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2021 News Archive

Iranian student honoured to be first recipient of memorial scholarship for plane crash victims

Shayan Shirzadian is the first first recipient of the Iranian Students Memorial Scholarship - Remembering Flight PS752.

It was just a casual conversation with a fellow UWindsor graduate student, but one Shayan Shirzadian will always remember.

He and engineering doctoral candidate Hamidreza Setareh Kokab, both international students, talked about living in Canada. Setareh Kokab was happy to offer advice.

“My overall feeling from our conversation was that I was joining a community with great people who love to help,” Shirzadian says. “It left an impression on me.”

A month later, Shirzadian was shocked to learn Setareh Kokab’s life was taken in a plane crash in Iran while returning to campus for the winter semester. The incident claimed the lives of all 176 on board, including four other members of UWindsor’s community — engineering doctoral candidates Pedram Jadidi and Zahra Naghibi and her spouse Mohammad Abbaspour Ghadi and biology research assistant Samira Bashiri.

They were caring friends and talented researchers who were on the cusp of promising careers. Countless stories emerged as the campus community mourned such a significant loss.

An immediate outpouring of support from the UWindsor community and general public followed to establish the Iranian Students Memorial Scholarship - Remembering Flight PS752, a graduate scholarship that will annually support two international students conducting vital research in the Faculties of Engineering and Science.

Research on the edge

Movement, pressure, temperature, humidity, sound frequency — sensors that are now integrated into our daily lives collect an endless stream of data about the way we interact with products and their environments.

From autonomous vehicles to health monitoring devices, the ever-growing amount of smart devices and information generated is becoming challenging to manage and more expensive to process.

“This massive amount of data needs to be stored and analyzed, and as a result, real-time processing is critical,” says Afshin Rahimi, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “We are examining new techniques to accelerate the process.”

One of which is using gateway devices to analyze the data with deep learning models. This is called edge computing, and 90 per cent of industrial enterprises will be using it by 2022, according to a report by business consultants Frost & Sullivan.

The name edge is in reference to applying a deep learning model to analyze the data at the edge of a framework — where data is acquired — differing from cloud computing, which conducts the analysis on a remote server — where data is usually warehoused.

Research in modern manufacturing earns honour for engineering professor

Calling her “an inspiration for women in research and engineering around the world,” Denmark’s Aalborg University conferred an honorary doctorate on UWindsor professor Hoda ElMaraghy in an online ceremony April 15.

Aalborg’s Faculty of Engineering and Science noted Dr. ElMaraghy’s contributions to the development of modern manufacturing systems. A distinguished university professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and director of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Centre, she pioneered the use of “learning factories” in teaching and research. A “Smart Production Lab” at Aalborg University was inspired by her work.

ElMaraghy and four other honorees — women academics from France, Norway, and the United States — participated in a round-table discussion on the theme “Research collaborations in a changed world” before the awards ceremony.

Engineering team cleans up in water treatment design competition

Jordan Goddard, Cay-Yen Ang and Fabianna PalaciosCay-Yen Ang, Jordan Goddard and Fabianna Palacios (L-R) will compete against schools from across North America at the Water Environment Federation's annual conference (WEFTEC) Oct. 16 to 20, 2021 in Chicago.

A group of UWindsor environmental engineering students came to understand the importance of wastewater treatment — and gained experience working as a team with professionals — in winning a student design competition of the Water Environment Association of Ontario.

Cay-Yen Ang, Jordan Goddard, and Fabianna Palacios took top honours against schools from across the province to address a real-world challenge: reducing overflow of wastewater from the treatment and collection system in Port Dalhousie.

The Windsor team developed a design to eliminate overflow 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 use tanks existing on the site to disinfect water with chlorine.

Engineering student projects make mark in industry

Aayush Vashi, Iram Malik, Zorka Globarevic and Mahmoud Yamin (L-R) took first place in the first-ever Windsor Mold Group Capstone Endowment Awards for UWindsor’s industrial engineering program.

From a multi-criteria decision support system to optimize restaurant menus during a pandemic to boosting the efficiency of local manufacturing shopfloors, UWindsor students are improving the community through industrial engineering.

Seven student teams presented their capstone designs during the Industrial Engineering Virtual Capstone Showcase on March 26. Capstone projects challenge fourth-year engineering students to apply the formal knowledge they’ve gained during their undergraduate studies and partner with industry to solve real-world problems.

“Our students spend the fall and winter semesters working on sponsored projects from initial concepts to final designs,” says Jill Urbanic, capstone co-ordinator for the industrial engineering program.

“Although the present COVID-19 pandemic situation has altered how we do business, these students have met the challenges head-on.”

A new addition to this year’s showcase was the Windsor Mold Group Capstone Endowment Awards. Students had the chance to win three cash prizes for their innovative designs. The top three teams were selected by Windsor Mold Group representatives Keith Henry, Sandeep Singh, and Marc DiDomenico, and guest industry judges Mark Dolson of TRQSS and Pete Naysmith of Valiant TMS.

Provincial funding boosts research tracking COVID-19 through sewage

Mike McKay, executive director of UWindsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, is leading a multidisciplinary team that has been collecting and testing weekly samples of wastewater.

Researchers at the University of Windsor using sewage as an early warning system for COVID-19 outbreaks are receiving $540,000 in funding as part of a new provincial wastewater surveillance system co-ordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

Mike McKay, executive director of UWindsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, is leading a team that has been collecting and testing weekly samples of wastewater from Windsor, Leamington, Amherstburg, Lakeshore, London, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, and Thunder Bay. Dr. McKay’s project, launched early in the pandemic, was among the first in the province and is now part of a network of Ontario labs monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2.

The Ontario government has announced it is investing more than $12 million to support and expand the network. The province is partnering with 13 academic and research institutions across Ontario to enhance the ability of local public health units to identify, monitor, and manage potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

Research aims to minimize earthquake devastation

Earthquakes that occurred in Canada in the last 30 days are shown in a graphic produced by Earthquakes Canada. The latest occurrence involves a 3.9 magnitude earthquake reported on Feb. 18, 2021 near Arctic Bay, Nunavut.

Would you be surprised to learn there are more than 1,450 earthquakes across Canada each year?

Although only a small fraction is of large enough magnitude to feel, the data published by Natural Resources Canada includes damaging earthquakes peppered throughout the nation’s history, which will inevitably occur again, according to the federal ministry.

Niel Van Engelen, an assistant professor in the University of Windsor’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is leading a project that can help Canada mitigate the loss of life and financial ruin caused by these large-scale earthquakes.

The $258,000 project is funded equally by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Research Fund with $46,000 support from the Faculty of Engineering.

Team working to ease transition to a hydrogen-based economy

UWindsor engineering professors are contributing to a national momentum that’s mapping out the future of hydrogen in Canada.

Hydrogen has the potential to become a major fuel of the future since it can be produced from clean sources such as water, says Ofelia Jianu, a mechanical engineering professor and director of the Intelligent Fuels and Energy Laboratory (I-FuELs).

Dr. Jianu is leading a UWindsor team developing new predictive models for hydrogen generation to advance its integration in sustainable energy systems.

“Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be produced from local, zero-carbon sources and consumed by non-emitting devices such as fuel cells,” Jianu says. “Therefore, transitioning to a hydrogen-based economy would alleviate concerns related to climate, air quality, and energy security as well as create new economic opportunities for Canadians.”

The most common method of hydrogen production utilizes steam in a chemical process that converts methane to hydrogen and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“In order to achieve a future hydrogen economy and zero emissions, more sustainable methods of hydrogen production are needed,” she adds.

Engineering student recognized as leader in diversity and inclusion

Engineering major Erica Rossi and science student Aislyn Lewis-Laurent (pictured below) are the first-ever recipients of Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research awards.

Science double major Aislyn Lewis-Laurent and Erica Rossi, a student of mechanical, automotive, and materials engineering, are the recipients of the Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Research awards from the Office of Research and Innovation.

The awards were made possible by Lisa Willis of the University of Alberta, who declined an honorarium last fall when she spoke to researchers about new data and best practices in lab diversity. Instead, Dr. Willis asked that the Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation recognize students advancing EDI practices in their own labs and research projects, with a particular focus on STEM fields.

An adjudication committee of faculty members from science, engineering, and human kinetics selected these honorees from among 10 nominations.

Lewis-Laurent is currently finishing her BSc with Honors in biochemistry and computer science and looking forward to a career in computational chemistry. As Google’s Women Techmaker Ambassador for the Windsor Essex region, she helps improve the lives and careers of women in tech. She also leads the UWindsor chapter of Google’s Developer Student Club, where she works to recruit and showcase the talents of women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and ethnically diverse students.

UWindsor lends automotive expertise to national study

A University of Windsor automotive expert has helped craft a national report that examines trends affecting the evolution of connected and automated vehicle technologies in Canada.

Peter Frise, the university’s director of the Centre for Automotive Research and Education and former scientific director and CEO of a national automotive R&D program, was invited to participate on an expert panel assembled by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA).

The panel’s resulting report titled Choosing Canada’s Automotive Future identifies potential impacts of connected, autonomous, secure/shared, and electric (CASE) vehicles on industry, privacy and cybersecurity, urban planning, the environment and the safety and well-being of people in Canada. It was released publicly March 2.

“The automotive industry is a key part of Canada’s industrial sector and a major source of high-value employment and foreign exchange,” says Dr. Frise. “The industry is moving toward a set of new vehicle technologies, which have been dubbed CASE.”