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Habib Haider explains his group project, a system designed to reduce the impact of long lines waiting to access the Gordie Howe International Bridge, to professor Hanna Maoh of the Cross-Border Institute.Habib Haider explains his group project, a system designed to reduce the impact of long lines waiting to access the Gordie Howe International Bridge, to professor Hanna Maoh of the Cross-Border Institute.

Engineering projects demonstrate application of knowledge to real-world problems

The exciting part of working on a project redesigning the intersection of California Avenue and Wyandotte Street is the possibility of seeing it implemented, says Emma Teskey.

A fourth-year civil engineering student, she was part of a group that suggested several changes to the pavement and traffic signalling systems that would make the crossing safer for pedestrians and smoother for vehicles.

It was one of more than 60 projects displayed by graduating engineering students during Capstone Design Demonstration Day, Friday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation.

Teskey and her teammates — Abigayle Diemer, Kailee Dickson, Curtis Lanoue, and Sarah Zaarour — suggested altering the traffic signals so that cars and trucks are stopped in all directions while pedestrians cross, a system known as the “pedestrian scramble.” They also proposed adding wide white stripes to the crosswalk pavement and relocating a transit stop so buses do not block the intersection.

“We think our proposals have a chance to be implemented,” Teskey said. “When we’re finished, we plan to submit them to the city.”

Other projects ranged from the design of supermileage vehicles to automated hydroponic growing schemes, a system able to detect drowsiness in drivers, and a robot controlled by human gestures.

Of the last, electronics and computer engineering student Craig Ruthven said it was the most fun of any project he had ever worked on.

“We started with an idea and brought it all the way to fruition,” he said as his partners Phuc (Joseph) Tran and Alexander Keys showed how they rigged a visual sensor to interpret human motions and instructed a robotic appendage to mimic the actions.

Professor Colin Novak, capstone co-ordinator in the Department of Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering, called the day an enormous success.

“The projects were fantastic,” he said.

“We have our usual team competition projects and they seem to improve every year, but the ones that stand out to me are the one-off projects where the students get together with industry and build something that is real-world and meaningful to the companies that will hopefully eventually hire our engineers.”

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