Posts Tagged: engineering design

‘Building community within the classroom’: Meet Professor Morgan Hooper

photo of Morgan Hooper wearing a brown leather jacket and floral shirt standing in front of green bushes

Professor Morgan Hooper (UTIAS) is an assistant professor, teaching stream, cross-appointed to the Division of Engineering Science. (Photo: Safa Jinje)

 

By Jennifer Li

Morgan Hooper recently joined the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) as an assistant professor, teaching stream, cross-appointed to the Division of Engineering Science (EngSci). 

She is currently teaching engineering design in the EngSci Praxis III course.

Hooper (EngSci 1T5 + PEY) graduated from U of T Engineering with a major in aerospace engineering and received her MS and PhD in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).  Her research focused on experimental unsteady aerodynamics and fluid-structure interactions with views towards sustainable energy harvesting. 

Writer Jennifer Li caught up with Hooper to learn about her teaching philosophy, her goals as an educator and the ways she hopes to empower students inside and out of the classroom. 

Can you share your approach to teaching?

My approach to teaching is centred around building community within the classroom. I hope to empower students to speak up and participate in their own learning. The process of learning is simultaneously collaborative and deeply personal. I try to build a safe environment for students to experiment and learn from one another, while also offering support and guidance when necessary. Of course, this approach is particularly appropriate in a design course setting — where most of my teaching is focused right now — but I do think that a collaborative, active learning approach can be successful even in a more traditional classroom setting. 

What excites you most about joining UTIAS?

As a graduate of the EngSci aerospace engineering major, UTIAS played a huge part in my undergraduate studies! I am very excited to be back in this new role and I am looking forward to connecting with and learning from all the amazing teaching and research going on here and within EngSci. 

What do you hope that students will take away from your classes?

I teach mostly hands-on design courses — in my opinion, these are the classes that really differentiate the engineering school experience. I hope to help students gain confidence with hands-on skills and build their own unique identities as engineers. I want to empower students to feel comfortable making changes to and improving the physical world around them.  

What is your goal as an educator in the next few years?  

There are a lot of exciting conversations right now around making undergraduate engineering education more integrative — that is, ensuring that there is a strong connection between what students do in design-focused courses, and what they see and do in the fundamental and skill-building courses that make up most of the curriculum.  

I think there is a great opportunity here to examine our curricula and ensure we are equipping students with transdisciplinary skills and competencies. This also means incorporating knowledge around particularly complex topics such as sustainable engineering practices. 

What is the best mistake you ever made in academia and what did it teach you?

I think the best ‘mistake’ I made in an academic setting was getting involved in student government. During my PhD, I volunteered for a position on our department’s student council. Even though it added more to my plate, I immediately discovered that I loved working with a team of other students towards making our department a more community-oriented and supportive place. The work I did as part of the student council inspired me to get more involved in research in STEM teaching and learning more broadly, which eventually led me here! 

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I have always tried to keep things balanced in my life — I love my job, but I also love cooking, eating, and trying new recipes and restaurants. I love fashion — especially sustainable fashion — and I sew some of my own clothes. I also love to sing. 

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


New EngSci course enhances experiential learning and global perspectives

Team NASSA stands with their cold air bubble piping system for the Thailand-based “Klongs for All” project. (Photo: Safa Jinje)

 

By Safa Jinje

In early December, more than 200 third-year Engineering Science students presented their collaborative solutions to a range of challenges — from recycling plastics to clearing invasive plants from canal waterways.

The two-day showcase was held in classrooms across U of T Engineering and recorded for organizations around the world, including partners based in Nigeria, Ghana, Thailand, Uganda and South Africa.

“Engineering is about people — it’s about the human condition,” says Professor Philip Asare (ISTEP, EngSci), who co-leads the course with Professor Sasha Gollish (ISTEP, EngSci).

“We want students to be able to see how technical work is influenced by all the human dimensions: the setting, the context, the people you are working with and the capacity you have.”

Held for the first time this year, the redesigned Praxis III course builds on the success of Praxis I and II — two first-year classes that introduce students to the models and tools of engineering design, including communication, teamwork and professionalism. Praxis III expands these learning opportunities to students in their second year while introducing a global element.

This year’s cohort collaborated with business students at Georgia State University as they designed and tested their functioning product prototypes, which propose solutions to the challenges faced by communities around the world.

