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Engineering and Applied Science

Queen's extends training agreement with Chinese ministry

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Queen’s and the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) renewed their two-decade-long relationship this week with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the agreement, Queen’s will continue to provide training to Chinese officials and the MLR and its affiliates will continue to offer an internship program for Queen’s students.

“We are very grateful for this collaboration in land and resource management and we look forward to this fruitful partnership continuing for many more years,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “This collaboration has provided the opportunity for the MLR and Queen’s to share best practices, policies and processes.”

Queen's in the World

Each year Queen’s organizes a three-week training session for up to 50 MLR officials and mining professionals, aimed at exposing them to land and resource management practices in Canada. The program is jointly offered by the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering and the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. Several Ontario and Canadian government ministries also present to the participants.

“I believe that our partnership will bring about a better future for both countries,” says Zhang Zhi, Director General, Department of Personnel in the MLR. “We really appreciate the support and work…provided by Queen’s University over the years.”

China provides a very good laboratory for our students to see how what they learn here can be applied in another culture.

- Professor Emeritus Hok-Lin Leung

The partnership began in 1995 as an initiative of Hok-Lin Leung, professor emeritus and former director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning, and was formally established through the signing of the first MOU in 1999. The MOU allows two Queen’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning students to work within the MLR in China each year. The agreement also covers a three to six month internship program for a small group of MLR officials to gain experience within a relevant public or private organization in Canada.

“China provides a very good laboratory for our students to see how what they learn here can be applied in another culture,” says Professor Leung. “Invariably when they come back they all have changed their perception about what China really is.”

Queen’s has a number of active partnerships and recruitment activities in China, including the recently established Master of Finance program with Renmin University and a semester abroad program with Fudan University.

Surgical success story

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Once the stuff of science fiction movies, computer assisted surgery is now commonplace in operating theatres around the world. One of the leaders in the field, Queen’s University professor Randy Ellis was recently honoured with Maurice E. Müller Award, a lifetime achievement award from the International Society for Computer Assisted Orthopaedic Surgery.

For the past 19 years, Dr. Ellis (School of Computing, Surgery and Mechanical and Materials Engineering) has dedicated his career to computer assisted surgery and helping surgeons successfully complete difficult surgeries.

Randy Ellis demonstrates how computer assisted surgery works.

“Contributing to society is important,” says Dr. Ellis, who started his career in the field of robotics and now works out of the Queen’s Human Mobility Research Centre, “and this award is recognition from my peers for a successful career.”

In 1994, Dr. Ellis went to Italy to study surgery and a year later he joined forces with Queen’s professor John Rudan (Surgery) to develop software to perform the first computer assisted orthopedic surgery.

“Using computer assisted surgery, surgeons can accurately predict the result of the surgery. The technology also makes a difficult surgery possible, which increases the chances of a successful surgery,” he says.

Dr. Ellis is continuing his research into learning how joints move to create even more accurate computer programs for surgery. Currently, he is focusing on poorly healed fractures and early onset arthritis.

“I am revisiting how the human hip moves,” he explains. “I’m fascinated with the human hip because it’s vastly underappreciated. I want to maximize the potential of the hip and help people suffering from arthritis.”

For information about the award visit the website.

Solar house gets a new home

The experimental solar house, constructed by the Queen’s Solar Design Team, is moving this week to a new home on West Campus. Crews were on site Tuesday, at the corner of Union and Division streets, preparing the house to be lifted onto a flatbed trailer. The actual move to the West Campus parking lot near the water tower is expected to happen on Saturday, July 19. Once the house is moved, the parking lot at Union and Division will be graded and eventually paved to provide additional spaces for Queen’s parking permit holders.

Sea Cadet program sparks interest in engineering

Last year's Sea Cadets test a newspaper bridge they built during their Science WORKS! workshop at RMCC.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Thanks to a grant of $19,200 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Science WORKS! will be able to continue its program for Sea Cadets for the next three years.

Science WORKS!, a collaboration between Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC), was founded in 2012 by Dr. Jennifer Scott, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at RMCC. The program is designed to get youth involved with engineering.

“Giving the Sea Cadets the chance to get involved with engineering is a great way to spark what could potentially be a new career or study option for them,” says Maria Lahiffe, outreach co-ordinator of EngQonnect, an education outreach program in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science aimed at getting youth involved in engineering.  

The six-week program begins this week and over 600 12-17 year old Sea Cadets will be able to spend their Tuesday evenings learning about engineering. There is no cost for them to sign up.

“Demonstrations at ScienceWORKS! typically show research that is currently going on at RMCC. They really bring science to life for the students,” says Ms. Lahiffe. “We’re also including hands-on engineering design activities where students will be presented with a problem and have to generate ideas to create and test a solution.”

