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Students showcase innovations at 10th annual Engineering Design Symposium

Author: Tim Jaques

Posted on Apr 16, 2024

Category: UNB Fredericton

Creativity took centre stage at the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) 10th annual Engineering Design Symposium, showcasing students' inventive approaches to tackling practical challenges.

The symposium was held April 4 at the Wu Convention Centre, with 181 students taking part in 46 projects.

During their final year, engineering students work in teams to develop capstone projects under the guidance of professors and industry mentors. At the symposium, they displayed their work and presented to judges.

“It is amazing. There is some incredibly innovative, outstanding work,” said dean of engineering Joshua Leon as he walked among the project displays.

“Capstone is the culmination of an engineering student’s education. They get to put all the things they learned over four years together in one project. Displaying it and communicating it is also a big part of doing the project,” he said.

“We could do this with just professors, but that wouldn’t really show us that they can communicate.”

Maggie Fuller is a chemical engineering student on a team that developed a means to reduce the carbon footprint of the lime kiln at the J.D. Irving, Limited, pulp and paper mill, the project’s client.

The team designed a fuel alternative by using lignin extracted from black liquor, a byproduct of the pulping process. This would significantly reduce carbon emissions and fuel purchases while maximizing recycling opportunities and aligning with the client’s sustainability and environmental objectives.

“We acquired important skills in teamwork, planning, process mapping, calculations, and various considerations in chemical process design, further fueling our passion for creating a greener future as chemical engineers,” she said.

Other team members were Nick Handrahan, Cloe Couturier-Murphy and Annie Leger.

Rick Wasson of Irving Pulp & Paper, said the company participates to support UNB and its students.

“We believe that this gives the students a richer experience and helps to develop them into better engineers,” he said.

“That being said, the students can evaluate different technologies for solving technical challenges and see their different solutions which is great.”

Civil engineering student Hannah Morrissey worked on a team that studied how an aboiteau affected spawning fish movement at a creek in Dorchester for their client, the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

An aboiteau is a gate in a dike that opens from the force of the river’s current when the tide goes out but shuts from the force of the incoming tide. This gate has openings that allow fish to pass through no matter the tide.

They determined that fish tended to go upstream mostly on the incoming tide, but that this would have been the case even without the aboiteau.

“It teaches communication,” said Morrissey of the project.

“If teamwork isn’t present, it’s very evident. It needs to be communicated, or it can turn into chaos,” she said.

Other team members were Shannon Butland, Michelle Buzas, and Brent Maclean.

Electrical engineering students Zoë Devries and Matthew Snell were two members of the Balloon to the Stratosphere project team.

Their goal was to take clearer pictures of the sun with a device set aloft by a balloon that ensures the camera tracks the sun and automatically adjusts focus. An anti-rotational mechanism keeps the camera positioned.

“It is really exciting, and a really good learning opportunity,” Devries said.

“We got to learn a lot, and it was a lot of hard work, but it was a rewarding project,” said Snell.

Other team members were Olivia DeMerchant and Zachary Demerson.

Patrick Laforest, a mechanical engineering student, was on a team that designed a predictive active suspension on a vehicle, which was displayed using a small model car.

“It looks at the road ahead and sees what is coming and then sends that to our computer that runs the algorithm to control each wheel,” he said.

The client was Sys-MoDEL (System-Level Model Development Engineering Lab) at UNB.

“Sys-MoDEL gave us a good model to follow throughout the entire build. It really taught us how to approach this complex problem,” said Laforest. “We learned a lot. We are all mechanical engineers, but we had to do a lot of electrical and software behind it, so we learned a lot from overall project management skills.”

Other team members were Andrew Kennah, John Estafanos and Greg Stewart.

Mechanical engineering student Max Walsh was involved in a project that built a soccer ball launcher. One of the clients was the UNB REDS.

The machine can launch soccer balls at different angles, so coaches do not have to kick balls during practice. Commercially available machines can do this but are expensive. This one costs under $1,000.

“There is nothing better than designing something from the ground up and then watching it come to life in front of you and be a physical product you can touch and feel and go play with and go test,” Walsh said.

Other project members were Jessica Dean, Jackson Dennis, Qasem Hussein and Saleem Hussein.

Electrical engineering student Skye Ables, who is specializing in biomedical engineering and a part of the TME4025 class (Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship), was on a team that developed an isokinetic velocity-based training tool for high performance athletes.

“We’ve created a product that controls the velocity of an athlete throughout their entire movement by changing the resistance applied to them."

The machine is controlled via a website and motors counteract force applied during exercise. The website provides feedback on performance and can suggest adjustments.