In one of the projects from Ghana, called “The Potential of Recycled Plastics,” Makafui Awuku, who is the founder and CEO of Mckingtorch Africa, invited students to look for novel ways to re-use plastic and sawdust in the creation of new building materials.

Mckingtorch Africa recycles and upcycles plastic waste to create new products such as plastic mats, food-ware and makeshift beds. The social enterprise is exploring the production of wood-like panels for construction made from recovered sawdust and plastic.

“Each of the five teams decided to focus on a different part of the value chain, from acquiring sawdust to mixing it with plastic, to measuring properties of the produced composite wood/plastic panels,” says Asare. “The collection of projects when viewed together provide a great overall value for Mckingtorch Africa.”

Team DTUS stands with their device Jim (Just Insert Material), a thermal testing system, for “The Potential of Recycled Plastics” project. (Photo: Safa Jinje)

 

Students researched the local community, culture and practices to create designs that would provide benefit to the client while ensuring cultural sensitivity.

“Empathy is introduced as a core concept in Praxis III,” says Victoria German (Year 3 EngSci). “We had to do a lot of non-functional research to better understand the community we are serving.”

Instructors led students through reflection assignments, lectures, classroom discussions and hands-on building exercises that reinforced the importance of empathy in their designs.

During their presentations, teams also made an argument for why their designs would be relevant to the community that they were working with, through both the lens of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and what they understood about the people and their needs.

“We spent a lot of time on the conception of the design. It was really important for us to make sure we were meticulous at every stage,” says Rasam Yazdi (Year 3 EngSci). “We definitely gained good experiences out of this from working with computer-aided design models to electrical work and the actual build.”

Praxis III is intended for second-year students, but this first iteration was introduced to third-year students due to pandemic-related delays. The next iteration begins in the winter term and will have close to 300 second-year students.

“This course requires us to innovate in a number of ways, especially with supporting the hands-on technical work through our partnership with the Myhal Fabrication Facility,” says Asare.

“We’ve produced important systems and processes that supports the course work from a parts and components perspective. We have also introduced a procurement process, and tools and widgets to help students work well in their labs.”

Asare believes the experience has been a positive one for his global peers.

“The global partners are interested in these kinds of interactions with students; they have made it clear that they see value in it,” he says. “Next term, we are introducing humanitarian settings with projects in Yemen.”

“As the course evolves, we want to experiment with structures that make it possible for students to continue to pursue their designs beyond the course. There are lots of interesting things to come.”

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


Two new faculty members join EngSci’s teaching team

Aug 28, 2020

Guerzhoy and Asare

Michael Guerzhoy and Philip Asare.

EngSci recently welcomed two new Assistant Professors in the Teaching Stream who bring with them a wealth of experience in engineering education.

Philip Asare (EngSci, ISTEP) and Michael Guerzhoy (EngSci, MIE) will teach some of the program’s key foundation courses as well as upper year classes.

Asare will be involved with the first and second year engineering design courses, Praxis I, II and III, and the capstone design course in the electrical & computer engineering major. He was previously an assistant professor at Bucknell University where he did research on cyber-physical systems and taught engineering design. He also taught a course called “Engineering: A Humanist Enterprise” that examined engineering as a human activity and the implications of this view for engineering education and practice.

“A question that guides my approach is ‘How can we educate engineers to help them serve the diverse communities in which they will operate?’,” says Asare. “I want to train the next generation of engineers to be attentive to issues of the human condition including social justice, equity, and inclusion.”

Philip Asare teaching

Philip Asare teaching model-based engineering of embedded systems at the University of Virginia (Photo courtesy Tom Cogill)

Guerzhoy will teach both of EngSci’s Year 1 computer programming courses with the aim of integrating more data science into the curriculum. In addition to his appointment to U of T Engineering, Guerzhoy is also an Affiliated Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. His research specializes in machine learning and statistics with applications in healthcare, computer vision, and data science. He has taught extensively in U of T’s Departments of Computer Science and Statistical Sciences and at Princeton University’s Center for Statistics and Machine Learning.

Michael Guerzhoy teaching

Michael Guerzhoy teaching a workshop on PyTorch at the Toronto Machine Learning Summit (TMLS) (Photo courtesy of TMLS)

After years of teaching engineering students, both Asare and Guerzhoy have come to view their roles as creating appropriate environments that help students learn and develop, rather than teaching from on high. “I strongly believe that most learning happens when students are actually doing something rather than just listening to lecture,” says Guerzhoy. To help students learn by doing, he designs his lectures around course assignments that make the connection between theory and application clear.

