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uOttawa engineering students showcase their research with poster competition

uOttawa - Grad Poster Day students
uOttawa - Grad Poster Day students

It’s one thing to achieve a breakthrough in the lab and quite another to woo the interest of investors and partners who can help take it further. 

Now in its 10th year, the University of Ottawa’s Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Poster Competition helps students bridge this gap. It’s a forum through which students can communicate their ideas, and demonstrate their talents and expertise, to a broader audience of research organizations and industrial companies in search of bright minds. 

In other words, connect talent with opportunity. 

“We are providing visibility for our graduate students and showcasing what is going on in our labs,” said Michel Labrosse, Vice-Dean of Graduate Studies. “Engineers change the world so it is good to be known. This competition can be the start of a snowball effect, to generate contacts and create opportunity for our grads.” 

Most of the judges for the competition come from industry and Ottawa’s world-class R&D organizations. They challenge students to do more than demonstrate expertise in their chosen fields – students must also master the communication skills to sell an idea and defend their research. 

Getting to market 

Wowing a judge can lead to internships, job placements, capital investments, government research grants and entrepreneurial support. 

With this year’s crop of 60 posters, many students have moved beyond fundamental research to projects with ready market applications. Through a variety of initiatives throughout the year, the Faculty of Engineering encourages students to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path, or at least develop an appreciation of what it takes to turn a discovery or proof of concept into a commercial product. 

Another priority for uOttawa is increasing the representation of women in the engineering sciences and other technology fields. The level of participation by female students continues to grow – more than a third of the projects this year are by women. 

Here are three posters that demonstrate the variety of innovative research undertake by graduate students: 

uOttawa - Grad Poster Day Students

A serious game for autistic children

Computer Science student Alejandra Ornelas Barajas has developed a Lego-like building game for young children on the Autism Spectrum, to help them develop cognitive and social skills. The game combines a tangible user interface (actual building blocks) with a graphical user interface (the blocks are duplicated on screen with an app that turns it into a computer game). 

Barajas has already investigated the effects of using this game as a play therapy tool and the results so far are promising. Children participating in the study demonstrated an improvement in social interaction, collaborative play and exercise performance, and a decrease in solitary play. Barajas will soon present a paper on her research at a conference in Australia. 

Decontaminating our water supply

Canada uses over 1.4 million metric tonnes of phosphorus fertilizer every year – all imported from other countries. This phosphorus causes significant environmental damage to our waterways and aquatic ecosystems. Current methods to remove this phosphorus only create more waste. For example, a single City of Ottawa water treatment facility uses 1,200 kgs of iron every day in its process to extract phosphorus from waste water. Most of the resulting compound ends up in landfill. 

Chemical and Biological Engineering students Jessica Ross and her team have come up with a way to precipitate phosphorus out of waste water using calcium carbonate. This process reclaims the phosphorus for use again as a fertilizer, allowing Canada to create its own domestic supply. The team has been working with the City of Ottawa to see how this system could be integrated into a conventional water treatment facility. 

A new revenue model in the age of e-commerce

Canada Post and other postal delivery services are facing a paradigm shift. Letter mail is in steep decline, while people are purchasing more things online. But parcel delivery is a costly business. Postal services are struggling to adjust to a very different business model in which the costs of processing and delivering parcels often outstrip any increase in revenue. They are either paying penalties to retailers because demand is too high to deliver on time, or they don’t have enough parcel traffic to pay all the bills. 

The solution to date has been cutting costs, cutting staff and investing in more plants that rely on automated processes. But E-Business Technology student Ahmad Teymouri doesn’t consider this to be a sustainable solution. Instead, he has looked at the models of other industries, like airlines and car rental companies, and developed a formula to help postal services reduce volume pressures from their operations and create a new flexible pricing strategy. 

And the winners are …. 

Students competed for first, second and third prizes of $500, $300, and $100, as well as other sponsored awards by professional and scientific organizations. For the first time this year, a new award has been added in each category, the Peer Choice Award. This is a best of show award determined by participants within each category. 

In the end, the judges had to make some hard choices. In many cases, it came down to how well a student could articulate real-world applications for their research. 

