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    Queen's plans PEC revitalization

    The university has begun the planning for the renovation of the former physical education centre, with the intention of repurposing it as a hub for student health and wellness, student innovation and student learning in the heart of campus. 

    [Physical Education Centre at night]
    The university plans to renovate the former physical education centre to provide a hub for student health and wellness, student innovation and student learning in the heart of campus. (Photo courtesy of Augusto Morales) 

    If the planning comes to fruition, the building will also become the home of a new, state-of-the-art facility for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, which will further enhance the faculty as one of the best in the country.

    “The redeveloped building will be an enhancement to both the quality of our student experience and the quality of our research and educational facilities,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. “When completed, it will be a prominent symbol of Queen’s commitments both to student life and learning and to advanced research.”

    The building, located at 67 Union St., was decommissioned in 2009. In 2012, the three gyms in the building were renovated and reopened to provide increased recreational opportunities for students, and centralized exam space. A recent structural assessment of the building by an external consultant found that it is in excellent shape and, if renovated, could provide a considerable amount of additional space – up to 160,000 square feet – at a relatively low cost per square foot, compared to a newly constructed building.

    “The building provides a wonderful opportunity to utilize and revitalize valuable space that is not currently being used,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Given the university’s current financial situation, strong support will be needed to fund the project, and we are hopeful that this use of existing space will allow us to realize our goals sooner than if we were to construct a new building.”

    More information about the project will be made available as plans progress.  


    Queen's, Lakehead sign mining engineering agreement

    The universities aim to expand educational opportunities for students in mining engineering.

    Opportunities in the field of mining engineering have taken a step forward for students at Lakehead University and Queen’s University with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the institutions.

    [Mining MOU Signing]
    Kimberly Woodhouse, Dean, Queen's Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and David Barnett, Dean, Lakehead Faculty of Engineering, sign the memorandum of understanding. They are flanked by Pete Hollings, Director, Lakehead Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration (far left), and Takis Katsabanis, Head, Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining, Queen's University. (Photo courtesty of Lakehead University) 

    “We are excited to collaborate with Lakehead to investigate new learning opportunities for our students,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Dean, Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “By working together to create new and innovative pathways to education in this field, we will increase our capacity to meet the growing demand for highly skilled workers in the mining industry, a key driver of economic development in Ontario.

    “The agreement will also help Queen’s students make valuable connections in the north and has the potential to open up further educational opportunities through the close relationships Lakehead has with colleges across Canada,” Dr. Woodhouse adds.

    Dr. Woodhouse and David Barnett, Dean, Lakehead Faculty of Engineering, signed the MOU at Lakehead University’s Thunder Bay campus on June 23. The two institutions have agreed to identify opportunities for Lakehead engineering students to complete Queen’s course work in mining engineering through online, distance learning and potential residency programs at Queen’s.

    “Lakehead University’s Faculty of Engineering is very pleased to be working with Queen’s University to develop new pathways for students interested in mining engineering,” Dr. Barnett says. “The online courses available through Queen’s will allow our students to gain mining-focused skills that complement their Lakehead engineering degree. This is a great opportunity for our engineering students that are interested in careers within the northwestern Ontario mining sector.”

    The Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining at Queen’s University is widely recognized as a leader in mining engineering education in Canada. The department is currently one of the largest mining schools in North America and the world. The department’s graduates are involved all facets of the Canadian mineral industry and also make vital contributions to major mining operations around the world.

    Design teams add to learning experience

    [QEVT Chris Woischwill]
    Chris Woischwill, a master’s student in mechanical engineering, says that he has gained valuable experience from being a member of the Queen’s Eco-Vehicle Team. (University Relations)

    Learning isn’t confined to the classroom at Queen’s University and for students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science one of the avenues to gain hands-on experience is through design teams.

    For Chris Woischwill, currently a master’s student in mechanical engineering, his participation in the Queen’s Eco-Vehicle Team has provided him not only a valuable learning experience but also a new calling for his area of study.

