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Thursday, July 31, 2014



  • Velocity Fund winners named
  • Engineering better bridges
  • Thursday's notes



Velocity Fund winners and their large cheques.
Velocity Fund winners named

with files from Velocity.

After impressing the judges and a standing-room-only crowd, several student entrepreneurs won $25,000 to grow their companies in the latest round of the Velocity Fund Finals on July 24.

The competition began with 10 young entrepreneurs pitching live for three $1,000 prizes. Out of the ten competing companies, Suncayr won two of the awards: Most Innovative and People’s Choice. The Best Pitch award was captured by Boogaloo Bunks.

The afternoon’s main event – the $25,000 competition – drew a large crowd, and the winners received their oversized $25,000 cheques - ExVivo Labs, Grobo, MAJiK Systems and Ubiq. Ubiq won an additional $10K for best hardware startup – an award introduced last term.

According to a statement from Velocity, three of the four winners are looking to commercialize products with both hardware and software components.

Velocity director Mike Kirkup also announced the end of the $1,000 competition, which will be replaced in November with a $5,000 competition at the next Velocity Fund Finals event.

Photograph courtesy of Velocity.


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Pedestrians walk across the test aluminum bridge.
Engineering better bridges

by Carol Truemner.

It’s not often that you’ll see an indoor pedestrian bridge – especially one that’s 70 feet long and made from aluminum.

But that’s what you’ll find currently set up in Waterloo’s civil and environmental engineering’s structures lab.

There, a team led by civil and environmental engineering professors Scott Walbridge and Sriram Narasimhan is collecting vibration data to develop better models for simulating crowd loads on similar structures and discover ways to make aluminum pedestrian bridges more economical.

“One of the unique things about this bridge system is that it’s modular so we can make it various lengths to see how the vibration behaviour changes according to the different lengths,” says Walbridge.

The bridge is equipped with four load cells to accurately record the load and 12 accelerometers to measure the accelerations.

To help with the testing various groups, including a class of Grade 4/5 students, have been walking and running along the bridge. Earlier this month, 29 civil engineering students took their turn crossing the structure multiple times.

Watching them in action were industry partners Jacques Internoscia of the Aluminum Association of Canada, and Alexandre de la Chevrotière and Simon Lacasse of the MAADI Group, the company that built and donated the bridge.

Walbridge's interest in aluminum bridge research piqued when he became involved with the Canadian Bridge Design Code and was part of the committee that in 2011 released the first rules for designing aluminum bridges in Canada.

It was on that committee that he met de la Chevrotière, the president of the MAADI Group, who was so impressed with the research being done in Waterloo Engineering that he soon became an industry partner. It was de la Chevrotière who reached out to the Aluminum Association of Canada to help fund the project.

Aluminum advantages

The advantages of using aluminum rather than the concrete and steel are that it’s lightweight, more durable – it won’t corrode or degrade over time – and has the potential to last much longer. Aluminum bridges can also be prefabricated resulting in quicker installation and reduced delays for users.

But there is a downside, points out Narasimhan. “They come with a set of problems that stiffer concrete and steel bridges generally don’t have, which is they’re very sensitive to people walking on them. So we need to figure out how to better predict how they perform if they do exhibit this lively behaviour that you see right now,” he says.

Two of Narasimhan and Walbridge’s civil engineering graduate students have been working on the project for almost two years. Ann Sychterz, a master’s student, and Pampa Dey, a doctoral candidate, have completed preliminary full-scale testing in the field and on the model bridge they helped set up in the lab last month.

“Seeing the lateral movement is fun and eye-popping at the same time,” says Sychterz, who along with Dey, organizes the students walking across the structure.

The bridge, which Narasimhan says is the first full-scale modular kind in the world, will be dismantled before the end of July and moved to another location in engineering.

Next steps include analyzing the testing data, refining predictive models based on findings, and recommending changes to the way aluminum bridges are designed.


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Thursday's notes

President and Vice-Chancellor Feridun Hamdullahpur has penned an editorial that appeared in yesterday's Globe and Mail on the subject of university research rankings.

