Student Success

Saint Mary's engineering team wins major industry prize

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A team of engineering students and the Laboratory of Control Systems and Mechatronics (LCSM) research lab led by Dr. Adel Merabet, has won a Typhoon HIL402 lab, one of only 10 available to educational institutions in North America and 50 worldwide.

 “The students enrolled in an online course to obtain the HIL Specialist Certification,” said Dr. Merabet. “The team consisted of four graduate students from my LCSM research lab and 18 undergraduate students from my Circuit Analysis (EGNE 2311) course.”

 The prize includes a free HIL402 hardware unit and a lifetime Typhoon software license.

“The hardware and the software will be used in the LCSM research lab in the Division of Engineering to conduct research on renewable energy and microgrids,” said Dr. Merabet.

The Typhoon Awards 10 for 10 program, celebrating 10 years in business, recognizes academic institutions and research groups that use the company’s technologies, which include an online learning hub for professionals and students. The master model and simulation-based systems engineering tools are designed for future power electronic and power systems engineers.

Universities and research groups who focus on disciplines such as electrical engineering, power electronics, and power systems were eligible to submit a nomination for a 10 for 10 program Award. With these awards, Typhoon HIL recognizes academic institutions that utilize their products in academia and share their work with the Typhoon academic community. 

Typhoon HIL Inc. is the market and technology leader in the rapidly-growing field of ultra-high-fidelity controller-Hardware-in-the-Loop (C-HIL) simulation for power electronics, microgrids, and distribution networks.

MassChallenge Picks Ashored

Ashored co-founders and Saint Mary’s alumni Aaron Stevenson, Ross Arsenault and Maxwell Poole .

Ashored co-founders and Saint Mary’s alumni Aaron Stevenson, Ross Arsenault and Maxwell Poole.

After fielding 3,000 applications, MassChallenge this month accepted 100 startups into its international accelerator for 2019, and it included only one Canadian company – Ashored Innovations of Dartmouth.

In an interview after the announcement, Ashored CEO Aaron Stevenson said he was thrilled to be accepted into the Boston-based program and spoke about the doors it will open for the company. But he was more eager to discuss another aspect of his company’s experience – the opportunity to join the global discussion on protecting marine environments.

Ashored is developing commercial fishing equipment that aims to avoid harm to sea life and the marine environment. Stevenson said the company is still “firmly in research and development mode”, but as it develops the product Stevenson and his five colleagues have been involved in events around the world discussing how to better protect our oceans.

“In so much of the commercial fishery, there’s a gap between where they are today and . . . and where the public would like to see the wild fishery,” said Stevenson. “The whole idea of sustainably caught wild fish . . . that’s where people want to go. It’s clear that the old ways of doing things are not going to be tolerated for much longer.”

Read more about Ashored Innovations, the MassChallenge and more at Entrevestor.com.

Ancient vapours are helping researchers identify gold deposits in Nova Scotia

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Kevin Neyedley, left, and Dr. Jacob Hanley of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are doing research supported by Nova Scotia’s Mineral Resources Development Fund. (Photo: Kelly Clark/Communications Nova Scotia)

Vapour trails from an ancient volcano may point the way to an economic opportunity in modern-day Nova Scotia.

Researchers at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are using the composition of ancient volcanic vapours, trapped in tiny fragments in rocks, and other geological features, to learn more about a type of precious metal deposit called epithermal gold. Their work over the past year was supported by the province’s Mineral Resources Development Fund.

Geology professor Dr. Jacob Hanley said the project’s goal is to gather information on how and when the gold deposits formed, and to generate exploration criteria that may predict where the highest concentrations of gold may be found in the province. Giving companies a better idea where to explore has financial and environmental benefits.

“The more information we gain about where the deposits are sitting in this vast array of rocks which we have in the province, the better off the environment will be. The overall footprint is smaller in terms of that activity.”

Hanley and PhD student Kevin Neyedley received a $47,500 grant from the development fund in 2018 for their project, which focuses on deposits in the Eastern Cobequid Highlands. The area is about 50 kilometres north of Truro, Nova Scotia.

Continue reading the full article from the Department of Energy and Mines.

SMU Model UN group returns from New York with two awards

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They came home with a gold and a silver! If the National Model United Nations conference was a sporting event, that would be the equivalent.

The Saint Mary’s delegation left Halifax on March 23 and returned from New York earlier this week with two new awards for the university’s collection:

  • Overall, the group of 20 students won a Distinguished Delegation Award (silver) for its excellent week-long performance representing Kuwait across 10 Model UN committees; and

  • Students Yankun Li and Hannah Shuttleworth won an Outstanding Position Paper award for their pre-conference preparations for the UNFCCC COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Dr. Marc Doucet, Chair of Political Science and professor of SMU’s Model United Nations course, said it was a terrific outcome, especially considering that many other delegations get to practice at other Model UN simulations prior to the international conference. The event typically attracts more than 5,500 students from some 200 universities around the world.