    The QEVT – which designs, manufactures and races prototype and concept vehicles in pursuit of attaining new heights in fuel efficiency – is a new team that has only been around for two years. From the start, the team set an ambitious goal of competing in the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition in Houston with a mere four months to create a vehicle from scratch.

    Their vehicle was able to pass all the technical inspections and successfully finish the marathon, recording a fuel efficiency of 180 miles per gallon – for comparison, the top hybrid vehicles on the road today top out around 50 miles per gallon.

    While the QEVT lagged well behind the leading teams from across North and South America, simply finishing the marathon, Mr. Woischwill explains, was a competitive result.

    “I think that was our biggest accomplishment,” he says. “We went down to Texas in our first year and we raced a car, we passed all the technical inspections. Only three quarters of the teams that arrive at competition are able to pass technical inspections, and even less are able to make it across the finish line. Managing to do both in our first year of competition is an enormous accomplishment.”

    The team returned to the event this year, held in Detroit, and passed the inspections but was unable to finish the street course. A positive, however, was that, after their own analysis, they nearly tripled their efficiency to 520 miles per gallon.

    It has been a great experience all around, Mr. Woischwill says, including what he has learned as the operations manager handling the organization of the team.

    “I’m so glad that I did a design team. I remember that in my first year I did a summer co-op and they said what set me apart from the other candidates was that I had more extra-curricular experience and that’s what they look at when hiring people,” he says. “So when I heard that, the next year I went and joined this team as it was starting up and really focused on this. Really, I think it’s true that employers look at design teams. I think that if the employer was looking at two people with identical resumes they would pick the one with design teams experience just because you really get the experience of team dynamics, such as meeting deadlines and collaborating with others.”

    When he started at Queen’s, Mr. Woischwill thought that renewable energies was the only engineering field that could lead to a greener tomorrow. However, after joining QEVT he gained a new passion for designing and constructing lightweight, eco-friendly vehicles.

    Currently he and academic supervisor Il-Yong Kim (Mechanical Engineering) are collaborating with General Motors to develop lighter trucks to improve fuel efficiency.

    That makes the QEVT a perfect fit for Mr. Woischwill.

    But for now his goal, and that of all the members of the QEVT, is to keep increasing the fuel efficiency of their vehicle and keep improving.

    “We really hope that we can be a top team in the next three or four years,” he says. “We know that is aggressive but we were aggressive when we said we wanted to get to competition the first year so maybe we’ll keep building on that momentum.”

    There are a number of design teams organized by the Engineering Society of Queen’s University that focus on all aspects of engineering and provide a wide range of jobs for a variety of levels of commitment: Aero Design Team (QADT); Baja SAE Design Team; Concrete Canoe Team; Concrete Toboggan; Queen’s Eco-Vehicle Team (QEVT); Environmental Sustainability Team (QUEST); Formula SAE Team; Fuel Cell Team (QFCT); Genetically Engineered Machine (QGEM); Mostly Autonomous Sailboat Team (MAST); Bridge Building Team (QBBT); Solar Design Team (QSDT); and Space Engineering Team (QSET).

    Queen’s awarded $14 million in research funding

    A majority of the 79 NSERC grants span five years, facilitating more in-depth inquiries by Queen’s researchers.

    Queen’s University researchers recently received more than $14 million in funding through a number of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) programs.

    The funding for various individual and group projects and infrastructure will serve to advance research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A majority of the grants span five years, giving researchers flexibility to explore different avenues of research.

    “Funding from NSERC and other partners is extremely important to our researchers and to Queen’s, which prides itself on being a first-class research institution,” says Dr. Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The fact that so many of our faculty members, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from a wide range of faculties received these awards is a testament to the high quality of researchers we have on our campus.”

    Fifty-nine researchers received a total of $11.6 million in NSERC Discovery Grants. More notably, Mark Chen (Physics) was awarded $1. 25 million to help complete and commission the SNO+ laboratory in Sudbury, Ontario.

    Five Queen’s researchers earned Discovery Accelerator Supplements totaling $120,000 over three years. The list of recipients includes Juergen Dingel (School of Computing), Stephen Hughes (Physics), Scott Lamoureux (Geography), Steven Smith (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and William Andrew Take (Civil Engineering). They research an interesting range of topics including embedded software, permafrost, nanomachines and the impact of climate change on soil slopes.