The Statistical Society of Canada (SSC) has recently handed out awards to two members of the Waterloo community: Mary Thompson, Distinguished Professor Emerita is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the Statistical Society of Canada. The award "honours an individual who has played an important and substantial role in fostering growth and success of the Canadian Statistical Sciences community through leadership in the SSC." In addition, Liqun Diao was named the winner of the 2013 Pierre Robillard Award for the best PhD thesis in probability or statistics defended at a Canadian university in 2013. Liqun’s thesis was entitled "Copula Models for Multi-type Life History Processes". It was written under the supervision of Professor Richard Cook.


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Link of the day

50 years ago: The moon gets its close-up

When and where

Winter Course Selection Week, Monday, July 28 to Monday, August 4.

Conrad Grebel University College Peace Camp, Monday, July 28 to Friday, August 1. Details.

Architecture Capstone Design Symposium, Monday, July 28 to Friday, August 1, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., School of Architecture, Cambridge. Details.

Pre-Examination Study Days, Thursday, July 31 to Monday, August 4.

Retirement celebration for Paul Hayes, Thursday, July 31, 3:00 p.m., EIT 3142.

Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI) Discussion Night, Thursday, July 31, 6:00 p.m., SLC 3103. Details.

Violin Graduation Recital featuring Hannah Dotzert, Thursday, July 31, 7:00 p.m., Conrad Grebel University Chapel. Details.

August Civic Holiday, Monday, August 4, university buildings and services closed.

On-Campus Examinations Begin, Tuesday, August 5.

CrySP Speaker Series on Privacy, Nicholas Hopper, University of Minnesota, "New adversary models for censorship circumvention schemes," Tuesday, August 5, 3:00 p.m., DC 2585. Details.

Gustav Bakos Observatory Tour, Wednesday, August 6, 9:00 p.m., meet in PHY 308.

Online Class Examinations, Friday, August 8 and Saturday, August 9.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Zoltan Takats, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial College London, UK, “Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry – real-time, in-situ diagnostics of cancer, inflammatory diseases and infections”, Friday, August 8, 10:30 a.m., C2-361. Details.

Science, Technology and Gender: Challenges and Opportunities, Sunday, August 10 to Wednesday, August 13, Ron Eydt Village. Details.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, Monday, August 11 to Friday, August 15, Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). Details.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Hans-Joachim Knölker, Department of Chemistry, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, “Total Synthesis of Alkaloids Using Transition Metals”, Tuesday, August 12, 2:30 p.m., C2-361. Details.

Examination Period ends, Saturday, August 16.

Unofficial grades appear in Quest, Monday, August 18.

Chemistry Department Seminar Series featuring Prof. Peter Metz, Department of Chemistry and Food Chemistry, Technische Universität, Dresden, Germany, “Total Synthesis of Hydroazulene Natural Products”, Monday, August 18, 2:30 p.m., C2-361. Details.

7th Annual St. Paul's Master's Golf Tournament, Friday, August 22, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Glen Eagle Golf Club, Caledon. Details.

Gustav Bakos Observatory Tour, Wednesday, September 3, 8:00 p.m., meet in PHY 308.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, September 11, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Student Life Centre lower atrium. Details.

PhD Oral Defences

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Haytham Mohamed, "Zonal Energy Management and Optimization Systems for Smart Grid Applications." Supervisors, Magdy Salama, Ramadan El-Shatshat. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Thursday, August 7, 9:30 a.m., EIT 3142.

Systems Design Engineering. Mohamed Aly, "Antibacterial Porous Polymeric Monolith for On-Chip Cell Lysis Applications." Supervisor, John Yeow. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, August 8, 9:30 a.m., E5 3052.

Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering. Kaushik Saha, "Modelling of Cavitation in Nozzles for Diesel Injection Applications." Supervisor, Xianguo Li. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, PHY 3004. Oral defence Friday, August 8, 9:30 a.m., E5-3006.

Earth & Environmental Sciences. Keith Delaney, "Characterisation and Analysis of Catastrophic Landslides and Related Processes using Digital Cartographic Techniques." Supervisor, Stephen Evans. On deposit in the Science graduate office, PHY 2008. Oral defence Friday, August 8, 1:00 p.m., EIT 2053.


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