Imagine you’re having lunch on a courtyard patio downtown. It’s a crisp, sunny autumn day with a light breeze. Your table is against a south-facing brick wall that is bathed in sunlight and there’s a row of tall bushes at the edge of the patio that break the wind. You wore a jacket to the restaurant but after sitting for a few minutes, you’re warm enough to take it off and enjoy the sunshine on your bare arms.
The traditional residential-building industry in Canada suffers from poorly designed ducts with undervented and over-vented areas causing large temperature variations, discomfort, and inefficiency. Most of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in Canada work based on a single-zone design in which only one thermostat with a single temperature sensor turns the system on and off.
Under a multi-phase project supported by commercial and educational entities, Austin Engineering creates digitally fabricated dam models for hydraulic and seismic testing at both their own hydraulics lab and at the University of British Columbia’s Applied Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures (ALAMS) in Kelowna, BC. Their most recent phase of research was followed by a prestigious international presentation.
Although an earthquake can devastate in a few short seconds, restoration and reconstruction can take years to complete. In the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, there were only two major building collapses, yet 70 per cent of the city’s downtown had to be demolished because buildings were deemed uninhabitable. Restoration took five years. Earthquake recovery costs are huge. According to an Insurance Board of Canada study, an earthquake either in BC or Quebec would be nearly ten times as costly as the Fort McMurray fires, which cost over $8 billion.
So, when Nutrien, the world’s largest producer of crop inputs, services, and solutions was seeking some out-of-the-box solutions for a safety technology at their Saskatchewan potash mines, they turned to Mitacs to access top research talent.
The resulting collaboration with the University of Regina has produced a new computer algorithm that more accurately identifies potential hazards in the roof of a mined-out cavern—giving workers advanced notice so that they can deploy safety protocols in a timely manner.
Wendlasida Ouedraogo is part of a research team at École Polytechnique de Montréal that is developing the next generation of computer vision software, which automates visual tasks, to help civil engineers and city planners get ahead of construction demand.
But when the product required an updated approach to match new industry standards, the company relied on the fresh perspective of a Mitacs Accelerate intern from the Université de Sherbrooke to take it to the next level and enhance their competitiveness for entry into Canada-wide markets.
The project started when Michael Gray was researching earthquake-proofing techniques as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil Engineering. Michael had developed a prototype connector device with one end that could grip part of a building’s frame between a pair of comb-like pincers, while the other end was welded to a brace.