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    Engineering and Applied Science

    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.

    PhD student focused on making a difference in mining sector

    [Anne Johnson]Anne Johnson 
    By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer
    Anne Johnson didn’t give a thought to engineering when she was considering her post-secondary education options in the 1970s. Her father was a civil engineer, but she found art history was a better fit for her interests.
    Now, with four Queen’s degrees to her credit, Ms. Johnson is studying for her PhD and co-ordinating a certificate program in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. Her doctoral research explores ways the mining industry can build mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
    “My interests were not on the agenda in the 1970s,” she says. “After the Constitution Act of 1982, though, there has been so much jurisprudence that has changed the relationship between industry, government, First Nations and stakeholders from other areas. Mining is such an interesting way to pull all of these things together, and I hope to do something important.”
    Pursuing that passion seemed out of the question for Ms. Johnson, whose journey along the path of lifelong learning led her into art history, education and computing science. She approached Laeeque Daneshmend, the head of the mining department at the time, and he agreed to support her application.
    Ms. Johnson was originally admitted as a PhD candidate in the cultural studies program, but she felt her desire to solve problems made her a better fit for the mining department. She took mining courses and served as a teaching assistant for courses such as Open Pit Mining and Underground Mining. Her persistence eventually paid off as she was allowed to transfer to mining. 
    She argues in her thesis that mining engineers and professionals need to be open to worldviews held by Indigenous Peoples and other community stakeholders.
    “Intercultural competency is not an add-on or a soft skill. It’s a critical mining engineering skill because in order to create appropriate mine designs and make effective and appropriate operational decisions, you have to know the social context you are working in because mining is so close to people.”
    In addition to her research, Ms. Johnson co-ordinates the Graduate Certificate in Community Relations for the Extractive Industry. The program gives mining professionals the tools to engage stakeholders and assess the social impact of their company’s operations.
    “There are some people in mining companies who are working hard to make a difference. The other piece of the puzzle is working to change legislation so that companies don’t take a financial hit when they move the social agenda forward,” she says.
    Ms. Johnson considers Queen’s a special place having studied, taught and worked at the institution in various capacities for more than 30 years. Her husband did all three of his degrees at Queen’s and one of her daughters graduated from the institution. 
    “I think people who come here with an open mind of what they can learn can walk away on the cusp of fulfilling their dreams,” says Ms. Johnson. “I feel really privileged because I get to work with people who are excited about their research.”


    A need for speed

    By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

    The Queen’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (QFSAE) team hits the road starting this week to compete in three international events.

    [Queen's Formula SAE team]Members of the Queen's Formula Society of Automotive Engineers spent 15,000 man-hours creating their open wheeled race car.

    QFSAE has been building open wheel race cars – similar to the machines in Formula One racing – and testing them at international competitions for more than two decades. This year’s team of 30 people includes members from various faculties across campus.

    “Everyone, no matter their background, has something valuable to bring to the table and will almost certainly get something valuable out of this experience,” says Joseph Liu (Sci’15), General Manager of QFSAE. “Anyone who’s a Formula One enthusiast, car lover or intrigued by the project can join.”

    In April, the QFSAE team unveiled their 2014 race car – a product of 15,000 man-hours – at the Integrated Learning Centre in Beamish-Munro Hall. The team hopes that the new and improved aerodynamic package and undertray of the car will help them speed across finish lines in record time.

    “The new undertray we’ve installed acts like inverted wings to keep the car in good contact with the ground, especially helping with tight corners,” says Mr. Liu (Sci ’15). “The aerodynamic package as a whole would also allow us to drive the car at 100 km/h upside down, if we wanted to, but not that we should!”

    After being involved in the QFSAE team for the last three years, Mr. Liu’s favourite part is attending competitions and facing off against 80-120 international teams. In 2010, the QFSAE team placed first out of all Canadian teams at a competition in Michigan.

    “The teams that compete are top notch,” says Mr. Liu. “It would be fantastic to be in the top 15 this year.”

    This week’s competition lasts until May 17. The team will also be competing in Barrie, Ont., from May 22-25 and in Nebraska in June.