“It attaches to any rack with columns between two and four inches wide and works with any movement within the rack,” she said.

Existing technology costs around $40,000 and can require custom-built machines. This product can be attached to existing equipment and costs about $6,000.

“Having everyone come together after eight months of hard work to show off the projects they have created is excellent. I’m happy to be part of it,” she said.

Other team members were Thomas Vickers and Nicholas Burns.

Leah Morrison and Robyn Meredith were on a team that made a wearable cuff with sensors that translates the movement of a human limb into signals used to control devices.

“The symposium has such a big impact on students. Even in first year, I remember coming here and I was amazed at what students – who were not much older than I was – could accomplish. And even this time, I can't believe what people have pulled off in just eight months. As well, we are so excited to show what we have accomplished,” said Morrison, a mechanical engineering student.

“Our project is definitely different from anything that I personally learned in class, which has just been a really great experience. We have learned so much,” said Meredith, an electrical engineering student.

Other team members were Sarah Boyd and Julia MacPherson.

Erik Scheme is an associate professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and associate director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (IBME) located on the UNB Fredericton campus.

He said students come to realize how hard it is to design a working product and do not know until a prototype is built whether it will work or not.

“A former instructor in the department of electrical engineering used to say that no circuit board has ever burned up on a piece of paper,” he said.

“This capstone experience is critical to take students from regurgitating information from rote and them saying, ‘now I need to actually apply it in the real world.”

Award and prize winners

Chemical Engineering

1st place - Sewage Treatment Plant Upgrade for Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station:
Ishimwe Marie Louise Kamana, Mohamed Ibrahim, Akhileshwaran Rathinavelu and Jessie Weaver

2nd place - Reducing the Carbon Footprint of a Lime Kiln - Irving Pulp and Paper:
Alex Kerr, Ben MacDonald, Morgan Lipsett and Camron Smith

3rd place - Producing Hydrogen from Waste Aluminum Dross:
Joshua Ellis, Philippe Levesque, Joshua Seamans and Madison Turnbull

Civil and Geological Engineering

Best Technical Report and Best Presentation (Civil) - Serenity Lane-Rainsford Lane Active Transportation Connection: Zach DesRoches, Logan Harris, Kade Kirkbride and Kate MacLean

First runners up (Civil) - Fish Passage Potential on Aboiteaux Structures within the Bay of Fundy:
Hannah Morrissey, Michelle Buzas, Shannon Butland and Brent Maclean

Second runners up (Geological) - Slope Stability along the West River Road:
Camille Galaise, Meg Probert, Abby Snodgrass, Elicieo Young and Jackson Hogan

Electrical Engineering

John F. Murphy ($1,000 for any concentration) - Force Myography Wearable Device (Electrical Design): Julia MacPherson, Leah Morrison, Robyn Meredith and Sarah Boyd

John F. Murphy ($1,000 power/renewable energy) - Nanogrid Nexus (Software Design):
Cameron Fiander, Cameron Davis, Yousef Rizk, Jarrod Soehner and Benjamin Irvine

Software Engineering Prize ($1,000 ECE/FCS Prize) - AI House Predictor (Software Design):
Mason Lalonde, Robert Greenan, Thomas Donovan, Gian Tamayo and Ben Jacobs

IEEE NB Section Prize ($600) - CubeSat NB - Satellite Comm & Ground Station:
Bradford MacEwen, Cody Corscadden, Papa Ainguah and Travis Stewart

Geodesy and Geomatics

1st ($1,000) - The future of earthquake damage detection: Using AI to detect damages with off-nadir satellite imagery: Aidan Barrieau,  Samuel McNally and Alia Nielsen

2nd ($750) - Viability of aerial GPR for infrastructure planning:
Clyde Rafuse, Erik Speziale and Nathaniel Tubb

3rd ($500) - QuickAssess AI: Automation of the property assessment process:
Rylan Matchett, Cordell Paul and Graham Mathers

ANBLS Award ($500) - Supplementing legal survey plans for virtual home buyers:
Zac Economou, David Fox and Spenser Sawler

Best Poster - The next step for crop rotations; Using satellite interferometry for predictive analysis
Riley Hughes, Cody O'Neill and Jordan Rees

Technology Management and Entrepreneurship

First prize ($1,000) - Reactive Power: Skye Ables, Thomas Vickers and Nick Burns

Second prize ($500) - TactiX: Moneeb Kassimi, Irtiza Khan, Roy McIntosh and Minh Nguyen

Photo: The 10th annual Engineering Design Symposium was held on April 4 at the Wu Conference Centre at the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus.