David Johnson Memorial Fund

It with shock and sadness that I inform the community of the sudden death of former Academic Dean David Johnson on Sunday, March, 18, 2012. David was a pillar of Vanier College, starting as a chemistry teacher at Snowdon campus in 1974 and immediately taking an active role in the Program system development of the Snowdon campus and on the Board of Directors of Vanier College. He served as interim Sector Head at Snowdon (1979-80) and then that campus’ Academic Dean (1980 – 1986). He was invited to become Dean of Applied Technologies under the reorganization following the move of Snowdon to Ste-Croix in 1986. In 1993-94 he became Academic Dean of the College and retired from that position in Vanier College in 1999-2000, staying for two years longer to work on such endeavours as the Bell Science Fair. He kept in touch with his friends and colleagues at Vanier and  returned for the Thursday afternoon volleyball games when he was visiting Montreal.

His career at Vanier was long and fruitful and he shepherded through many changes ranging from moves and t resulting re- organizations to new pedagogy and the integration of information technology.

After his retirement, David moved to Revelstoke, British Columbia, where he maintained his community involvement and interest in things both old and  new, most recently as Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation president. See the link below for his activities in British Columbia and that community’s reaction to his sudden death.

His passing is a loss to us all. Our sympathies are extended to his wife, Edna-Mae and his son and daughters, and their families, and his many friends and colleagues.

The funeral will be held in Revelstoke at St Peter’s Church, March 23, 2012.

Gilbert Héroux, Director General

Obituary in the Montreal Gazette

Donate to the David Johnson Memorial Fund

Science Wunderkind: Santiago Paiva

Vanier Science student extraordinaire, Santiago Paiva can add another feather to his cap: he recently won a grant from Forces Avenir, a program which aims to recognize, honour and promote students who have exhibited remarkable excellence and commitment while rigorously pursuing their studies.

A strong contingent of Vanier supporters including Jim Atkinson, Joshua Berman, Cari Clough, Jonathan Goldman, Monique Magnan, and Judy MacDonald travelled to Quebec City to watch Santiago accept his award at the Forces Avenir Gala on September 7, 2011.

A winning project on asteroids
In addition to winning a grant in the Project Category, Santiago’s entry, “Simulating Asteroids: Detection and Analysis,” won the overall award for best project. Not surprising because Santi is not afraid of tackling big questions.  When Santiago saw that astronomers could collect information on asteroids, comets and other celestial objects, but didn’t have the time or resources to figure out what they were seeing, he found a solution.  He used innovative software he is developing to facilitate the analysis of information collected by telescopes on near-Earth asteroids and to assess the probability of a collision with our planet.

Making his mark around the world
Santiago’s exploits are numerous: first place in the North American division of the Present Around the World (PATW) Competition and third in the world overall; initiating the Techno Talks Speaker Series; Chairman of IET Montreal Young Professionals; invited speaker at the prestigious Ignite Montreal speaker’s event; and the recipient of the VIP Scholarship at the 2011 Graduation Ceremony.

Physics at McGill this fall
This fall, he will be continuing his studies in Physics at McGill University but his real dream is to pursue a graduate degree at either MIT or Stanford and eventually work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Meg Sircom Memorial Scholarship

By SARA ANDRADE
Originally Published: February 2, 2012

Last January 25, the Meg Sircom Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Rosemin Nathoo

“She had a quirky, independent spirit that was wholly original. Wherever she went in the world, people were drawn to her wry wit, gentle charisma, and overwhelming love of humanity”. So it can be read in Margaret Sircom’s obituary.

It has now been a year since the passing away of the breast cancer diagnosed 43-year old teacher. Not only was she a devoted worker, part of the Vanier English department since 2001, but also an active member of the Montreal creative writing community. Among her involvements, she co-edited the 2001 poetry anthology Running with Scissors, which celebrates the poems of 19 young writers.

