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2020 News Archive

Researchers to apply AI to improve human element in manufacturing

Computer vision simulation 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.

Overseas co-op placement provides life-changing experience

Dodson is pictured above in Stoos, Switzerland.

A life-changing experience wasn’t exactly what Dustin Rivard was expecting when he embarked upon a co-op placement as a test engineer in a bearing department.

The mechanical engineering student jumped at the chance to work in Germany for a year with the Schaeffler Group, a global automotive and industrial supplier, figuring it would be a great opportunity to work and travel.

“I rave about this opportunity to every engineering student I know,” says Rivard BASc ’17. “First, I tell everyone they need to do co-op; It provides you with the connections that help you get the career you want, not to mention just giving you experience. Second, the chance to live and work in another country for a year turned into an incredible, life-changing experience.”

The Schaeffler Group co-op partnership with the University of Windsor, established in 1998 by the Faculty of Engineering’s Dr. Peter Frise, is one of many unique industrial relationships at UWindsor that offers students education that goes beyond the traditional classroom. Since its inception, more than 200 engineering, business and computer science students have ventured to the company’s German headquarters in the small town of Herzogenaurach in central Bavaria to gain 12 months of real-word experience. 

Dr. Narayan Kar named Canada Research Chair in electrified vehicles

Dr. Narayan Kar posing in CEI

When it comes to the motors that make electric cars go, Narayan Kar is one of the world’s leading experts. The federal government highlighted that Wednesday by naming the UWindsor engineering professor a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair holder in electrified vehicles.

The position comes with $200,000 in annual federal funding for seven years, a term renewable for an additional seven years. It provides Dr. Kar with steady funding to work on innovations that benefit the automotive industry and Canadian consumers.

“Major challenges the global automotive industry faces today related to mass adoption of electrified vehicles include purchasing cost, driving range, performance, and durability — key barriers for advancing technologies and ensuring consumer friendliness,” Kar said.

“The research under this Tier 1 Canada Research Chair program will involve multi-disciplinary collaborations among industry, academia, and government and will advance electric vehicle adoption by holistically improving performance while lowering costs.”

Pandemic and the city

Edwin Tam poses in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation

This guest column written by Dr. Edwin Tam, associate professor, civil and environmental engineering, was featured in the latest issue of WE, the Faculty of Engineering’s annual magazine.

The current, global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is poised to create a humanitarian crisis in terms of the loss of human life, long term health impacts, and socio-economic upheaval. However, the severity of such impacts varies widely by country, by region, and even city and by city. It would seem as if population size and density would account for the differences experienced by different communities, but these alone cannot explain all inconsistencies: early on, similarly sized regions or cities did not experience the impacts equally, and now months later, there are still widely varying incidents of COVID-19 within the same region as the world faces ongoing waves of the pandemic. 

What are the physical characteristics, demographic profiles, infrastructure, policies, and practices of a community that enhance its resiliency to withstand and overcome a pandemic based on the experiences with the outbreak of COVID-19? Our team – which includes Anneke Smit from Law, Tirupati Bolisetti from Civil Engineering, and Myron Hlynka and Mohamed Belalia from Mathematics and Statistics – is researching what are preferred characteristics and actions for municipalities to improve their resiliency to respond and just as importantly, recover from pandemic scenarios. The initial research is funded by WE-Spark and the VP of Research here at the University of Windsor.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how critical the medical services, transportation of goods and services, information technologies, and municipal utilities are to maintaining a functioning community. What differs by location is the resiliency to sustainably deliver goods and services, and the disruption to work, education, and social activities. There are also controversies – does the infrastructure and systems, such as transit, contribute to the pandemic? How they can be managed? Large, dense urban centres face greater challenges because of the need to coordinate large scale responses, containment, public communication, and much more. At the same time, their size, systems, and institutions may afford them the greatest medical, supply, and resources to respond. In contrast, remote, rural regions have fewer infections, but are concerned they may be overwhelmed should infections surge. Mid-sized municipalities that possess sufficient infrastructure but do not have significant high densities could potentially represent an optimal size to withstand a pandemic. 

But unlike in other disaster scenarios such as flooding, where infrastructure such as roads might be unusable due to physical destruction, most infrastructure systems remain intact in a pandemic crisis. The response measures to a pandemic therefore permit the selective curtailing of targeted municipal systems to reduce transmission. However, reducing services can have unexpected, unintended consequences - including health and related socio-economic impacts, which disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, and may have long-term sustainability impacts. Public transit is a primary example.

Memorial scholarship commemorates engineering mentor

Students working on Vehicle parts

In celebration of an entrepreneur who had a passion for mentoring students and an appetite for innovation, a memorial scholarship will support students at the forefront of electric vehicle research.

The Dr. Voiko Loukanov Engineering Scholarship has been established at the University of Windsor by D&V Electronics in honour of its founder, who has guided many engineering students in research projects to develop advanced technologies.   

Dr. Loukanov was an entrepreneur who led D&V Electronics in pioneering and developing scientific testing technologies and expanded the test equipment company’s reach to thousands of customers in more than 90 countries.

