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February 2017

UNB postdoc combines engineering and computer science to improve quality, performance, and safety in factories

Fredericton-based technology company Eigen Innovations was in need of a researcher to help solve a data challenge to improve their software that uses thermal cameras to capture video and sensor data for industrial manufacturing, and then analyzes it to advance quality performance on factory floors in a variety sectors, including automotive, food processing, and mining.

Eigen’s CEO, Scott Everett, contacted his former professor, Dr. Rickey Dubay, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick, to see if he could help. Through a Mitacs Accelerate internship, Professor Dubay, in turn, connected Scott with postdoctoral fellow Soheil Parsa who had the expertise to address the challenge.

With a background in mechanical engineering and computer science, Soheil was hired as an intern and tasked with applying data analysis to improve how the software identifies anomalies in manufacturing lines. He used machine learning algorithms — that is, algorithms determined by computers that have the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed — to analyze large amounts of data from Eigen’s thermal cameras. The computer sought out pattern identification and anomaly recognition.

Soheil’s findings allowed him to improve the software so it can better identify problems like cold spots, deformities, and weld breaks on production lines. “It wasn’t an easy problem to solve because of the amount of data I needed to study,” states Soheil. “It took a while for me to tackle the problem, but it was a great feeling when I came up with a solution that would improve quality control and the operation efficiency of our clients’ manufacturing lines.”

Following the fellowship, Eigen’s CEO saw an opportunity to pass the torch to Soheil by creating a Data Scientist position for him where he is now working full-time. Soheil says his Mitacs Accelerate fellowship was a catalyst in securing his career:

“Mitacs internships give graduates and postdocs opportunities to partner with companies to see what skills they require. That’s not something most students learn in university. At the same time, Mitacs is filling a gap by showing industry what skills we can offer them.”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of New Brunswick for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: