Back to School!


As the new school year begins, hope you have your pencils sharpened and are ready to learn all about the library’s resources and services!  (If you don’t have any pencils, don’t worry we have some spares.)  With workshops and tours happening almost every day, take advantage of your time now by learning about the library so you can save time later.  Everyone is welcome: new students, returning students, undergraduates, graduate students, even parents!   There are two different activities scheduled at Schulich Library.   At Library Quick Start 101, you will learn how to:

  • Navigate the library website
  • Find books, course materials, and other useful resources
  • Get help from a librarian

At the Welcome Tour, you will discover your home away from home!  We’ll show you where to:

  • Find your secret study space
  • Scan, print, and copy
  • Check out a book

For the schedule of orientation activities taking place at Schulich Library, please go here.

On behalf of the Schulich Library staff, we look forward to meeting you or welcoming you back soon!

Ode to the Bike Rack


The best part of my day is my bike commute to and from work.  It energizes me for the workday ahead and gives me time to reflect on the day that’s gone by.  Often it’s a time when creative solutions to the day’s challenges pop into my head like a happy email suddenly appearing in my inbox.  How can we ensure that more McGillians have the chance to partake of this bliss on two wheels that is as good for the body as it is for the soul?  On an already crowded campus, there’s not much room for bikes and it certainly could be a challenge really soon once new and returning students descend on the campus en masse for the start of classes.  One way would be to ensure that there is ample bike parking and this is just what a group of McGill Mechanical Engineering students set out to do a couple of years ago when they designed a space-saving bike rack as part of a class project.

The result is impressive.  Their bike rack is called the VeloCurve and is situated next to the Redpath Museum.  It looks like a work of modern art, resembling part spider, part flower.  The aesthetic component was important as a potential factor in encouraging people to cycle, say the founders in a video clip found here.  The bike rack first appeared on campus last summer and since then the students, who have now graduated, have been busy commercializing their product through their company VeloCyko.  The bike rack is space saving because it stores bikes vertically, saving 40% more space compared to a traditional bike rack, an important feature on this campus and in many other places in our densely crowded cities.  It discourages theft too because when locking a bike, the cyclist stands upright and is visible rather than crouched down and out of sight as a thief would want to be.

If you want more details, check out their website at where more innovative designs are on the way.

And once school starts, if you can’t get yourself a spot using the VeloCurve, here is a map of other bike parking on campus.

Intro to physics online – lab included

There are any number of free introductory science courses available as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). This one, however, is the first that I’ve seen that includes a laboratory component. It looks like all that you need to participate in Introductory Physics with Laboratory from Coursera is a smartphone with a camera or a webcam to capture video. They will provide the open source software for analyses.

Let me know if you give it a go.

Don’t Get Bitten by One of These This Summer!


Watch where you’re swimming while on vacation this summer so as not to run into one of these giant jellyfish!  Mechanical engineers at Virginia Tech have been busy developing an autonomous underwater robot that looks just like a jellyfish and acts like one too.  It moves about just like the real thing in all depths and temperature ranges.  The 170-pound robo-jellyfish prototype named Cyro can be used to “monitor ocean currents or enemy combatants, study aquatic life, or map the sea floor” (Prism Magazine).  The project is funded by the US Navy.

Likewise, here at McGill, engineers from McGill’s Mobile Robotics Lab, School of Computer Science and the Centre for Intelligent Machines, along with partners at York University and Dalhousie University, have been busy developing their own autonomous underwater robot called the AQUA Robot that uses its six flippers to swim.  Like Cyro, the AQUA Robot can be used for studying marine habitats.  It “can explore underwater environments and gather data with minimum disturbance of the indigenous marine life” (The AQUA Project).

Watch how it moves here.

Perhaps you’ll have a chance to see the AQUA Robot live in action by participating in McGill’s Barbados Field Study Semester where it is known to swim in the clear, warm waters off the coast of the Bellairs Research Institute in Holetown, Barbados.

Even if your vacation doesn’t take you to any exotic locations this summer, you might still have a chance to spy the AQUA Robot at the McGill Athletics swimming pool where it performs its tests.  And if that’s not enough, you can even buy one of your own!

Happy and safe swimming this summer with or without the underwater robot!

Image from Prism Magazine