“Hiring new faculty is one of the most important jobs we have at the University,” says Professor Will Cluett, EngSci Interim Chair. “After many months of careful searching, I am extremely excited to welcome these two outstanding young professors. Despite being relatively early in their academic careers, they both already have a wealth of experience in teaching and related scholarship that I expect will be well-received by our students.”


EngSci alumni help Human Powered Vehicle Design Team sets world record

Sept. 26, 2019


From left to right, Professor Jun Nogami (MSE, EngSci 8T0), Jack Yu (Year 3 MSE), Trefor Evans (EngSci 1T4, UTIAS PhD Candidate), Calvin Moes (EngSci 1T3 + PEY, MSE PhD candidate), Evan Bennewies (EngSci 1T8 + PEY), and Luke Patterson (MechE 1T9 + PEY) standing behind their human-powered tandem vehicle (Photo: D. Guthrie)

 

This month, Friday the 13th was a lucky day for U of T Engineering’s Human Powered Vehicle Design Team (HPVDT), as they broke the world record for tandem biking at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC).

Learn how EngSci alumni helped the team shatter their previous record with a top speed of 120.2 km/hr.

Interested in technical work outside the classroom? 
Find a list student design teams and clubs here.


Urban solutions – Praxis II design teams take on the city

Student-designed device to Improve firefighters’ navigation during active fires

 

Every year EngSci students in their first year of study face a special challenge: find ways to improve life in the city using engineering design principles. This task is part of the program’s unique Year 1 engineering design courses, Praxis I and II. Students identify diverse problems in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders from communities in the Greater Toronto Area, and work in teams to develop design solutions.

The course culminates in the annual Praxis II Showcase where projects and prototypes are presented to members of the public.

Read about Praxis II Showcase 2019 here.


EngSci students selected to compete in Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment Design Challenge

 

The members of Team FAM

U of T Engineering’s Team FAM (Fluids Affected by Magnetism) includes Engineering Science students (L-R): Twesh Upadhyaya, Tyler Gamvrelis, Jacob Weber and Hanzhen Lin. (Photo: Courtesy Team FAM)

 

A team of U of T Engineering students is set to launch an experiment aboard the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Falcon 20 jet as part of the Canadian Reduced Gravity Experiment Design Challenge (CAN-RGX).

Team FAM (Fluids Affected by Magnetism) is one of just four post-secondary teams selected for this year’s CAN-RGX, joining teams from the University of Calgary and Queen’s University. The teams will fly various experiments in microgravity during the flight campaign, taking place in Ottawa at the end of July 2018.

The flight campaign for the competition will take place over three days in Ottawa during the week of July 25, 2018.

“What really struck me was the opportunity to not only fly in microgravity but to conduct an experiment in microgravity and really see the progress from start to finish — from the proposal to conducting the experiment on a very unique testbed,” said Twesh Upadhyaya (Year 3 EngSci), one of the two primary mission specialists for Team FAM who will fly onboard the Falcon 20. “This year’s CAN-RGX is a unique opportunity for us to put into practice all of the engineering design knowledge we’ve gained so far.”

The competition challenges post-secondary student teams from across the country to design and build an experiment to be flown on board the NRC’s Falcon 20 — an aircraft modified for parabolic flight to simulate microgravity— in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency. This is the second year a team from U of T Engineering was selected for the competition.

Team FAM’s experiment will examine heat transfer in paramagnetic fluids and their behavior under external magnetic fields. To carry out the experiment, the team developed a compact optical setup that enables them to “see” the temperature of the fluid. A fluid cell holds the paramagnetic fluid, and a set of two electromagnetic coils is positioned around it.

Team FAM’s prototype, which will be used to investigate the effectiveness of heat transfer mechanisms of a paramagnetic fluid in microgravity. (Photo: Courtesy of Team FAM)

The team’s literature review suggests nobody has ever visualized the heat distribution in a paramagnetic fluid under microgravity conditions before.

“We have a system that will — at the peak of the flight when we hit zero gravity — automatically trigger the experiment to start,” says Upadhyaya. “We’ll do one parabola, gather the data, and repeat the experiment with different parameters. The plan is to do eight to 10 parabolas.”

