New partnership establishes a Canadian teaching city for engineering students

Optimizing traffic flow between the City of Oshawa, at right, and Toronto, lower left, is one challenge that Master of Engineering students in the Cities Engineering and Management program at U of T will study in the newly established ‘teaching city.’ (Image: Google Maps)


Medical doctors learn in immersive teaching hospitals — and now U of T Engineering students will have their own immersive learning opportunities within a real-life teaching city. Later this year, the City of Oshawa will become Canada’s first-ever living laboratory for urban research, allowing students to probe complex municipal issues and test practical solutions for the future.The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering is teaming up with the Canadian Urban Institute, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Durham College and the City of Oshawa to realize this first-of-its-kind partnership. As a ‘teaching municipality,’ Oshawa will connect engineering students with city staff, testing new technologies and methods on the ground and in real time.

“This is a new era for engineering education,” says Professor Brent Sleep, chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. “With this innovative partnership, through internships and research opportunities U of T Engineering students, including students in the Master of Engineering in Cities Engineering and Management (MEngCEM) program, will study and resolve real-life problems in today’s urban setting.”

A memorandum of understanding between the partners was signed June 5, 2017 at the Arts Resource Centre in downtown Oshawa. The coalition continues to invite participation from a variety of industry partners, which will expand the potential application areas for innovations studied in the city, including market-focused solutions for commercialization.

Moving beyond textbooks and laboratories, this dynamic urban lab will bring students and researchers closer to emerging trends. Potential areas for exploration could extend from current U of T studies in intelligent transportation systems, sustainable urban infrastructure including air pollution and health, drinking water systems and building sciences. The partnership will also seek to deepen evidence-based policy development and research-driven innovations from U of T MEngCEM students.

“Access to real-time urban data and systems will provide significant insights and transformative opportunities to assess problems and identify scalable and sustainable solutions for tomorrow,” says Sleep. “Learning outside lecture halls encourages students to interact with a multitude of stakeholders, learning to support and interact with policymakers, residents and their future colleagues.”

As urbanization intensifies the pressure on cities — from increased demand on utilities, to greater need for emergency services and schools, to urgent need for traffic and transit upgrades — a new generation of highly trained engineering talent will guide and manage new technologies, policies and practices to meet the needs of citizens across Canada and around the globe. The first student cohort will begin studying this experiential teaching municipality in 2018.

Students win grand prize in the 2017 U.S. Department of Energy’s Race to Zero design competition

Besting over 50 submissions from four countries in this eight-month competition the team’s design focuses on building sciences, green energy initiatives and sustainable city development

 

Creating homes in the forgotten Toronto back laneways, LaneZero’s design offers stylish living driven by sustainable development.

Downtown location with loft-style, open-concept living featuring bright kitchen, second-floor balcony and free utilities for life.

This net-zero listing is a surprising addition to the laneway garages and often underutilized buildings dotting Toronto back alleys but for a city facing a housing crunch this design contest winner might be the sustainable solution needed.

Recently Jason Gray, CivE MASc student and U of T alum Kevin Wu Almanzar (CivE 1T6) teamed up with students from Ryerson to take home the grand prize in the 2017 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Race to Zero competition. Tackling green energy problems and ubiquitous building sciences challenges, the team addressed some uniquely Toronto problems plaguing our city with their market-ready design concept entitled, LaneZero.

“This is a product can be used by property owners today – a great living space with affordable construction,” said Gray. “We wanted to offer current Toronto residents a ready-to-use product for a home both exciting to live in and one that makes great financial sense.”

Focusing on existing neighbourhood infrastructure, LaneZero creates new single-family dwellings in currently landlocked communities. Using the laneways of Christie Pits as inspiration, the team set out to identify a net-zero energy solution for the neighbourhood.

Prospective sites are small and forced the team to revaluate traditional green building solutions. In typical low-energy homes, the outside walls can be very thick, sometimes up to three times larger than conventional building walls. The LaneZero design balanced the home’s footprint with wall thickness for optimal living through energy modelling and parametric analysis.

“Our design serves to activate the laneways of Toronto and foster a community in spaces historically underused,” said Gray. “The laneway concept gives home owners the opportunity to build income properties on their existing lots and provides housing alternatives in the Toronto market. For those that don’t want to go the condo route – this is a great housing option.”