    The NSERC announcement also includes funding for doctoral and post-doctoral students varying between two and three years. Fifteen students were awarded funding totalling $1.86 million in a wide range of disciplines including geography, biology, chemistry, computing, engineering and neuroscience.

    For more information visit the website.

    People of Queen’s: An electrifying career choice

    [POQ Janet Pollard]
    Janet Pollard, an electrical engineer at Queen’s, is also a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Her job includes both planning and maintaining the university’s electrical infrastructure. (University Communications)

    There’s more to Janet Pollard’s job than just keeping the lights on.

    As one of Queen’s electrical engineers, she has a hand in nearly all of Queen’s electrical infrastructure, from planning the power sourcing of a new building to the maintenance of emergency generators. Her role requires both an eye for detail and a sense of the big picture.

    “When we develop or review electrical specifications and drawings, it can be for a variety of things,” Ms. Pollard says. “It could be a small office renovation or it could be the construction of a whole new building. Queen’s is almost like a small town, so there’s always a lot to keep in mind and a lot to do.”

    Ms. Pollard came to her role in January 2006 following seven years spent in the automotive sector. After her time in an auto glass production plant, she felt ready for a change.

    “Supporting a manufacturing plant can be much more demanding on your personal life. Nights, weekends, and holidays are not always your own as you are often called in to resolve issues that are halting production. Although working at Queen’s also has its share of demands, there is more opportunity for a work-life balance. Of course, when the chips are down and power is off in a building, we’re here around the clock to fix it.”

    Coming to Queen’s was something of a homecoming for Ms. Pollard, who graduated from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science in 1998, but it didn’t take long before she was in the thick of things.

    “It’s been busy from pretty much day one,” she says. “There have been major construction projects since I got here: the Queen’s Centre, the Goodes Hall Extension, new Medical Building and the Isabel Bader Centre. That said, this summer is shaping up to be our busiest yet.” 

    Campus is receiving a wide range of much-needed electrical upgrades over the coming months, and Ms. Pollard is helping to oversee them. There’s work being done to prepare for the revitalization of Richardson Stadium, electrical equipment retrofits and fire alarm upgrades to some of campus’ older buildings and the replacement of the main electrical switchboard for the Queen’s Central Power Plant, to name just a few.

    “When we develop or review electrical specifications and drawings, it can be for a variety of things. It could be a small office renovation or it could be the construction of a whole new building. Queen’s is almost like a small town, so there’s always a lot to keep in mind and a lot to do.”

    - Janet Pollard, electrical engineer

    Though we use electricity constantly, we don’t often stop to think about the work or systems that keep it running, something Ms. Pollard says comes from design. Queen’s buildings are powered by “electrical feeders” that connect them to the power grid and most have redundancies, meaning power can be provided from multiple sources. Those redundancies help prevent prolonged power failures and allow isolation of feeders without building disruption.

    “We can move a building onto another feeder without anyone inside being disturbed or even knowing that we’ve made any change,” she says.

    Her job is mostly behind the scenes work, making everything run smoothly, and that suits Ms. Pollard just fine.

    “I do what I do to try to support others in their work,” she says. “It’s nice knowing that I help make campus systems more reliable so that students, faculty and staff can perform their jobs and studies — the things they came here to do — without being disrupted.” 

    Flags lowered for professors emeriti

    Flags on campus are lowered in memory of Brian B. Hope and Kenneth C. Wilson, professors emeriti in the Department of Civil Engineering.

    During his career, Dr. Hope conducted leading research into various aspects of concrete. He also built an outstanding reputation as a teacher, mentor and graduate student supervisor. He was one of the first recipients of the Golden Apple Award from Queen’s Engineering Society in 1971, and he received the outstanding teaching award again in 1992. He supervised 23 graduate students during his career, 11 of them on aspects of rebar corrosion.

    A celebration of life will be held in the James Reid Reception Centre (1900 John Counter Counter Blvd.) on Wednesday, June 24 from 5-7 pm. (Please enter from the rear parking lot).

