Rough waters turn to smooth sailing for student team
by Nancy Harper. This is an excerpt of an article originally published on the Faculty of Engineering news site.
The University of Waterloo Autonomous Sailboat Team (UWAST) may be new to robotic sailing, but like every hardworking engineering team with one eye on the horizon, its goal is to win, not just compete.
That mindset served UWAST well in June at the 2017 International Robotic Sailing Regatta in Annapolis, Maryland.
With five main challenges over five days, UWAST members proved they were up to the task of facing seasoned veterans. The team finished sixth overall — not bad for a university that had entered this kind of international competition just once before in 2006.
Team leads Richard Li and Seamus Johnston were joined by Lily Liu, Jessen Liang, Jonathan Parsons, Chris Carnduff, Trevor Van Leeuwen, Dominic Faryna and Julian Howarth, plus faculty advisor Professor Jan Huissoon.
Representing the full spectrum of engineering - from mechatronics and mechanical, to electrical and chemical – members are optimistic they set the stage in Annapolis for future success.
The University of British Columbia “is a good team to look up to, and it’s pretty cool to see what Queen’s is doing,” Li said. “We don’t have a big body of water nearby, but it’s nice that Waterloo is competing. It’s a bit niche. Autonomous is all the rage these days and this combines the oldest method of transportation in the world with modern technologies.”
As Li explained, autonomous sailboats may never be used to transport goods across oceans, but there are already plenty of practical applications in play, such as collecting data — on currents, water temperature, fish counts — in the open ocean.
Getting their sea legs in Annapolis was a great opportunity for Waterloo students to create something innovative while working out complex scientific problems involving electronics, robotics systems and mechanical design.
UWAST’s 1.2-metre mono-hull — appropriately named after rapper Lil Yachty — is built of fibreglass, powered by sails and driven by the ingenuity of a software team that developed the boat’s brains, including algorithms for navigation.
Waterloo’s Co-operative Education welcomes Indonesian delegates
By Naz Kittani
Earlier in July, Co-operative Education and Career Action (CECA) hosted a five-day tour for 10 Indonesian delegates. The goal of this tour was to learn more about co-operative education in support of the Risk Management, Economic Sustainability and Actuarial Science Development in Indonesia (READI) project. Amongst the events the delegates attended was an Actuarial Science Employer/Student Panel at the Tatham Centre. The delegates, who were from Indonesian insurance companies and universities, learned about students’ and employers’ experiences with co-op first-hand.
Malaysian Waterloo Actuarial Science co-op students Navin Vigneswaren and Nicholas Tan represented students on the panel and their employers, Actuaries Geoff Williams from Manulife Financial and Dan Barry from Sun Life Financial, discussed co-op from the employer perspective. The panel covered a variety of topics, including how the co-op system works and the benefits both employers and students gain from the program, and also answered questions from the delegates.
“The co-op program is a recruiting tool more than a work force tool,” explains Williams. “Co-op is the best source for full-time hiring. It is an opportunity to get to know the students’ skills and capabilities to see if they meet full-time standards. Up to 25% of all [Manulife] co-ops get offers for full-time employment once they graduate.”
Launching READI in 2015, Waterloo took a major step in representing Canada as co-operative education leaders for the international community. The project was created by Waterloo to introduce co-operative education to Indonesian institutions.
To find out more about READI, you can visit the project’s website for information on partnerships, news updates, and upcoming events.
Executive Director appointed to Waterloo Institute for NanotechnologyA message from Charmaine B. Dean, Vice-President, University Research.
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Sushanta K. Mitra as Executive Director, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, beginning August 1, 2017.
Dr. Mitra received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and his MSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria. He is currently Associate Vice-President Research at York University and the Kaneff Professor in Micro & Nanotechnology for Social Innovation. His research interests are in the fundamental understanding of fluid transport in micro and nano-scale confinements with applications in energy, water, and bio-systems. He was Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York, and one of the founding members of the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence, where he was appointed Associate Scientific Director and theme lead for Integrated Water Management.
Before joining York, Sushanta was the Assistant Vice-President (Research) and Professor at the University of Alberta. He led a number of pan-Canadian and global initiatives such as the Bioconversion of Coal within the Nano-Bio-Energy Network and the Global Integrated Water Management Network. He is actively involved in a number of professional societies including as current President of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering, past Chair of the Technical Committee for American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Member of the Committee on International Scientific Affairs in American Physical Society. For his contributions in science and engineering, he has been elected the Fellow of ASME, CSME, the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He is a registered Professional Engineer of Ontario and recipient of the 2015 Engineering Excellence Medal from Professional Engineers Ontario and Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.
Professor Mitra looks forward to working with members of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology with a goal of propelling WIN to the next level of excellence.
Please join me in welcoming Sushanta Mitra to Waterloo.
Charmaine B. Dean
Vice-President, University Research