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2020 News Archive

The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (RCE) in a Time of Global Crisis 2020

Attending the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer (RCE) marks a moment of sober reflection, professional contemplation, and of course, companionable joy for many engineers, particularly for those who are about to graduate from their engineering program. This year, 2020, is uniquely different because of our changed view of the challenges facing our global and local communities. The increased awareness of the devastating effects from climate change; the very immediate threats of the COVID-19 pandemic; and the renewed calls for social justice mean the new normal that will emerge will not be like the old normal. This is perhaps a very good thing: the old ways were in hindsight undeniably unsustainable. We as engineers - with our problem solving skills and commitment to society – must rise to the task of helping shape a world that is sustainable and just. 

This year, Camp 14 (Windsor), suspended its normally scheduled Rituals because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with that, our many graduates are unable to take their obligations and receive their token, the Canadian engineer’s “iron ring”. Contrary to common opinion, the Ritual and bestowing of the Iron Ring does not commemorate graduation. Historically, the original intent of the Ritual was to mark the new graduate’s journey into the professional career of an engineer, supported by those engineers who have already been on their journeys. As the Ritual closes in on its 100th year anniversary, this essence of the Ritual still holds true, but for many decades now, the Ritual has also welcomed professionals that have been educated and practiced from all over our world, and have then chosen to bring their global expertise to Canada. Our engineering community has grown through its diversity, and in return, Canadian engineers are well respected throughout the world. 

Live sessions to offer info on online Master of Engineering Management program

MEM student stands on staircase holding a portfolio

The University of Windsor’s Faculty of Engineering and Odette School of Business have launched Canada’s first online Master of Engineering Management degree.

The program is an online version of the University’s weekend Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree for working professionals. The weekend MEM was launched in 2016 to “address market demands and has become a significant enabler in helping graduates achieve management jobs,” says program co-ordinator and professor Ali AbdulHussein.

“In today’s global economy, employees need to travel and be flexible; this creates a need for an on-demand professional education,” he says. “We’ve had interest from professionals all across North America.”

The program allows working professionals to enhance their technical expertise with business and managerial skills without interrupting their careers. The MEM program has attracted students from all engineering disciplines.

UWindsor research team designing new testing device for COVID-19

Professors Jalal Ahamed, Mitra Mirhassani, Simon Rondeau-Gagné, and Yufeng Tong have received $50,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to design a portable device to test for COVID-19, replacing the need for samples to be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

UWindsor researchers are trying to revolutionize the testing process for COVID-19 by developing a portable device that is quicker, cheaper, and more accurate than current laboratory tests.

Dubbed Lab-on-a-Chip, the device would allow healthcare workers to test and diagnose patients on the spot, said Jalal Ahamed, one of four UWindsor professors behind the research.

“Accurate, rapid, on-site, and point-of-care detection has paramount importance not only in Canada but also worldwide for early intervention and infection control,” Dr. Ahamed said.

“Development of such a device will be highly impactful in our fight against COVID-19.”

Currently, testing is performed in sophisticated laboratory settings. Patients are swabbed and the samples are sent away to labs, with the turnaround time for results usually measured in days. Lab-on-a-Chip devices could give results in minutes.

Ahamed, who is working on the project with fellow engineering professor Mitra Mirhassani, and chemistry professors Yufeng Tong and Simon Rondeau-Gagné, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. It is the third COVID-related project at UWindsor NSERC has funded at the maximum amount available under a special $15 million fund established to address the pandemic.

New scholarship supports engineering students who are helping their peers succeed

Eman ElMasri (L) and Mahwish Khan (R) are the first recipients of the Liburdi Engineering Mentorship Award.

Eman ElMasri’s favourite part of tutoring her peers is witnessing them achieve their academic goals.

“It is always rewarding to know that I can make a difference in the learning of others,” says ElMasri, a third-year electrical and computer engineering student who tutors in the Faculty of Engineering’s WINONE Tutorial program.

Established in 2019 by the WINONE Office for First-Year Engineering, the tutorials offer students free one-on-one help with first and second-year engineering course material.

Elmasri and fellow mentor Mahwish Khan are the first recipients of the Liburdi Engineering Mentorship Award, a new $10,000 annual award that supports two senior level undergraduate students who are excelling in math and physics and helping their first and second-year peers with course material and questions about their undergraduate programs.

UWindsor research driving engineering innovation

Dr. Ofelia Jianu’s Intelligent Fuels and Energy Laboratory (i-FuELs) has received funding to research hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels in automobiles.

From cost-effective, electric vehicles with superior torque density and performance to energy-absorbing devices that can save lives in automotive crashes or bomb explosions, more than $3.2 million in federal funding will advance University of Windsor research at the forefront of Canadian engineering innovation.

