uOttawa Triumphs at PEO Student Paper Night

Posted on Thursday, June 4, 2015

PEO competition

Two teams of talented students have won the PEO Student Paper Night competition for uOttawa. Held on April 8, 2015 at the Sala San Marco Center in Ottawa, the event brought together fourth-year undergraduate students from both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University to present and defend their projects before a panel of judges from the engineering community. The outstanding performance of our students won uOttawa the Tom Foulkes Trophy for strongest university of the evening.

The winner in the category “Best Overall Presentation” was a project entitled “SULUNA”. The students behind this project were Christopher Morgan, Mathieu Lemay, and Jonathan Bedard Schami, who worked under the supervision of Professor Riadh Habash of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The team, with the collaboration of a doctor, designed a device that a heart surgeon could use to measure the size of a heart’s valve. This device would serve in the case where a valve is not functional and needs to be replaced.

Another uOttawa project, entitled “Microbial Fuel Cells”, won in the “Innovation and Creativity” category. This was the work of student Matt Nielson, under the supervision of Professor Kevin Kennedy of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The project focused on microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are devices that harness bacteria to break down organic matter in a solution while simultaneously producing electricity. While MFCs remain in the early stages of research, they have the potential to turn wastewater treatment plants into full-scale power plants in the near future. In Matt’s project, several improvements were made to the design of reactors in order to demonstrate that green energy can be produced from even the most concentrated wastewater.

As Matt explains, “this project was a perfect fit for me. Dr. Kevin Kennedy, an expert on anaerobic digestion and wastewater treatment, guided me through the challenges of working with anaerobic bacteria and researching in a field that is still in its infancy. As a project that touches on chemical, civil and environmental engineering, “Green Energy from Microbial Fuel Cells” should be of interest to anyone who wants to “think outside of the box” when addressing some of the biggest environmental challenges of today.

The Student Paper Night competition is organised by the Ottawa Chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the licensing and regulating body for the field of engineering in Ontario, who gave out $1,000 in prizes to several deserving teams.

Matt Nielsen comments: “The projects that were presented by uOttawa and Carleton were all very unique and it made me realize how diverse the engineering field truly is. I really enjoyed being able to meet practicing professional engineers, and it was a humbling experience presenting my work in front of them. At the end of the night, winning the award for “Innovation and Creativity” and being able to hold the Foulkes Trophy for uOttawa’s win over Carleton was an honour!

Several uOttawa professors attended the event to support our students: Professors Sai Vanapalli, Colin Rennie, Xudong Cao, Ronald Townsend, André Skaff, and the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Dr. Claude Laguë.

Professor Skaff applauds the students: “I would like to congratulate the students for their participation in this competition and for their excellent presentations.

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