    To follow the progress of Queen’s Formula SAE, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, or check out their website.

    'Double-double' gift helps students in need

    By Nancy Dorrance, Senior Development Writer

    After graduating from Queen’s in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Elise Reel Idnani wanted to stay connected with her alma mater. She also wanted to help other students – particularly those with limited financial resources – advance in the profession she loves.

    [Donors Vikas Idnani and Elise Reel Idnani]Donors Elise Reel Idnani (Sc'07) and Vikas Idnani outside a Vale Canada Ltd. worksite.

    Setting up a student award with her husband, Vikas Idnani, proved the perfect solution to both wishes. The fact that Vale Canada Ltd., the Sudbury mining company where the Idnanis work, will match their contribution serves to double – or in their case, quadruple – their gift to Queen’s.

    Awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need and academic achievement, the new Idnani and Reel Award will be open to students from any year in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, with preference given to Aboriginal students.

    “Overall we wanted to help students in need,” says Ms. Reel Idnani, who chairs the Sudbury chapter of Professional Engineers of Ontario. “Since engineering has higher tuition than many other programs, we decided it would be a good focus.”

    Attending an Aboriginal symposium and feast while at Queen’s had a lasting impact on Ms. Idnani. That, plus the fact she and Mr. Idnani – who is a contract administrator at Vale – often work with Aboriginal Peoples convinced the couple to include this designation in their student award.

    When Mr. Idnani, who has a commerce degree from the University of Mumbai and a business diploma from Sudbury’s Cambrian College, heard about their company’s donor matching program, he decided to combine his giving with Ms. Idnani’s to maximize the benefits.

    “Once our Queen’s award is fully funded, we intend to do the same thing at other institutions,” he says.

    Gifts toward student assistance reduce the financial pressures that some students experience, and recognize their academic excellence and perseverance during their studies at Queen's.

    — Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs

    More than one-third of Queen’s undergraduate students currently receive financial assistance from the university through scholarships (merit-based), bursaries (need-based) or some combination of the two.

    “All donations for student financial aid are greatly appreciated,” says Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney. “Gifts toward student assistance reduce the financial pressures that some students experience, and recognize their academic excellence and perseverance during their studies at Queen's."

    In addition to their monetary value, awards can provide a “vote of confidence” in a student’s ability to succeed at Queen’s, Dean Tierney adds. “These awards express in concrete terms the university’s recognition of student achievement and the value of investing in the potential of our students.”

    In 2012-13, 35 per cent of the funding for Queen’s undergraduate student assistance – more than $7 million – came from donor-sponsored funds. The goal of Queen’s Initiative Campaign is to raise funds for all forms of student assistance for undergraduate, graduate and professional programs. To date, $50 million has been donated toward this purpose.

    The Initiative Campaign is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The goal is to raise half a billion dollars to ensure Queen’s future as a destination for exceptional people. The campaign will nurture a supportive campus community, enhance the student learning experience, and secure a global reputation in discovery and inquiry.


    For the love of science

    By Hollie Knapp-Fisher, Communications Intern

    In response to a sharp decline in the number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) five years ago, Associate Professor and Director of Queen’s Community Outreach Centre, Lynda Colgan brought Science Rendezvous to the Kingston community. This concept of a day-long celebration of STEM subjects, scientists and careers was the inspired by research chemist Dwayne Miller from the University of Toronto, and quickly became a national event.

    Lynda Colgan is organizing the fourth annual Science Rendezvous.

    “Through research we know that children engage with topics early on,” says Dr. Colgan. “The development of negative attitudes towards the sciences is well established by the eighth grade. These students have no idea what the sciences can do for them.”

    With over 60 stations, 250 volunteers and an anticipated audience of more than 2,500 visitors, Science Rendezvous, Kingston is expected to continue to be one of the largest events of this type in Canada. 

    “Informal education opportunities like these are crucial in exposing and stimulating children’s curiosity around the sciences.  Avenues such as museums, conservation areas and even the science channel are important ways for them to learn and discover,” Dr. Colgan adds.