From Left: Mariopi Spanos (English), Dana Bath (English), Gilbert Héroux (Director General), Rosemine Nathoo (English), Mark Cohen (English),

Miss Sircom deeply touched the hearts of her fellow colleagues and friends with her passion and special creativity. That is why the English department decided to give a Scholarship on her behalf. The annual award is given to a student with a good academic standing, having submitted a distinguishable portfolio of creative literary work. That includes poetry, drama, fiction, screenwriting, et al. All participants had until November 14 to submit their work. This year’s recipient is Rosemin Nathoo who impressed many with her maturity and imagery. An honourable mention was also attributed to Oliver Wockner’s comic “cheese soufflé” short story, which shows that one can write whatever one wants.

It was at a brief and informal ceremony that Miss Nathoo received her award, mostly among English teachers. A humming of appreciation emanated from the crowd as they heard some of the verses of Rosemin’s works. As a matter of fact, as soon as one hears the words flowing one after the other, one discovers the young writer’s experimental form and play of sounds.

“I usually write when there’s something I’d like to say that I can’t say aloud. I like to catch and remember what bounces around in my head and I have a fascination with grammar, wordplay and languages”, explains the Environmental and Wildlife Management student, who is now in her fourth semester at Vanier. It is that fascination with the English language that creates an art full of rhythm and musicality. For Nathoo, it is the senses of freedom and soothing that appeal to her when she writes: “It [writing] is liberating and calms me down”.

For Miss Nathoo, it was an honour to receive the scholarship, even though she did not get to know Meg Sircom. “I feel flattered, encouraged and guilty for not having known Meg”, she says. When asked what work she was most proud of, the humble and shy poetess does not have a specific answer: “I’m proud of the portfolio in general. My favorite poem is usually the one I’m thinking about at the time.”

Although the recipient receives recognition and attention for winning the award, it is impossible to forget the material prize. The latter is of 500$. “For now, I’m saving it for a rainy day. If no rainy day comes along anytime soon, I’ll use it for a tattoo I’ve wanted for quite a long time, a painting of a downy woodpecker on my right shoulder blade”, explains Nathoo about the money. The young lady seems to have everything planned for her near and even farther future. Unlike many students, she knows what career she wants to pursue: “As far as I can see, I’d like to start up in the environmental field as a tech, in water and plant management, hopefully. I might end up in teaching eventually; that’s something I’ve also always wanted to do, in English or biology.”

Therefore, it might surprise many that Rosemin Nathoo does not expect to pursue a career in writing. However, she states it will always be a part of her life: “Everything involves writing. I’ll probably keep applying for magazines and competitions, but not as a career. I’d like to finish my modern language DEC at Vanier for personal interest if I can.”

Shimmer by Rosemin Nathoo

one day, there won’t be bridal veils
but daisies
reaching outwards with
soft hands and chosen colours,

all atoms
strangely in the shapes of solar systems.


Sara Andrade is a 1st year Liberal Arts student at Vanier College. She is a reporter for the Vanier Insider.

 

Vanier College BDC Case Challenge

Seven years ago, three local Cegeps gathered to compete in the first Vanier College BDC Case Challenge.  It was a humble beginning for a competition that this year will welcome 30 teams from colleges across Canada coming to Montreal to compete against one another on February 11-12, 2012 in the hope of earning a chance to compete in the finals and vie for a top place trophy.  This event that is supported by the Business Development Bank of Canada has become the most prestigious, national, collegiate level case competition with teams hailing from British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland.

What’s a case competition
The Case Challenge is an intense two-day event that brings together the best of the best among students in technical business programs across Canada.  The challenge is to analyze a never-seen before business problem in three hours, draw up a viable marketing plan, and prepare a Power Point presentation to give before a jury panel of experts from business, industry and education.  Competitors need to be top notch shape if they are to maintain a clear head and put their creativity to work to come up with a plan that addresses the needs of the problem under study.

The benefits of particpating in the Vanier College BDC Case Challenge
“The Vanier BDC Case Challenge is a great example of how Vanier offers its students a first class opportunity to put their knowledge and marketing skills into practice,” states David Moscovitz, Case Challenge organizer.  “Pitting their abilities against those of students coming from every province in the country inspires students and drives them to work hard and adopt a professional attitude.  Normally, case competitions only take place at baccalaureate and graduate levels, so the Vanier contest that is the only national marketing case competition at the college level attracts very serious students.  They come to Montreal wanting to do well, to meet other competitors, and to network and learn from each other and the judges.”

Teams from 30 community colleges and cegeps
The two-day competition in February will include teams from Cégep André-Laurendeau, Collège Lionel-Groulx, Cégep régional de Lanaudière à Joliette, Champlain College, St-Lambert, Collège de Rosemont, Collège de Valleyfield, Collège Édouard-Montpetit, Dawson College, John Abbott College and Vanier College, from Québec; Algonquin College, Centennial College, Durham College, George Brown College, Humber College, Mohawk College, Seneca College, Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, St. Lawrence College, Cornwall and St. Lawrence College, Kingston, from Ontario; J.R. Shaw School of Business, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, from Edmonton, Alberta; Langara College, Okanagan College and Sprott-Shaw Community College, from British Columbia; Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, from Saskatchewan; Red River College, from Manitoba; New Brunswick Community College, from St. John, New Brunswick; Nova Scotia Community College from Nova Scotia; Holland College, from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and College of the North Atlantic, from Newfoundland.

Details of the competition
The 2012 competition will take place once again at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel (Montreal Airport).  Because of the large number of participants, there will be three theatres of 10 presentations on Saturday.  That evening, the top two teams from each theatre will be announced at a gala dinner.  These six teams will then go on to compete with a new case to analyze in the medal round on Sunday morning.  Following the final presentations, an awards luncheon will take place.

The Business Development Bank of Canada
BDC is Canada’s business development bank. From more than 100 business centers across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs.

$1.5M Investment in Science Labs

Who hasn’t read a news story about advances in science helping bring a criminal to justice, even years after he committed a crime? One of those advances is PCR – polymerase chain reaction, a process that allows a tiny sample of DNA to be amplified enough to allow testing. And now Vanier College Biology students can work with such modern tools, because a PCR cycler is part of a 1.5 million dollar investment in laboratory renovations, upgrades and new equipment at the College.

New Organic Chemistry Lab – the Jewel in the crown

The new Organic Chemistry lab is the jewel in the crown of the 10 Science labs at Vanier that are used by all students in the various Science Programs. Coming with a price tag of one million dollars the new lab is a large, bright workspace with the latest in lab design options.

The old space was rebuilt from the floor up. New utilities were installed: new electrical wiring, a new heating, air conditioning and ventilation system, new gas lines, new plumbing, and a new safety shower.

New work benches have Ducron epoxy resin work surfaces resistant to damage caused by accidental spills. The benches contain lockers custom-built to store student lab equipment. Along the walls other new benches have cabinetry consisting of cupboards, drawers, equipment lockers and glass cabinets.

In all, the lab has 12 work stations for 24 students. Each station is equipped with its own sink and plumbing, and colour coded controls for gas, and compressed air and vacuum. The vacuum source and water aspirator at each station will allow students to carry out reduced pressure experiments.

Six ultramodern large double fume hoods can also easily accommodate 24 students in 12 groups. Each fume hood has two sinks and its own colour coded gas, air, vacuum and water aspirator controls. Underneath the fume hoods, there are vented cabinets to store acids, bases or solvents. Each type of storage cabinet has its own separate ventilation system.

The new laboratory is also very well equipped with a gas chromatograph, an IR spectrophotometer, polarimeters, a rotary evaporator, balances and hot plates, as well as all the glassware and tubing needed for organic chemistry. Add to the chemical paraphernalia, a computer with access to the internet and the teaching tools it provides.

“Not only is the new lab a beautiful space to walk into, it’s also a space students will look forward to working in,” says Barrie Benton from the Chemistry Department. Along with two other General Chemistry labs, the new Organic Chemistry lab is used by all the Vanier Science programs. Without question the Vanier Chemistry Department now has one of the best Organic Chemistry labs anywhere.

New Biology Equipment

Going over the list of new Biology lab equipment is like being a kid in the proverbial candy store. In addition to the new polymerase chain reaction – PCR Cycler, other big ticket new items include a dissolved oxygen sensor to study photosynthesis in aquatic environments, DNA electrophoresis chambers to separate and analyze DNA fragments and a light trans-illuminator to visualize and analyze DNA and protein electrophoresis gels.

New SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) chambers are used to separate and analyze protein molecules. With the SDS-PAGE chambers, Biology students analyze muscle proteins from different animals then take the protein profile to determine evolutionary relationships among the animals studied and construct a genetic tree.

“This is exciting Molecular Biology and Genetics that used to be carried out only at the university level, but it’s a standard part of Biology II at Vanier,” indicates Biology teacher, Edward Awad.

There are also various new physiological sensors for the Human Physiology course that’s part of the Science Major in Biomedical Science. Conductivity sensors analyze urine, force sensors study muscle activity, blood pressure sensors measure student blood pressure, electrocardiography (EKG) sensors and heart rate sensors measure heart activity, and spirometers measure lung capacity. Students get to use all these outstanding tools to study the functioning of the human body. New laptops interface with the different sensors to log and analyze the data.

And what do the Biology labs look like? They are large, clean, well lit, with individual fume venting cones above each work area for any off gassing from chemicals used in biology studies. Recently when visiting science teachers from other Cegeps saw the equipment and topnotch labs here at Vanier, one of them exclaimed: “Wow, we don’t have anything like this. These labs are to be envied!”

With new labs, new computers and a new telescope, Vanier makes Physics exciting

In the Physics Department, which has four labs, renovations meant old counters and cupboards moved out, and two large new laboratories emerged with more usable space. In one of the renovated Mechanics labs, students now work at counters equipped with air tracks and other equipment needed for mechanics experiments. There is plenty of space to move around for motion detection experiments and other computer driven equipment.

The overall atmosphere is welcoming and exciting for the students. The labs are all equipped with new computers that are fully networked for easy access to the internet and to Webworks, a key on-line study resource that is used extensively at Vanier for Physics and Mathematics problems. Computers are also used in physics labs for data acquisition and analysis.

In the Electricity and Magnetism lab each of the twelve work stations is equipped with a computer, an oscilloscope, a signal generator, and low and high voltage supply. There are also devices to measure the charge/mass ratio where students can track an electron beam. Each station also has all the other equipment and components needed to study as well as build circuits and measure every aspect of electrical activity.

The Waves and Modern Physics lab has also been enlarged and equipped with new high speed computers for class notes and internet access. “At Vanier, the Science labs are never overcrowded,” says Hodé Erdogan of the Physics Department. “Not only are the labs large, but also the scheduling of lectures and lab sections means there are just twenty to twenty-four students in a lab at one time. Students work individually or in small groups depending on the experiment and activities.”

Vanier is one of the few Cegeps with its own Observatory and an 11” telescope

In addition to its four Physics labs, Vanier is also one of the few Cegeps in the province equipped with its own Observatory, used extensively in the Astrophysics course. A brand new 11” reflector telescope hooked up to a camera and a new GPS star tracking system dominates the centre of the room under the dome.

Key in a star identifier and the fully interfaced computer will rotate the telescope and automatically locate the star. Students can then make images of stars and planets.

In the spring, star classes take place under the open sky when the 11” and another 8” telescope get transported into the field and star gazing and photographing fills the night.

The Vanier Physics Department also does joint activities with the Royal Astronomical Society of Montreal – RASC. The Department runs a series of astronomy lectures with invited guests from leading space institutions and universities.

It also organizes public astronomy parties in the field behind the college where students and interested members of the public can interact with professional astronomers and use the telescope to view directly the night sky.

“With an innovative program and renovated labs, the Vanier Physics Department is an inspiring place to study Physics in Montreal,” concludes Don Hetherington, Dean of the Faculty of Science and General Studies.

Samantha Cambridge

“Life gives us brief moments with one another, but sometimes in those moments we get memories that last a lifetime.”

If someone had asked me six months ago to list the most significant moments in my life, my answers would probably not have differed much from what you would expect from the average eighteen year old. Prior to this trip, my life’s defining moments included getting my driver’s license, graduating from high school, and going to prom. I would never have imagined that one day I would get the opportunity to go on a trip as eye-opening and life-changing as the Nicaragua Study Trip.

