Civil and Environmental Engineering

UWindsor's first Hyperloop team advances in international competition

Hyperloop team

UWindsor’s Hyperloop team is one of 52 teams worldwide to advance in a competition that encourages innovations in high-speed transportation.

The team formed in 2017 and hasn’t stopped working towards its goal of creating an electrically powered linear induction motor to propel a levitating pod through a sealed tube at speeds over 500 km/h. The group’s initial design work has helped them advance in SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod Competition.

“We’re very dedicated to this,” says Stefan Sing, the team lead and founder who’s in his third year of mechanical engineering. “We’ve invested heavily in the linear induction motor and haven’t stopped making revisions. The team has been doing a stellar job.”

The team of 25 meets five times a week and ranges from undergraduate to graduate students studying mechanical, electrical and industrial engineering, and computer science. 

Shaking up earthquake engineering

By Dr. Niel Van Engelen

On April 20, 2018, residents of the Windsor area may have heard a rumble or felt unusual motion. 

The initial assumptions on the source of the noise and motion were somewhat amusing before word spread that a magnitude 3.6 (Mw) earthquake had occurred. Most Canadians wouldn’t list earthquakes as a notable concern in their lives; however, contrary to popular belief, large areas of Canada are at significant risk due to seismic hazards. 

In fact, some of the most highly densely populated areas of Canada (e.g. the west coast and the east coast along the St. Lawrence River) can and have experienced large earthquake events. A repeat of historical earthquake events in these areas could incur more than $60 billion in damage, and that’s not even the worst-case scenario! 

From a structural engineering perspective, the primary objective is to protect life safety. The traditional approach to designing a structure for earthquakes anticipates and accepts that damage will occur. It is simply not feasible to design a conventional structure to withstand significant ground motions without damage. Alternatively, the structure is designed to be ductile and the damage is utilized as an energy dissipation mechanism. The major shortcoming with this approach is that often the damage is so severe that it is impractical to repair the structure and it must be demolished and rebuilt. 

Researchers seeking solutions to local drinking water contamination

Dr. Merih Uslu, a postdoctoral fellow, is using laboratory scale batch reactors to study ozone-based advanced oxidation treatment process on water samples collected from the Detroit River.

A project led by UWindsor researchers aims to provide local municipalities with a solution to toxic algae that wreak havoc on drinking water quality and wildlife. 

Researchers in the environmental engineering department are examining the use of advanced water treatment options to remove cyanotoxins that have the potential to contaminate local drinking water sources as a result of harmful algal blooms(HABs). The blooms are largely caused by nutrients from farming activities, runoff from municipal wastewater systems and warm water temperatures.

“The issue of cyanotoxins produced by harmful algal blooms are now regularly being reported in many parts of Canada, including Lake Erie,” says Dr. Merih Uslu, a postdoctoral fellow working on the project under the supervision of Dr. Nihar Biswas, Dr. Saad Jasim and Dr. Rajesh Seth, of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. 

Students get sneak peek at historic renovation


Fourth-year civil engineering students tour the construction site of the new Windsor Public Library Sandwich branch on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.

UWindsor students got a first-hand look last week at the challenges engineers face when working on heritage projects.

Visual Arts and the Built Environment professor Jason Grossi and sessional instructor William Tape led 48 fourth-year civil and environmental engineering students through the site of the future Windsor Public Library branch in historic Sandwich last Friday.

Grossi said the new library holds many lessons for students.

“The new library is really the unification of two historic structures connected by a contemporary addition,” he said. “The completed complex will rise from the historic fire hall at the front of the property and connect to the middle 19th-century stables at the back that pre-date the 1921-built fire hall.”

Grossi said connecting the two structures took a lot of careful design and “a little bit of whimsy.”

Dr. Biswas honoured for work on clean water

UWindsor professor Nihar Biswas received an honorary degree from the University of Guelph in recognition for his contributions to environmental engineering education and to clean water technology that has improved the lives of people worldwide.

Dr. Biswas, a former acting vice president-research, former senior associate dean of engineering, and a faculty member since 1981, told graduands at the June 12 Convocation celebration that continued access to safe clean water continues to pose a challenge in countries across the globe.

“You will of course face challenges in your work, in your life,” he said in his formal address acknowledging his honour. “Innovation could be the key to solve those challenges.”

Symposium examines studies of sustainability

UWindsor’s Dr. Rupp Carriveau leads the CLEEN2040 Shift Energy Academy, a three-hour workshop designed for developers, utilities, service providers and researchers.

Nearly 100 local and international scientists, engineers, policy makers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs gathered June 20 to 22 in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation to discuss recent advances in renewable energy generation, transmission, storage, and consumption.

The Energy and Sustainability 2018 Summit examined studies on climate change, waste and recycling, green buildings, green economy, and social sustainability and featured an electric conversion performance vehicle.

Engineering Career Fair draws hundreds

A dedicated engineering career fair provided hundreds of University of Windsor students an opportunity to engage with local employers as they prepare to transition into the workforce.

In collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering, the Department of Co-operative Education and Workplace Partnerships hosted its first career fair for new grads, soon-to-be grads and recent alumni seeking full-time employment in the engineering industry.

More than 430 students equipped with resumés met with 19 employers on June 1 in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation. 

“Connecting employers to our career-ready students is very important to us, so we are thrilled with the outcome of our Engineering Career Fair,” says event organizer Sarah Overton, a campus engagement coordinator in the university’s department of Co-operative Education and Workplace Partnerships. “We look forward to building on the success of this event in the future.”  

UWindsor students and alumni honoured by engineering community

Michael Cappucci, BASc ’11, was one of three alumni named the Top Three Under 30 by Windsor’s Engineering Month Committee during a ceremony April 13, 2018 at the Fogolar Furlan Club.

Several University of Windsor engineering students and alumni were honoured during a local celebration of the engineering profession.

Windsor’s Engineering Month Committee hosts an annual awards luncheon to “bring public awareness to the diversity and importance of the exciting fields of engineering and technology and invite prospective students to consider these professions,” said Tina Hawco, chair of the Engineering Month Committee.

The committee is comprised of engineers and technologists from local municipalities, consulting engineering firms, the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, professional associations and industry.

Priscilla Williams, a PhD candidate in the civil and environmental engineering department, Michael Cappucci, BASc ’11, and Aaron Blata, BASc ’14, were named the Top Three Under 30 during a ceremony April 13, 2018 at the Fogolar Furlan Club for demonstrating higher than average abilities to undertake engineering projects, outstanding work ethic and leadership early in their careers.

UWindsorENG student represents UWindsor in provincial thesis competition

Liza-Anastasia DiCecco, mechanical, automotive and materials engineering master's student, presents during the Three Minute Thesis competition at the University of Windsor on March 26.

A UWindsor Engineering graduate student represented the University of Windsor at a provincial Three Minute Thesis competition.

Liza-Anastasia Di-Cecco, a master's student in Materials Engineering, presented her 3D printing research at the Ontario 3MT® competition final on April 19, 2018 at York University. 

Di-Cecco had three minutes and a single presentation slide to deliver her presentation titled "Move over plastic, we're 3D printing titanium." 

"In my research, I’m studying the material properties of pure titanium made through a specific 3D printing process using plasma fabrication," Di-Cecco said. "I’m concentrating on looking at their strength, hardness, and durability, while also looking at what’s happening at the microscopic level to characterise these parts."

Di-Cecco said 3D printing is expanding our ability to make parts and more complex items such as custom prosthetics and orthotics and lighter and more fuel efficient cars.

"Even advanced rocket fuel nozzles that might someday get us to Mars; The possibilities of this research are endless," she added.

Three UWindsor Engineering graduate students made it to the final six in the University of Windsor's Three Minute Thesis competition where Di-Cecco took home a second-place prize of $500.

Engineering students address climate impacts on water resources

First-year civil engineering student Jay Panchal discusses a project with acting director Mark Burrows of the International Joint Commission during World Water Day presentations Thursday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.
Swollen by rain and melting snow, the Thames River burst its banks in February, inundating southwestern Ontario with its worst floods in 40 years.

The effects of such a catastrophe can be mitigated, says Monika Saha, a master’s candidate in civil engineering, and one of more than 20 students who presented projects in the Centre for Engineering Innovation on Thursday, March 22, in celebration of World Water Day.

Saha is working to create models of the lower Thames River that can predict floods in Chatham-Kent.

“We’ll basically capture the flow. With our hydrologic and hydraulic models getting the input level, it will give you the output to predict which areas will be inundated,” she said. “You will be able to take precautions.”