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Engineering

Student research focuses on security of 5G devices

Sahereh Sabandabadi, a master's student, poses outside

We live in a world where cars drive themselves, thermostats are set via smart phones, and home security systems can be armed and monitored remotely.

But how can we ensure the tiny components connecting these devices to the Internet are safe from malicious interference?

That’s the problem UWindsor graduate student Sahereh Sahandabadi is probing. As part of a larger research project in collaboration with Canadian telecommunications company Telus on 5G technology, the Master’s student in engineering is looking for ways to build safeguards into Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

“A crucial factor for the IoT devices is security and reliability,” said Sahandabadi. “Since these devices have limited battery power and can’t accommodate complicated processes in their sensors, new algorithms and methods are needed to provide this reliability.”

Researchers to apply AI to improve human element in manufacturing

This screenshot of a live computer vision simulation shows how image processing recognizes certain objects and their locations within their environment.

Two UWindsor engineering researchers have received more than $715,000 in federal funding to bring cutting-edge artificial intelligence to the manufacturing floor.

Professors Jonathan Wu and Afshin Rahimi say they can mitigate human error and maximize productivity in manufacturing plants through advanced computer vision.

“Human errors were the major driver behind $22.1 billion in vehicle recalls in 2016,” says Dr. Wu, a former Canada Research Chair in Automotive Sensor and Information Systems.

He and Dr. Rahimi aim to create a smart production assistant that will help manufacturing plant operators gain unprecedented visibility into their manual production operations, allowing them to optimize their worker efficiency while maximizing productivity. They will achieve this by automating data generation using computer vision, converting raw data into useable information, visualizing information using common business intelligence methodologies and prediction of future.

The professors have received $717,450 of support from the Mitacs Accelerate program and additional support from Smart Computing for Innovation (SOSCIP) in partnership with i-5O, an early stage Silicon Valley based start-up that has developed a proprietary computer vision powered digital twin to help manufacturers track, measure, and improve their manual production processes. Headquartered in San Francisco with operations in Toronto and Windsor, the company works with large Fortune 500 manufacturers in North America and Asia.

Khizer Hayat, chief innovation officer of i-5O, says its collaboration with Wu and Rahimi will bring the latest in artificial intelligence for improving human performance to the manufacturing industry.

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.”  

Electrical engineering cluster led by University of Windsor researchers wins award

The Windsor Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Canada has been recognized for its leadership and networking events.

The IEEE Windsor Section, led by University of Windsor researchers, received IEEE Canada’s Exemplary Section Award for small sectionsfor its 2017 activities, leadership, management and administration.

Esrafil Jedari, vice-chair, IEEE Windsor Section and UWindsor research assistant in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the section was recognized for hosting around 30 technical, professional and social events on campus; its large network of volunteers and growth in memberships; and organizing and hosting the 30th Annual Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE 2017).

The group has grown steadily since it branched out on its own as the 21stsection in Canada in 2014 after operating as a student branch for two years within the Southeastern Michigan Section. The majority of its 306 members — which includes industry from the Windsor-Essex region— are University of Windsor faculty and students. The Windsor Section has three technical joint chapters for six IEEE professional societies, a University Windsor student branch and two affinity groups: Young Professionals and Women in Engineering. 

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.