Posts Tagged: ECE

EngSci’s Associate Chair Prof. Aimy Bazylak elected as Fellow of the EIC

 U of T Engineering professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), for “excellence in engineering and services to the profession and to society.”

Left to right: Professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada.

By Carolyn Farrell

U of T Engineering professors Aimy Bazylak (MIE), Vaughn Betz (ECE) and Frank Vecchio (CivMin) have been elected 2022 Fellows of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), for “excellence in engineering and services to the profession and to society.”

As the Canada Research Chair for Thermofluidics in Clean Energy, Bazylak is working to advance fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries for clean power production and energy storage without greenhouse gas emissions. Her research is focused on the use of modelling and real-time imaging to design new materials for high efficiency and performance. She has partnered with automotive and energy companies such as Nissan, Volkswagon and Hydrogenics Corp. to develop next-generation fuel cells and electrolyzers for higher efficiency, zero-greenhouse gas emission power and energy storage.

Bazylak has served as the Director of the U of T Institute for Sustainable Energy and Acting Vice-Dean, Undergraduate for Engineering, and has been a member of U of T’s Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability since 2017. Her contributions have earned her several prestigious awards, including the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering’s I.W. Smith Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, and the Helmholtz International Fellow Award. She is a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Betz holds the NSERC/Intel Industrial Research Chair in Programmable Silicon. His work has revolutionized the use of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), to allow engineers to rapidly create new hardware systems and realize their design visions. As a doctoral student, Betz created a packing, placement and routing tool and methodology, known as Versatile Place and Route (VPR), which is now the world’s most popular toolset for modelling new FPGA ideas. Betz cofounded Right Track CAD Corporation in 1998, growing the company to several million in annual revenue. After the company’s acquisition by Altera in 2000, he played a key role in the design of their next-generation chips, now used by tens of thousands of engineers.

In 2011, Betz joined U of T Engineering, where he continues to lead research to improve algorithms and design software to improve FPGAs. He mentors future entrepreneurs and has personally established several engineering scholarships. Betz holds more than 100 U.S. patents and has received 14 best paper awards from the field’s top conferences and journals. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, and recipient of the Ontario Professional Engineers Medal for Engineering Excellence.

Professor Emeritus Vecchio is the former Bahen/Tanenbaum Chair in Civil Engineering. An internationally respected authority on the behaviour of concrete structures, he has contributed substantially to increasing the safety and reliability of Canada’s infrastructure. Vecchio is the co-developer of the Modified Compression Field Theory, a groundbreaking conceptual model for describing the behaviour of reinforced concrete under general load conditions, which has been incorporated into design codes in Canada and internationally. He also developed a suite of software, called VecTor, for predicting the response of concrete structures to practically any action, which has been widely adopted for teaching and in industrial and research applications.

In addition to his research, he has significantly contributed to the development of standards and codes for concrete structures globally through his service on national and international technical committees. According to a recent Stanford University study, Vecchio has the highest citation score amongst Canadian researchers across all fields of Civil Engineering and ranks in the top 20 worldwide. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and the American Concrete Institute and has received several of these societies’ most prestigious awards.

“On behalf of the Faculty, my warmest congratulations to Professors Bazylak, Betz and Vecchio,” says U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip. “Their outstanding contributions illustrate some of the key areas in which U of T Engineers are making an impact across disciplines and sectors.”

This story was originally published in the U of T Engineering News.

EngSci’s 2020 Schulich Leaders fly high

2020 Schulich Leader Adele Crete-Laurence (Year 1 EngSci) is passionate about finding a way to make flying safe for our planet. (Photo by Captain Marie-Anne Irvine)


In 2020, four EngSci students are among the 10 U of T students to be awarded Schulich Leader Scholarships.  Adele Crete-Laurence, Zack Fine, Aditi Misra, and Christopher K.W. Adolphe began their studies in September as part of the first year class.

Schulich Leader Scholarships recognize Canadian students with academic excellence who exemplify leadership and embrace the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Read more about EngSci’s Schulich Scholars in the U of T Engineering News.

Meet three new chairs of EngSci’s majors

July 13, 2020

New chairs have been appointed for three of EngSci’s majors, beginning their terms in July 2020. Professors Stark Draper (ECE), Ashish Khisti (ECE), and Pierre Savard (Physics) will lead the machine intelligence, electrical and computer engineering, and engineering physics majors, respectively.

We sat down with each to hear their thoughts on the coming year.

Machine Intelligence: Professor Stark Draper

Professor Stark Draper in front of a white background, wearing a blue and white checked shirt.

Professor Stark Draper is the new chair for EngSci’s machine intelligence major. (Photo courtesy Stark Draper)

Stark Draper’s research interests include information theory, optimization, error-correction coding, security, and the application of tools and perspectives from these fields in communications, computing, and learning. Before joining U of T’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) in 2013 he was a faculty member at UW Madison. Prof. Draper started his 2019-20 sabbatical year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen and completed his sabbatical visiting the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Hawaii, USA, after being caught outside of China by the coronavirus pandemic during the Lunar New Year’s holidays. He looks forward to returning to U of T to chair the third year of the machine intelligence major.