Seventeen researchers in the university’s Faculty of Engineering received funding through the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s five-year term Discovery Grants and the Research Tools and Instruments Grant program.

Dr. Bill Altenhof, who specializes in mechanical and materials engineering, is developing high performing adaptive structural energy absorbing devices that can adjust force and displacement response as needed. These responsive materials have the potential to mitigate serious injuries or death as a result of falls, automotive crashes, pedestrian impacts, blasts or bomb explosions.

MEng student recognized for dedication to campus volunteering


MEng student Varun Kumar Yacham and Rebecca Burkoski are this year’s recipients of the Alumni Spirit Award.

Each year a graduating student from the International Student Centre and the LEAD volunteer program are selected to receive the Alumni Spirit Award, sponsored by Alumni Affairs and Donor Communications, recognizing their dedication to their volunteer roles at the university. This year’s recipients are Varun Kumar Yacham and Rebecca Burkoski.

During his time with the International Student Centre, Yacham, an MEng student, demonstrated leadership and dedication to supporting the transition of international students to the University, to student life and to Canadian culture. He has been very much connected to International students through student clubs and in his role as assistant co-ordinator of Volunteer International Students Assistance (VISA). He is also past vice-president events for the Indian Student Association and was the international liaison for UWindsor Relay for Life.

Students engineer solution to material loss at local manufacturer

Lincoln Laser Solutions laser cladding process.

A team of engineering students has saved a local manufacturer thousands of dollars by suggesting improvements to shop floor production processes.

As part of their coursework, PhD candidates Maryam Shafiei Alavijeh, Danilo Stocco, Victor Eghujovbo and master’s candidates Alireza Pasha and Zahra Nazemi partnered with Lincoln Laser Solutions, a Windsor-based company that specializes in laser cladding and additive manufacturing, and found improvements that could save the company $30,800 annually.

“Part of the course requirement is for the students to complete a hands-on project where they must apply process improvement methods and tools learned in the class,” says professor Asif Khan, who teaches the class Lean Manufacturing and Process Improvement. “The focus of this group-based project is to study a process, identify waste and loss, find the root cause, and propose countermeasures to attack the loss.”

Engineering co-op student helps employer increase face shield production

Helping the Vistaprint plant in Lakeshore increase its production of face shields to send to front-line workers fighting COVID-19 was an “amazing” experience for a third-year electrical engineering student serving a co-op term with the company.

Bogdan Gramisteanu designed a layout for the shields that optimized the number that could be cut at once, which helped the plant produce 100,000 shields a week, says manager Diane Labute.

“Within hours he had re-programmed the equipment to produce the product,” she says. “It is refreshing to see an aspiring engineering student with an insatiable desire to learn and solve problems.”

Drawing on a design already in use by local hospitals, the shields have a fully adjustable band. The Vistaprint team made multiple changes in response to client suggestions, Gramisteanu says: “It felt great when we got the feedback from the hospital that they really liked the design and got the initial order of face shields.”

Banner year for engineering researchers nets millions in federal funding

Thirty-eight UWindsor faculty have been awarded more than $6.5 million in federal funding to advance research and innovation in science and engineering.

This funding, awarded through the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Discovery Grant and Research Tools and Instruments Grant programs, supports a broad range of topics, including large lake ecosystems, electric vehicle drive systems, big data and supercomputing, air pollution, and clean energy.

UWindsor exceeded the national success rate for the 2020 Discovery Grant competition with more than 63% of all applications receiving funding. In addition, all Discovery Grants awarded this year are for a five-year term.

Fourteen of the successful grant applications, submitted by early career researchers in the first five years of their academic appointment, each received a “launch supplement” of $12,500 in addition to their Discovery Grant.

Researchers invent flexible pressure sensors and elastomer that heals itself

UWindsor chemist Simon Rondeau-Gagné hits play and what follows looks like a magic trick.

A video shows Master’s student Julia Pignanelli manipulating a rectangle of jelly-like material in her fingers, stretching it to eight times its normal length before letting it revert to its original form. She then puts it down and slices it in two with a utility knife. She positions the two pieces so they touch and, voilà, the material is whole again.

It’s no optical illusion or sleight of hand, Dr. Rondeau-Gagné assures: “It’s chemistry.”

The self-healing elastomer is the latest technology developed by Pignanelli, Rondeau-Gagné and engineering professor Jalal Ahamed. They recently obtained a provisional patent on the invention.

It’s similar to the silicone-based material used in contact lenses, but with special properties. It not only heals itself, but once cut, the material at the location of the damage is stronger than it was originally. The healing at first took 24 hours, but through further experimentation, the team has cut that time down to just two hours.