    This free event is open to children and their families in hopes of changing the public’s attitude towards STEM subjects. Students will have the opportunity to interact with scientists while they perform experiments or experiment with new technology. Stations will include a Chemistry Magic, surgical simulations, demos by KPF Canine unit, off-road Baja vehicle races, endangered species, green roofs, laser light shows and much more.

    The Science Rendezvous is also beneficial to the STEM community. It allows researchers to engage with the public and share their work.

    This event takes place on May 3 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre from 10am to 3pm. For more information check out their website http://educ.queensu.ca/coc/science-rendezvous.

    Funding strengthens leading-edge research

    By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

    Four Queen’s researchers whose projects range from endometrial health to solar energy to animal biology have received over $500,000 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

    The fund helps institutions attract and retain Canada’s top researchers.

    Anne Croy.

    “The CFI, through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, has provided us with an excellent mechanism for attracting and retaining top-flight researchers,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. “As a result of this competition, four Queen’s researchers will receive the funding required to develop their innovative infrastructure to enrich the Queen’s research environment and advance leading-edge research.”

    The following researchers have received funding:

    Praveen Jain (Electrical and Computer Engineering), $400,000 – Dr. Jain’s research focuses on creating a smart microgrid, a green energy generating unit that is the future of the entire power grid network. The funding will allow Dr. Jain to build an experimental setup that accurately depicts smart microgrid dynamics, technical issues and behaviour.

    Anne Croy and Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), $100,000 – The goals of this research project are to improve the basic understanding of the dynamic biology of the reproductive-aged uterus and apply this information to the protection and health of women and their offspring. The funding will allow the researchers to develop a new core lab.

    Frances Bonier (Biology), $80,000 – With an eye on conservation, Dr. Bonier is working to understand the influence of environmental challenges on traits related to survival and reproduction in the songbird population. The funding will be used to purchase high-tech field, lab and computing equipment that will assist in her field studies.

    For more information visit the John R. Evans Leader Fund website.

    Event shines spotlight on Royal Society scholars

    The Royal Society Seminar is being held Saturday, April 12 at the University Club, 168 Stuart Street starting at 10 am.

    By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

    Four Queen’s professors recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) will soon have the chance to share their research with RSC fellows from across the country. Gauvin Bailey (Art History), Praveen Jain (Computer and Electrical Engineering), Carlos Prado (Philosophy) and David Lillicrap (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) were among seven Queen’s professors named fellows of the RSC last November.

    “The Royal Society of Canada is important to me as someone who has just moved back to Canada after living abroad for most of my adult life because it is a way for me to meet colleagues across Canada who are doing amazing things,” says Dr. Bailey. “My appointment as fellow also comes at an opportune time for my own research as I am turning my attention toward Canadian patrimony in a book I am writing on the art and architecture of the French Atlantic Empire--it will include a great deal of material about pre-Conquest Quebec and the French missions to the Great Lakes peoples.”

    (L to R) Dr. Graham Bell, President of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. David Lillicrap, Principal Daniel Woolf, Dr. Gauvin Bailey, Dr. Carlos Prado, and Dr. John Meisel, Past President of the RSC gathered in early February at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

    The topics for the day include:

    Dr. Bailey – The Art and Architecture of a Paper Empire: Utopianism and Intransigence in the French Atlantic World

    Dr. Jain – Power Electronics for a Sustainable Society

    Dr. Prado – Personalizing Religious Faith

    Dr. Lillicrap – Hemophilia: A Disease of Royals and Dogs.

    “For an academic to receive fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada is a heart-warming accolade and somehow always comes as a delightful, unexpected surprise,” says Pierre Du Prey, co-chair of the event and a professor in the Department of Art History.

    The Royal Society of Canada was established by an Act of Parliament in 1882 as Canada’s national academy. The organization helps promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment, and advises governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.

    The event, which is free and open to the public, is being held Saturday, April 12 at the University Club (168 Stuart St.) starting at 10 am.

    Queen’s is also scheduled to host the Royal Society of Canada’s annual general meeting in 2016.


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