What do you hope students get out of the machine intelligence major? How does it fit into what’s going on in the world?

It seems that every day the applications of machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science expand. The core of this relatively new major provides three inter-locking components: deep mathematical underpinnings, strong software implementation skills, and exposure to a range of topics in the data and learning sciences.

Our hope is always that our students’ experiences at U of T prepare them not just to contribute to technological and social trends, but to drive them. This major, and EngSci broadly, focuses on fundamentals. From deep (and often tiring) experience wrestling with the concepts introduced in class, students internalize the ideas and insights that underlie current technologies. This allows them to understand the problems and challenges they face more holistically, helps them ask the right questions to cut through to better solutions, and aids them in engineering well thought-out, efficient, and robust designs.

Given the breadth of applications and the depth of interesting developments in theory and practice, I am excited to see where our students go and what challenges our first machine intelligence graduates take up in their next chapters. Further down the road I look forward to having those alumni back to campus sharing their stories and learnings with our current students.

Do you have any specific goals as chair of the major?

2020-2021will be the third year of the machine intelligence major, and our first students graduated last month. As we strive for continual improvement, this is a natural time to assess what is working well in our curriculum and extra-curriculars, e.g., how we connect students to PEY Co-op opportunities. My other immediate goal is to successfully transitioning my fall-term classes to online delivery during to the pandemic, as my students next term are likely to span some 16 time zones. I will miss the chalk board!

Electrical & Computer Engineering: Professor Ashish Khisti

Professor Ashish Khisti in front of a leafy background and wearing a blue shirt.

Professor Ashish Khisti is the new chair for EngSci’s major in electrical and computer engineering. (Photo courtesy Ashish Khisti)

Ashish Khisti (EngSci 0T2 Electrical) is an associate professor in U of T’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE), and an EngSci alumnus. He holds a PhD from MIT, and focuses his research on communication systems and machine learning. His work involves developing fundamental performance limits of these systems and developing practical schemes that approach these theoretical limits.

How do you view the ECE major, or EngSci in general?

Engineering Science is one of the most rigorous and competitive engineering programs in Canada. Graduates from this program are highly respected and actively recruited by graduate schools and industry.

The ECE major develops a broad foundation in the field of electrical and computer engineering. It has a good mix of both fundamental and applied courses, and it appeals to both theoretically inclined as well as practically driven students.

What do you hope students get out of this major?

Students develop an understanding of both hardware and software systems that are relevant to today’s industry. Students from this major are actively recruited by a variety of industries including computer hardware/software, communication systems, digital electronics, power systems, data science etc. Many students go on to do graduate studies and specialize in a specific area of their interest.

How do you view your role as chair of the major?

As the ECE major is designed to provide a broad foundation, I am most happy to provide guidance on course selections in this major based on students’ interests and future career plans.

Engineering Physics: Professor Pierre Savard

Pierre Savard at CERN

Professor Pierre Savard, shown at CERN, is the new chair for EngSci’s engineering physics major. (Photo courtesy Pierre Savard)

Pierre Savard is a professor in U of T’s Department of Physics, TRIUMF Scientist, and Canada Research Chair in Experimental Particle Physics. He is also a member of the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. In the last decade the focus of his research has been on Higgs boson physics and the search for new phenomena beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.

What are your thoughts on the engineering physics major and the EngSci program?

I believe EngSci offers an outstanding program that provides a strong foundation in the sciences and uniquely prepares its graduates for the challenges of a rapidly evolving technological future.
The engineering physics major provides a high degree of flexibility in terms of course selection. The variety of careers chosen by our graduates (chemical engineering, electrical engineering, geophysics, business, pure mathematics, and of course physics) demonstrates that choosing this major keeps students’ options open in terms of future careers.

What do you hope students get out of the major? How does it prepare them for today’s challenges?

This major provides a strong foundation in physics, applied physics, and mathematics in addition to engineering that provides them with the maximum flexibility in the future. Given the fast pace of technological innovations, having the skill sets needed to change, adapt, and evolve during one’s working life is a great asset.

Do you have any specific goals as chair of the major?

I have been chair of this major in the past and I’m very happy to be in this role again. I look forward to talking to what I consider to be the strongest students I’ve had the privilege to interact with during my career. My past and present goal is to make sure that the program continues to maintain its commitment to a strong foundation in science and continues to attract the best students in Canada and abroad.

We would like to thank the outgoing chairs of the majors for their service: Ashish Khisti (ECE) for machine intelligence, David Bailey (Physics) for engineering physics, and Tony Chan Carusone (ECE) for electrical and computer engineering.

Continuing on in their roles as chairs of the EngSci majors are: Peter Grant (UTIAS) for aerospace engineering; Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez (IBBME) for biomedical systems engineering; Aimy Bazylak (MIE) for energy systems engineering; Roy Kwon (MIE) for engineering mathematics, statistics and finance; Matthew Roorda, Evan Bentz and Michael Collins for infrastructure engineering; and Tim Barfoot (UTIAS) for robotics engineering.

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