In addition to taking co-op students under his wing, Loukanov spent more than a decade advancing electric vehicle research with Dr. Narayan Kar, a UWindsor prof who leads the Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy (CHARGE) Lab. D&V continues to work closely with Kar and is developing cutting-edge testing methods for electric motors in collaboration with UWindsor and Ford Motor Company on a $4.3 million project.

“Voiko was a firm believer in the importance of investing in education and research. He truly believed that engineers would change the world. He loved to mentor students,” says his wife Kalina Loukanov, executive vice president of D&V Electronics.

An alum’s rise in engineering and politics

Mohamed-Rafiquzzaman-is-pictured-in-his-lab-at-the-California-State-Polytechnic-University,-Pomona

Mohamed Rafiquzzaman has managed Olympic events, advised the White House on technology policies and worked on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's economic recovery team.

He’s launched a global company that manufactures lenses for cataract patients and published 18 books that have been translated into Russian, Spanish and Chinese languages.

But he’s never forgot where it all started. 

Dr. Rafi MASc ’72, PhD ’74, remembers working diligently to prove himself to professors who challenged him to be his best. He also remembers those same professors welcoming him to jovial holiday gatherings in the staff room and joining him for a burger break at the Harvey’s on campus.

“When you worked, you worked very hard, but I learned how to enjoy life there too,” Rafi says about a belief he’s carried throughout his life.

“Where I am now is because of Windsor — and that’s the truth.”

Team engineering better rebar for concrete construction

Sreekanta Das’s examining the concrete beam

A UWindsor engineering professor has partnered with local industry to develop structures using corrosion-resistant building rebar made from volcanic rock.

“Most buildings in Canada are constructed using concrete beams and other concrete elements with embedded steel reinforcement bars,” says Sreekanta Das, a civil engineering professor.

“The problem with steel rebar is that the material is susceptible to corrosion and can lead to the development of cracks in reinforced concrete buildings, resulting in reduced service life of the building and safety concerns.”

Dr. Das has been working with MEDA Engineering & Technical Services on varying methods of concrete rehabilitation and reinforcement for more than a decade using rebar, mesh, fabric, and fibre. The results of this exhaustive research have led to a partnership with Bear Construction and Engineering Inc. and MEDA Engineering & Technical Services TXON GRP — the company’s materials division — to develop a new technology for designing and constructing narrow pre-cast concrete beams using rebars of basalt fibre reinforced polymer (BFRP).

Distinguished engineering professor named to Order of Canada

Dr. ElMaraghy’s posing in lab

Distinguished engineering professor Hoda ElMaraghy has been named a member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her work promoting the nation’s industry.

A citation noted Dr. ElMaraghy’s contributions to the field of mechanical engineering, especially her work in advancing manufacturing systems in Canada and abroad. She is director of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Centre.

As a 2016 appointee to the Order of Ontario and Canadian Academy of Engineering, Dr. ElMaraghy has been hailed for her pioneering research in manufacturing systems engineering.

Riverfront display honours local victims of plane crash

Riverfront display honours local victims of plane crash

UWindsor President Robert Gordon and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens (far right) are joined by members of the local Iranian community to unveil a memorial site on the riverfront not far from campus.

A collection of commemorative trees and benches has been added to Windsor’s riverfront to honour the memory of five local victims of Ukrainian Flight PS752, which crashed Jan. 8.

Doctoral student of civil engineering Pedram Jadidi; biology research assistant Samira Bashiri and her spouse Hamidreza Setareh Kokab, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering; and civil engineering doctoral student Zahra Naghibi and her spouse Mohammad Abbaspour Ghadi were among 176 people killed when the plane they were on was shot down during liftoff from Tehran.

UWindsor President Robert Gordon and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens were joined Thursday by members of the local Iranian community in honouring the lost family, friends, and colleagues.

“The students and friends we lost to the Tehran air tragedy will never be forgotten by their University of Windsor family,” Dr. Gordon said. “This memorial installation will serve as a tangible reminder of the lives they lived, their great impact on our community, and the unlimited potential that was lost to the world on that day in January.”

Students create virtual campus to foster sense of community

A screenshot shows the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation students created in Minecraft.

A screenshot shows the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation students created in Minecraft.

The University of Windsor Engineering Students’ Society is bringing campus to the screens of students learning from home.

The society has created a replica of the University of Windsor campus on Minecraft — a video game that allows you to create a virtual world with Java programming. 

Students can explore each floor of the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation and take a stroll through UWindsor’s campus peppered with lush trees, flower beds and even its Promise campaign billboards. 

“Since we are all stuck inside on our computers for the remainder of the semester, it’s important to keep the sense of campus community,” says Theo Sancartier, president of the Engineering Students’ Society.

“With this Minecraft server, we hope to have students interacting in a way no one thought of before.”

Sancartier says the society’s executive committee and other volunteers spent the entire summer creating the server to ensure incoming students had a memorable experience and felt connected to campus.