We’ve got a great issue for you inside. We’ve got more design teams for you; Midnight Sun, ProtoMD and WatSub will be rounding off our final design team spotlight. Any other interested teams can contact iwarrior@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca. We would be happy to hear more about your team. The crossword is Prof-themed. I would highly recommend checking that out. Sophia wrote an amazing article about lettuce club. Yvonne covered TalEng so if you missed the events you can get a recap here. Ratan is summarizing everything ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ for those of us who have fallen behind on all the Facebook scandals. Also for the first time, Ratan is reviewing an audiobook while Farzeen is reviewing a podcast for her wellness column. I’m quite excited for this issue and I hope you are too.

What’s up on campus? I like to call this time of the term “a brief moment of relaxation”. Midterms should be wrapping up. Unless you’re like me, with never-ending midterms. So, it feels like finally, you have free time. Wrong. Unfortunately, finals are right around the corner. Labs are finishing up. You’re buried in lab reports. Continuous round is upon us. Life is about to get real busy.
For my editorial this issue, I want to do something a little different. Instead of talking about an opinion I have about society. (See my Point/Counterpoint for that). Let’s reminisce about when we were all applying to Waterloo.

I went to Fall Open House last weekend, but not as a tour guide. I came to bother future Waterloo engineering students and ask them why they wanted to come to Waterloo. I wandered around E7 for several hours, awkwardly talking to parents and prospective students. I also interviewed several current students who were very confused about why I was asking them why they wanted to go to Waterloo until I realized that they were already students. Sorry. I had some great answers. Since I am an engineering student, I felt obligated to graph the results. So, below, you will find bar graphs of what programs people are applying to and why they wanted to come here.

For the reasons they wanted to come here, every reason was plotted so one individual who mentioned co-op and the campus atmosphere would get a point under nice campus and co-op. Due to the variety of responses, some responses were combined. Anything about the University of Waterloo being ranked high or hearing about Waterloo as a good school was scored as reputation.

I was pleasantly surprised that the number-one answer wasn’t co-op. However, my favorite answer I got was “Smart people come out of Waterloo.” Now this response was from a guy named Christopher, whom I talked to for about fifteen minutes about the University of Waterloo campus life, the history of Kitchener, and medieval music. The interesting thing was that he is applying for music.

Bianca told me that the University of Waterloo had “Big hype at [her] high school.” I feel that this is a very relevant response that a lot of people won’t admit was a factor in coming to the University of Waterloo.
Another interesting thing was that some people were very prepared with answers to this question as if they had practiced the answer the previous night. Others had no idea why they were even there.

I also asked what program people wanted to apply to. Mechanical was popular. This is probably because I was camped out in front of the mechanical info session. Obviously, the data doesn’t represent the proportion of people applying to each program. It is a small sample of who went to Fall Open house and which program’s applicants better reflect the responses about why they want to come to the University of Waterloo.

Speaking of WATERloo(see that great transition), it turns out many Ontario schools had higher lead levels than the federal standards. For reference, the Federal standard is 5 ppb and the Ontario guideline is 10 ppb. Turns out my former high school was 50% above the federal standard for lead. Now that’s why a bunch of water fountains was removed my final year there. Everything makes sense now.

The problem goes beyond schools, across 260 homes in the country, 39% of homes had lead levels exceeding federal guidelines.

It doesn’t seem too far ago that we were all talking about the Flint, Michigan water supply. Didn’t we all think that in Canada that we were safe from all of that negligence?

Dozens of municipalities in Ontario have no idea how many lead service lines in their cities. There are limited requirements for municipalities to conduct tests on the drinking water. Some municipalities haven’t tested water supplies in the past two years. However, some municipalities are taking action. Toronto has had notoriously high lead levels until 2014 orthophosphate was added to the water for corrosion control. Now only 2% of tested water supplies exceed standards. From an economic perspective, experts say that every dollar spent on corrosion control saves 10 dollars.

What about Waterloo? The region of Waterloo complies with the Ontario guidelines (which are double the federal guidelines). The Region of Waterloo tests the water every year. Waterloo, unlike many other cities, is less prone to lead in the water supply due to its water. Waterloo water is very alkaline (that’s why the water here may taste different). Alkaline water is less likely to corrode pipes because the lime buildup (that weird white stuff in your kettle)/ This all in all means less lead in our drinking water. Yay! Also, the Region of Waterloo estimates that lead pipes are only used in homes built before the 1950s.

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