The trip itself had three general focuses; gender issues, the environment, and social justice. Additionally, each student was told to choose one specific topic that they would like to learn more about while in Nicaragua. Because of my own Native Canadian ancestry, I chose to focus on the indigenous population of Nicaragua, and the struggles that they face, both historically and currently. While researching this topic before

we left, I discovered that the Aboriginal population of Nicaragua and the Aboriginal population of Canada are in very similar situations, especially when it comes to their respective fights for autonomy and their struggles to keep their land.

My decision to take part in this trip was a last-minute one compared to the other students involved; I signed up only four months before we were scheduled to leave. Those four months were a whirlwind of fundraisers, Spanish workshops, and lessons on the history of Nicaragua. You would think with all that preparation that we would know exactly what to expect when we left for the trip, but we had no clue.

The trip itself seemed to come very fast. It seemed like one day I was putting my name down on the sign-up sheet, and the next I was stepping onto a plane. I don’t think my nerves really set in until we were on our connecting flight from Miami to Managua. I really had no idea what to expect when we landed. Would people be staring at us everywhere we went? What would the houses be like?

The first night at the Casa Canadiense wasn’t too much of a culture shock for me; it felt just like summer camp. We were sleeping in bunk beds in a house with running water and electricity. Even the language barrier wasn’t that much of a problem that first night. Looking back now, it was a nice transition between the lives we were used to, and the lives we would soon experience in the village.

If I had to pinpoint the exact moment that the culture shock began to set in, it would have to be on the second day, during a bathroom break on our drive from Managua to Los Jobitos. I was told before we left Canada that we would be using outhouses to go to the washroom, but I don’t think I really understood what that meant until I saw what they looked like. Their bathrooms comprised of a stone hole in the group in a small shack filled with spiders and cockroaches. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the Nicaraguans had to use these every day.

Once we got to the village, and we met the amazing people of Los Jobitos, my nerves went away completely. I have never in my life been welcomed as graciously as I was on that first day in the village. The second we got out of the van, we were surrounded by people with the happiest smiles on their faces, as their offered to help us with our bags and gave each of us a hug. I could tell right away that I had been fretting for no reason. The welcoming ceremony was beautiful; the locals danced and sang for us, and we got our first look at the amazing Nicaraguan culture. Even meeting my host family wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I expected it would be. I was sure that the language barrier would be a problem, but we seemed to be able to communicate just fine with my limited vocabulary and body language.

My family consisted of my parents, my three sisters, my sister-in-law and her young son. Growing up in a big family back in Canada, I was used to the hustle and bustle of a full house, and so living with that many people made me feel right at home. The first few days living in the house were difficult. I was homesick at night, and I was never really sure what to do around the house, or whether to offer to help with the chores. By the third day, however, I had really settled in. I had unpacked my clothes, I did my own laundry, and I washed my own dishes. I really felt like a member of the family.

Because the people in the village were so happy and content, it made me forget that they were poor, at least monetarily. I had expected the villagers to be miserable because of their poverty, but what I found was the exact opposite. They were some of the happiest people I have ever met.

For me, I think one of the defining moments of the trip was watching my little nephew play with his toys. It seems insignificant, but it really had an impact on me. Every toy he owned could fit in a bag the size of a small backpack, and every last one was broken and falling apart. It seemed impossible to me that any kid could have fun playing with those old things, but as I watched him play, I could tell that he was having the time of his life. Not a week before, I had been watching my own younger brother open up the newest and most expensive toys for Christmas, most of which he’ll grow tired of by New Year’s. That little boy had more fun playing with his few, broken toys than I had ever seem a kid have back in Canada. It’s a foreign concept for most of us in the developed world; we all think we need all the newest gadgets and toys, but maybe it’s not what we have that makes us happy, but who we are and the way we look at life. If there is anything that the people of Los Jobitos taught me, it’s that being poor doesn’t necessarily mean being unhappy, and having everything in the world doesn’t guarantee you happiness.

Coming back to Canada, I feel like a completely different person. Everything that I thought defined me seems to have been altered completely. The things I experienced, the people I met, and the trip in and of itself have changed me forever, and I hope to take what I’ve learned and put it towards making the world a better place for everyone.

I would like to take this time to express my appreciation for the generosity of the Vanier Foundation. You have given me the experience of a lifetime, and I will never forget the time I spend in Nicaragua.