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2020 News Archive

Students create virtual campus to foster sense of community

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. 

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.

Nano-fibres seen as solution for face mask filters

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a worldwide need for readily accessible, high-grade face masks. A University of Windsor professor of materials engineering aims to mitigate this problem.

“The limited supply of essential protective equipment such as N95 face masks, which have been determined to aid in minimizing the spread of this disease, has proven detrimental to both health professionals and the public,” says Reza Riahi.

He is working with local manufacturers to develop activated nano-fibre layers produced by an electrospinning method, where a high voltage is applied to a polymer solution to produce nano-fibres with a high surface area and surface charges. These layers can be used to fabricate filters that are more effective than N95 masks, Dr. Riahl says.

“By using porous functional nano-fibre layers, we can produce high-efficiency mask filters to block fine particles, including bio-airborne, while minimizing breathing effort,” he says of the material, which can also be used as a filter in home-made masks or as a standalone fabric to make masks.

Pandemic protection for construction workers goal of research project

Rajeev Ruparathna is part of a research team using computer modeling to help construction workers operate safely during a pandemic.

University of Windsor researchers are using computer modeling to help construction workers operate safely and efficiently during pandemics.

Civil engineering professors Rajeev Ruparathna and Niel Van Engelen are developing an implementation strategy for maintaining physical distance using a Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based optimized work schedule. The 4D modeling feature of BIM will allow the duo to predict construction worker movements and make alterations to project schedules to mitigate health risks.

“Site managers will be able to leverage the proposed scheduling technique and training material to enhance site productivity and safety, and avoid costly shutdowns during pandemics,” says Dr. Ruparathna.

Research team exploring optimization of greenhouse agriculture

Engineering professor Rupp Carriveau and UWindsor engineering alumnus Lucas Semple, Under Sun Acres greenhouse operations engineer, are part of a national effort exploring how leading-edge greenhouse technology can be delivered to remote locations and optimized to reduce energy costs and increase production.

A team of University of Windsor researchers is leading a national effort on the next frontier of sustainable and accessible food.

Working with experts from government labs and industry, the multidisciplinary team is using a new growing environment modeling tool and advanced additive manufacturing — often referred to as 3D printing — to explore how leading-edge greenhouse technology can be delivered to remote locations and optimized to reduce energy costs and increase production.

“We can explore how more radical changes, like using earthen walls or solar glass, could potentially benefit a leading-edge greenhouse without ever interrupting ongoing commercial operation,” says Rupp Carriveau, the project lead and director of UWindsor’s Environmental Energy Institute.

Dr. Carriveau says the team has created energy harvesting models to design distributed, networked, power systems to provide increased and more sustainable energy for a rapidly expanding sector. Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) such as greenhouses, vertical farms, and plant factories can increase access, yield density, uniformity, and nutritional specificity of food production.

Partnership aims to improve cooling systems for electric motors

Improving the efficiency and power density of electric vehicle powertrain systems is the focus of a partnership between UWindsor researchers and a leading global automotive supplier.

Dr. Ram Balachandar will conduct a $326k project — in collaboration with mobility technology company Magna International, the largest automotive supplier in North America — that aims to improve cooling systems for electric motors and power electronics while reducing costs.

As temperatures rise inside the power electronic converters and electric motors, their peak power rating, operational efficiency and power density are diminished. 

“This necessitates the need for improved thermal management and packaging design of the inverters and motors keeping stringent automotive cost targets,” Balachandar says.

Pilot’s course helps engineering students take wing

Taku Chitekeshe is the first student specializing in aerospace engineering who has completed his Private Pilot’s License (PPL) through UWindsor.

It’s always been Taku Chitekeshe’s dream to design aircrafts. 

The mechanical engineering student never thought one day he’d be flying them. 

Thanks to a partnership between UWindsor’s Faculty of Engineering and the Aeronautics Leadership Program housed in the university’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chitekeshe is the first student specializing in aerospace engineering who has completed his Private Pilot’s License (PPL). 

“The first time I flew alone, I felt accomplished,” Chitekeshe says. “It has been intriguing to learn how aircrafts are designed, but after getting the experience to fly an airplane, my dream job would be to combine those two aspects — to design aircrafts and to test them.”

Engineering prof developing low-cost ventilator design

A UWindsor researcher is developing a low-cost ventilator that can be assembled from off-the-shelf components and has almost no moving parts.

Jeff Defoe, a professor of mechanical engineering, will take a simple ventilator design from an initial concept to a working prototype. Dr. Defoe says he expects his model to cost approximately one-tenth the price of most current ventilators.

“The final design will be openly available to enable widespread adoption for manufacturing in case future waves of COVID-19 or other respiratory diseases require high levels of hospitalization in intensive care with ventilators,” he says.

Defoe will finalize the design using flow simulation tools that include human lung and chest cavity characteristics. When the design is proven in a simulated environment, a prototype will be constructed and tested on a medical-grade patient lung simulator device that provides accurate representations of adult pulmonary mechanics and the lung capacity of a typical adult patient.

Doctoral student researching soot to find cleaner-burning fuel

Arash Khabazipur, a doctoral candidate in UWindsor’s Faculty of Engineering, is using a computer algorithm to research reducing soot by diluting fuel with gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen. He is one of 107 students at UWindsor who recently received internship grants for their research.

Finding ways to make fossil fuels burn cleaner is the focus of a new research project by a doctoral candidate in UWindsor’s Faculty of Engineering.

Arash Khabazipur is looking at ways to interfere with soot formation by diluting fuel with gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen. Using an algorithm that replaces lab experiments with numerical code, he runs computer simulations to find permutations that result in reduced soot emissions.

“This research project directly addresses the environmental issues arising from hydrocarbon fossil fuel combustion,” Khabazipur said. “Canada and the U.S. are among the top fossil fuel consuming countries in the world, so this area of research is in intense demand.”

Khabazipur is among 107 UWindsor students who have received $6,000 research training grants in a recent funding call. His project is being funded by the University of Windsor and Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that creates partnerships among Canadian academia, private industry, and government to provide research and training opportunities.