Dr. Scott, principal investigator for the collaboration, says that the team has been measuring the effectiveness of the program and have found Science WORKS! to be quite successful.

“Last year, we surveyed a subset of the 150 youth that we worked with and found a measurable increase in their understanding of what engineers do,” she says. “This year we plan to survey all Sea Cadets and I hope we’re able to continue this program for the coming years with even more success.”

Visit the NSERC website to learn more about the PromoScience grant.

Engineering lab a real blast

By Communications Staff

A new video (above) invites viewers inside the Alan Bauer Explosives Laboratory in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. Queen’s is the only university in Canada with a well-equipped explosives test facility, which is located 50 km north of Kingston on 400 acres of land.

The facility includes a bunker with an ultra-high-speed framing camera, digital oscilloscopes and data acquisition systems, a high-speed camera and two blasting chambers for the study of dust explosions and detonation products. The laboratory is named after Dr. Bauer, the former head of the Department of Mining Engineering, who developed the facility in the 1970s.

The student media team within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science filmed and edited the video. Visit the faculty's YouTube channel to view more videos on engineering and applied science laboratories.
 

Funding supports research and innovation

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Fifty-eight Queen’s researchers have been awarded a total of $11.7 million in research grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for 2014. The funding will help advance research projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Support from NSERC and other partners is vital to facilitating new discoveries and innovations at Queen’s,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “In a competitive funding environment, the fact that so many of our faculty members, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers have received these awards is a testament to the high quality of research happening on campus.”

Fifty-eight Queen's researchers have earned NSERC funding.

Receiving a sizeable portion of the funding is Mark Boulay (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) who is being granted $836,000 over two years for his dark matter search experiment located underground at the SNOLAB in Sudbury.

Along with the research funding announcements, Queen’s researchers Christopher Eckert (Biology), Noel James (Geological Sciences), Kurtis Kyser (Geological Sciences), Yan-Fei Liu (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Roel Vertegaal (School of Computing) were selected for a Discovery Accelerator Supplement designed to provide additional resources to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of superior research programs.

The supplements are valued at $120,000 over three years.

These grants are awarded to researchers whose projects explore high-risk, novel or potentially transformative lines of inquiry, and are likely to contribute to groundbreaking advances.

The final NSERC announcement is the Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral along with the Postdoctoral Fellowships. The Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provides support to a core of the most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers while the scholarships provide funding to the researchers of tomorrow. Twenty-three of these were awarded to Queen’s for projects in a variety of disciplines.

Visit the NSERC website for more information.

High demand for Queen's programs outpaces Ontario university trend

By Communications Staff,

The number of students choosing Queen’s University is outpacing the provincial trend, reflecting strong demand for Queen’s undergraduate education and quality programs.

According to data recently released by the Ontario University Application Centre, the number of confirmations—students who have accepted Queen’s offer of admission—is up 11 per cent for the 2014 academic year. That compares to an overall decline of 1.3 per cent across Ontario universities. Queen’s continues to have one of Canada’s highest entering averages at 88.4 per cent.

“Top students choose Queen’s not only because of its world-class academic programs, but also because we offer a welcoming community where faculty and staff do everything they can to ensure our students succeed,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “Thanks are due to our recruitment staff, faculty and alumni who talked to prospective students about our outstanding living and learning environment and the benefits of a Queen’s education.”

Queen’s is highly regarded for its student learning experience, performing very well in the National Survey of Student Engagement’s (NSSE) key benchmarks, including enriching educational experience and level of academic challenge. 86 per cent of senior-year Queen’s students surveyed by NSSE report their entire educational experience as “excellent” or “good”, which puts Queen’s among the top institutions in Ontario.

“Queen’s offers a unique value proposition to prospective students,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “We have all of the benefits of a mid-sized, residential university focused on an exceptional undergraduate education, within the context of a research-intensive institution where innovation happens on a daily basis.”

The growing interest in Queen’s extends beyond Canada’s borders, with international students expected to make up 6.3 per cent of the 2014 incoming class.

Science Rendezvous receives funding boost

Dr. Lynda Colgan.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

Lynda Colgan thinks about her grant money in terms of popsicle sticks, straws and other supplies for her experiments at Science Rendezvous.

That’s what her $20,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) PromoScience award went to fund this year and will fund at next year’s event.

“It’s a real privilege and honour to win the NSERC PromoScience grant,” says Dr. Colgan, Science Rendezvous’ lead organizer. “Receiving these funds is a wonderful way to know that we can continue to do new and innovative things at Science Rendezvous.”

