2021 News Archive

Engineering professor named rising star

A UWindsor professor has been named a rising star by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Ning Zhang has received the IEEE Technical Committee on Services Computing Rising Star Award for his contributions to the fields of mobile edge computing and the Internet of Things. The IEEE, the largest technical professional organization in the world, selects only one recipient each year from around the globe.

The award “recognizes very promising individuals who are in the early stages of their independent research careers, but have already made outstanding, impactful, and potentially long-lasting contributions to the research and practice of services computing,” said the international not-for-profit organization.

In addition to Dr. Zhang’s record of providing professional services to the research community, the IEEE noted his prolific publication record. He has published more than 180 papers in international journals and at conferences, and has been a co-recipient of six best paper awards. His work has been cited more than 7,800 times and he is the associate editor of the IEEE Internet of Things Journal, the IEEE Transactions on Cognitive Communications and Networking, and the IEEE Systems Journal.

Industry group honours engineering researcher

Xueyuan Nie, a professor of mechanical, automotive and materials engineering, is proud and humbled as a recipient of an award of excellence from an industry group.

Dr. Nie was honoured as a “key collaborator” by the Auto/Steel Partnership, a consortium of steel-producing companies and automakers. The award recognizes an outside contractor whose contributions to a project prove valuable in overcoming challenges.

Nie recalls helping Chrysler address a challenge in stamping advanced high-strength steels.

“The existing tooling dies could only stamp around 100 parts and soon failed,” he says.

He proposed a duplex treatment which added a hard ceramic layer to the dies.

“To be honest, some of the team members didn't believe this approach would work since the coating was only a few microns thick. It was hard to believe such a thin ceramic layer could withstand thousand tons of stamping forces.”

The surface engineering method he proposed has become an industry standard for preparing stamping tooling dies.

Researchers developing prototype of diagnostic insole

Insoles embedded with tiny sensors may soon diagnose problems with the way you walk.

A team of UWindsor researchers is taking the first steps toward bringing this invention to market. Armed with provisional patents and a difficult-to-obtain, research and development grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), members hope to have a prototype ready for commercialization by this time next year.

“This is a unique project,” said Jalal Ahamed, a professor of mechanical, automotive, and materials engineering who brings his expertise in micro-scale sensors to the project. Other principal researchers are materials chemists Tricia Carmichael, who specializes in wearable electronics, and Simon Rondeau-Gagné, who has invented the flexible, self-healing polymer in which the sensors will be embedded.

“We are bringing together all these disciplines, which is what makes this project unique,” Dr. Ahamed said.

Engineering team to help produce first 3D-printed residential homes in Canada

A team from the Faculty of Engineering has partnered with Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex to build Canada’s first 3D-printed homes for residential use.

“Habitat for Humanity believes everyone has the right to a safe, decent, affordable place to live,” says Fiona Coughlin, executive director and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex. “As this cutting-edge technology is evolving, we are excited to partner with the University of Windsor to find ways to provide housing solutions in our community.”

Coughlin notes that current building codes in Canada are not written with these novel 3D-printing technologies in mind. One of the goals of the project is to design a 3D-printed home that meets residential building code requirements and produce landmark precedents for future practices in cost-effective and environmentally sustainable home construction across the country.

Civil engineering professor and University of Windsor project lead, Dr. Sreekanta Das, says the project will help address a vital need for a more affordable and environmentally sustainable housing market. He, alongside a team of engineering graduate students and laboratory technicians, will 3D print concrete segments on a large-scale, industrial printer in the university’s Structural Engineering Testing Lab — one of the largest and tallest in Canada — and test them exhaustively for strength, sustainability and durability to ensure they’re safe for residential use.

Environmental engineering students to compete on international stage

Cay-Yen Ang, Jordan Goddard and Fabianna Palacios (L-R) will face 23 schools from the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica in the Water Environment Federation's Student Design Competition on Oct. 17, 2021 in Chicago.

A trio of environmental engineering students will represent the University of Windsor as the sole Canadian team in an international wastewater treatment competition.

Cay-Yen Ang, Jordan Goddard and Fabianna Palacios qualified to compete at the Water Environment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) after taking top honours against schools from across Ontario in a design competition held by the Water Environment Association of Ontario on March 27.

The Windsor team’s winning design eliminated overflow of wastewater from the treatment and collection system in Port Dalhousie with minimal cost, taking into consideration the effects of climate change. The submission recommended adding chemicals to improve the settling of solids during storm events, implementing fine bubble diffusers to increase the capacity of biological treatment and the use of tanks existing on the site to disinfect water with chlorine.

