Volume 29 - Number 13 - Thursday, April 10, 1997

Civil competition

The Stressed Members, a.k.a. civil engineering students Neetu Singh, Ifetayo Venner, Sandy Gray, Shinchiro Osada, Junko Sagaru and Shytesh Moras, represented McGill at Concordia University's annual Bridge Building Competition. The team placed about halfway down the rankings but Osada declared all the weeks of work and planning well worthwhile. He for one vows to be back next year.

Prize and praise from students

When Judy Pharo was invited recently by engineering students to attend a student forum, she thought the issue at hand was going to be tuition fees. Instead it was Pharo herself.

The students presented her with a certificate of appreciation from the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, representing student engineers across the country. McGill's Engineering Undergraduate Society had nominated Pharo for the prize.

"Judy goes over and above what she needs to do in her job," enthuses Jennifer Crowley, president of the EUS. "When a student has a problem, they know they'll feel better about it after they talk to Judy." Alexandra Karpoff, EUS vice-president (administration), agrees. "She spends every minute of every day trying to make students' lives better."

Pharo draws high praise for her work as an academic advisor, but students are quick to point out that advising is only one of her many contributions to student life.

They credit Pharo with being instrumental in creating the faculty's Promoting Opportunities for Women in Engineering program (POWE) and in establishing the EngVision program which sends students out to CEGEPS and high schools to promote McGill's engineering programs. Pharo recruits students for faculty committees, attends student meetings and events diligently and provides counselling on a wide range of matters.

"I'd like to think of myself as a gentle breeze behind their backs," says Pharo, "although some students might accuse me of being a tornado."

The 25-year veteran of the Faculty of Engineering's Student Affairs Office says students deserve a lot of credit for their own contributions. "With the staff cuts, we just can't do everything we used to do, so we've turned to the students and started giving them more responsibilities. They've been great. They're so positive and willing to help out, it's always a pleasure dealing with them."

Excellent evaluators

When School of Social Work professor Sydney Duder (at right) first heard about the Canadian Evaluation Society's annual case competition, she doubted that her students would be interested. The competition presented teams with real-life program evaluation scenarios which they would have to judge on the basis of issues, methods and recommendations. After all, social work students are trained as clinical workers, not as analysts and researchers. To her surprise, students (left to right) Brenda Ponic, Jeff Latimer, Diane Blackburn, Suzanne Merrill and Susan Sowerby (not shown) decided to form a team.

On March 15, after a marathon six-hour round robin evaluating a needle exchange program and writing a report, the team made it to the finals where they were pitted against the University of Ottawa's School of Psychology and Carleton University's School of Public Administration. This time each team evaluated a community project in India, and made presentations to a panel of judges. "The Carleton team was very smooth," says coach Duder. "We weren't confident at all."

Bravely fighting the jitters, her "nervous and inexperienced team" snapped into action. Focusing their analysis on the far-reaching human implications of the project, they decided on the basis of "proper social work principles that it was too technical and it didn't address the people on the ground." The panel of judges applauded their conclusion and the McGill team came away with the trophy. To what does Duder attribute the victory? "A little bit of strategy, but mostly teaching. I'm very proud of these students--they are naturally talented."

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