DailyNews Issue for Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Grad research polls the masses for product feedback

Chukwuma EjiehChukwuma Ejieh is developing a program that will search Twitter for comments on products and their features.

If two heads are better than one, how much better are millions of heads? A UWindsor computer science student is developing a program that will allow consumers to sift through Twitter posts from around the world, searching for comments on products and their features.

“Early results have shown about 85 percent accuracy in finding references of when people wrote about relevant features of a product on Twitter,” says master’s candidate Chukwuma Ejieh. “Hopefully, this will help consumers know with a great degree of accuracy what others think about not just products, but specific parts of products, before making a purchase.”

Twitter estimates there are 6,000 tweets posted each second, and 500 million each day. Ejieh accesses a mass of tweets from a particular time period and filters them for information. He mines through tweets looking for general opinions or sentiments about a particular product, then goes a level deeper—looking for opinions on specific parts or features.

“For a new phone, the person may post that they love the camera—they think the battery works great, but the speakers are subpar,” he says. “Now we have a more detailed picture of how people feel about particular features of a product.”

The program searches through only English-language tweets, though when training the computer to identify parts of a product, Ejieh still faces the challenge of having it understand synonyms and differing dialects.

“For example, how does the computer know that a Big Mac is not a MacBook computer, but is in fact part of the McDonald’s franchise? Or that a North American car’s gas tank is the same as the British car’s fuel tank?” he says. “These are the problems I’m trying to solve because we want to accurately identify, with great confidence, the parts of a product.”

Ejieh says this type of program can also be useful for competitors to research what features are important to consumers, and for manufacturers to improve their products based on customer feedback.

“The sheer volume of tweets makes it impractical for individuals to read each post, but it is the volume that makes the information so valuable and makes this such exciting work,” he says.

Ejieh plans to publish his research this summer and says there are no similar programs that have been made publicly available.

Spotlight on Graduate Research

Chamber of Commerce gala to honour two UWindsor alumni

Peter HrastovecUWindsor alumnus Peter Hrastovec will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce at a gala June 24.

The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce will honour two UWindsor graduates at its annual gala on Friday, June 24: Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Peter Hrastovec (BA 1979, LLB 1982) and outgoing chair Janice Forsyth (BHK 1983, MHK 1989).

Hrastovec, a lawyer at Shibley Righton LLP, has focused his practice on employment and labour law, and commercial litigation. He has served as president of the Windsor Symphony Society, the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918), and the University of Windsor Alumni Association, is a past honorary co-chair of the local United Way campaign and currently chairs the Great Canadian Flag Project to erect a large maple leaf standard at the entrance to Dieppe Gardens. A portion of the proceeds from the gala will support this community endeavour.

The event will also celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. Forsyth, founder of Foresight Management Consulting. In addition to her work with the chamber, she is a member of the Windsor Rotary Club (1918) and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

The Chamber Gala is set for 6 to 11 p.m. June 24 in the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, located at 201 Riverside Drive West. Tickets are available online at www.windsoressexchamber.org.

Theatre team bringing play premiere to Windsor stage

“Choking the Butterfly.”Professor Lionel Walsh is directing a cast and crew of drama students and grads in the Canadian premiere of the Irish drama “Choking the Butterfly.”

UWindsor drama professor Lionel Walsh is teaming up with the school’s alumni and students to stage the Canadian premiere of the Irish drama Choking the Butterfly by James Johnson.

Drawing on his research into the acting technique of Michael Chekhov, Walsh is directing current drama student Ken Caughey and grads Christina Bryson and Michael Hogan in performances May 27 to 29 in the Garage Door Theatre, 1519 Wyandotte Street East.

“We are experimenting with exercises I created in Fantastic Realism in the Inspired Acting Lab, which was funded by an undergraduate research grant,” Walsh says.

The play follows teenaged conjoined twins, Betty and Barney, left to their own devices after an operation to separate them. Thrown out of the institution they grew up in, the two find themselves with a suitcase packed with bottles of milk and cash—the land of milk and money they dreamed of as children. Finally set free and equipped with all the money in the world, can the twins survive separately, yet stay together?

Find showtimes and ticket information on the event Facebook page. Additional performances follow in Toronto, June 9 to 19.

Funding Available for Women’s Campus Safety Initiative

The Women’s Campus Safety Grant Committee is accepting applications for funding for initiatives to promote safety for women on campus.  Initiatives must be completed and invoices paid by March 31, 2017.  The Committee encourages creative, innovative proposals from members of the university community, including individuals or groups, faculty, staff, and students organizations.

The Women’s Campus Safety Grant Committee is a Presidential standing committee established to address women’s safety issues on campus, and in so doing, to establish, promote and improve facilities, programs and services at the University of Windsor.  The annual Grant ($35,000) has been provided by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities since 1991. 

In accordance with the parameters set by the Ministry, submissions are required to support one of the following broad categories/objectives:

  • Facilities and Equipment  (e.g., lighting, mirrors, security cameras)
  • Public Education (e.g., workshops, flyers)
  • Activity Support (e.g., T-shirts/Jackets for Campus-Walk programs, resource materials, programs)

Applications for funding requests are available at OHREA: Click on www.uwindsor.ca/ohrea/ohreaforms, www.uwindsor.ca/ohrea/womenssafety, email ohrea@uwindsor.ca, or call extension 2056.  The deadline for submission is June 6, 2016. The committee will meet in mid-June to review the submissions.