    Important contributor to mining research

    Dr. Wilson earned his PhD from Queen’s in 1965. After working as a technical consultant for the federal government in Ottawa and the United Nations in Cyprus, Dr. Wilson returned to Queen’s in 1971 as a faculty member. His research focused on the transportation of liquid-solid mixes, known as slurries, which are important in mining and dredging. As a pioneer in the field, he often spoke at conferences, published numerous scholarly articles, and helped develop a seminal textbook on the topic.

    Dr. Wilson retired from Queen’s in 1999 but continued to consult, write and attend conferences. He published his last technical paper in 2014.

    A memorial gathering will be held at the Joyce Walley Room at the Museum of Vancouver on Saturday, July 11 at 1:30 pm.

    Engineering future success

    [Rube Goldberg Machine Contest]
    Monika Palinkas, Engineering Outreach Projects Coordinator, left and Scott Compeau, Outreach Coordinator for EngQonnect, hold up a Rube Goldberg machine that Ms. Palinkas built as an example for students who will compete in the upcoming Rube Goldberg Machince Design Contest at Queen's University. (University Communications)

    While most engineering design is aimed at making things simpler, a special event on Thursday is asking local elementary students to make a basic task more complex.

    It’s called a Rube Goldberg machine, named after the cartoonist and engineer best known for his cartoons depicting intricate gadgets that perform simple tasks in convoluted ways.

    The aim of the annual Rube Goldberg design contest, organized by EngQonnect, an outreach program for the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s, is to get local youth interested in design and possibly an education and career in engineering.

    This first pilot event has students designing and building Rube Goldberg machines that complete the task of turning on a musical device.

    The focus of the contest is to introduce young minds to the engineering design process, explains Scott Compeau, Outreach Coordinator.

    “That’s what we’re trying to reiterate with this contest. Engineering requires a lot more creativity and innovation, building a prototype, testing it and going through a design process,” he says. “It’s using a lot more of the problem-solving skills that are necessary to become an engineer.”

    Some students may be deterred from engineering as they believe it only requires strong abilities in math and science, but it’s more than that, Mr. Compeau says.  Providing an accurate representation of the engineering profession is the goal of the outreach program along with connecting with the community.

    “I think that there are a lot of components to engineering that are not necessarily known – creativity, innovation, problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills,” he says. “All of these are essential engineering skills that sometimes get overlooked, but, within the profession, are extremely important.”

    Ahead of the event, Mr. Compeau and Monika Palinkas, Engineering Outreach Projects Coordinator and an engineering student herself, have been visiting local schools to spread the word about the contest and get students thinking about a future in engineering.

    They want them to know that while engineering is definitely challenging, it can also be a lot of fun.

    “The Rube Goldberg contest is a great introduction to the engineering design process because it’s practically impossible to make a machine that’s going to work the first time,” says Ms. Palinkas. “I made one myself and it took me a few days to complete. It’s all about building one step and asking yourself why it’s not working? You figure out the problem and you solve it. There are all these mini-engineering challenges within the whole design process which is why it works so well for exposing engineering to kids.”

    Grade 8 students from Calvin Park Public School have been building their machines throughout the week and will be displaying their machines for judging on Thursday, June 11 from 12:30- 1:30 pm in Room 313 within Beamish-Munro Hall.  The Rube Goldberg machines will be open to the public during the final celebration between  6-7:30 pm where all attendees are welcome to actively participate in the event by voting for the “people’s choice” award

    Further information can be found on the EngQonnect educational outreach program website or contact the team at eng.qonnect@queesu.ca.


    Current issue of For the Record

    For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, PhD examination and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

    The next issue of For the Record will be published Thursday, July 2. The deadline for submitting information is Tuesday, June 30. For the Record will be published on a monthly basis over the summer months and bi-weekly beginning in September.

    Submit For the Record information for posting to Communications Officer Wanda Praamsma


    Faculty of Health Sciences

    Richard Reznick — Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Director of the School of Medicine

    Richard Reznick has accepted reappointment as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and director of the School of Medicine for a five-year term effective July 1, 2015. The offer of reappointment from Principal Daniel Woolf was in response to the unanimous and enthusiastic recommendation of the Principal’s Advisory Committee, which was chaired by Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).

    Dr. Reznick joined Queen’s as dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in July 2010. Under his leadership, the Faculty of Health Sciences has developed a considerably broader profile in the health sciences community and has built strong relationships with all three Kingston hospitals. Dr. Reznick has also fostered a strong connection with students in the faculty.

    Dr. Reznick completed his medical degree at McGill University and later graduated from the general-surgery training program at the University of Toronto. He completed a Master of Education degree at Southern Illinois University and then did a fellowship in colorectal surgery at the University of Texas in Houston.

    Immediately prior to joining Queen’s, Dr. Reznick was the R.S. McLaughlin Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and Vice-President, Education, at the University Health Network. He is considered one of the pre-eminent surgical educators in North America and abroad. An accomplished general and colorectal surgeon, his principal academic focus is research in medical education.

    As dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Reznick serves as the chief executive officer of the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Association (SEAMO).  He is also currently a member of the Boards of Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital and Providence Care.

    Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof — Sally Smith Chair in Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences

    Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison is pleased to announce the appointment of Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof as the inaugural Sally Smith Chair in Nursing for the Faculty of Health Sciences. This appointment is for a five-year period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020.

    After graduating in 1981 from St. Lawrence College with her diploma in nursing, Dr. VanDenKerkhof pursued her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Ottawa, graduating in 1986. Shortly afterwards, Dr. VanDenKerkhof completed her diploma in international development, also at the University of Ottawa. She returned to Kingston to complete her Master of Science with the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Queen’s University, graduating in 1991. Dr. VanDenKerkhof completed her final degree, a Doctor of Public Health from the Department of Population Dynamics at Johns Hopkins University, in 1998.

    She returned to Queen’s University in 2000 as an assistant professor with the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and as the Research Director for the Queen’s University Anesthesiology Informatics Laboratory at Kingston General Hospital (KGH). In 2004, Dr. VanDenKerkhof accepted a joint appointment with the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and the School of Nursing. She was then promoted to the rank of associate professor in 2006, and further to the rank of professor in 2010. During her career at Queen’s, Dr. VanDenKerkhof has also held the position of research investigator for the Clinical Research Centre at KGH, senior scientist with the Practice and Research in Nursing Group at Queen’s University and adjunct scientist with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) Queen’s. From 2008 to 2013 she held a Mid-Career Investigator Award from the Ontario Women's Health Council and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health.

    Dr. VanDenKerkhof’s research interests have focused on acute and chronic pain and women’s health, and she has conducted research at both the population and individual levels in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Rwanda. In particular, she has concentrated her research on the development of chronic post-surgical pain and associated health-care utilization in women, as well as on predictors of chronic pain. Her work has been well funded by the CIHR, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, Pfizer Canada, and various Queen’s University funds.

    She is an active member of several professional associations, including the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, the Council of Ontario Universities, the Canadian Pain Society, the International Association for the Study of Pain, and the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research.

    At Queen’s, Dr. VanDenKerkhof has overseen the studies and work of more than 70 graduate students and residents. She also sits on the Queen’s University Research Strategic Plan Advisory Committee and the university’s Chronic Pain Network.

    Other appointments in the Faculty of Health Sciences:

    • Deborah Brown, Special Assistant to the Dean

    Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

    • Claire Davies, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (July 1, 2015)

    Successful Candidates

    Job Title: Web Developer (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Education Technology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences 
    Competition: 2015-099 
    Successful Candidate: Joshua Belanger

    Job Title: Financial Assistant (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Biomedical and Molecular Science 
    Competition: 2015-101 
    Successful Candidate: Loretta Kuruliak (Financial Services)

    Job Title: Development Coordinator, Faculty of Arts & Science (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Department of Development, Office of Advancement 
    Competition: 2015-054 
    Successful Candidate: John Kraemer

    Job Title: Marketing Coordinator (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Marketing 
    Competition: 2015-076 
    Successful Candidate: Radissen Ramoutar (Undergraduate Admission)

