A little piece of Schulich Library goes to China!

One of the main reasons I love working at McGill is the opportunity to interact with amazing students and staff who are doing exciting projects that could potentially change the world. The 99 McGill and Concordia student, staff, and alumni members of Team Montreal are currently part of one such endeavor. They are building a net zero energy home, a prototype that could revolutionize how we live in the future since the technological design features of this house enable it to create as much energy as the house dwellers consume. They have all kinds of sponsors including their lead presenting sponsor, Hydro Quebec, who sees this project as an opportunity for them to become a main player in technologies related to intelligent and sustainable home design. Hydro Quebec’s vice-president of client services, Eric Filion, sees this project as a way for them to learn more about innovative technologies and actually test them out.

Not only is Team Montreal building a house that could change for the better the way we live, they are also out to win the Solar Decathlon China 2018 competition currently taking place in China, where, as the only team from Canada, they are competing against 21 other teams from around the world. Once the competition is over, most houses will remain on public display either in China or elsewhere. Team members say there are plans to build other houses in Montreal using the same design.

What is particularly cool about the Team Montreal design is the way it takes the traditional row housing style of architecture so predominant in Montreal and creates something new, incorporating Asian-style features such as an open-air courtyard, and innovative technologies that enhance the house’s sustainability. For a sneak peek of how the house will look upon completion, check out the 3-minute video here (part-way down the page on the right-hand side).

I had heard about the project a few months back and was thrilled to be contacted in April by one of the team members who was asking for help. They wanted to have books on architecture and engineering to add to the house’s built-in bookshelves. The books could show signs of use since they wanted to give the house a lived-in feel. I was so happy to be able to support this fantastic project. Right away, I contacted my engineering librarian counterpart at Concordia, Joshua Chalifour to see if he could help out. Joshua had a number of engineering books that were going to be discarding due to them being so well-used and they had purchased replacement copies already. He willingly lugged a bunch of them over by foot from Concordia for me to add to the pile. So along with the books Joshua brought over, we had a combination of items from Schulich Library that were donations we already had in our collection, items that we were going to discard because we had duplicate copies or newer editions, and some old engineering trade magazines from my personal collection.

It was very exciting to correspond and meet with team members Kim Chayer and Thierry Syriani. Their enthusiasm for this project is certainly contagious! When they came to see the books, they were really happy to take everything! The books went out in two shipments, with the pre-fabricated house materials in big crates, the 1st shipment being in April and the 2nd one in June.

How can you help? You can support the team by liking and following them on Facebook or by following their diary where, as I write, they are in the home stretch of needing to assemble the house within the next few days. They are battling hot weather, challenges associated with pre-fabrication construction, heavy rain, and typhoon threats in order to complete the house on time. You can also support them by making a donation.

Go Team Montreal! Who knows, some of the engineering books you may have used in courses taught at McGill and Concordia might be lining the shelves of this year’s prize-winning house of the Solar Decathlon China competition!

Exploring McGill on a rainy day

I’m taking advantage of this rainy day to tune in to the Mini-Science 2018 episodes: Women in Science at McGill (and beyond). This seven-part series was recorded and made available on the McGill YouTube channel.

YouTube is the place to go If you have ever wondered if you could watch lectures and events that have taken place on campus. Videos include public forums, competitions, and conference presentations.

Apart from the main channel, there are additional options on YouTube for webcasts related to science at McGill: AstroMcGill, Separating Sense From Nonsense (McGill Office for Science and Society), Montreal Neuro, and McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

If you have time, I highly recommend the first episode of this year’s Mini-Science – History of Women in Science (below). In it, Principal Suzanne Fortier tells an engaging story about her experience growing up in a small town in Quebec and her unique path to science. There were a total of three books in her home, but to find out which three you will have to watch.

Enjoy the rain!

Communicating Science: Profile of Sierra Clark by Audrey Carleton

Today we have a guest student post, originally submitted as a class assignment for Communicating Science (CCOM 314). With support from Diane Dechief, Faculty Lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre, we will be sharing more noteworthy student writing right here on The Turret.

Audrey Carleton chose to write a profile on Sierra Clark, a graduate student supervised by Dr. Jill Baumgartner in the Institute for Health and Social Policy.

Sierra Clark

Headline: Sierra Clark on indoor air pollution and academic uncertainty

Subhead: McGill Master’s student tests lifesaving interventions for Tibetan Plateau residents

By: Audrey Carleton

Date: December 1, 2017

Sierra Clark has been reading National Geographic for as long as she can remember. Even before she learned to read, she would eagerly flip through the magazine’s glossy pages to admire its photos. From this young age, she had her sights set on someday working for the publication as an archaeologist.

In the twenty years that followed, Clark had a few changes of heart. When she began her undergraduate degree at McGill University in 2011, she was enrolled with a major in Anthropology. But after sitting through a few convoluted lectures in an introductory anthropology course, she realized the program wasn’t the right fit for her. One meeting with an academic advisor later, she settled on a major in Geography, and swiftly fell in love with it. Upon graduating in 2015, she swiftly enrolled in a Master’s Program in Epidemiology at McGill, which she is completing now. All the while, Clark continued to read National Geographic religiously. Continue reading

Another winning paper!

The Fall 2016 Excellence in Written Communication Award goes to Brittany Stott for “Controlling myoelectric-prosthetics through the use of nerves and muscles.”

The accomplishment comes with a monetary prize of $500 from the Faculty of Engineering.

The CCOM 206: Communication in Engineering Writing Recognition Committee found the paper to be very clearly written and well organized, and noted the exemplary use of figures and a table.

The abstract is pasted below but you can download the full paper from the record in eScholarship, McGill’s digital repository.

People who are fitted with prosthetics due to the loss of a limb may have difficulty performing simple daily tasks that may be taken for granted, such as tying shoe laces or opening a jar. The prosthetics used today are often rigid, inflexible, bulky molds that are standardized and have minimal degrees of freedom. The development of myoelectric-controlled prosthetics has greatly facilitated the performance of daily tasks by the user, although the best method for controlling these prosthetics is still to be determined. This paper compares and discusses three major advancements in prosthetic control electrode arrays, osseointegration, and targeted muscle reinnervation by examining stability, accuracy, and movability of the user controlling the prosthetic. It is determined that the most beneficial solution for the user would be the implementation of osseointegration and targeted muscle reinnervation combined. This combination would allow the creation of a prosthetic that would increase the accuracy and stability of the artificial limb, and that would provide a more permanent and long-term solution. In addition, the creation of a myoelectric-controlled prosthetic that incorporates these two methods would allow for further research and would increase the stability, accuracy, and movability of the user.

Stay tuned for the winner of the Winter and Summer 2017 Excellence in Written Communication Award…

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!

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.

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.

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.

Science Literacy Week: Register today

At Schulich Library we ♥ science and we have created an amazing lineup of events to share our love of science with you. This year we are participating in Science Literacy Week and it is only one week away: September 21st – 27th.

I invite you to visit our guide to Science Literacy Week @ McGill, where you will find info on exhibits and events organized by the Library and the Redpath Museum.

There are so many events scheduled that I will let the list speak for itself:

Register today!

And the winning CCOM 206 paper is…

I could not be more excited to be a member of the CCOM 206: Communication in Engineering Writing Recognition Committee, alongside some of the fantastic course lecturers. One of the assignments in CCOM 206 is to write a research paper and the committee had the difficult task of awarding the best paper to one student in the fall term. There were 337 students enrolled in the course and 12 papers were shortlisted for the award by instructors. We carefully considered the originality and practicality of the research question and proposed solutions in each paper, along with the depth of research and academic sources referenced, argument coherency and consistency, and overall clarity and quality of the writing.

The best paper among all those excellent research papers chosen for consideration is “Recycling Carbon Fibre Reinforced Composites: A Market and Environmental Assessment” by Maxime Lauzé.

McGill Library is hosting the winning paper in eScholarship, a digital repository which stores and showcases the publications and theses of McGill University faculty and students. Maxime will also receive a formal certificate from the McGill Writing Centre and a $50 gift certificate for the McGill Bookstore.

Here is the abstract of the winning paper:

Both environmental and economic factors have driven the development of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) waste recycling processes. This paper will present the causes of increased use of carbon fibre composites as well as the consequences of such growth. As well, the advantages and disadvantages of three current recycling technologies available are discussed, focusing on fibre quality, commercial flexibility, and environmental impact. Chemical recycling produces best quality fibre with negative environmental impact while mechanical recycling produces bad quality fibre with good environmental impact. As a result, this paper argues that the best recycling method available today is a thermal process called conventional pyrolysis, because it produces good quality recyclate while being very energy efficient, tolerant to contamination and therefore also the best commercial candidate.

On behalf of the Writing Recognition Committee, congratulations to all those who were shortlisted for the award!