The iterative design process allowed comparisons and quick changes maximizing the team’s effort to obtain their final net-zero energy target.  Using modelling software to determine an optimal design, the team considered the quantity of daylight penetration year-round, environmental impact and overall building costs.

Gray and Almanzar spearheaded the envelope system design to minimize heat loss, protect the structure from damage, and help ensure year-round comfort. They worked alongside the architecture, mechanical, and indoor environmental quality teams to ensure comprehensive and fully integrated systems.

LaneZero’s winning architectural rendering of their market-ready Toronto laneway design.

One creative and interesting consideration the team addressed was the limited roof space on laneway homes for solar panels. They employed passive solar and mechanical design concepts to take advantage of free energy and technological enhancements.

“For example, LaneZero leveraged the low-angle sun in the winter time with large south facing windows to maximize free heat gains while offsetting the heating demand. Appropriate shading for the summertime limited the amount of direct solar radiation entering the building and lowered the cooling demand,” explained Jason. “On the mechanical side, using an innovative heat pump design, the heating, cooling, and domestic hot water were all provided in a highly energy efficient manner. Other methods, such as a large amount of insulation for the envelope assemblies, continuous thermal layers, and energy efficient appliance selection contributed to achieving the net-zero goal for the project.”

The design lauded for its architectural design, comprehensive building science analysis, and a unique vision for the future of sustainable cities won in the Attached Housing category and the grand prize across all categories. The team is looking for future expansions and investigating potential opportunities for project applications.

Rachel Wallace

U of T Engineering welcomes four global Pearson scholars

Originally posted on U of T News  |  May 30th, 2017 by Engineering Strategic Communications

 Deborah Emilia Solomon, second from left, is one of 37 top students from around the world receiving the inaugural Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, which covers tuition, books, incidental fees and residence costs for four years. She is joining Chemical Engineering in Fall 2017. (credit: Johnny Guatto).
Deborah Emilia Solomon, second from left, is one of 37 top students from around the world receiving the inaugural Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship, which covers tuition, books, incidental fees and residence costs for four years. She is joining Chemical Engineering in Fall 2017. (credit: Johnny Guatto)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Emilia Solomon (Year 1 ChemE) came home one day to the good news that she had received one of the inaugural Pearson scholarships, a new prestigious and competitive U of T award for undergraduate international students.

“I was overjoyed. I just started crying,” she said. “I was going through so many emotions at that moment because I struggled so much wondering where I would go next.”

This fall, Solomon, a student from India, will join three other recipients of the Lester B. Pearson International Scholarships in first year at U of T Engineering. Named after Canada’s 14th prime minister, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and U of T graduate Lester Bowles Pearson, the scholarship recognizes exceptional academic achievement, creativity, leadership potential and community involvement. It covers tuition, books, incidental fees and residence costs for four years.

U of T President Meric Gertler, members of the Pearson family, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr and consular officials welcomed four of the Pearson scholars in a special announcement Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at the Lester B. Pearson Garden for Peace and Understanding at Victoria University in the University of Toronto, where Pearson once served as Chancellor.

“In the decade or so leading to the Centennial of Canada’s Confederation, Lester Pearson raised this country’s profile in the international community. Now, as we mark Canada’s sesquicentennial, the scholarships that bear his name will heighten this university’s global reputation as a force for good in every field of human endeavour,” President Gertler said.

“In an increasingly polarized world, in which many countries are turning inward, Canada has renewed its commitment to openness and multilateralism in service of the common good – and Canada’s leading university is committed to doing the same,’ he said. “The Lester B. Pearson International Scholarships will stand as a testament to that commitment.”

John Hannah, a U of T alumnus and grandson of Lester Pearson, said the new Pearson scholars would bring unique perspectives to campus. “I share my grandfather’s conviction that education is a powerful instrument for generating peace and understanding in the world,” he said.

See the full list of 2017 Pearson scholars

Meet the four Pearson scholars joining the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering:

Deborah Emilia Solomon.Deborah Emilia Solomon

Home country: India
Joining: Chemical Engineering

“‘When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour,’ said Elon Musk and that, perhaps, has been a guiding factor of my life…By nature, I love to inquire and question the way things work, never compromising or settling for second best.”