The team’s goal is to gain a better understanding of how paramagnetic fluids behave in zero gravity, which could lead to improved heat management in space craft, space stations and satellites; as well as a better understanding of the fundamental behaviour of magnetic fluids in microgravity.

“In a space station, they may want to shuttle heat from one component to another,” Upadhyaya says. “Paramagnetic fluids offer an interesting solution, and by testing various magnetic patterns in our experiment — although it’s only one small step — it’ll provide some idea of the most effective way to use paramagnetic fluids in heat transfer.”

Outreach is an important part of Team FAM’s goals, as they plan to share their project with high school students to showcase the opportunities available in engineering at the post-secondary level.

“We wanted to inspire high school students, get the word out there, and showcase what they can do in engineering at university — especially the University of Toronto,” Upadhyaya says.

This story originally appeared in the U of T Engineering News.


Praxis teams take on diverse urban challenges

Toronto Star headline

From helping people with Parkinson’s disease to dance safely, to designing storage facilities for coffee beans, and even timing the throw in a knife throwing competition, this year’s Praxis design projects covered a diverse range of topics.

The Year 1 Praxis design course challenges EngSci students to apply their engineering know-how and improve the lived experience of a community within the Greater Toronto Area. Students explore the city in teams to find problems that can benefit from an engineering approach, and work with stakeholders to ensure their solutions match end-user needs. Members of the public are invited to see the results at the annual Praxis Showcase.

Read about one team’s efforts to make naloxone kits more effective.

Learn more about other Praxis projects from this year’s Praxis Showcase.


EngSci students take flight in microgravity to unravel physics mystery

Update Aug 1, 2017: Check out the team’s Twitter feed feed for photos and videos from their flight.

Team AVAIL — left to right, Caulan Rupke (Year 4 EngSci), Neell Young (EngSci 1T4 + PEY, UTIAS MASc candidate), Andrew Ilersich and Michael Lawee (both Year 4 EngSci) — has designed a physics experiment that will be carried out in simulated microgravity. Their results could accelerate the use of 3D printers to address key challenges for long-term space missions.

Not many of us get to experience what it’s like to float in space. This week several of our students will get to experience the next best thing — a flight on a microgravity aircraft where they will try to unravel a complex physics process.

Collectively known as Team AVAIL (Analyzing Viscosity and Inertia in Liquids), Neell Young (EngSci 1T4 + PEY, MASc Student UTIAS), Caulan Rupke, Michael Lawee and Andrew Ilersich (all Year 4 EngSci) will conduct experiments on a phenomenon known as the “liquid rope coil” effect.

See a video of the effect and learn more about the team’s mission.

Their work will have implications for 3D printing in microgravity during long-term space missions. Here on Earth, it could also help develop 3D printing techniques for new porous materials for use in biomedical engineering.

The team is in Ottawa July 24 – 28 for a flight on the National Research Council’s Falcon 20 aircraft. Read about their mission and follow their progress on Twitter and Youtube.


This drone’s got “pickup”

Several EngSci students were part of the first place team at a national drone competition that set a tough challenge: finding birds’ nests and retrieving an egg from one of them.

The University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT) took top prize with it’s two-drone system at the Unmanned Systems Canada Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Student Competition.

Read more about the challenges they faced.


EngSci’s Praxis Showcase in the Toronto Star

Student present their “Dino Dash” project that analyzes children’s running speeds with specially equipped footpad sensors

Each year, EngSci’s innovative Praxis design course challenges first-year students to do one thing: improve daily life in Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods and communities.

Students fan out across the city to identify problems and work closely with stakeholders to design engineering-based solutions to challenges as varied as growing hops for microbreweries on urban rooftops or making classrooms more accessible for students with disabilities.

Dinosaur Races: To help active kids at the ROM’s dinosaur gallery burn off steam, students designed “Dino Dash”. Children “race” different types of dinosaurs on footpads equipped with sensors to find out what kind of dinosaurs run at the speed they do. Photo by Roberta Baker – Engineering Strategic Communications

“The Praxis courses challenges our students to take what they learn in class and apply it to the real — and always much more complex — world of everyday life,” says course co-instructor Professor Jason Foster (EngSci). “For many of our students, working on high-impact projects like these helps them understand the role and responsibilities of being an engineer.”

Student teams revealed their innovative designs at the annual Praxis Showcase on April 8.

Read more about the Praxis II Showcase in the Toronto Star.


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