Chemical and biological engineering

  • First place: Taisa Stumpf, Patrick Fournier (Fabrication and characterization of a novel system for local drug release to the brain after stroke)
  • Second place: Owen A. Melville (Commercial dye (Red GG) as low cost semiconductor in organic thin-film transistors) 
  • Third place: Trevor Grant (A multifunctional ternary additive for increased light absorption and stability in organic photovoltaic devices)
  • Peer Choice: Dean Kennedy (Adsorption & diffusion screening of CH4 and N2 using cation exchanged clinoptilolite: Implications for natural & biogas recovery); Alexandra Ouzas, Elina Niniivaara, Emily D. Cranston (Cellulose nanocrystals in polymer composites for application in adhesives)

Civil engineering 

  • First place: Behnaz Ghodoosipour (Experimental and numerical modeling of hydrodynamic loading on pipelines due to extreme hydrodynamic conditions)
  • Second place: Sanaz Mehrzad (Numerical and experimental study of scour and erosion around structures due to tsunami-like bore)
  • Third Place: Penghai Yin (Predicting the depth of desiccation-induced cracking in clayey soils)
  • Peer Choice: Narges Gheisari (Groundwater vulnerability assessment sing a Gis-based modified drastic model in agricultural area) ; Saeideh Kheradmand (Evaluation of adaptation options to flood risk in a probabilistic framework)

Computer science 

  • First place: Alejandra Ornelas Barajas (A serious game for children with autism spectrum disorder as a tool for play therapy)
  • Second place: Salman Hooshmand (D-FORENRIA: A distributed tool to recover user/browser interactions from HTTP logs of Rich Internet Applications)
  • Third place: Fatemeh Cheraghchi (Outlier detection in high-dimensional big data)
  • Peer Choice: Qian Cui (Iterative publication of phishing sites) ; Fatimah Alzamzmai (City Digital Pulse (CDP): A cloud-based data analysis and visualization system)

Electrical engineering and computer engineering 

  • First place: Shayan Saeidi, Kashif Awan (Quaternary III-V semiconductor compounds for nonlinear photonics-on-a-chip)
  • Second place: Maryam Hezaveh (Privacy preservation for nearby-friend location-based services)
  • Third place: Faisal Arafsha (Cloud-based tactile health system in foot)
  • Peer Choice: Daniel Shapiro, Hamza Qassoud (What a neural network sees in a computer screen) ; Kashif Awan, David Sanchez (Design and fabrication of optimized aluminium gallium arsenide waveguides for all-optical wavelength conversion using integrated nonlinear optics) 

E-business technology 

  • First place: Ahmad Teymouri (A conceptual model to theorize the revenue management application in postal services)
  • Second place: Waeal Obidallah (A taxonomy to characterize web service discovery approaches – Looking at five perspectives)
  • Third place: Eman Walabe (The influence of culture in Saudi online learning delivery)
  • Peer Choice: Channarong Intahchomphoo (Facebook and urban Indigenous youth at risk in Ontario: A social computing research framework)

Mechanical and biomedical mechanical engineering

  • First place: Johnny Farah (Gail phase detection from thigh kinematics using machine learning techniques)
  • Second place (tie): Adefemi Adeyemi (Microlfluidic device for sorting encapsulated cells using dielectrophoresis)
  • Huan Huang (Time-frequency curve extraction from vibration signal for fault diagnosis of rotating machinery with varying speed)
  • Peer Choice: Brandon Fournier, Andrew Smith (Modelling and simulation of lower extremity-powered exoskeleton); Olivier Miguel (Soft-tissue Artefact modelling using mechanical vibration theory) ; Franck Tchuente (Classification and recognition of aggressive movements using smartwatches)

IEEE Awards

  • First place: Jean-Michel Guay, Antonino Lesina Calà, Guillaume Côté, Jaspreet Walia, Graham Killaire, Meagan Ginn (Applications of metals Colorization using picosecond laser pulses)
  • Second place: Taisa Stumpf, Patrick Fournier (Fabrication and characterization of a novel System for local drug release to the brain after stroke)
  • Third place: Johnny Farah (Gail phase detection from thigh kinematics using machine learning techniques)

Women in science and engineering (WISE) 

  • First place: Jessica Ross (Closing the phosphorus loop: Our future’s food security – Precipitation of carbonated apatite from municipal wastewater)
  • Second place: Taisa Stumpf (Fabrication and characterization of a novel system for local drug release to the brain after stroke)
  • Third place: Behnaz Ghodoosipour (Experimental and numerical modeling of hydrodynamic loading on pipelines due to extreme hydrodynamic conditions)

Canadian society for civil engineering (CSCE) AWARDS 

  • Mechanics / Materials: Anis Roshani (Drying behaviour of mature fine tailings pre-dewatered with super-absorbent polymer (SAP))
  • Structural Design: Behnaz Ghodoosipour (Experimental and numerical modeling of hydrodynamic loading on pipelines due to extreme hydrodynamic conditions)
  • Environment and Sustainable Development: Narges Gheisari (Groundwater vulnerability assessment using A Gis-based modified drastic model in agricultural area)

Get involved 

To learn more about graduate studies in engineering and computer science at uOttawa and how you can join its 1,400+ master and doctoral students, please visit: