Fall 2015 writing recognition award winner

Congratulations goes to William Bouchard, winner of the Communication in Engineering Writing Recognition Award! His paper was the best of those submitted in the 2015 fall semester of CCOM-206.

Here is the abstract of the winning paper, A Study of the Material Best Suited to Replace Silicon as the Principal Semiconductor In Computer Chips:

Transistors made from silicon are more ubiquitous than ever, but the technology itself is not optimal. Some physical properties of silicon may hinder future technological progress. Two alternative semiconductor materials – diamond and gallium nitride (GaN) – are studied and their properties compared in order to find a suitable replacement. Speed is evaluated by using cutoff frequency and electron mobility; resistance to voltage and heat is evaluated by using the breakdown electric field, melting point, and thermal conductivity. It is found that diamond possesses superior characteristics in nearly every category. Of particular import are the cutoff frequency, the breakdown electric field, and the thermal conductivity of each transistor. The cutoff frequency of a silicon transistor is 0.055 GHz. For both the diamond and GaN transistors, it is 2 GHz. The breakdown electric field of silicon is 0.22 V.cm-1; for diamond, it is 4.00 V.cm-1; for GaN, 9.50 V.cm-1. Finally, silicon’s thermal conductivity at 300 K is 1.48 W.cm-1.K-1. Diamond easily bests its competitors with a thermal conductivity of 32.2 W.cm-1.K-1, while GaN’s thermal conductivity is 2.53 W.cm-1.K-1. In light of these results, a diamond semiconductor has the potential to offer much faster and much more reliable transistors to many markets, ranging from professional applications to consumer-grade electronics.

The full paper is available in McGill’s institutional repository, eScholarship.

William Bouchard is the third undergraduate student to win the Writing Recognition Award, an award that comes with a monetary prize of $500 from the Faculty of Engineering. Read more about the award and the first and second recipients, posted in The Turret.

Oct. 4: McGill Engineering Research Showcase (MERS) & Canadian Graduate Engineering Consortium (CGEC) Graduate School Fair

Please join McGill’s Faculty of Engineering on Tuesday Oct. 4, from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the McConnell Engineering Building Lobby and 1st floor hallway to learn more about the innovative research taking place via poster presentations from graduate students at the McGill Engineering Research Showcase (MERS). More information/register here.

And hear from the Canadian Graduate Engineering Consortium (CGEC) to learn more about pursuing graduate studies with some of Canada’s top engineering schools: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo who will each have representatives present to speak with students. More information/register here.

From Star Trek to honeybees

United States design patent 307,923This year’s Science Literacy Week really does have it all, starting with two amazing library exhibits:

  1. The Science of Star Trek at Schulich Library
  2. Knowing Blood, Medical Observations, Fluid Meanings at Osler Library of the History of Medicine.

If you can’t make it up to Osler Library, we have a touch table coming to Schulich Library tomorrow that will allow you to explore the Knowing Blood exhibit from Tuesday to Friday.

The fun with technology does not stop there, however, because we have 3D printing and learn to code workshops. You can also explore virtual reality technologies with the Oculus Rift. I will definitely be there for that.

I haven’t forgotten about the bees…we have hives on the roof of Schulich Library and they make the best honey. Take a visit up there with an experienced beekeeper.

There is more happening than I can mention here but I don’t want to leave out Wednesday’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women in science, or the talk from Dr. Joe Schwarcz on the facts and myths of eating right on Thursday afternoon.

I will leave you with the calendar of events to explore. Now if only we had transporter rooms… Well, there is always next year!

Poster Presentation Fair for Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE)

sure_posterOnce again, SURE will host their annual Poster Presentation Fair on Thursday August 11 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm in Trottier Building where you will see exhibits of SURE students’ work under close supervision with McGill Engineering professors on research projects for the past 4 months this summer. For more information, please see here.

5 Things about Schulich Library That You Might Not Know

You probably have been studying at McGill for a while. But do you know all the resources and services offered by the McGill Library, especially those that are available at Schulich Library? Here are some of the services that most students don’t know.