Science Rendezvous 2014, held this past May, saw 3,700 children and their parents visit the Rogers K-Rock Centre where students from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Faculty of Education were hosting experiment stations to get children excited about science, technology and engineering.

Their station, the “Widget Workshop” –combined small mechanical devices created by engineering students with lesson plans created by education students – was the station that won Dr. Colgan’s team the grant money.

“Widgets are simple objects that illustrate or illuminate an important science, engineering or technology concept that children could build at Science Rendezvous and bring home with them to play and continue to experiment with,” says Dr. Colgan.

Teams of first-year engineers and teacher candidates developed these widgets and tested them with children at the Boys and Girls Club in Kingston. The widgets, such as hovercrafts made from balloons, CDs and plastic bottle tops, were then taken home by the children.

“The best part was seeing the kids explain to their parents what they had made,” says Dr. Colgan. “Having kids get excited talking about science is the best I could have hoped for.”

More information on the NSERC PromoScience program can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power walking

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Imagine having the ability to charge your cellphone while hiking in the far reaches of Ontario. Queen’s researcher Qingguo Li (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) and PhD student Michael Shepertycky have created a portable device that can be used anywhere and at any time to produce power on the go. 

Bill Ostrom, of Ostrom Outdoors in Thunder Bay, has created a new company around the device called Go Kin Packs.  Mr. Ostrom has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund further product development efforts to bring the device to market.

Michael Shepertycky demonstrates the Go Kin.

“I believe this technology provides a better way to power portable devices, which will create a social and environment impact,” says Dr. Li. “From the application point of view, I’m expecting the technology could quickly get to marketplace to provide portable power to those who need it.”

The device fits in the GO KIN backpack or fanny pack and two cords extend from the bottom of the pack and attach to the user’s ankles. The walking motion generates energy that is stored in the battery pack located in the backpack or fanny pack.

A brisk five-minute walk produces about 25 minutes of cellphone talk time. The Go Kin pack has two USB ports and can also power other electronic devices such as tablets and GPS devices. The device currently weighs just 2.6 pounds.  With additional product development effort, the device could weigh less than a pound.

Dr. Li believes recreation enthusiasts and the military will have a strong interest in the Go Kin packs. He adds the packs could be useful in areas where traditional power sources are unavailable, such as developing countries and areas affected by natural disasters.

Ramzi Asfour, Commercial Development Manager at PARTEQ Innovations, connected with Mr. Ostrom who agreed to license the technology from Queen’s and develop it into a commercial product.   

“Bill saw this as a unique opportunity and was enthusiastic about it right away,” says Mr. Asfour. “In discussing ways to fund the project, we suggested crowdfunding as an option. In addition to our logistical support, Bill has been working with the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre to get the campaign up and running.  His goal is $30,000 to help pay for further product development.” 

For information visit the Go Kin Kickstarter page.

Design team competes on 'Mars'

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

A group of Queen’s students got to experience Mars last week without leaving Earth.

After working for a year to build a functioning space rover, the Queen’s Space Engineering Team (QSET) flew to the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah, to pit their rover robot against opponents from around the globe.

QSET competed in four separate events against 22 teams during the University Rover Challenge. Facing stiff competition from veteran groups, the Queen’s team placed 13th.

“As a first year team we feel we did really well,” says Emily Wong (Sc’14), captain of QSET. “A lot of the teams have been improving their designs for many years, so we’re really happy about our results.”

The team faced challenges well before the competition started, as flight delays and overbookings left the students stranded in an airport and arriving to the competition just in time to compete. Their first task of traversing the desert terrain didn’t go as well as expected, but the team excelled in round two. An admitted mixture of skill and luck had their rover exceed expectations during a mock equipment servicing mission. They pushed their rover too hard in the third challenge, though, and repairs didn’t last for the final task of assisting a stranded astronaut.

Invigorated by the competition, the team is already making plans for next year. “There’s a lot of talk about going back,” says Ms. Wong. “You want something to build off of for your designs, so we have a lot of hope for progress.”

Adam Hall (Sc’14), Vice-President of Operations, QSET, appreciates the learning opportunity provided by the engineering team.

“Designing robots like we do is a great chance to supplement what’s taught in the classroom. You can follow the textbook word for word to build your power system, but it won’t teach you what brand of wiring to use, or what to do when something suddenly catches fire,” he says.

The student leaders were both happy and proud of their team, who spent the weekend running on a tight schedule with little sleep. “Everyone did great out there,” says Mr. Hall. “The team really came together out in the desert.”

QSET is partially funded by the Alma Mater Society and the Shell Experiential Learning Fund.

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