Letter from the Editor

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Hello readers, thanks for turning to this page of The Iron Warrior. I hope you enjoyed our previous issue and will enjoy this one as well.

I’d like to start this letter by thanking my staff once again. A lot of hard work went into this issue by the volunteers of this paper and if it weren’t for them, you likely would not be reading this letter.

Now onto this issue. Spring terms generally have little news to cover on campus compared to other terms, but we try to go out and look for any topics on campus to be covered to bring to you in text. Unfortunately, as we are human, we sometimes do not hear about some events, thus I ask you to send us an email and tell us about your event or accomplishment you’re group/team gained over the spring term.

In this issue, we are lucky to bring you some news from our Nanorobotics group which came third at this year’s NIST Mobile Microrobotics Challenge. As I previously mentioned, The Iron Warrior does not hear about all events, and this was one of them. If it was not for UW_NRG’s pro-activeness in sending this article in, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to report on this group’s accomplishment.

Also in this issue, an article about the recent British Petroleum disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. As of press time, oil is still leaking from the damaged well with the most recent “Top Kill” effort failing to stem the flow. Engineering protocols were in place to prevent such a catastrophe from happening so why did it still happen? What does this mean to the profession of Engineering?

The regular Iron Archive’s banner this term is the second banner used for The Iron Warrior, judging from the archives. This banner was in use from the mid-eighties to approximately the early nineties when production was moved from physical cut/paste to computers. When production switched to computers, a text banner was used for a bit before a graphic banner could be implemented.

The engineering exec reports bring you a view of this term’s budget and an interested piece from the president which talks about the view of engineering students from across campus. I’ve seen my fair share of “engineering elitism” from people in this faculty as well as “anti-engineering” comments from across campus as well. It’s time we step up and speak up about this issue and begin changing perceptions of us from those not in our faculty.

From the entertainment side, the brew man group serves up another excellent beer article, the future of gaming talks about next generation add-ons to current consoles, and Jon Radice brings his “Review Based on the Trailer” back with his review on Toy Story 3. Also, the absence of a sudoku in the last issue has not continued into issue 2; however, it’s not your typical “sudoku”. You’ll see it along with other distractions on pages 15 and 16.

Now there are a couple things I’d like to talk about in my editorial this issue: The Waterloo Engineering Competition, as well as the iPad – specifically the media hype.

I’m going to throw three acronyms at you – WEC, OEC, CEC. Do you know what these mean? Well, from reading the last paragraph, and using logic, you will likely now know what WEC stands for, and from further logical analysis, you will likely be able to progress along and determine the other two acronyms. If you still don’t know, that’s ok. WEC = Waterloo Engineering Competition, OEC = Ontario Engineering Competition, CEC = Canadian Engineering Competition.

Many people do not know what these competitions are and I feel more needs to be done to bring awareness to them. As a participant in both the WEC and the OEC, I have enjoyed my time competing and seen the direct benefits in forms of increased skills and money.

I’m not going to go into detail on exact competition details as those can easily be found on http://wec.uwaterloo.ca/, I’m going to talk about why more people should participate.

In a nutshell, those who win the WEC go on to the OEC, where they compete with other engineering schools in Ontario in order to pick competitors to represent Ontario at the CEC. We boast about being the “best engineering school in Canada”, and that may be so academically, or even that might just be our reputation. From our performance at these competitions, I wouldn’t think so. If we are the “best engineering school in Canada”, why are we not sending more of our teams from the OEC onto the CEC?

Well, we did have a pretty strong showing at the OEC this term, much better than previous years I will admit, sending four teams to compete in the 6 competition categories. Unfortunately, none of these teams finished in the top three of their categories on the National Level.

Competition is always fierce, I know from personal experience, but with the amount of talent I have seen at this school, there’s no doubt we have the ability to dominate these competitions.

How can we do that? Well the WEC is a step in the right direction. The WEC is a new competition, only starting last spring as the brainchild of former competitions director, Kevin Liu. Previously, the Waterloo qualifier did not, in my opinion, have much organization, and even less people knew of these three competitions.

By making the WEC a huge presence within Waterloo Engineering, and by raising enough awareness to ensure each student knows what they have to gain by participating in these competitions, we can attract the best and brightest to compete which will hopefully increase our results at the subsequent two competitions.

I implore you, the reader, to get informed about these competitions. Talk to your friends about these competitions, and if your friends are interested, start a team and compete. If your friends are not interested, you have at least made them aware of the competitions.

In all, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Who knows? You and your team might be called up to accept an award for placing at these competitions.

Now onto the iPad. Why all the media attention? Back during the iPad’s initial American launch, media outlets reported on everything from the massive lineups outside Apple stores to how  “amazing” the device is. The front pages of newspapers and many websites were dominated by this “revolutionary” device.

From reading all of the tech blogs, people were praising it for its “gorgeous” screen and “intuitive” interface. Rarely did anyone criticize it for its major shortcomings. Why isn’t there a front facing camera for video chat? Why is there no SD card slot? Why is it so fragile? (one drop is enough to smash the screen). What can’t I Bluetooth tether a wi-fi iPad to an iPhone?

Well some of those questions can be answered by this: Apple can’t sell you a 1+n generation iPad later down the road containing these features after you buy a first generation product. The technological answer to all the above questions is readily available, but I guess Apple knows their customers are rather willing to buy any product released by them prepended it with an i.

Now, I’m not anti-Apple. I’ve been a macbook owner since 2006, and when looking to upgrade in the next year or two, I will likely buy another. What I don’t like is their current business practice. Every product release keynote is a repetition of feel-good words such as “magnificent”, “gorgeous”, “sleek”, “elegant”, “beautiful”, “wonderful”, and the aforementioned “revolutionary”.

Now with the recent international launch of the iPad this past week, media once again is all up in frenzy over this device. Is there no more riveting worldly news out there to write about, or is the media just becoming lazy and reporting on whatever is easiest to write about? I guess it’s easy to praise the device and difficult to criticize it, especially when it might save the publications that write about it through electronic subscriptions of magazines and newspapers.  It’ll be interesting to see how the current anti-trust lawsuits treat Apple in the coming year.

Well enough of that. The Iron Warrior will be taking a three week break from publication due to ECE and MME midterm “hell week” coming up oh too soon. I hope you enjoy the rest of the newspaper and once again, if you have any feedback, positive or negative, please send it to us as we cannot improve without it. iwarrior@engmail.uwaterloo.ca

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