The team is tackling the same challenge at the 2021 WEFTEC Student Design Competition, held in Chicago on Oct. 17, however, this time, with an enhanced design.

Engineering prof to be featured on popular Canadian podcast

Nickolas Eaves has been invited to share his expertise on synthetic fuels on one of Canada’s most listened to daily news podcasts.

Dr. Eaves, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will join Real Talk at 11 a.m. ET on Sept. 23 to discuss the emergence of synthetic fuels, how they work and their effect on vehicle function and performance.

The show’s recent guests include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  and Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

Eaves will be joined by panelists Andrew Bell, director of the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta, and Paul Horrell, a columnist for Top Gear Magazine's Future Proof.

The interview conducted by show host, Ryan Jespersen, will be streamed live, on camera and is available on YouTube and Apple Podcasts.

You can also follow or take part in the on-going audience conversation with the hashtag #RealTalkRJ on Twitter and the host’s accounts @RealTalkRJ and @ryanjespersen.

Aviation innovation earns honour for engineering researcher

A UWindsor engineering postdoctoral fellow has won an international innovation competition for his design of a diagnosis tool for gas turbine engines.

Farshid Bazmi landed a gold medal in the first International Competition for Inventors and Innovators held virtually by the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations, July 18 to 20.

Dr. Bazmi claimed top honours in the aviation field for his research on fault diagnosis for turboshaft engine systems conducted under the leadership of mechanical engineering professor Afshin Rahimi.

His Mitacs Accelerate supported research aims to develop reliable, fast, and low-maintenance engine health monitoring systems.

“The ability to find fault in gas turbine systems and proactively monitor its progression to remedy the root cause before it fails is of paramount importance in today’s industry,” Bazmi says.

Researchers examine second lives for EV batteries

While electric vehicles produce zero emissions, their batteries composed of raw materials are difficult and costly to recycle.

Transportation electrification is steadily increasing across the globe and expected to add 200 million electric vehicles (EV) to the roads over the next decade.

“Batteries are becoming an important commodity in the Canadian economy; however, we still lack technical leadership on the safety, efficiency and reliability aspects of battery applications and reuse,” says Balakumar Balasingam, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Windsor.

With an expected spike of used EV batteries at recycling facilities on the horizon, Dr. Balasingam is leading a team that aims to offer another route to their disposal.

“Even though considered irrelevant in electric vehicles, these batteries have value in other applications, such as home electrification, short-range transportation and microgrids.”

Many “end-of-life” EV batteries still have up to 70 per cent of their capacity left, he notes. One potential pathway for used EV batteries is to repurpose them in e-bikes. Nikola Robotics Lab, one of many partners on the project, will work with the team on the design of this cost-effective solution while Bike Windsor-Essex will advocate for their adaptation

Building resiliency in our homes

An increase in natural disasters and pandemics has prompted an engineering researcher to create a solution that enables the resilient construction of multi-unit, residential buildings.

Apartments are gaining popularity in Canada, says Rajeev Ruparathna, a civil engineering professor at the University of Windsor.

“Considering the increase in frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and the recent tragic condo collapse in Miami that killed nearly 100 people, we see an urgent call for more resilient Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs),” he says.

But Dr. Ruparathna says there is a lack of resources to support this, especially during design and construction. His latest project addresses this gap by developing resources to ensure the resiliency of MURBs through a Building Information Modeling (BIM)-based rule set that allows engineers and architects to check a building design for resiliency principles.

The BIM rule set will be based on guidelines in the National Building Code, Canadian Electric Code, National Fire Code, Canada Standard Association (CSA) standards, and BOMA Canada Resilience Brief.

Dr. Balachandar to helm journal specializing in fluid mechanics

The editor of a new journal hopes it will highlight the contributions of University of Windsor researchers while engaging industry partners.

Ram Balachandar will be the specialty chief editor of Fluid Mechanics, operating under the umbrella of Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering.

“Most of the journals in this field are extremely academic or industry-focused,” he says. “I saw a need for an applications-related journal.”

He has pulled together a team of associate editors that draws on colleagues from the University of Windsor — including Vesselina Roussinova of mechanical engineering and math professor emeritus Ronald Barron — while reflecting a broad international scope.

“I didn’t envision the amount of work involved,” Dr. Balachandar admits. The publication launched last week.