    Job Title: Ethics Compliance Officer (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: University Research Services 
    Competition: 2015-073 
    Successful Candidate: Anthony Wright

    Job Title: Director, Student Services Division 
    Department: Faculty of Arts and Science 
    Competition: 2015-021 
    Successful Candidate: Lois Fleming

    Job Title: Residence Life Program Assistant (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Housing and Auxillary Services 
    Competition: 2015-051 
    Successful Candidate: Mugaya Bagambiire

    Job Title: Communications Coordinator (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Queen's University Library 
    Competition: 2015-082 
    Successful Candidate: Jennifer Amos

    Job Title: Financial Assistant (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Faculty of Education 
    Competition: 2015-100 
    Successful Candidate: Clint Giroux

    Job Title: Chief Financial Administration Officer 
    Department: Faculty of Health Sciences 
    Competition: 2015-044 
    Successful Candidate: Denis Bourguignon

    Job Title: Admissions Representative (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Office of the University Registrar- Undergraduate Admission 
    Competition: 2015-067 
    Successful Candidate: Arthur Cooke

    Job Title: Admissions Representative (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Office of the University Registrar- Undergraduate Admission 
    Competition: 2015-067 
    Successful Candidate: Maura MacKenzie

    Job Title: Admissions Representative (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Office of the University Registrar- Undergraduate Admission 
    Competition: 2015-067 
    Successful Candidate: Michael Benincasa

    Job Title: Technical Support Assistant (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Faculty of Education 
    Competition: 2015-016 
    Successful Candidate: Holly Shepard

    Job Title: Assessment & Quality Assurance Coordinator (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Faculty of Engineering & Applied Sciences 
    Competition: 2015-052 
    Successful Candidate: James Kaupp

    Job Title: Internship Coordinator (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Career Services 
    Competition: 2015-077 
    Successful Candidate: Kristen Eppel (Continuing & Distance Studies)

    Job Title: Security Opperations Specialist (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Information Technology Services 
    Competition: 2015-027 
    Successful Candidate: Changuk Sohn (CIO Office)

    Job Title: Research Centre Coordinator 
    Department: School of Nursing 
    Competition: 2015-038 & 2015-R005 
    Successful Candidate: Genevieve Pare (Pathology & Molecular Medicine)

    Job Title: Senior Clinical Secretary 
    Department: Department of Medicine 
    Competition: 2015-R008 
    Successful Candidate: Michelle Wolfreys (School of Business)

    Job Title: Events Officer (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Alumni Relations & Annual Giving 
    Competition: 2015-036 
    Successful Candidate: Lenore Klein (ADV Development)

    Job Title: Relationship Manager (USW Local 2010) 
    Department: Queen's School of Business-Executive Education 
    Competition: 2015-018 
    Successful Candidate: Robin Bearse (EMBA Admin)



    The power of giving back

    [Praveen Jain]
    Praveen Jain is the Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics and Director of the Queen's Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePOWER). (University Communications)

    Praveen Jain’s success is due in no small part to the opportunities he has received throughout his education and research career.

    The Canada Research Chair in Power Electronics and Director of the Queen's Centre for Energy and Power Electronics Research (ePOWER) repeats time and again that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the work, support and generosity of others.

    And that is a big reason why he has donated all his patent royalties to Queen’s.

    It’s no small sum. Dr. Jain is responsible for more than 50 patents and has started up two companies through PARTEQ Innovations, whose role it is to commercialize intellectual property arising from university-generated research, such as Dr. Jain’s.

    One of his start-ups, CHiL Semiconductor, was sold in 2011 to a U.S. company for $75 million. Dr. Jain developed and patented the technology that formed the basis for CHiL’s success. All the funds he received from the patent royalties were directed back to the university.

    With his current start-up, SPARQ Systems, he intends to do the same.

    “It gives me great career satisfaction to be involved in a start-up company as a founder,” he says. “The research work that makes a start-up possible is done here at the university, so I feel it’s only right that the royalties that I receive as a result be directed back to the university, to be put to good use to allow students to develop their research knowledge, skills and experience.”