 

Sheng Lee.Sheng Lee

Home country: Malaysia
Joining: Civil Engineering

“Having grown up in a tropical, multicultural, and colourful country – Malaysia – I have no wonder shaped a warm and outward-looking nature. And here I am, as a typical friendly Malaysian, eager to say hi to all of you!”

 

Chelsea John-Williams.Chelsea John-Williams

Home country: Trinidad and Tobago
Joining: General First Year

Chelsea is excited to immerse herself into university life and participate in the various programs and activities the university has to offer. She plans to leverage her degree to become an entrepreneur in her country.

 

Mubtaseem-Zaman.Mubtaseem Zaman

Home country: Bangladesh
Joining: Engineering Science

Mubtaseem loves contemplating complex physics questions, such as the existence of parallel universes, tinkering with robots, or appreciating poetry. He is a huge basketball fan and tries to bring joy to all he does and remain young at heart!

 

With files from Geoffrey Vendeville

Hart Teaching Innovation Professorships: Six innovative ways U of T Engineering enriches the student experience

Originally posted of U of T News  |  May 30th, 2017 by Tyler Irving and Kevin Soobrian

Meet U of T Engineering’s six inaugural Hart Teaching Innovation Professors

Six U of T Engineering faculty members have been named the inaugural Hart Teaching Innovation Professors. Enabled by a landmark $20 million bequest from the estate of alumnus Erwin Edward Hart (CivE 4T0), the professorships support innovation in engineering education, from technology enhanced active learning (TEAL) to Indigenous outreach.

“These professors are leaders in pedagogical practice and are driving our Faculty’s innovation in engineering education,” said Cristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “Their creativity and dedication enrich the student experience and inspire the global engineering leaders of tomorrow.”

The new professorships complement the Percy Edward Hart and Erwin Edward Hart Professorships for early-career researchers, announced last fall. They are part of a rich suite of initiatives focused on enhancing engineering education across the Faculty and within the profession more broadly, including a recent workshop on educational technology and state-of-the-art learning facilities housed within the forthcoming Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Next month, U of T Engineering will host the annual conference of the Canadian Engineering Education Association, which brings together thought leaders in the field from across Canada and beyond.

The six Hart Teaching Innovation Professors are:

bryan karney

Bryan Karney (Photo: Mark Balson)

Bryan Karney (CivE) — From mathematics to infrastructure

Karney serves as Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs. In 2009 he received U of T’s Northrop Frye Award for Excellence in Combined Teaching and Research, and in 2008 was among the Top 10 finalists in Television Ontario’s (TVO) Best Lecturer Competition.

The new Hart Teaching Innovation Professorship will accelerate Karney’s work in four areas:

  • Ongoing research into how to motivate, teach and evaluate courses related to engineering mathematics
  • The development of a cross-disciplinary minor in Engineering Infrastructure — including roads, power systems, communication networks, water and food delivery systems — that are the basis of modern cities
  • The creation of a guide for instructors on the essential engineering attributes mandated by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB)
  • The development of teaching strategies for technology enhanced active learning (TEAL) classrooms

micah stickel

Micah Stickel (Photo: Wayne McPhail)

 

Micah Stickel (First Year Office, ECE) — Active teaching

Stickel is the Chair, First Year Engineering and in 2014 was named one of the Top 20 under 40 by the American Society for Engineering Education. He is engaged in scholarly work to quantify the impact of new technologies in teaching, as well as active teaching modalities.

In contrast to a traditional lecture format, active teaching emphasizes collaborative work between students and faculty members, who act as facilitators. One example is the “flipped” or “inverted” classroom, where students are presented with new information ahead of class via online lectures or texts. Class time, instead, allows students to work together on problem sets or group projects related to the course material.

Research questions Stickel hopes to address include:

  • How can active teaching techniques be used most effectively to help first-year engineering students develop engineering problem-solving competencies?
  • What are the primary factors inhibiting engineering faculty members from using active teaching approaches, and how can a community of practice address these factors through training, mentorship and modelling?

