Digital tools and ingenuity make U of R Engineering Project Day possible during pandemic

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: April 24, 2020 10:00 a.m.

TL: Shayan Khan; TR: Nickolas Schmidt; BL: Nikolas Lendvoy; BR: Nicolas Achter.
TL: Shayan Khan; TR: Nickolas Schmidt; BL: Nikolas Lendvoy; BR: Nicolas Achter. "The Nicks" team designed a mobile ordering service application to bring medical assistance to those in need throughout Regina and other parts of Saskatchewan. The aim of the app is to provide quick turnaround on-demand service. Credit: Nikolas Lendvoy

Every year, fourth-year Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science students at the University of Regina look forward to showcasing their capstone design projects at Engineering Project Day - a lively event attended by local industry representatives and community members.

This year, with social/physical distancing measures in place, members of the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science had to be innovative and find new and meaningful ways to engage with their Engineering students and evaluate their capstone project submissions.

"With a heavy heart, we had to cancel the face-to-face 2020 Project Day because of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Esam Hussein, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science. "Nevertheless, the tradition continued in cyberspace, with our students demonstrating with pride how they creatively applied the knowledge they gained during their studies to solve real engineering problems."

Student groups presented their projects through various multi-media presentation methods, including videos, audio recordings, and PowerPoint slides. They also participated in a live Zoom Q & A with faculty members and instructors.

"We were able to preserve for our students the essential elements required in an Engineering capstone design process, and have a fair and consistent evaluation under challenging circumstances," said Doug Wagner, Electronic Systems Engineering Instructor. "The key is to make the best of it - employing lots and lots of communication."

Indeed, students worked hard to complete their group projects and collaborated remotely using online tools, such as Zoom.

L to R: Petroleum Systems students
Amr Sobh, Karim Sobh, and Aya
Mahmoud in January 2020 at the
Western Engineering Competition
held in Saskatoon.

"These past couple of weeks have been challenging as we had to adapt to major changes that redefined the meaning of working as a team," said Amr Sobh, fourth-year Petroleum Systems Engineering student. "At first, my group members and I felt frustrated with how our final semester was about to end, as we had looked forward to presenting our capstone in front of family and friends. Although the semester did not go as planned, we all communicated effectively to create the best presentation possible."

"It went as smoothly as it could have," added Mark Hellman, fourth-year Petroleum Systems Engineering student. "In the end, everyone got to present and answer questions from the profs, and we were able to see each other's projects."

Many of this year's design projects had real-life applications, including: a web app that helps students manage their classes and grades; a robotic system that helps detect security issues at university residences; and, a system that helps people with varying degrees of mobility play baseball.

A mobile homecare support app was designed in collaboration with industry partner Eden Care Communities, to assist people in the community who require homecare.

"Over the course of the last two semesters, our team worked with Eden Care Communities to create something that we hope will be very helpful to the community," said Nikolas Lendvoy, fourth-year Software Systems Engineering student. "Bill Pratt from Eden Care gave us the inspiration and vision we needed, and Dr. Tim Maciag was very helpful in guiding our team toward our goals."

Numerous other design projects were presented, including:

  • Automated system for tuning high frequency communication filters;
  • Avionics telemetry device for measuring acceleration on an airframe;
  • Comparing health insurance plans;
  • Evaluation of corrosion inhibitors to reduce lead concentrations in Regina's water;
  • Laboratory safety management app;
  • Live vehicle routing/traffic app;
  • Low-cost system to prevent ground-conductor theft at SaskPower installations;
  • Personalized mobile hockey learning management app;
  • Preliminary site design of a multi-storey building for the U of R; and
  • Reclamation of U of R storm water campus for irrigation.

In addition, Petroleum Systems Engineering students addressed key areas of petroleum production in Saskatchewan and throughout Canada.

"Although we could not have a typical physical Engineering Project Day this year, I believe that the 32 students in the 13 Petroleum Systems Engineering groups did an excellent job preparing their presentation files and draft project reports in this new environment," said Dr. Peter Gu, Petroleum Systems Engineering Professor. "The overall quality of my students' work this year is as high as that in other years."

"Seeing the progression of all teams over the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 semesters, I can easily say that I am very proud of all student teams, and their effort, passion, and perseverance throughout each term," said Dr. Tim Maciag, lecturer, Software Systems Engineering.

This year, the top two projects in both the Petroleum Systems Engineering and Industrial Systems Engineering programs are receiving the Gospel Nkinanee Prize. The Prize includes a $500 award for each team.

In 2019, Gospel Nkinanee, an international student who graduated from the U of R in 2015 with a degree in Petroleum Systems Engineering, passed away due to a medical condition. At the time, he was working toward a second degree in Industrial Systems Engineering at the University.

"I think it's very important to keep Gospel's memory alive," said Clever Agara, a friend of the Nkinanee family. "Gospel was passionate and always fond of education and research. It's so unfortunate that he's no longer here, but this award in his honor helps support an environment where students can thrive and be the best they can be."

The winners of the Gospel Nkinanee Prize in Petroleum Systems Engineering are Nicholas Leslie and Mark Hellman for their project, Multilateral Well Design and Performance Analysis for Low Viscosity Heavy Oil Formations, and Karim Sobh, Amr Sobh, and Aya Mahmoud for their project, Design of An Optimal Thermal Recovery Strategy for An Alberta Heavy Oil Reservoir.

"Winning the Gospel Nkinanee Award has really taught us that despite having unusual circumstances, through hard work and effort, your goals can still be achieved," said Amr.


L to R: Industrial Systems students Ty
Cote, Kaylee Hayko, Kailey Lowe, and
Landon Bells standing with their project
design at a class presentation on
January 27, 2020.

The winners of the Gospel Nkinanee Prize in Industrial Systems Engineering are Liam Diebel, William Howden, Taylor Sieber, and Benjamin Wiebe for their project, Energy Audit and Retrofit of Dr. John Archer Library, and Kaylee Hayko, Ty Cote, Landon Bells, and Kailey Lowe for their project, Closed Loop Hydronic System: Undergraduate Laboratory.

In 2018, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science collaborated with the ASHRAE Regina Chapter to establish an undergraduate heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) course. Now entering its third year, the course requires laboratory equipment to demonstrate the fundamental principles of heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and building control.

"Our team was tasked with designing and constructing an interactive laboratory apparatus to encourage a better understanding of hydronic heating systems. Design and construction of the apparatus required engineering design, use of engineering tools, economics, and project management. Creation of this laboratory apparatus was an innovative way for our team of undergraduate students to assist with bridging the gap between industry and academia," says Hayko.

Kailey Lowe echoes her teammate's sense of pride in the caliber work they were able to complete, "We are honoured to be one of the two recipients of the Gospel Nkinanee Award. There were many amazing Industrial Systems Engineering capstone projects this year and to be selected as one of the top two is quite an honour."

Clearly, the challenges faced by the students during the pandemic added a layer of complexity to their work. Dr. Hussein believes they will bring the same resourcefulness and determination to their Engineering practice, making make them great ambassadors for the University of Regina.


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