    It’s simple for Dr. Jain, as he feels that the best use of the funds is to direct it to education, where it will create opportunities for others to realize their potential.

    “I was welcomed in Canada and have benefitted from a number of opportunities. People in the past made contributions that provided me with valuable chances to learn and contribute,” he says. “I appreciate their generosity, and want to ‘pay it forward’ to support the next generation of researchers and inventors.”

    A key to Dr. Jain’s groundbreaking work – with the aim of creating new energy-efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly power electronic technologies – is trying different approaches.

    As he explains it, there are two key steps to innovation – identifying the problem that needs to be solved and understanding the solutions that are already out there.

    “Then the question to ask is: how can you create a different solution? So you start looking at things from a very different angle. When you do that, you may find two or three potential solutions,” says Dr. Jain. “Then your job is to evaluate the potential solutions and decide which one makes more sense.”

    Dr. Jain’s research these days is focused on increasing the efficiency of power conversion in electronics.

    The primary source of energy used in the world is electricity – in its many forms – from computers to jets, from cars to household appliances. However, different products use different forms of electricity.

    For example, the standard power frequency in North America is usually 50 Hertz, but a plane that lands at Pearson Airport may use 400 Hz power, so power frequency conversion is needed for the ground power unit used to power the plane while it is at the gate. And when any power unit receives one type of electricity and converts it into another form, a lot of power is wasted.

    Even a slight reduction in electrical energy lost in conversion could have a massive result.

    “Almost two-thirds of electricity throughout the world is processed through electronic devices,” Dr. Jain says. “So if you can improve the efficiency even by 1 per cent you can imagine the impact – you can save an enormous amount of energy.”

    At ePOWER, Dr. Jain and his team of researchers are working to make this a reality. However, it’s far from a simple task, as many of the electronics, Dr. Jain points out, are used in consumer goods. As a result there is a need to make them cost-effective as well.

    “So to meet the needs of industry and people who buy its products, at ePOWER we have to do this conversion in the most efficient manner and at the lowest possible cost, ensuring as small a device size and as low a device weight as possible,” he says. “Successfully balancing all these considerations creates technologies that meet the needs of companies and consumers.”

    Reverse engineering nature

    Researchers in a new Queen’s-based lab are studying how animals move through water and air in the hopes of improving hydro- and aerodynamic design of industrial technologies, such as wind turbines.

    Purple dye shows the flow generated by the model being towed through OTTER.

    The Optical Towing Tank for Energetics Research (OTTER) will be used to perform high-speed laser measurements of the flow around moving objects. These measurements can have industry applications in areas such as aerospace, defence and renewable technologies. No real animals are studied in the tank, but abstractions of them are created, such as a simplified wing geometry, to determine how animals who are natural swimmers and flyers move.

    “The OTTER Lab will be used for a large range of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics research and helps put Queen’s ahead in terms of the development of future technology surrounding defence, alternative energy and aerospace systems,” says David Rival, OTTER lab supervisor and a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. “Since natural systems have evolved much more elegant ways to deal with unsteady flows, much effort goes into reverse engineering nature.”

    In particular, researchers at the OTTER Lab have taken an interest in wind-energy modeling, and the optical towing tank will be a key tool in improving the efficiency of wind turbines in gusty environments. In such cases, scaled turbine models are towed through the water-filled tank and the high-speed laser is used to visualize the flow field with micron-sized seeding particles.

    OTTER helps researchers study how natural swimmers and flyers move through air and water.

    The OTTER is a glass tank holding approximately 15 tonnes of water. As models are towed through, their wakes are examined optically with four high-speed cameras. In this way, performance in terms of propulsive efficiency and maneuverability can be studied, providing insight into the form of natural swimmers and flyers found, such as birds and fish.

    “Unlike common wind tunnels used for aerodynamics research, the new optical towing tank at Queen’s has a sealed roof, allowing for high-speed maneuvers of fully-submersed models,” says Dr. Rival.. “Thanks to this, we’re able to measure details of the model wake and explain how shape and movement relate to performance, thus providing information for further design optimization.”


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