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Engineering and Applied Science

Robots converge on campus

Top minds meet at Queen’s to discuss sector’s emerging research and technology.

  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    The Aqua Autonomous Amphibious robot from Dr. Gregory Dudek's research group at McGill University emerges from Lake Ontario. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    Members of the Ingenuity Labs team at Queen's University display their robots outside Mitchell Hall on Tuesday, June 4. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    A drone hovers over a field as part of a demonstration during the NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference. (University Communications)
  • NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference
    A conference participant manipulates the robot arms he helped develop to show their versatility as part of the the NSERC Canadian Robot Network Conference. (University Communications)

Queen’s University was a hotbed of innovation during the five-day NSERC Canadian Robotics Network (CRN) annual meeting, during which graduate students, researchers, and industry stakeholders met to discuss the sector’s emerging trends and technology. On Tuesday, June 4, the public had the opportunity for a closer look at some of the many land, water, and aerial robots developed by teams across the country.

The conference, hosted by Queen’s University’s newly launched Ingenuity Labs, welcomed representatives from eight institutions, nine industry partners, and three government partners – totaling more than100 participants.

“This is an important event to showcase some of the exciting research being conducted by CRN members,” says Joshua Marshall, Interim Director of Ingenuity Labs. “Over the last five years, the increasing quality and profile of our work has been attracting the country’s brightest, young students. We are striving to grow Canada’s reputation as a world leader in robotics.”

The conference gives researchers and graduate students opportunities for deeper collaboration, and a chance for teams to demonstrate and test their work together with many of Canada’s leading robotics experts.

For more information on the NSERC Canadian Robotics Network, visit the website.

Castle campus marks 25 years

Queen’s Bader International Study Centre to celebrate milestone with alumni reunion.

Queen's Bader International Study Centre
Queen's Bader International Study Centre (BISC) celebrates 25 years.

Inside the walls of a nearly 600-year-old English castle, Queen’s alumni, faculty, staff, and friends will soon gather to mark the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s Bader International Study Centre (BISC) housed there. Among them: a NASA astronaut, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, leading academics, Canadian expats, local community members, and those traveling from around the world – all of whom will be on hand from June 29-30, 2019 to celebrate the past, present, and future of the overseas Queen’s campus.

“For a quarter century, the BISC has been a temporary home to Queen’s students looking to further broaden the scope of their learning,” says Hugh Horton, Vice-Provost and BISC Executive Director. “Here, they are able to engage with scholars from across the world, in a close-knit, interdisciplinary academic environment to not only enhance their education, but give it a truly global dimension.”

Visionary philanthropists and Queen’s alumni Alfred and Isabel Bader gifted the BISC, located on the Herstmonceux Castle estate in East Sussex, UK, to Queen’s University in 1993, and it opened doors to students in 1994. It has since provided innovative, international undergraduate and graduate programs to over 7,000 Queen’s students, across disciplines as diverse as archaeology, music, international law and politics, global health, international project management, and astronomy. Program offerings continue to grow.

In 2017, the BISC accepted its first group of students from the Queen’s Concurrent Education Program, which prepares undergraduates to become educators. Students enrolled in this program complete local practicums at primary and secondary schools nearby the BISC campus, providing a hands-on comparative learning experience.

This year, programming for science students is set to expand with the opening of the BISC’s brand-new teaching science laboratory and innovation design space, allowing the campus to offer practical science subjects on campus for the very first time. The facility will be officially unveiled during the 25th anniversary celebrations.

The Bader International Study Centre
Queen's Bader International Study Centre.

“The Baders envisaged a learning facility that could take the Queen’s educational experience Alfred deeply cherished, and extend its reach internationally,” says Dr. Horton. “With 25-years of BISC alumni now living and working in countries across the world—many of whom are set to join us in celebration of this incredible milestone—and our ever-growing complement of programs, I think their vision has truly taken shape. In honour of their vision, and of Alfred, who passed away late last year, I look forward to continuing our momentum forward into the next 25 years.”

On June 29, 2019, BISC alumni and their families are invited to the first day of 25th anniversary celebrations. There, they will have a chance to reminisce during castle tours, have tea in the Elizabethan gardens, mingle with professors, and attend the unveiling of a commemorative garden honouring the Baders. NASA astronaut and Queen’s alumnus Drew Feustel, who returned from the International Space Station last October following a six-month mission, will also deliver a keynote address.

On June 30, the celebration will open to the public and take on a Canadian theme in recognition of the Canada Day weekend. Canadians living in England are encouraged to join alumni on the castle grounds for street hockey, tastes from home such as poutine and Nanaimo bars, falconry and archery demonstrations, and a symphonova performance by the BISC Musicians in Residence, featuring works by Dan School of Drama and Music Professor John Burge.

Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand will be among senior leaders there to help mark the milestone.

“In 1993, the Baders bestowed Queen’s with the BISC; an amazing gift that went on to play a foundational role in extending our university’s global horizons,” says Principal Woolf. “The unique, experiential learning prospects that the facility provides helped inspire us to chart educational linkages with many other institutions and organizations internationally – opening a world of opportunities for our students.”

Those interested in attending the festivities can register on the website.

Recognizing research excellence at Queen’s

At this year’s Spring Convocation, Queen’s University is bestowing its highest form of recognition for research excellence to five faculty members. Margaret Moore (Political Studies), Tucker Carrington (Chemistry; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy), Mark Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy), Robert Ross (Kinesiology and Health Studies), and Nancy van Deusen (History) are the recipients of the 2019 Prizes for Excellence in Research (PER). Valued at $5,000 each, the PER are awarded to outstanding Queen’s researchers and celebrate major research contributions either completed or recognized in recent years. Recipients are nominated by members of the Queen’s community and represent one of five categories: humanities; social sciences; natural sciences; health sciences; and engineering.

This year’s PER recipients demonstrate the breadth and scope of research excellence across the disciplines at Queen’s. Since the program’s development in 1980, the PER have been Queen’s signature internal research honour and represent an important investment by the university in recognizing its top scholars.

Margaret Moore

Dr. Moore (Political Studies) is the director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy and Diversity, and holds a cross-appointment as a courtesy in philosophy where she teaches in the Master’s in Political and Legal Theory program. Her research focuses on justice, nationalism, and the territorial rights of peoples and states. She is the author of A Political Theory of Territory, which won the Canadian Philosophical Association’s biannual book prize for 2017, and the forthcoming Who Should Own Natural Resources?

Tucker Carrington, Canada Research Chair in Computational Quantum Dynamics

Dr. Carrington (Chemistry; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) and his group pioneered the development of iterative methods for computing vibrational and ro-vibrational spectra. These methods are now widely recognized as methods of choice for molecules and reacting systems with more than three atoms. Iterative methods make it possible to study, at a detailed level, systems of real chemical interest. Recently he used these ideas to study CH5+, which has 120 equivalent minima separated by small barriers and is recognized as a bizarre and intriguing molecule. Established approaches for computing and analysing spectra fail completely for CH5+.

Mark Daymond, Canada Research Chair in Mechanics of Materials

Dr. Daymond (Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy) is the NSERC/UNENE Industrial Research Chair in Nuclear Materials and the lead investigator of the Reactor Materials Testing Laboratory. His major scientific contributions have provided new insights into the mechanical behavior of, and phase transformations in, metals by the application of advanced neutron, synchrotron X–ray and electron diffraction techniques, coupled with the extensive use of numerical models to analyze and interpret the diffraction data. In addition to advancing the understanding of several life-limiting issues associated with current and future nuclear reactor designs, Dr. Daymond’s research has contributed significantly to the broader fields of materials science and mechanics of materials.

Robert Ross

Dr. Ross (Kinesiology and Health Studies) has had a major impact on the advancement of knowledge about the effectiveness of physical activity interventions for managing chronic, life-style based disease. He is the principal investigator of the Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Research Unit at Queen’s and holds a cross-appointment in the Endocrinology and Metabolism Department of the School of Medicine. Dr. Ross has led the scientific writing of consensus statements from prestigious medical and health organizations recognizing the overwhelming evidence that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity should be a vital sign in clinical practice.

Nancy van Deusen

Dr. van Deusen (History) is a historian of colonial Latin America and the Atlantic world who has made outstanding contributions to research in gender history, religious history, and most recently Indigenous history. Her scholarship illuminates the spiritual and material worlds of people whose voices have been left out of the historical record. Her work blends meticulous research and careful, critical reading of her sources with methodological sophistication and innovation. She is the author of four books and is currently working on a SSHRC funded project entitled “The Disappearance of the Past: Native American Slavery and the Making of the Early Modern World.”

For more information about the Prizes for Excellence in Research, see the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) website

Funding new scientific frontiers

New Frontiers in Research Fund fuels Queen’s research in topics ranging from Lyme disease to climate change.

Early-career researchers are the backbone of Canada’s research infrastructure. Recognizing this area of research strength and its potential, the Government of Canada has launched the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) to support early-career researchers as they pursue the next great discovery in their fields.

[Minister Kirsty Duncan]
Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport

Seven Queen’s University projects earned a $1.72 million portion of the $38 million in NFRF funding announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, earlier this week. The successful Queen’s researchers are: Chantelle Capicciotti (Chemistry) and Mark Ormiston (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Robert Colautti (Biology), Samuel Dahan (Law), Lindsay Morcom (Education), Jessica Selinger (Kinesiology and Health Science), Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry), and Laura Thomson (Geography and Planning).

“I am pleased today to celebrate the very first researchers to benefit from the New Frontiers in Research Fund. Our government’s vision is for our researchers to take risks and be innovative,” says Minister Duncan. “We want our scientists and students to have access to state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, and we want the halls of academia to better reflect the diversity of Canada itself. This new fund will help us achieve that vision.”

Drs. Capicciotti and Ormiston are studying how cancer cells change the sugars that they express on their surface to avoid detection by the immune system. The researchers will work to develop technology to screen hundreds of sugar structures, with the ultimate goal of creating new cancer therapies that function by boosting an individual’s immune response.

As a member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network (CLyDRN) based at Queen’s, Dr. Colautti is leading a diverse and multidisciplinary group of researchers to disrupt the way that tick-borne diseases are identified and managed in Canada. Their approach includes the use of handheld DNA sequencers and cloud computing for rapid detection of known or potential tick-borne pathogens, summarizing this information into a risk assessment framework for medical practitioners, public health officials, and the general populace.

Professor Dahan, in collaboration with Xiaodan Zhu (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and a team of 25 data scientists, Artificial Intelligence researchers, and law students, is working on an open source AI-tribunal for small claims in Ontario. This digital dispute-resolution platform will provide predictive legal services and negotiation support for self-represented plaintiffs. The NFRF funding will help develop the first stage of the product, focusing on severance pay and termination negotiation.

Using the skills of an interdisciplinary team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and visual and digital media artists, Dr. Morcom and her team will work to create a network of virtual reality spaces across the country. The newly-created spaces will be used to stage cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and cross-generational encounters.

Dr. Selinger has formed an interdisciplinary team that combines expertise in fundamental human biomechanics, clinical rehabilitative medicine, and applied robotic control. The research has the potential to revolutionize the next generation of rehabilitation strategies by focusing on how people re-learn to walk after a stroke.

Focusing on a new area of research, Dr. Stamplecoskie and partner Guojun Liu (Chemistry), are researching new electrochemical devices, capable of capturing the tremendous amount of energy available in rainfall, waves, and evaporating water. The research is working to create new devices capable to meeting global energy demands.

Dr. Thomson has amassed an interdisciplinary team that will integrate modern glacier research practices and inter-generational perspectives on climate, to improve environmental monitoring in Canada’s high-Arctic. This initiative will provide open-access, real-time climate data for the first time in this part of the Arctic, and provide public access to rare historic data.

All of the Queen’s projects are funded under the Exploration stream of the NFRF program. The second stream is the Transformation stream that provides large-scale support for Canada to build strength and leadership in interdisciplinary and transformative research. The third stream, International, will come online later, according to Minister Duncan.

“Through the NFRF program, early-career researchers at Queen’s are bringing new ideas and methodologies to critical issues from Lyme disease to climate change,” say Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “Importantly, they are increasing the potential impact and application of their work by collaborating across disciplinary boundaries.”

For more information, visit the NFRF website.

Don’t miss out on research funding opportunities, subscribe to the University Research Services Funding Opportunities listserv.

Queen’s PhD candidate chasing 3MT national title

The national competition for the Three Minute Thesis is currently underway and Amanda Brissenden is representing Queen’s University.

[Amanda Brissenden]
Amanda Brissenden won first prize at the Queen's Three Minute Thesis competition.

After taking top spot in the Queen’s 3MT and then earning a national berth with a third-place finish at the Ontario competition, Brissenden, a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering, who specializes in Biomedical Engineering, is one of 12 contestants from across the country.

The national competition is conducted via videos from the regional events. The videos are currently available on the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) 3MT website. The winner will be selected by a team of judges and announced in the first week of June.

At the same time, the People’s Choice Award is decided through online votes and the Queen’s community can help Brissenden by viewing her video and casting a ballot online.

The voting period for the People’s Choice Award is currently open and concludes on Sunday, May 26.

“The 3MT is an excellent opportunity for graduate students to hone their communications skills and share the impact of their work with the local, national and global communities”, says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “Amanda has done a remarkable job of explaining her interdisciplinary research in a concise yet engaging manner. We are very proud that she represents Queen’s at the national 3MT and we wish her the best for her participation in this competition.”

Brissenden’s presentation, “Building Blocks for a Healthier Spine,” delves into her research which involves using polymers to augment the human spine and help alleviate pain.

To learn more about the Three Minute Thesis, visit the Queen’s 3MT webpage.

Queen’s names first Distinguished University Professors

Recipients recognized for international research and teaching excellence.

2018-19 Distinguished University Professors
2018-19 Distinguished University Professors: (Left to right) Top row: Donald H. Akenson, Stephen Archer, Nicholas Bala. Middle row: Susan P. C. Cole, Cathleen Crudden, John McGarry. Bottom row: Ram Murty, R. Kerry Rowe, Suning Wang.

Queen’s University recently awarded its highest research-related honour to nine faculty members internationally recognized for contributions to their respective fields of study. Each recipient was named a Distinguished University Professor for exhibiting an outstanding and sustained research record, teaching excellence, and significant and lasting contributions to Queen’s, Canada, and the world.

“The work being done here at Queen’s in many different academic disciplines is contributing to our understanding of the world and the overall global body of knowledge in many fields,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “To celebrate this level of world-class excellence in research and teaching, it is my pleasure to designate nine of our most accomplished faculty members as Distinguished University Professors.”

The group of individuals chosen are the first to receive designations under the Distinguished University Professor Program, which was made official by the university’s Senate in 2017-18. Each year, the program’s advisory committee will invite nominations from the campus community, review the submissions, and make recommendations to the principal, who then determines successful nominees.

“Choosing this year’s recipients, from what was an impeccable pool of nominees, was no easy task,” says Principal Woolf. “That said, it served as a wonderful opportunity for me to learn even more about the breadth of work taking place here at Queen’s, and the incredible faculty driving it forward.”

Each recipient will soon add an honorific name to their title, to be selected from a list of Senate approved names. For the first set of designates, this process will take place shortly.

The inaugural group of Distinguished University Professors includes:

  • Donald H. Akenson, Distinguished University Professor, Department of History
  • Stephen Archer, Distinguished University Professor, School of Medicine
  • Nicholas Bala, Distinguished University Professor, Faculty of Law
  • Susan P. C. Cole, Distinguished University Professor, Queen’s Cancer Research Institute
  • Cathleen Crudden, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • John McGarry, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Political Studies
  • Ram Murty, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • R. Kerry Rowe, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
  • Suning Wang, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Chemistry

Visit the Principal’s website to learn more about the Distinguished University Professors Program, its advisory committee, and selection of honorific names.

The interdisciplinary green team

Four leading researchers from Queen’s University have been awarded the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for their work in building a sustainable future.

NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering
The winners of the 2019 Brockhouse Canada Prize, from left: Michael Cunningham, Pascale Champagne, Philip Jessop, and Warren Mabee.  

Engineering a sustainable future requires input from multiple approaches and perspectives. Four leading Canadian researchers from Queen’s University have been awarded the NSERC Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering for their work in enhancing the value and sustainability of our natural renewable resources though collaboration.  

Given annually to only one research team across Canada, the award supports the late Nobel Laureate Bertram N. Brockhouse’s vision of interdisciplinary teamwork and collaboration as a way to propel scientific discovery in Canadian research. Dr. Brockhouse won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994. 

“The NSERC Brockhouse is one of the most prestigious and competitive research honours available to Canadian researchers,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Interim Vice-Principal (Research). “We are proud of our Queen’s recipients, and proud that the university is a space that fosters interdisciplinary collaboration as a means to address critical challenges.” 

Pascale Champagne
Pascale Champagne is the Canada Research Chair in Bioresources Engineering.

The cross-faculty research team consists of Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering), Michael Cunningham (Chemical Engineering, Chemistry), Philip Jessop (Chemistry) and Warren Mabee (Geography and Planning, School of Policy Studies), each affiliated with the Beaty Water Research Centre and an accomplished scientist in their respective field.  With the funding provided by the NSERC Brockhouse ($250,000), the team will work in unison bringing their unique but complementary expertise to designing solutions to address myriad problems caused by climate change.  

The four team members share a passion for sustainable use of natural resources and the development of green industrial processes. Dr. Champagne is an expert in biofuels and utilization of water resources; Dr. Cunningham is a specialist in green engineering; Dr. Jessop works in the area of green chemistry while Dr. Mabee brings his experience with policy issues and assessing the sustainability of renewable energy and material systems.  

QUICK FACTS:
All four researchers are affiliated with the Beaty Water Research Centre. Drs. Champagne, Jessop and Mabee are Canada Research Chairs. Dr. Cunningham was the Ontario Research Chair in Green Chemistry from 2010-2015.

“We pursue research on issues of critical importance to Canadians, including the development of alternate wastewater management strategies and environmentally sustainable approaches, green chemistry and engineering, and renewable energy policy,” says Dr. Champagne, the project’s principal investigator. “We are grateful to NSERC and the Government of Canada, for their ongoing support and understanding that Canadian leadership in complex research areas such as environmental sustainability, and true advances are only possible through collaborations that incorporate knowledge from different disciplines to create innovative and timely solutions.” 

The team has been involved in projects that explore the feasibility of using algal systems for wastewater treatment and biofuel recovery. These integrated systems hinge on devising strategies that facilitate nutrient removal, disinfection and carbon dioxide fixation, enhancing algal growth and oil production, and reducing the environmental (carbon, energy, GHG, water) footprint; and evolving biomass conversion approaches to generate biofuels and bioproducts in an integrated carbon and energy recovery scheme.  

They have also worked extensively on the use of carbon dioxide as an innovative and green “trigger” for stimuli-responsive materials. In addition to being abundant, inexpensive, nontoxic and environmentally benign, it does not accumulate in a system upon repeated cycles. They have explored and invented innovative methods to use carbon dioxide-switchable technology to address practical problems, including recent work on developing carbon dioxide-switchable materials for water treatment technologies. 

For these and other projects, the successful integration and implementation of their research within existing Canadian infrastructure and industry remains a key challenges and can only be achieved through interdisciplinary research.  

“Our research thrives because all four of us realize that we are not as capable individually as we are as a team. For our society to move towards a sustainable future, we need to abandon traditional academic silos and tackle these problems together,” says Dr. Champagne. 

For more information on the award, visit the NSERC website

 

NSERC funding supports Indigenous educational outreach

NSERC PromoScience grant will support STEM professional development project for First Nations educators.

Melanie Howard and Denise Miller, grade 5/6 teacher from Emily C. General School in Six Nations
Through the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program at Queen's University, Melanie Howard and her team are building strong relationships with partner First Nations schools, including Emily C. General School in Six Nations, where Denise Miller teaches a Grade 5/6 class. (Supplied Photo) 

An award-winning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational outreach program at Queen’s has received $450,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience program to continue its work with Indigenous youth and their teachers.

Created as an effort to increase the number of qualified Indigenous engineers in Canada, Aboriginal Access to Engineering (AAE), based in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, has seen tremendous growth in terms of its educational outreach capacity and as a student success initiative. When the initiative launched in 2011, only four students pursuing Queen’s engineering degree programs self-identified as Indigenous. Seven years later, the 2018-19 academic year saw 48 Indigenous students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Nicole General (B.Ed 2016), AAE staff member
AAE staff member Nicole General (B.Ed 2016), works with a teacher at Emily C. General School in Six Nations. (Supplied photo)

“AAE was founded to promote and develop contributions by Indigenous Peoples to the engineering profession and to cultivate the input of professional engineers with Indigenous communities who are facing serious infrastructure and development issues,” says Kevin Deluzio, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “The work developing the on-campus student success program, and the educational outreach program, has seen Queen’s contribute significantly to the mandate established at the outset – to increase the number of qualified Indigenous engineers in Canada.”

For the past three years, AAE has built strong relationships with partner First Nations schools in the communities of Ahkwesahsne, Kahnawake, Kanehsatake, Kehnteke (Tyendinaga), and Ohsweken (Six Nations).  All full-time team members with the educational outreach program are qualified Indigenous teachers, and deliver STEM-enriched lessons to students attending partner schools.

Through the NSERC PromoScience program, partner school leaders and administrators identified the need for more direct professional development opportunities for their teaching staff, and worked with Melanie Howard, Director of Aboriginal Access to Engineering, to outline how best to address this need.

“It is very heartening to know that NSERC believes in what we are doing, and sees that we continue to evolve our educational STEM outreach model to respond to community-identified priorities,” Howard says. “This latest round of support will bolster our teaching team and provide meaningful and ongoing professional development to teachers of Indigenous youth, with AAE staff working in a coaching role to improve teaching and learning in STEM for First Nation schools.” 

NSERC's PromoScience program offers financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering (including mathematics and technology).

“Aboriginal Access to Engineering contributes significantly to the relationships Queen’s University has with neighbouring First Nation communities,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal Indigenous Initiatives. “I applaud the decision by NSERC to support AAE in continuing their important community-based educational outreach work.”

For more information on the PromoScience program, visit the NSERC website.

Mapping the connection gaps

[Team K-Connect]
A team of Queen's students – Xavier McMaster-Hubner (Computer Science), Sam Alton (ECEi), Erik Koning (ECE), Raed Fayad (ECEi), and Nathaniel Pauzé (ECE) – recently earned a top prize at the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge in Kingston.

Weak or unreliable wireless data connectivity is an ongoing frustration for consumers and businesses in Eastern Ontario. Imagine yourself committing to a multi-year wireless service contract only to discover that coverage is unreliable at home or at work, the areas where you spend most of your time. Regulators also need to know for sure where service gaps most need to be filled so they can prioritize new locations for cell tower permits.

A team of Queen’s students has come up with a novel way for consumers and regulators to more easily understand where there are gaps in wireless connectivity.  

Raed Fayad (Electrical and Computer Engineering – Innovation Stream), Sam Alton (Electrical and Computer Engineering – Innovation Stream), Nathaniel Pauzé (Electrical and Computer Engineering), and Xavier McMaster-Hubner (Computer Science) developed a proof-of-concept system to measure varying cellular data signal strength across Kingston and to display those data on a visual heat map. Users would be able to view the heat map online to see how reliable their cellular signal would be depending on where they are in the city.

The group came together as team K-Connect at the QHacks hackathon at Queen’s in early February.

“We used the Post-it note brainstorming method we learned in our APSC 200 Engineering Design and Practice course for our idea generation phase at QHacks,” says Pauzé. “One of our strongest ideas involved collecting Wi-Fi signal strength data inside the new Mitchell Hall building to find the best location to work on our project. We decided to scale-up our idea by collecting cell signal strength across campus. We moved forward with this project choice because we saw the usefulness of the data our product would collect.”

The idea earned the team one of two spots in the City of Kingston Mayor’s Innovation Challenge pitch competition a week later. They presented to a panel of municipal and academic leaders at Kingston City Hall, earning a top prize in that competition. (The other winner was Blackrose Technology led by Erik Koning (Electrical and Computer Engineering), who proposed using drones to monitor environmental threats or to help in search-and-rescue). Each team earned $4,000 in seed funding for their ventures and admission to the 2019 QICSI start-up accelerator program.

“Two members of our group are considering enrolling in the QICSI program,” says McMaster-Hubner. “We have options to further develop K-Connect, but our current situation for the summer makes it very difficult to try and prepare or do anything until we are back together as a group.”

This article was first published on the website of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

Celebrating 125 years of engineering excellence

  • he Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science honoured 125 alumni for their life and career achievements
    During the special event on March 29, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science honoured 125 alumni for their life and career achievements, highlighting the diverse ways that Queen’s engineers demonstrate leadership through contributions to society.
  • Queen's University celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
    Queen's celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science with a special event at the Four Points Sheraton. From left: Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Tom Harris; Chancellor Jim Leech; Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf; Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse; and Dean Kevin Deluzio.
  • Dean Kevin Deluzio and Nancy (Moffat) Scarth
    Dean Kevin Deluzio speaks with Nancy (Moffat) Scarth (Sc'49), the first woman engineering graduate to complete all four years at Queen's.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University celebrated 125 years of engineering excellence on Friday, March 29, with a special event honouring 125 alumni for their life and career achievements.

The event, the first of its kind for engineering alumni, highlighted the diverse ways that Queen’s engineers demonstrate leadership through contributions to society.

“Last fall, we put out a call to ask who is engineering a better world,” Dean Kevin Deluzio (Sc’88) said at the event. “We were overwhelmed by the nominations. Tonight, we celebrate your success as engineers, scientists, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. And we take some pride in the role that Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science had in your formation.” 

Award recipients included Mac Evans (Sc’64, LLD’14 Law), the former president of the Canadian Space Agency, and Mary Ann Turcke (Sc’88, MBA’97), the COO of the National Football League. Veena Rawat (PhD’73), the first Canadian woman PhD student in electrical engineering, was recognized, as was Erum Afsar (Sc’95), named a Top 40 under 40 by Avenue magazine for her work leading transformative transportation projects and supporting artisans in India and Pakistan.

Jennifer Buechel (Sc’92, Artsci’97) was recognized for her work developing and launching novel drug therapies and the world’s first early detection blood test for cancer. Kevin Doucette (Sc’02) has combined his background in engineering and music composition to create an artificially intelligent musician, work that has attracted the computer science division at MIT.

Over 275 people attended the gala, which also included student leadership awards, as well as project displays and opportunities for students and alumni to connect. Award winners included six Order of Canada recipients and 15 Canadian Academy of Engineering Fellows. One award winner expressed that she was “so inspired by my fellow award recipients and gratified to see the tradition of excellence in engineering embodied in the talented students we chatted with over the course of the weekend.”

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has grown and changed significantly from its beginnings at Queen’s as the School of Mining and Agriculture in 1893. One of the top engineering schools in the country, the faculty offers 10 dynamic engineering programs, and recently introduced Ingenuity Labs, a new interdisciplinary engineering research initiative focused on the design and use of intelligent systems and robotic machines. Last year, over 6,300 students applied for 730 first-year positions.

The faculty also offers a number of outreach programs, such as the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program, which has engaged over 20,000 Indigenous youth, and the Tech ‘n Tinker trailer, a mobile makerspace that travels to schools and events in the region to provide experiential learning for elementary students.

During the event, Dean Deluzio noted that many alumni have said how much their time at Queen’s has shaped who they’ve become, both personally and professionally.

“Our program engenders teamwork and strong bonds among classmates,” he said. “Our network of Queen’s engineers supports students on campus, but also in life and work long after graduation. You are  exceptional role models for our next generations of leaders and groundbreakers, and we thank you for engineering a better world.”

 

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