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Queen’s supported startup goes international

Laser Depth Dynamics, founded by Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92) in 2012, has been acquired by a leading developer of high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers.

Welding is an important manufacturing process across many sectors of today’s global economy – from automotive, to aerospace, medical, and consumer goods. When working on products like cars or pacemakers, where lives could be on the line, it’s important that every component is built as intended. This can be a challenge when spending an extra second per part makes a difference to the bottom line.

The Laser Depth Dynamics team, including chief technical officer and co-founder Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) (third from the left in the front row).
The Laser Depth Dynamics team, including chief technical officer and co-founder Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) (third from the left in the front row). (University Communications)

Enter Paul Webster (Sc'06, PhD'13) and Roger Bowes (Sc’92). In 2012, the pair worked with Queen’s to found Laser Depth Dynamics (LDD) and commercialize a technology Dr. Webster co-developed with associate professor James Fraser, who teaches physics. The technology, called inline coherent imaging (ICI), allows for direct measurement of weld penetration depth for laser welding. This is done using a near-infrared measurement beam to ensure high quality in real-time.

“The story of our company is one of bringing the right elements together to create success,” says Dr. Webster, LDD’s chief technology officer and co-founder. “We combined the support of a leading university with strong industry connections and the right intellectual property policies and technology transfer capabilities to create an impactful product which reduces waste for companies and improves product quality for consumers.”

Recently, the Kingston-based company was purchased by IPG Photonics Corporation, the world leader in high-performance fibre lasers and amplifiers. The company aims to incorporate LDD’s technology into its laser welding solutions to drive adoption of this advanced technology throughout manufacturing of metal parts. Becoming part of a bigger, international organization will mean even more global exposure for LDD’s products.

“LDD’s weld monitoring systems and accessories significantly enhance IPG’s portfolio of industry-leading beam delivery products and laser welding solutions,” said Felix Stukalin, IPG’s senior vice president of North American operations. “LDD’s ability to monitor weld quality in real time and ensure process consistency is increasingly important within automated production environments.”

Laser Depth Dynamics was initially formed with support from Dr. Webster’s thesis supervisor, Dr. Fraser; the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy; and PARTEQ Innovations, the university’s technology transfer organization that is now part of the Queen’s Office of Partnerships and Innovation. IPG Photonics was also involved from the early days, supplying equipment for the research and in helping LDD find early market potential.

John Fisher, Interim Vice-Principal (Research) says success stories like Laser Depth Dynamics demonstrate the value of the research that is conducted at Queen’s.

“This is an example of a research idea, identified and advanced by a student and professor, funded by research grants, and, with support from the university’s technology transfer team, was patented, spun-off as a business, and was successfully commercialized,” says Dr. Fisher. “This story showcases the innovation ecosystem at work here at Queen’s, the important role our Office of Partnerships and Innovation plays in fostering economic growth, and how critical the support of the Ontario government is for our innovation programs. We congratulate the Laser Depth Dynamics team on this exciting news as they become part of a global leader in its field.”

With the purchase, Laser Depth Dynamics will become IPG Photonics (Canada), and will remain in its existing Kingston office location on Railway Street. About half of its employees are Queen’s graduates, and Dr. Webster suggests they may add more Queen’s talent in the future.

IPG Photonics is a global company and the leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers for diverse applications in numerous markets. To learn more about IPG’s purchase of LDD, visit www.ipgphotonics.com

Karen Rudie named IEEE fellow

Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Computing recognized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Karen Rudie, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and cross-appointed to the School of Computing at Queen's, has been named as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for her “contributions to the supervisory control theory of discrete event systems.”

Karen Rudie
Karen Rudie, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and cross-appointed to the School of Computing, has been named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). (University Communications)

As a result, Dr. Rudie joins a very small group of women to receive the honour. As of 2017, there were fewer than 400 women listed among some 10,000 IEEE fellows worldwide. 

“I’m a member of the IEEE Control Systems Society,” says Dr. Rudie. “There are only 26 IEEE Control Systems Society fellows in the world who are women and I’m the only one from Canada.”

New fellows are nominated by their professional peers. IEEE fellowship signifies collegial approval and validation of a researcher’s complete body of work.

“Professor Rudie is the world’s authority on decentralized control of discrete-event systems," writes IEEE Control Systems Society President Edwin Chong. “The IEEE Control Systems Society is proud of her contributions and happily celebrates her elevation to the rank of IEEE fellow. The number of IEEE members being elevated to the rank of fellow is fewer than one in a thousand.”

Dr. Rudie will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Miami in December.

The IEEE is a professional association for advancing technology for humanity. Through its 400,000-plus members in 160 countries, the association is an authority on a wide variety of areas including aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications, biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics.

Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes about 30 per cent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 1,300 active industry standards.

Innovation and Wellness Centre website launched

As construction continues on the IWC, stay up to date and learn more about the project through this new website.

A website has been launched to provide updates and information about the Innovation and Wellness Centre project. 

The website, queensu.ca/connect/innovationandwellness, features background information on the project, renderings and photos, and all news stories about the IWC. The site will be used to support the communications efforts leading up to the centre's Fall 2018 opening.

The Innovation and Wellness Centre will be a place where every aspect of campus life intersects. It will be a place where students from all programs come to access wellness services and learn about entrepreneurship supports on campus, and it will also be a place that supports leading-edge engineering education and research.

IWC construction site to be closed in

Keeping the snow out means more work can be done on the inside of the Innovation and Wellness Centre building.

While the Queen’s community gets into the holiday spirit by hanging festive decorations, the Innovation and Wellness Centre (IWC) construction crews are getting ready to hang the last panes of glass on the north side of the building.

Once the glass is in place the entire building will be closed in, keeping the snow out and allowing contractors to complete more interior work.

The Innovation and Wellness Centre at night. (Supplied Photo)
The snow is flying, and so are the glass panels as they are expertly hoisted into place by construction crews working on the IWC. (Supplied Photo)

“With the recent work completed on the roof and exterior of the IWC, we are on track to keep our New Years’ resolution of having the building enclosed by the end of 2017,” says Bob Polegato, Project Manager with Physical Plant Services. “While the Queen’s community is tucking into holiday dinners and unwrapping presents, our crews will be unboxing supplies to continue the work indoors from Dec 27 to 29.”

Once the site is weathertight, it will be heated to help construction move to the next phase. Some exterior sections, like the north staircase, won’t be completed until spring, however.

The IWC is scheduled to open Fall 2018. The creation of the IWC was made possible through $55 million in philanthropic support. In addition, the federal and Ontario governments contributed a combined total of nearly $22 million.

Alumnus returns to space with a scientific mission

Andrew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc'16) is returning to space in March, where he will stay aboard the International Space Station and support important research.

Going to space never gets old for Andrew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc'16).

Astronaut Andrew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc'16), will be returning to space as flight engineer for Expedition 55 and commander for Expedition 56. (Supplied Photo)

The astronaut and Queen’s grad is set to make his third trip into orbit this spring. Dr. Feustel will be making the trip with a fellow National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut in a rocket that will launch from Kazakhstan in March.

“This trip will be quite a treat because it will allow me, for the first time, to live in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS),” says Dr. Feustel.

Dr. Feustel will be the flight engineer for Expedition 55 and commander for Expedition 56. As flight engineer, he will serve as co-pilot to Oleg Artemtyev on the Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft.

“I have been working a lot with Oleg, as space flight is complex and requires a lot of coordination,” he says. “There is a language barrier, but we have reached a balance where we understand enough of what is desired and required to keep the spacecraft moving in simulations.”

During his time aboard the ISS, Dr. Feustel will be the ‘hands, eyes, and ears’ of Earth-based scientists, collecting data on various experiments being completed on the station. One project will look at osteoporosis and muscle wasting in space – a pertinent topic for astronauts and those who hope to live in space someday. He says he will learn more about the research to be conducted during his trip once he reaches the station.

Dr. Feustel had considered a career in space for many years, but it was while he was in Kingston that the interest started to turn into action. While watching television during his doctoral studies, Dr. Feustel caught a compelling interview with the latest batch of Canadian astronauts including Julie Payette (DSc’99) and Chris Hadfield.

Though Dr. Feustel’s next job didn’t take him to infinity and beyond, it did bring him closer to NASA headquarters. He and his family relocated to Houston, Texas in 1997 and he worked for Exxon Mobil, putting his seismology experience to work in the company’s drilling operations.

“Queen’s capped off my education and work experiences in a way that was unique to Queen’s,” he says. “When I was at Queen’s, I worked as a geophysicist in the engineering seismology lab which was responsible for installing seismic monitoring systems in Canada. It was a unique lab in Canada, almost in the world…and that lab spun off into a company still in Kingston today. It afforded me a great education and what I did there prepared me for my eventual work with Exxon.”

In 1999, Dr. Feustel applied to become an astronaut and, in 2000, he got word from NASA that he had been accepted. While it may not seem like a traditional career path, Dr. Feustel and fellow Expedition 55/56 astronaut Richard Arnold noted that the space agency looks for individuals who are creative, well-rounded, scientifically-minded, and good at problem-solving.

“I didn't specifically plan my early work and learning experiences in order to become an astronaut...I found the things I liked and was good at, and those are the things I pursued,” Dr. Feustel says.

In the 17 years since joining NASA, Dr. Feustel has gained his Canadian citizenship – making him the next Canadian headed to space. While he won’t reveal if his guitar-playing skills will make an appearance on the ISS, like his astronaut colleague Chris Hadfield, Dr. Feustel says he has a few secrets he plans to unveil during his time on the station.

Dr. Feustel has returned to Queen’s campus as a NASA astronaut several times – in 2015, he returned to receive the Queen’s University Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award and last spring to receive an honorary doctorate.

To follow Dr. Feustel's journey, find him on Twitter at @Astro_Feustel, or on Instagram at astro_feustel.

For updates on Expedition 55-56, or other ongoing expeditions, visit NASA’s website.

Go with the flow (or against it)

Queen's researchers use magnetic fields to control bacteria with the potential to deliver drug treatments

Queen’s University researchers are using magnetic fields to influence a specific type of bacteria to swim against strong currents, opening up the potential of using the microscopic organisms for drug delivery in environments with complex microflows – like the human bloodstream.

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Carlos Escobedo and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi analyzing MTB behaviour in the laboratory.
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Carlos Escobedo and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi in the laboratory.

Led by Carlos Escobedo (Chemical Engineering) and PhD candidate Saeed Rismani Yazdi (Chemical Engineering), the research focused on studying and manipulating the mobility of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) – tiny organisms that contain nanocrystals sensitive to magnetic fields. Their findings were recently published in nano- and micro-science journal Small.

“MTB have tiny (nanoscopic) organelles called magnetosomes, which act like a compass needle that helps them navigate to nutrient-rich locations in aquatic environments – their natural habitats – by using the Earth’s magnetic field,” says Dr. Escobedo. “In nature, MTB play a key role in Earth’s cycles by influencing marine biogeochemistry via transporting minerals and organic matters as nutrients.”

After studying how MTB respond to magnetic fields and currents similar to those found in their natural habitats, the team introduced stronger currents and magnetic fields to see if the bacteria could still navigate successfully.

“When we increased the rate of flow and the strength of the magnetic field, we were astounded by the MTB’s ability to swim strongly and concertedly against the current,” says Mr. Rismani Yazdi. “They were even able to swim across a strong current with ease when we moved the magnet perpendicular to the flow.”

Microscope slide with a channel to circulate flow
This microscope slide features a small channel through which Queen's researchers simulated the flow of a human bloodstream.

The team’s success in directing MTB through a complex and fast-moving environment could be a significant step toward using the bacteria to transport pharmaceuticals through the human bloodstream to treat tumours directly.

“Next, we plan to bind therapeutic drugs to the bacterial bodies for transport,” says Dr. Escobedo.

To do so, the team is collaborating with the group led by Peter Davies (Biochemisty), Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering, who are figuring out how to adhere existing cancer therapeutic drugs to the bacteria, as well as how to have them release the drugs once they reach a chosen destination.

The team has also teamed up with Dr. Madhuri Koti of the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute and plan to refine their ability to direct the MTB toward tumours with a high degree of accuracy. Together, the team will use magnetic fields to guide the bacteria from one end of a microchannel on a tiny microscope slide to samples of biopsied cancer tissue at the other end.

Dr. Escobedo hopes that their multi-disciplinary approach to this research will help unlock MTB’s potential to be a biological, effective, and formidable drug-delivery method.

“We’ve shown that the bacteria’s natural properties can be exploited to guide them in complex and strong flow conditions, much more challenging than those found in nature, which opens up opportunities not only in the drug-delivery field, but in other biomedical applications as well,” concluded Mr. Rismani Yazdi.

Engineering students, faculty, and staff mark École Polytechnique shooting anniversary

Students, faculty, and staff gathered to remember the 1989 school shooting, which primarily targeted female students in engineering programs.

If the victims of the École Polytechnique massacre were alive today, they would be old enough to have children graduating university.

Despite the time that has passed, Engineering student Emily Nunn (Sci’18) says remembering the event and what it represented continues to be important.

“The women killed, if they were still alive today, would have careers and families of their own, but tragically those lives were taken from this Earth before their time for no reason other than they were women,” says Ms. Nunn, one of the organizers of the memorial ceremony at Queen’s. “The event personally means to me that we remember this happened, and fight to make sure it doesn't again.”

  • Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Beamish-Munro Hall for the memorial event. (Supplied Photo)
    Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Beamish-Munro Hall for the memorial event. (Supplied Photo)
  • The EngChoir sings as part of ceremonies remembering each of the 14 women killed on Dec. 6, 1989. (Supplied Photo)
    The EngChoir sings as part of ceremonies remembering each of the 14 women killed on Dec. 6, 1989. (Supplied Photo)
  • Biographies of each victim were read, and a candle was lit for each of the victims during the somber ceremony. (Supplied Photo)
    Biographies of each victim were read, and a candle was lit for each of the victims during the somber ceremony. (Supplied Photo)
  • Roses have been a symbol of the anniversary, and one was laid for each woman killed in the shooting. (Supplied Photo)
    Roses have been a symbol of the anniversary, and one was laid for each woman killed in the shooting. (Supplied Photo)

Dozens of students, faculty, and staff gathered in Beamish-Munro Hall on Wednesday to mark 28 years since the massacre, on a day that was declared Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in the wake of the shooting. The Engineering Society at Queen’s University annually hosts a memorial event marking the date. Participants hold red roses, light white candles, and read brief biographies of each of the women killed on Dec. 6, 1989.

“As a woman in engineering, I am lucky that I don't feel out of place. I am lucky that I personally have not been a victim of violence, and no one has doubted my ability to be an engineer just because of my gender,” Ms. Nunn adds. “In order to ensure that nothing like this happens again, we must first remember and mourn the loss of those 14 beautiful lives. Then we must fight for change and equality for all in the future.”

To learn more about Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, visit the Department of the Status of Women’s website.

From diploma to degree

Queen’s University signs partnerships with Canada’s major mining colleges to support the online Bachelor of Mining Engineering Technology program.

Audrey Penner, Vice President Academic and Student Success, Northern College, and David Yokom, Queen's BTech Program Manager.

Queen’s University has partnered with mining programs at three major colleges in Canada through a new diploma-to-degree program designed to help ease the transition from college to university.

In 2016, Queen’s launched its online Bachelor of Mining Engineering Technology (BTech) program, designed for college-educated engineering technologists and technicians looking to advance their career and education. Students gain transfer credits from their college diploma and complete a customized bridging curriculum before being admitted directly into the third year of the program. The program’s blend of online learning, team assignments, and on-site field training means students can study full- or part-time from anywhere in the world.

While the program admits eligible graduates of any college engineering technology program, the newly-signed articulation and transfer agreements between Queen’s and Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology, Cambrian College, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, map out a clear pathway to graduation for alumni of the partner institutions.

“By formalizing these partnerships, we’ve identified the eligible transfer credits and courses these students will have to take during their bridge year,” explains David Yokom, Queen’s BTech Program Manager. “Candidates from these three colleges will have the advantage of knowing exactly what it will take to earn a Queen’s Bachelor of Mining Engineering Technology degree before they even apply.”

Graduates of programs not covered by articulation and transfer agreements will be assessed upon admission for potential transfer credits and assigned a custom bridging curriculum.

“Partnering with Queen’s is a win-win for us,” says Aaron Klooster, Associate Dean of the School of Trades and Technology at Northern College, which includes the renowned Haileybury School of Mines. “Adding a leading Canadian university credential to Northern College’s well-established name in the mining diploma environment will open big doors for our graduates.”

The Queen’s BTech program is already exceeding enrolment targets and looking to grow further.

“The college to university pathway is one of the fastest growing education markets,” says Mr. Yokom. “This program gives college graduates an opportunity to advance their education, while providing industry with the skilled and experienced staff they need.”

Development of the BTech program was funded by a 2014 grant from the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT), with matching funds from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University.

Queen's professor wins national chemical engineering award

Kim McAuley is the first woman to be awarded the D.G. Fisher Award by the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.

Kim McAuley receiving the D.G. Fisher Award
Kim McAuley, right, Associate Dean of the School Graduate Studies and a professor in chemical engineering, is the first woman to be awarded the D.G. Fisher Award by the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering. (Supplied Photo)

Queen’s University professor Kim McAuley has received the D.G. Fisher Award by the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering for her major contributions to the systems and control engineering discipline. Dr. McAuley, who is also the associate dean of the Queen’s School of Graduate Studies, is the first woman to receive the award.

“I feel extremely honoured to receive the D.G. Fisher Award,” says Dr. McAuley. “To be recognized alongside some of the discipline's forbearers is a great privilege, particularly David Bacon and Tom Harris, who mentored me early in my career.”

Both Drs. Bacon and Harris are past recipients of the D.G. Fisher Award from Queen’s University.

Systems and control engineering involves the analysis, design, and optimization of complex systems in all sectors, from robotic manufacturing and assembly lines to petrochemical production and metallurgy. Practitioners use mathematical modeling to inform these large-scale industry processes with the aim of increasing efficiency and lowering production costs. In turn, this helps make products more affordable for consumers and lessens negative environmental impacts.

Dr. McAuley has worked with major chemical and polymer companies like ExxonMobil, DuPont and NOVA Chemicals to improve industrial processes, as well as ‘clean tech’ firms looking to transform existing small-scale processes into large-scale operations.

She recently worked with Enviro Innovate, a company based at Queen’s University’s Innovation Park, which has developed a technology that can remove carbon dioxide from industrial furnace emissions, which can then be used as a feedstock for bio-sourced jet fuel or to create new polymers. Dr. McAuley helped the company by modeling the intricacies of carbon dioxide absorption by small water droplets in the process so Enviro Innovate could better explain the causes of their high carbon dioxide removal rates to companies looking to curb their emissions impact.

“I would not have earned this award without the hard work and enthusiasm of my graduate students – both past and present,” says Dr. McAuley, who currently oversees two Queen’s Chemical Engineering doctoral students and six master's students. “Working alongside them has not only helped me progress my research, but our experiences together have increased my awareness of their needs and goals, and have given me an even better understanding of my role as associate dean of Graduate Studies.”

Canadian systems and control experts are respected around the world and Dr. McAuley believes this global leadership in the field will continue to grow.

“I anticipate future winners of the D.G. Fisher award are amongst my colleagues at Queen’s and our students,” she says. “The industry demand for systems and control professionals continues to grow, particularly due to improvements in computing technology, better access to information and easier ways to collaborate internationally.”

Every March, Dr. McAuley co-organizes a multi-institutional systems and control recruitment event for undergraduates contemplating masters degrees followed by a career in systems and control engineering. This spring will mark the fourth annual event, featuring research from 13 experts from six institutions.

Queen’s engineering grad named Rhodes Scholar

Iain Sander
Iain Sander (Sc’17) has been selected as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar. The Chemical Engineering graduate is the 58th Rhodes Scholar from Queen's. (Supplied Image)

Queen’s University graduate Iain Sander (Sc’17) has been selected as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar.

Mr. Sander, who studied Chemical Engineering at Queen’s, is the university’s 58th Rhodes Scholar and will begin his studies at Oxford University next fall.

The Rhodes Scholarships are considered the oldest and most prestigious international scholarships for outstanding scholars from any academic field of study.

“It is a tremendous honour to have been selected as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar, and I am very grateful to everyone in Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Queen’s community who has supported me throughout the application process,” says Mr. Sander, who is currently studying medicine at the University of Alberta. “I have been fortunate to learn from world-class professors who have consistently challenged me academically and supported me in pursuit my research interests. Queen’s University will always hold a special place in my heart and I am very grateful for relationships I developed and the intellectual and personal growth I experienced during my undergraduate career.”

Mr. Sander graduated from Queen’s with first class honours in Chemical Engineering earlier this year. He received the Medal in Chemical Engineering and the Society for Chemical Industry Merit Award in recognition of achieving the highest standing in his discipline.

At Oxford, he plans to study orthopaedic biomechanics to help improve the health, lives, and independence of individuals with disabilities.

“On behalf of Queen’s University, I am pleased to congratulate Iain on this tremendous accomplishment and opportunity,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “I am confident that at Oxford he will apply the skills and experience he has gained at Queen’s, as well as through his years of leadership and community service, to further his contributions to society. I have no doubt he will thrive as a Rhodes Scholar.”

During his time at Queen’s, Mr. Sander volunteered extensively on campus and in the Kingston community, coaching the local Special Olympics swim team, mentoring first-year engineering design teams as they worked on award-winning adaptive buoyancy devices, and tutoring peers in English.

Mr. Sander, who grew up in Lethbridge, Alta., was a Loran Scholar and a recipient of the Queen’s Chancellor’s Scholarship. As part of the Loran Scholar program he spent his community development summer in France as a live-in assistant with L’Arche, an organization for people with intellectual disabilities.

This is the second straight Rhodes Scholar for Queen’s after Claire Gummo, a Political Studies and Gender Studies student, received the prestigious scholarship in 2017.

Funded by the estate of Cecil J. Rhodes (the Rhodes Trusts), 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada to outstanding students who demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

The scholarships to Oxford University are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provides a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study while at Oxford.

Learn more about the 2018 Rhodes Scholars.


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