Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

NOW HIRING: Electronics Research Assistant with our WAMIC Team

Electronics Engineering Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC)

The Electronics Engineering Technology Research Assistant will have a comprehensive skill set to work with Research Leads, Research Project Manager, and Industry Partners in the development of electronic systems. The Research Assistant will report to the Research Project Manager. Some duties will include assisting in the design, building and testing of electronics systems, troubleshooting and improving the developed circuits and systems and implementing robotic-based platforms (i.e. Arduino and Raspberry Pi) and related software.

See the full Electronics Research Assistant job posting for more details. 
The deadline to apply is Friday, October 7th at 12pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter, class schedule and transcript to [email protected] and reference posting ‘WAMIC Research Assistant’ in the subject line.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

 

NOW HIRING: Software Developer Research Associate with our WAMIC team

Software Developer Research Associate, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

The successful candidate will work with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team. Work includes programming, testing and troubleshooting of interface software for product development of advanced manufacturing research projects. The position could involve development of web/cloud/IoT services, and helping to develop cloud technology. You will work with senior team members in Advanced Manufacturing developing new products, which require support in programming of Industry 4.0 applications.

See the full Software Developer Research Associate job posting and apply today.
The deadline to apply is Friday, September 23rd at 12pm.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

Program manager’s expertise embodied by versatility

It doesn’t say it on any of her degrees or professional credentials, but Amal Driouich is a versatile engineer.

In title, she’s technically an industrial engineer who recently earned her Professional Engineer (P.Eng) designation. But to be an industrial engineer, Driouich had to take courses in civil, electrical, chemical, software and mechanical engineering. She also had to study accounting, finance and project management – all to become the whole, versatile engineer package who can optimize or design systems, improve processes, manage resources, projects, and stakeholders to achieve the desired outcomes.

“It’s putting together the pieces of the puzzle to form that big picture. It’s thinking about what is the most efficient way to run a system,” Driouich says. “I don’t mind getting into the details and figuring out how something works. I enjoy challenges.”

Fortunately for her, there’s no shortage of challenges in her role as research program manager with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). Driouich is the one who oversees the planning and execution of industry projects in advanced manufacturing.

She puts together all those puzzle pieces to bring ideas to life for industry partners who know what they want to achieve but don’t always know the steps to get there.

“I don’t mind getting into the details and figuring out how something works. I enjoy challenges.”

Growing up in Morocco, some of Driouich’s happiest moments came while doing math at school. She had a natural aptitude for figuring out numbers. It wasn’t lost on those who taught her, who encouraged her to become an engineer.

Similar to the people she works with today, Driouich wasn’t sure how to do that, mostly because she didn’t know what an engineer was.

“My math and physics teachers kept encouraging me to pursue an engineering career,” she recalled. “I said, ‘OK, tell me what engineers do?’”

Whatever they said convinced her. She enrolled in industrial engineering in university in Morocco, completing her undergraduate degree before doing her master’s in mechanical engineering with a specialization in industrial engineering at Laval University in Quebec.

As a woman, she was in the minority in those engineering classes in Morocco. Driouich expected that to change in Canada, but she recalled the gender imbalance being even greater. That is why in her spare time, through various volunteer roles – including as chair of the Toronto chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and her involvement with Women in Nuclear’s Golden Horseshoe chapter – she encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) subjects – the E, in particular.

“It seems the gender imbalance in engineering is a worldwide issue. I feel really happy when I see a girl who is a software programmer, mechanical engineer or electrical engineer,” Driouich said. “I’ve met a lot of capable women in the field. There’s that aspect that they had to be quiet about their capabilities – they’re not as vocal as men – but there are very capable girls in the field.”

When she’s not in work mode, Driouich unwinds by gardening, meditating, spending time with her husband and three children, and cooking.

Moroccan desserts, including cookies, pastries, and cakes, are one of her specialties. They are distinct in their aromas and ingredients. One crowd favourite, called Kaab El Ghazal, is made of almond paste flavoured with orange blossom water and cinnamon, molded into a thin dough, and then baked until barely golden.

Kind of like her work as an industrial engineer, Driouich also loves creating recipes, bringing ingredients together for something entirely new or improved. Take her pizza. Driouich has clearly optimized the system for making pie to get the desired outcome, like only a versatile engineer would.

“My kids love it,” she says. “They always tell me they love the pizza I prepare more than any other pizza offered in the market.”

HandyScan lives up to its name testing both new and older parts

HandyScanArm
Cameron Sheppard, WAMIC research assistant, uses the Creaform HandyScan in the lab to capture relevant information from an industry partner’s prototype machine.

It looks like something a gamer would keep in their repertoire to edge out the competition in a hard-fought, virtual battle.

But while the Creaform HandyScan won’t help anyone rid the video game world of bad guys, it certainly gives Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) and its industry partners a leg up over others.

The HandyScan is much like its name suggests. It’s a handheld, metrology-grade 3D scanner that can be used in reverse engineering to accurately capture objects and use the data to generate CAD models and drawings that businesses can use to manufacture new parts and ensure equipment meets proper specifications.

That’s significant for businesses using equipment or parts for which no such drawings or paper trail exist, or who want to refine a design, noted Brock Husak, WAMIC lab technologist.

The WAMIC team has used HandyScan to help one client fine-tune its design of an automated basketball shooting aid used in player training. They also used scans to create CAD drawings to reflect the improvements for future manufacturing of the equipment.

“We have the expertise to use the tool, to understand it and conduct work for small businesses who don’t have the access to these machines or people who can use them. It’s quite powerful.”
– Brock Husak, Lab Technologist, WAMIC

“These parts may have complex geometry that cannot be measured with any kind of standard measuring devices,” Husak explained. “In a case like this, we would scan the part with the HandyScan, generate a 3D model with our in-house experts, and create CAD drawings … that become the deliverable to the customer.”

Additionally, HandyScan can be used to inspect newly manufactured parts and equipment to ensure there are no flaws or deviations from the CAD model. It can also inspect old or used parts to determine where they might be worn out and need repair.

It does this by generating a scan that looks similar to a heat map. The red areas on the scan signal problems or pain points for fixing. HandyScan is so precise, it can determine if a part is out of specification by as little as the thickness of a human hair, Husak explained.

 “In industry, you can waste a lot of time trying to come up with a solution to a problem,” he said. “We come in to speed up the process or de-risk it for (a customer). If you have a system out of specification, we can prove it and they can get it fixed.”

The HandyScan complements similar, albeit more cumbersome, scanning technology used by WAMIC called the FARO Edge. The convenience of the HandyScan is that it is small, portable and handheld, which enables WAMIC team members to go directly to a customer to do scanning work on site.

“We obviously have the expertise to use the tool, to understand it and conduct work for small businesses who don’t have the access to these machines or people who can use them,” Husak said. “It’s quite powerful.”

Co-op opportunity with WAMIC solidified benefits of team work

Elzo Honorato

Elzo Honorato graduated from the Computer Programming Analysis (Co-op) program at Niagara College in 2021. While in school he was employed with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC), earning experience working on projects with external industry partners. Today, he is a data consultant with Newcomp Analytics. 

Tell us about where you work (name and type of company) and your current position/title:

I work for Newcomp Analytics as a data consultant. Newcomp is a company specializing in data consulting and development that provides data analysis for hundreds of clients across all industries around the world.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

I am a data consultant who works directly with clients providing data analysis, data export and data visualization using IBM software, such as, Cognos Planning Analytics with Watson and Cognos Analytics, as well as many other tools like Alteryx, Power BI, and Tableau.

As a consultant I work with clients from all over the world which provides me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of data approaches in different industries.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

While working at R&I, more specifically at WAMIC, we worked on a project where we developed smart candles for a local company which helped me to prepare for my current consultant job. I learned how to communicate with clients, to meet their expectations within a specified deadline, and to take ownership of the project with my teammates, which prepared me for managing my own projects with Newcomp Analytics. 

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

While working for R&I, I had the opportunity to work for WAMIC and AETIC, where I could work as a software developer and IoT developer. However, developing the smart candles was the most remarkable experience since I had to learn how to program microcontrollers and learned a lot more about IoT devices and cloud computing. Finally, seeing the excitement in the client’s face when the project was delivered was indeed rewarding. 

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

As an international student, Niagara College provided the best academic experience in my life. The departments at the college are well organized and very helpful for new students. Also, the Computer Programming and Analysis program is well designed to prepare current students for their co-op term. This aspect of the college is what led me to study at this institution.

Most memorable experience at NC?

My most memorable experience at Niagara College was my time at WAMIC. I have many memorable experiences working with different students from different programs on the same project, such as, Mechanical Engineers and Electrical Engineers. I met incredible people there and made many friends, who I still have contact with. I can still picture us working on the same project and trying to solve problems as a team.

“I learned how to communicate with clients, to meet their expectations within a specified deadline, and to take ownership of the project with my teammates, which prepared me for managing my own projects with Newcomp Analytics.”

Is there a particular mentor at either R&I or a faculty member who influenced you?

I could mention many faculty members that helped me through my years at Niagara College. However, three of them were, particularly, vital for my formation.

In my program, I would like to thank Marsha Baddeley for being a great professor. She is an excellent professor and makes the boring part fun. She was very supportive when mentoring me in many projects during my program.

At WAMIC, Dr. Al Spence and Amal Driouich made my co-op term very remarkable. Dr. Al Spence helped me in developing a better understanding in [Internet of Things] IoT devices and microcontrollers by using different programming languages and approaches I did not learn in class. Amal Driouich, at the same time, helped me to improve my strengths and weaknesses during this period. They also gave me feedback that, eventually, helped me to get my current job.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

Be open and ready to learn new tools and techniques you have never seen or heard before. It is crucial to a future research student to be able to read and write documentation. Take this opportunity to identify what you lack and take advantage of the senior members of your department to learn more about career paths.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

I have learned how to deal with clients and to work with different people to reach the client’s needs and goals. R&I contributed to my career in many ways, however, I would highlight the desire and ability to learn more, which is crucial for any student and professional.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

I am proud of finding a great place for my co-op term where I work on projects from the very first steps until delivering it. My co-op internship was crucial to my growth as a professional. I found a secure and great job even before graduating and during my last interview session they mentioned that they loved hearing about my co-op projects.

What are you passionate about at the moment?

Data visualization became my new passion, as my company provided me with many courses and opportunities to become an expert on it. As a data consultant I have the privilege to travel and to be up to date on many new data spreads and visualization software that are coming up. It is always exciting when your company gives you the chance to learn the newest tools. 

Interests outside of work?

When I’m not working, I am reading. I love reading philosophy and theology books. I always had the desire to be a Theologian and I spend most of my free time searching, studying, and expanding my knowledge about God and the Bible. I also enjoy history and old languages, such as koine Greek (Old Greek) and Hebrew, which help me a lot in reading old philosophy books and the New and Old Testament of the bible in its original languages.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

As long as you live, seek knowledge because an intelligent heart obtains knowledge and the ear of the wise will always seek knowledge.

Company tests thermal energy use in electric vehicles

Electric Vehicle

Soaring gas prices and emissions targets are paving the way for electric vehicles to become more mainstream.

But while they may be good for the planet, electric vehicles aren’t without their shortcomings, including being unable to drive long distances without having to stop to recharge.

“Range is one of the biggest problems electric vehicles have,” notes Henry Agorua, co-founder and chief technology officer for RenMobi, a Toronto-based renewable energy and mobility firm. “With range, it’s also one of the most expensive problems electric vehicles have because it means more battery.”

Or does it?

Henry and RenMobi’s MO is to apply renewable energy solutions to everyday problems. That includes expanding the range of electric vehicles, even in cold weather when they experience range reduction between 30 and 40 per cent. This is done by creating a thermal management system that captures and stores thermal energy from external sources to maintain electric vehicle thermal needs without needing larger, costlier batteries.

To put his idea to the test, Henry turned to researchers at Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). Since February, the WAMIC team, led by Amal Driouich, research program manager, has been doing simulations of the RenMobi thermal management system. The goal is to validate a design so the company can advance to building and testing a prototype that electric vehicle manufacturers could one day integrate into their products, or help power a proprietary RenMobi vehicle.

“[The WAMIC team was] able to understand where we’re coming from and where we’re going. Amal is great at understanding and putting together needed resources to deliver on the project.”  
– Henry Agorua, RenMobi

There were other post-secondary institutions that could have helped with this research. However, Niagara College was the clear choice, Henry says, because of the WAMIC research team’s skills and knowledge and how well both RenMobi and the researchers gelled.

“They were able to understand where we’re coming from and where we’re going,” he said. “Amal is great at understanding and putting together needed resources to deliver on the project.”

In addition to helping solve the range issue with electric vehicles, the RenMobi thermal management system (RTMS) could have other applications, Henry explains.

With more research, development and innovation, it could be used to reduce the costs of operating gas, electric or oil-powered HVAC systems in multi-tenant residential, commercial and industrial buildings. It would work by storing enough thermal energy during off-peak hours to provide a dependable and efficient solution for peak hours’ energy consumption for days at a time. The benefits are good for both the environment and building owners who could save money on their energy bills. Meanwhile, the grid would be freed up for other essential power needs, he adds.

Additionally, RTMS could be used to optimize electric vehicle charging station functionality, making them more efficient and reducing charge time in cold weather.

But first comes building the RenMobi thermal management systems prototype to improve upon existing technology, and seeing the rest of the project through with Niagara College.

“It’s definitely going to be Niagara College who will take this all the way for the world to see,” Henry says. “The experience has been wonderful and we hope it continues. The credit goes to Amal, No. 1, for understanding what we want to do. Sometimes it’s challenging for entrepreneurs or inventors to express their creative ideas, images or thoughts in their head and get it out there. Amal got it, she put it on paper for everyone to see, read and understand.”