His findings will lead to practical interventions that can enhance teaching practice not only within the Faculty, but within the broader profession. 

graeme norval

Graeme Norval (Photo: Mark Balson)

Graeme Norval (ChemE) — Professionalism education

Graeme Norval is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry. He has undertaken significant work in redesigning first-year curriculum in his department, including the foundational course CHE113 Concepts in Chemical Engineering, and developed four safety training modules that educate students on the fundamentals of safety within their discipline. These are now being converted into e-learning modules.

Prior to joining the Faculty, Norval spent over a decade working in the chemical industry and developed a strong sense of the importance of professionalism — a graduate attribute of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board reflecting the social responsibility of the engineer. Norval takes a broad approach to the subject that goes beyond interpersonal relations to include compliance with industry standards, safety regulations and best practices.

The Hart Teaching Innovation Professorship will enable Norval to develop a suite of e-learning products to enhance student learning in Professionalism at the undergraduate and graduate levels in Engineering. These will be developed in partnership with the Public Sector Health & Safety Association and the Conference Board of Canada. Topics include:

  • Health and Safety
  • Accessibility (including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, AODA)
  • Mental health
  • Sexual violence prevention

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown (ECE) — Active-learning in dynamic environments

Stephen Brown is a Professor with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and also serves as the Director of University Relations for Intel FPGAs. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers and co-authored three textbooks.

Brown is identifying opportunities to leverage modern technologies, such as networks and smartphones, to create active-learning environments for two new courses on machine learning and embedded systems. Examples of how these technologies can be applied include:

  • Active use of live feedback through networks and smartphones to allow students actively participate in lectures
  • Embedded hardware at the lecture podium, including the use of video projection, to allow students to observe computer hardware operations during lectures
  • Digitally combined lecture materials and live demos in a format that students can view from anywhere

Scott Ramsay

Scott Ramsay (Photo: Roberta Baker)

Scott Ramsay (MSE) — Advanced video for advanced education

Throughout his career at U of T, Scott Ramsay has been at the forefront of first-year teaching as an Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. For his consistent innovation in pedagogy, Ramsay has received the Faculty’s Early Career Teaching Award and a Wighton Fellowship from the Sandford Fleming Foundation.

Ramsay will continue to enhance undergraduate engineering courses by employing video in innovative ways. Using high-resolution video, multiple camera angles, careful movements, high-quality audio and judicious editing in post-production, Ramsay will explore several research questions that include:

  • Does a preference exist amongst undergraduate students for multi-camera lecture recordings versus single-camera recordings?
  • Is student perception of subject matter improved by having access to multi-camera lecture recordings?
  • Does a particular subset of students benefit most strongly from access to multi-camera lecture recordings?
  • Does the use of high production value video in an online course improve student performance?
  • Does the use of high production value video in a not-for-credit online course (ex. MOOC) improve student retention and completion rates for students with the intention to complete the course?

Jason Bazylak

Jason Bazylak (Photo: Dani Couture)

Jason Bazylak (MIE) — Indigenous Engineering: Closing the Gap

Bazylak is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and has long conducted action-based research into engineering education practices, including education technology and obstacles to diversity in the profession. He is also the Dean’s Advisor on Indigenous Initiatives and co-chair of the Eagles’ Longhouse: Engineering Indigenous Initiatives Steering Committee. The committee is designing the Faculty’s Blueprint for Action which will address the recommendations of Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, the University of Toronto’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada.

Both the TRC and Engineers Canada have shone light on the under-representation of Indigenous people in engineering post-secondary education and by extension the profession. With his new Hart Teaching Innovation Professorship, Bazylak will be working to better understand the obstacles facing Indigenous students when it comes to enrolling in and graduating from the Faculty’s programs. He will take a participatory action research approach, working closely with a wide range of Indigenous Nations and Communities to survey and interview of both indigenous and non-indigenous secondary students. His ultimate goal is to design interventions to eliminate or reduce the barriers to accessing engineering education currently facing Indigenous students. He also plans to promote greater awareness of Indigenous culture in the FASE and the profession by integrating Indigenous content into the curriculum starting with Engineering Strategies and Practice, a first-year design course.