No.1 Online Reservation

Do you know that if you are looking for a book or an article, you don’t even need to come to the library?  You don’t need to find your book on the shelves. You only need to make your reservation online, put a hold request and select the pick-up location at any McGill Library branch. Library staff are going to get it for you. The service is called Requesting items for pick-up.

No.2 After-Hours Access (AHA)

Do you want to get access to Schulich after it is closed, even on weekends or holidays? Now here is a way. You can use the service at Schulich library called After-hours Access (AHA). With your student card and the password you choose, you can get unlimited access to the Schulich Library. No need to worry about the open hours of the library any more.  Note that this service is only available for graduate students.

No.3 Group Study Room Reservation

You want to find a group study room for a group project or for discussion? Here is what you should do. McGill Library has a lot of group study rooms. Some of them have the white board and projector for you to use.  It would only take you 2 min to make a reservation online.

No.4 Single Board Computer for borrowing

If you start basic programming and want to test it on a single board computer, this would absolutely be of interest to you. Schulich Library has Arduino and Raspberry Pi lending. Here is info about Arduino and Raspberry Pi lendingList of items in the catalogue.

No.5 Use the Wonderful Online Resources Easily

You can borrow e-books and e-audiobooks from McGill Library.  Overdrive makes e-audiobooks at McGill Library easily accessible to students. If you install Overdrive on your mobile device, using your McGill email and password you will have access to all the e-audiobooks at McGill Library. Here are the instructions for borrowing E-audiobooks and  E-books. The books are available to you here.

Continue reading

Usage Counts in WoS

Web of Science Usage CountsWe are used to going to Web of Science to see how many times a particular paper has been cited but if you haven’t used the database in a while, you may not have noticed that they added alternative metrics.

Usage counts are now provided that add up the number of times the full text links of a paper have been clicked, and the number of times that it has been saved for use in a bibliographic management tool. Counts are provided from the last 180 days or since since February 1, 2013.

For more info on impact measurements, visit our guide.

Another award-winning paper

The second winner of the Communication in Engineering (CCOM 206) Writing Recognition Award is, Elie Bou-Gharios. Thanks to the generosity of the Faculty of Engineering, this award now comes with a monetary prize of $500.

For the Winter 2015 term, the Writing Recognition Committee found that Elie Bou-Gharios’ paper, “Methods of Carbon Nanotube Production”, stood out from the rest.

Here is the abstract of the winning paper:

Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) have shown the potential to change the engineering world with their unprecedented strength, stiffness and semiconductive capabilities. However, the production and alignment of masses of high quality nanotubes has proven challenging at an industrial scale. This paper assesses the effectiveness of the three leading methods of CNT production in terms of quality, yield, cost and scalability. Chemical Vapour Deposition was found to produce higher quality CNTs at greater yields and lower costs than Arc-discharge or Laser Ablation. By engaging catalysts at the gas stage of production and utilising well-developed technology, it also has shown the most potential for large-scale implementation.

Read the full paper in eScholarship, a digital repository which stores and showcases the publications and theses of McGill University faculty and students.

Congratulations, Elie!

If you missed the announcement of the first winner of the award, you can find it here.

Presenting with style: Mixing the arts of storytelling & teaching

In 3-minute thesis competitions, participants explain their research projects (the why, the how, and the implications for the real world) to non-experts in three minutes or less. The speaker of the best presentation wins. Great presenters will:

  • speak clearly and unhurriedly;
  • vary their pitch;
  • incorporate a story, include a metaphor from everyday life, and/or strike an emotional cord in the listener;
  • mention unexpected/interesting facts about their topics (e.g., Silver changes the color of your tongue to blue.); and
  • provide tangible examples.

The “CHEE 687: Research Skills and Ethics” class watched some 3-minute thesis competitors in action to prepare for their own presentations. My favourite 3-minute thesis talk was from Balarka Banerjee.showing lung capacityWe also discussed elements of a good PowerPoint presentation, which:

  • has minimal content on each slide;
  • contains descriptive/specific headings (rather than general and predictable headings like Introduction, Background, Results, Conclusions);
  • engages the audience at the beginning of the presentation with news headlines, statistics, or a story;
  • includes consistent formatting throughout;
  • utilizes a light background with dark text;
  • employs graphics to explain phenomena, processes, and/or concepts; and
  • includes citations for any images used (when not your own) on the slide itself.

This is the sixth in a series of weekly posts about topics relating to research skills and ethics. I will be taking a temporary hiatus from blogging and will resume writing this series later on in 2016. Happy holidays!

Image from the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats cartoon strip by Adam “Ape Lad” Koford (creative commons license)

Lab notebooks: Are they written in stone?

Researchers use lab notebooks to keep a daily record of their work, exactly as it happened. Lab notebooks are treated as if they are written in stone since you are not supposed to change a previous entry in any way. The lab notebook serves as proof and a complete permanent record of what was done, enabling researchers to write up their work, defend authorship and patents, remain organized, and teach others.notes everywhereBest practices for recording information in lab notebooks were discussed in a “CHEE 687: Research Skills and Ethics” lecture, and consist of:

  • Employing a bound notebook made with acid-free paper;
  • Writing in permanent ink;
  • Dating your entries and signing them at the end of the day;
  • Recording hypotheses, the plan for experiments, step-by-step procedures, all results observed, the use and location of materials, the calibration of instruments if applicable, etc., basically including as many details as possible so that another person can understand and reproduce your work;
  • Never removing pages, rather drawing a line through blank pages if you skipped some, and drawing lines through errors made when writing and initializing the strikethroughs;
  • Consecutively numbering the pages of your notebook;
  • Organizing content using headings and dividing it into sections when appropriate;
  • Attaching images and printouts of raw data to a notebook using glue;
  • Summarizing what you have done periodically; and
  • Reporting discussions with others about your work, including the names of the individuals.

This is the fifth in a series of weekly posts about topics relating to research skills and ethics. Stay tuned for the next post in the series, which will be about effective presentation styles for explaining your work to different audiences.

Image from the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats cartoon strip by Adam “Ape Lad” Koford (creative commons license)

Scientific misconduct: What is the link between cured sausage and dishonest authorship practices?

Salami, especially homemade, is one of my favourite cold cuts. I enjoy eating this type of cured sausage for lunch every once in a while. Some people say the taste of salami is different depending on the thickness of the slices. Salami is also a word used to describe papers in which the authors present very little original content since these papers are mostly a duplication of work already published by the authors. These are called salami publications. Instead of presenting the complete story of the research they conducted in the first article they wrote, the authors may have withheld some details to be able to write a second, third, fourth paper, etc. on essentially the same topic, or the authors may publish multiple papers employing similar methodologies to answer similar research questions. The authors are salami slicing or diluting the presentation of their research work to obtain more publications out of it. Regardless of whether the slicing is thin or thick, this is an example of a dishonest authorship practice that the class discussed in “CHEE 687: Research Skills and Ethics.”

We also talked about other improper authorship practices, such as:

  • manipulating data and/or images so that they look better but misrepresent what was found;
  • stretching the truth about research progress;
  • collecting or reporting data in a sloppy manner that leads to the presentation of inaccurate results;
  • sharing others’ ideas or data that you learned about in a confidential setting;
  • plagiarizing, whether including ideas or text from another’s work or your own previous work without properly citing it;
  • publishing the same work in different journals;
  • having another individual write the paper for you while you take credit for being the author; and
  • listing individuals as co-authors of a paper solely due to their reputations or authoritative ranks, even though they did not make a significant contribution to the research.keyword exposure

Just as you would do on a witness stand in the courtroom, behaving ethically as an author means reporting “the truth [i.e., the real data], the whole truth [making no changes to the real data], and nothing but the truth [not including additional information that is not based on the real data].”

Scientific misconduct encompasses all of the improper authorship practices described above since it includes engaging in any activities that are dishonest or involve lying in the data collection and reporting stages, like fabricating and falsifying data or results. The consequences for misconduct can be disastrous to a person’s career (e.g., student expelled, researcher fired, funding lost).

This is the fourth in a series of weekly posts about topics relating to research skills and ethics. Stay tuned for the next post in the series, which will be about best practices for recording and storing laboratory data.

Image from the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats cartoon strip by Adam “Ape Lad” Koford (creative commons license)