Winner of the CCOM Writing Recognition Award

Christian Barker is the winner of the Communication in Engineering-Writing Recognition Award for the 2016 Winter and Summer semesters. The award comes with a $500 prize from the Faculty of Engineering.

Title: The Feasibility of Fibre Reinforced Polymers as an Alternative to Steel in Reinforced Concrete


Abstract: The corrosiveness of steel compromises the structural integrity of reinforced concrete (RC) structures and costs the infrastructure industry billions of dollars every year. In response to this, engineers have developed fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs) – non-metallic composite materials of superior strength to be used in place of steel. The three most commonly used FRPs in construction are carbon, glass, and aramid. This paper discusses the feasibility of each FRP as an alternative to steel in RC structures by comparing their mechanical properties, sustainable merits, and costs. Research reveals that while glass FRP is most sustainable, its poor strength and durability render it unusable for most RC applications. Aramid FRP’s strength and durability fell short of carbon’s and it is most expensive. Carbon FRP demonstrates the highest strength, greatest durability, and lowest final costs making it the most feasible FRP to replace steel in RC. Recommendations for future implementation include establishing building codes, improving recyclability and lowering initial costs.

The full text of the paper can be downloaded from the record in eScolarship@McGill, McGill’s institutional repository.

Congratulations to Christian Barker on a well deserved award!

You Can Use More Resources Than You Expect

It was a nice sunny Saturday. I just walked out of a restaurant near Concordia. Nothing is better than a fruitful reading after a delicious meal. I was just about to take the 15-minute walk back to McGill campus when I received a call from my friend, who lived near Concordia and wished to have a conversation with me on her research paper. There was still nearly an hour before the scheduled time, and I didn’t want to bother to get back and forth between Concordia and McGill campuses. I just needed somewhere to read and work with a computer. So I simply went into the main Concordia library, presented the BCI card (Bureau de Coopération Interuniversitaire), which is a nice blue card for inter-university library services. This magic blue card enabled me to get a Concordia privilege card and a guest account for computer workstations in the library in just five minutes! With the guest account and that Concordia card, I was able to log in to the computer, access my material stored in Onedrive, print my documents and borrow books as conveniently as a Concordia student. Thanks to BCI, I could fill the time before my meeting in a super comfortable study environment in a nice library.

Yes, this is one of my privileges as a McGill student! A nice agreement called the Canadian University Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement has enabled all students, faculty and staff from McGill University to borrow books from any Quebec University Library. Just simply fill out an application form in the library. Then you can get a key to every Quebec library in a minute! Whether you want to enjoy the food around Concordia, or go to UQAM to reactivate your OPUS card, or maybe give a workshop at the University of Laval, you will always find a nice place to work and study afterwards. No more wasting time on travelling!

If you are a graduate student, here is something even more exciting: this access to libraries extends to the whole of Canada! Whether you are doing field work in Alberta, or attending a conference in Ontario, you will never worry about a lack of research resources. Remember to carry your McGill ID and BCI card. You are free to borrow books, learn and study and even write papers in almost any libraries nearby. You can even enjoy a library tour around Canada, which makes the trip more interesting and meaningful! Ask the loans desk in any McGill library during regular service hours, and enjoy this fancy service right away! You may enjoy more resources than you expect!

More information:

Special thanks to Mi Lin.


Thinking Outside the Brain

Innovation Week MCIN posterNext week is innovation week at McGill!

I want to bring your attention to an event that is geared towards undergraduate students of all backgrounds. The MCIN is hosting an interactive talk (with breakfast) highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience research. 

It is happening at the Montreal Neurological Institute (de Grandpré Communications Centre), Thursday, November 17th, 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Registration is required so sign up today to reserve your spot.

We are entering a new era in our understanding of both healthy and pathological brain function, which underpins all human behaviour.  It is only through interdisciplinary convergence, pooling the expertise of individuals with extraordinarily varied backgrounds of study and experience, that we can continue to advance our understanding of the ultimate puzzle that is the mind.  In this event, we will present ways in which “thinking outside the brain” has proven beneficial to brain research within our centre, along with small-group workshops to foster collaborative learning and encourage synergies.

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo: Deciding where to submit a manuscript for publication

look-of-successI am one of the instructors for the MyResearch graduate seminar series, which just ended for the autumn semester. It will be offered again in the winter. Issues in scholarly publishing are one of the topics we discuss in MyResearch, such as which factors should we consider for determining the best journal to submit a manuscript.

I use the following multi-step approach for selecting a journal:

1- With the database search results I exported to EndNote, I sort the relevant references in my EndNote Library by the “Journal” column and pick out a few journals (usually 3-5) that published the most articles on my topic.  You can also click on “analyze results” in Web of Science and Scopus to see the list of journals in your results set, listed from the ones with the most articles to the least.

2- I visit each journal’s website, where I read about the scope of the journal and look at the instructions to the authors.  This helps me determine whether my article would be considered for publication by the journal.  If yes, I move on to the next step.

3- I search for the Journal Impact Factor in Journal Citation Reports (you can also click on the journal name for a result in Web of Science to view the Journal Impact Factor), and then I use the “Compare journals” option in Scopus to search for each journal, which will enable me to look at the journal’s SJR (Scimago Journal Rank) score, IPP (Impact Per Publication) score, % not cited, and % reviews (review articles usually generate more citations, so if a journal publishes a lot of reviews, this might inflate its SJR and Journal Impact Factor scores).  All these metrics are calculated differently but viewed together they tell me a story of which journal has the higher impact, based on more than one criterion.

4- If the journals I’m comparing rank about the same, e.g., let’s say they both fall between the top 25-35% of highly cited journals, I consider other factors, such as:

i) How long will it take before I receive a decision about my manuscript, and what is the journal’s manuscript acceptance rate? (Look at the journal’s website for this information. If you’re short on time to meet a deadline that requires the work to be published, this factor might be very important because you want to give yourself enough time to resubmit to a second journal if the first journal rejects your manuscript.)

ii) In which databases is this journal indexed? (If there are more databases that provide references to articles in the journal, this increases the odds of someone finding a reference to your article and citing it.)

iii) Will the journal allow me to make, at least, a post-print (final text of your manuscript, incorporating changes from peer-review process) freely available on the web within 12 months after publication? (This will allow individuals without a personal or institutional subscription to the journal to be able to read your article without paying for it, and satisfy the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications for research funded by SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR. Search the journal in Sherpa Romeo to find this information or look at the journal’s website).

5- By this stage, I have usually narrowed down my list of multiple journals to two journals.  At this step, I consider personal preferences.  Which of the two journals do I read or use the most, or which one would make me the most proud if I received a letter of acceptance?

This is the seventh in a series of posts about topics relating to research skills and ethics. Happy Halloween!

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

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; for diamond, it is 4.00; for GaN, 9.50 Finally, silicon’s thermal conductivity at 300 K is 1.48 Diamond easily bests its competitors with a thermal conductivity of 32.2, while GaN’s thermal conductivity is 2.53 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.

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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.