Preparing the next generation of engineering leaders to grow Africa’s megacities sustainably

Posted originally on U of T News | May 30th, 2017 by Tyler Irving

Left to right: Rahim Rezaie (U of T Engineering), Erastus M. Mwanaumo (Assistant Dean, School of Engineering, University of Zambia) and Professor Murray Metcalfe (U of T Engineering) at the University of Zambia. A partnership between U of T Engineering and various institutions in Africa aims to prepare the engineering leaders who will build the world’s fastest-growing cities.

Today, seven of the world’s 100 largest cities are in Africa. But by 2050, population models predict that this will rise to 21, and eventually reach 40 by the end of the century. By then, Africa will be home to five of the world’s ten largest cities, each with more than 50 million residents. That’s why U of T Engineering postdoctoral researcher Nadine Ibrahim (CivE) is delivering lectures to students half a world away.

Educational tools such as massively open online courses (MOOCs) offer a way for Ibrahim and her colleagues to share their expertise in sustainable cities with the students who will lead African cities through the coming transformation.

“There is a lot of infrastructure to be built, and a lot of engineers will be required to build it,” says Professor Murray Metcalfe, who is Professor, Globalization at U of T Engineering and the project director. “That creates a tremendous opportunity for African leaders to drive development that happens in a way that is sustainable, both economically and environmentally.”

Earlier this month, Ibrahim and her colleagues used an online platform to deliver a course on sustainable cities to a group of students at the African Leadership University in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Instructors were spread across four locations — Toronto, Oshawa, Boston and Mauritius — and at one point the students had to deal with torrential rains that kept them confined to their dorms, but the pilot project was deemed a success.

The three-day course served as the first test of the team’s larger and more ambitious goal: to develop scalable online courses that will help prepare the next generation of engineering leaders building sustainable cities across the entire African continent.

Ibrahim is adapting material from a course she teaches to undergraduate and graduate students at U of T: CIV 577 Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities. “The course challenges students to design an urban area, such as the port lands of Toronto, through to the year 2050,” she says. “This year students selected eight cities, including Cape Town and Dar es Salaam. It was very successful, and allowed us to see that this would work with students around the world.”

The team has spent the last several months laying the groundwork for a strong network of local partners across the African continent. Last summer, Ibrahim and PhD candidates Kirstin Newfield (CivE) and Antoine Despres-Bedward (OISE) travelled to institutions in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. They also attended a conference organized by the African Virtual University, an online-only institution based in Dakar, Senegal and Nairobi, Kenya.

Left to right: Professor Jackoniah Odumbe (Centre for Online and Distance Learning), Antoine Despres-Bedward (OISE ), Kirstin Newfield (U of T Enginering), Nadine Ibrahim (U of T Engineering), Professor James Nyangaya (Mechanical Engineering), Professor David Otieno Koteng (Civil and Construction Engineering), Professor Ernest Odhiambo (Mechanical Engineering) at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

A few months later, Metcalfe and research associate Rahim Rezaie followed up with a trip to institutions in Zambia, South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia, and participated in the African Engineering Education Association Conference.“Everywhere we went, we looked at the student populations and the online capabilities,” says Ibrahim. “We tried to imagine what a virtual global classroom, and eventually a virtual lab, would look like. Everyone we talked to was excited about the project.”Among other collaborators on the project are Professor Brent Sleep (CivE), who is the principal investigator on a Connaught Global Challenge Award grant that will fund various aspects of the project, Professor Greg Evans (ChemE) and Professor Dan Hoornweg (UOIT and adjunct in CivE). The team has also received support from the Dean’s Strategic Fund and the U of T Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF).

Building on the success of the pilot course, the team is now working on the first two small private online courses (SPOCs) they plan to deliver starting in early 2018. Involving academics at African partner universities in co-developing the course content is central to the team’s approach. The courses will be a mix of live instruction, recorded lectures and assignments that can be completed online.

Metcalfe says that the rapid pace of growth in Africa offers a chance to leapfrog over some of the technologies that have hindered sustainability in the developed world. “The analogy everyone points to is cell phones,” says Metcalfe. “In India and Africa, they have skipped right over land lines and elaborate telecom switches to something with a smaller footprint. We think African cities can do something similar in urban infrastructure.”

But for Ibrahim, the most inspiring part has been the students. “Whatever the challenges, they make it work,” she says. “Their hunger for knowledge is very motivating.”