SURE, why not?

by Brenda Shen

As we celebrate the Ledger’s final issue of this year, this research spotlight aims to focus on all of the exciting research projects taking place in the next few months. Through the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) program, hosted by the Faculty of Engineering, students are able to spend their summers working closely with McGill faculty members in their respective labs. This summer, many students will be participating in this program and working towards making an impact in the different research spaces available. These positions are paid and are made possible by funding through the NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award, the Trottier Institute for Sustainable Design, and contributions from the Faculty of Engineering itself. The program offers a variety of positions to students of all engineering departments at McGill and provides opportunities for students to get a taste of research. This issue’s spotlight will highlight some of the upcoming projects for the 2019 summer term!

Architecture: Working under Professor Theodora Vardouli, this SURE position allows the students to dive into the history of Canada’s CAD (Computer Aided Design), specifically between 1960 and 1980, and its impact in industrial and academic research. Drawing from several archives from various universities across Canada, the end goal of this project is to create a catalogue of CAD programs developed in Canada during this time period as well as display a computer script-based simulation of one of those programs.

Bioengineering: Professor Georgios Mitsis is focused on applying principles based on signals and systems theory to biology, specifically in modelling time series and applying the principles to neurology. His SURE project involves taking multimodal experimental data from McGill’s Brain Imaging Center and creating a processing pipeline to analyze this information. To be more specific, the project focuses on time-varying functional connectivity patterns, induced by physiological factors (heart rate, respiration, etc.) and electrophysiological signatures.

Chemical Engineering: In Professor Milan Mirac’s lab, the SURE student will learn how to synthesize a self-healing polymer and characterize the composition and chain length of the material. The self-healing properties of the synthesized material will be useful in material coatings as it has the ability to repair itself from mechanical fracture.  

Civil Engineering: Professor Laxmi Sushama is sponsoring two SURE positions, where the student will aid in flood mitigation strategies by using environmentally friendly infrastructure. Artificial, man-made climates are often built to act as heat sources, however they are poor storage systems for water and impede atmospheric motion. As the world becomes more urbanized, the use of heat-retaining materials has grown, vegetation has been lacking, excessive heat sources have developed, and extreme natural disasters (such as flooding) have increased. This SURE opportunity allows for students to research associate mechanisms of Canadian coastal and inland flood events and identify current mitigation strategies in place.

Electrical & Computer Engineering: Sponsored by Professor Mark Coates’ lab, this project involves implementing machine-learning algorithms for radio-frequency breast cancer detection. This project aids in early diagnosis of breast cancer, a significant aspect of beating the disease, by implementing a wearable sensor that allows for point-of-care testing. The student will work on assessing and improving the capabilities of various machine-learning algorithms that detect the presence of tumours by using synthetic, phantom, and clinical datasets provided by the wearable sensor.

Mechanical Engineering: At Professor Meyer Nahon’s lab, two SURE students will be working with unmanned aerial vehicles, specifically quadrotor platforms and model fixed-wing aircrafts. Students will work with CAD, Matlab, and Simulink modelling as well as do experimental testing at the Aerospace Mechatronics Laboratory. This work will aid in the development of autonomous flight through obstacle fields and interfacing sensors, first in a real-time hardware-in-the-loop simulation, followed by vehicle experimentation.

Mining & Materials Engineering: Professor Sidney Omelon will be sponsoring two SURE students to conduct research on better understanding the phosphorus precipitation from synthetic municipal wastewater. Municipal wastewater, through anaerobic respiration, can precipitate carbonate apatite, a compound rich in phosphorus. The students will take various measurements (pH, redox state, calcium, and phosphate concentrations) of a synthetic municipal wastewater and generate a data set for optimal supersaturation values for the wastewater.