“In our case, we had four students who participated last year but for the majority of our students, this was all new to them. So the fact that they’re earning awards in their first go at this is quite impressive. They were very dedicated and worked really hard,” he said. 

Alyssa Frampton, president of SMU’s Model UN Society, had the opportunity to give a 30-second speech from the podium at the UN General Assembly. View the video online – Alyssa’s speech is at the 37:58-minute mark. Each delegation had selected one of its members to briefly address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Alyssa did phenomenally well, and the speeches are now in the UN’s official archives,” said Dr. Doucet.

Another highlight of the week was visiting the UN Permanent Mission for the State of Kuwait and meeting with diplomatic attaché Ali Abdullatif Ali Al-Yahya, who graciously answered all of the team’s questions. After the briefing, the young diplomat posted kudos on his Twitter feed: “It was an absolute pleasure hosting a group of bright and inspiring students from @smuhalifax, very impressed by the research they did on Kuwait. I hope I answered all your questions. Thanks for such a nice gift. All the best at your MUN conference! Do Kuwait proud!” 

The Saint Mary’s students represented Kuwait on 10 different model UN committees this year, including the Security Council. Our team itself was quite an international group this year, with students from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Britain, Canada, China, India, Mauritius and Turkey.  

Yankun Li said that representing Kuwait was an opportunity and a challenge at the same time, and admits she didn’t know much about the country prior to this experience. 

“During the research and class discussion, I gradually got a clearer overall image about Kuwait,” she said. “Also, since my committee was about climate change, it was fascinating to see how Kuwait struggles between gaining profit from oil production and combating climate change and how they made their policies due to this struggle. Representing Kuwait in such a big MUN conference gave me the chance of closely studying a country that I almost knew nothing about. It provided me another perspective of viewing global issues.”

Submitted by Marla Cranston, Faculty of Arts.

Huskies goalkeeper Christian Oxner signs with the HFX Wanderers FC

Big news for Saint Mary’s Huskies soccer fans. The HFX Wanderers FC have added Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Christian Oxner to their roster.

Oxner, is putting pen to paper to become an official Wanderers player after being chosen by the club at the CPL-U SPORTS draft last November.

“Christian is another player who has worked tremendously hard to get where he is, he deserves this opportunity,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart.

Christian Oxner (image from https://hfxwanderersfc.canpl.ca/)

Christian Oxner (image from https://hfxwanderersfc.canpl.ca/)

Halifax-born Oxner said he was expecting to fight for a spot on the Wanderers squad in preseason trials, until Stephen Hart called him with the offer he had been dreaming of.

“It feels good, I was so glad to get drafted but now I’m getting the chance to represent the city I grew up in so now I can play with freedom and I’m excited,” he said.

Oxner grew up in Clayton Park and played for local team Dunbrack as a youngster, before establishing himself as one for the future while playing for Saint Mary’s Huskies and Western Halifax FC.

He was a big part of the dominant Western Halifax FC team that won three provincial championships and a national title, which Hart has also been impressed with.

Now he’s looking forward to playing in front of his family and friends at the Wanderers Grounds, as well as being an example to potential future stars in the Halifax region.

Read more about the signing of Christian Oxner and Alex De Carolis at the Halifax Wanderers website.

Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada at Saint Mary’s for business development conference

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Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada will be working closely with experienced entrepreneurs to help develop their businesses at the Starting Point Entrepreneurship Conference taking place at Saint Mary’s University.

The conference begins on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and will bring student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from multiple provinces together to work with entrepreneurs, CEOs and startup experts. The students have the chance to work directly with the entrepreneurs to help brings their business ideas to fruition or grow an existing business. Events include keynote speakers, master classes with successful businesspeople, funder speed dating and the Iron Entrepreneur Tournament.  At the end of the conference, students have a chance to win cash investments for their businesses.

This year’s conference theme is “From Vision to Venture.” The theme is about encouraging and inspiring students to bring their ideas to reality by giving them the confidence and tools to do so. Conference proceedings such as master classes, the iron entrepreneur competition and the keynote speaker will focus on helping students to realize that vision and help them to bring it to fruition through actionable advice and inspiration.

Since it began in 2015, the conference has hosted 590 student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from across the country and given over $40,000 in funding and prizes. The conference is organized by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. Over the past five years, SMUEC programs have provided opportunities to more than 4,500 students, allowing them to be engaged in curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

To learn more about the Starting Point Conference visit www.startingpointconference.com.

Preparing students for the workforce, supporting entrepreneurship focus of new RBC-SMU partnership

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A new partnership between Saint Mary’s University and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will create new co-operative education positions and expand entrepreneurial coaching, skill building and mentoring for Saint Mary’s students.

On Thursday, Feb.14, 2019, Saint Mary’s University and the RBC Future Launch Program announced the establishment of the RBC Talent Hub at the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. The partnership is supported by a gift of $695,000 over three years from the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch. The new RBC Talent Hub will encompass four initiatives designed to expand cooperative education and entrepreneurship opportunities for Saint Mary’s students.

“As a national leader in business education, Saint Mary’s has a history of driving entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray. “Through this new partnership, we are looking to bridge the gap between the needs of our changing economy and what students are learning. Together with RBC, we can better prepare our students for the workforce and support the growth of Saint Mary’s as a key driver of entrepreneurial culture and success in our region.”

Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces and Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray

Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces and Saint Mary’s University President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray

RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500 million commitment to empowering Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. With a focus on networking, skills development, practical work experience and mental wellbeing supports and services, the initiative aims to help break down the barriers facing young people.

“Canada is at a transition point, economically, socially and technologically, and universities play an important role in positioning our country for tomorrow,” said Chris Ronald, RBC Regional President, Atlantic provinces.  “Our country’s future prosperity will depend on our young people and their ability to lead us forward, which is why we are so proud to help bring students high quality experiential learning opportunities through the RBC Talent Hub.”

The RBC Talent Hub Program will consist of:

•      Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program: rotating, nationally recognized EIRs who will coach and mentor students and help connect local entrepreneur-led businesses with co-operative education opportunities.

•      Entrepreneurial Mindset Success Certificate: multi-level skilled entrepreneurship training workshops for Saint Mary’s students.

•      Student Consultant Team: co-operative education students will run this self-led student consulting practice focused on the needs of entrepreneur-led businesses.

•      Talent Fund: fund student co-op placements in the region and support opportunities for students to grow their own business as part of a co-op term.

Gregg Curwin (BComm’90), the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence

Gregg Curwin (BComm’90), the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence

Chris Ronald also announced the inaugural RBC Entrepreneur in Residence.  An innovative alumnus and industry disruptor with decades of business experience, Gregg Curwin (BComm’90) is the director, and former president & CEO, of TruLeaf Sustainable Agriculture, a company that has created an indoor farming system to grow fresh plants for food and medicines. In his advisory role as EIR, Curwin will work within Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre to coach and mentor students and help to build relationships with regional entrepreneurs.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this partnership between Saint Mary’s and RBC,” said Curwin. “This type of forward-thinking approach is exactly what is needed to prepare students for the demands of the workforce and the opportunities they have before them as business leaders and entrepreneurs. Some of the most important things I learned about being an entrepreneur came from my mentors. Being able to share my knowledge with the next generation, and pay it forward, is an incredibly rewarding experience.”

Two years in a row of podium finishes for Saint Mary's venture capital students

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For the second year in a row, a team of students from the Sobey School of Business took second place in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (New England region), held in Boston.

In early February, the Saint Mary’s students joined teams from Cornell University, Babson College, New York University, Tufts University and Southern Connecticut State University to show their venture capital expertise.

The way the competition works is that two days before the event, teams receive pitch decks from startup companies. The teams are given 38 hours to learn as much as they can about the presenting startups. Then they arrive at the competition, and it begins with the startup pitches. Teams receive 14 minutes of one-on-one time with each startup. Finally, teams have two hours to make an investment decision and submit their recommendations.

Cornell University, narrowly edged Saint Mary’s to take first place. In addition to finishing second place, Saint Mary’s Venture Grade took home the competition's only Entrepreneurs Choice Award, chosen by the startup entrepreneurs.

“The spread between 1st  and 2nd  place was 1.6%,” said Dr. Ellen Farrell, the faculty coach of the Saint Mary’s University Venture Grade Fund. “In the Boston event, there was an entrepreneur looking for $11,000,000 but who wasn’t committed to exiting so the team didn’t feel he met the fund thesis; and another father/son co-founding group offering a new type of incuabator to 3rd world countries that had yet to commercialize.  In picking Language I/0, SMU met the entrepreneur’s elevated valuation expectations with term sheet provisions.  There was a buzz in the room about the team’s defence when they were done.  Brilliant job.”

Competing in the competition were Kory Henn (Entrepreneurship), Emma Scott (Entrepreneurship), Jake Chambers (Entrepreneurship), Maxim Roy (Accounting) and Tahsin Fatin (Finance).

Congratulations on your great showing!

Service Learning adds value for students and our community

Students present their projects to residents during their final visit to Northwood’s Halifax Campus.

Students present their projects to residents during their final visit to Northwood’s Halifax Campus.

There was excitement buzzing in the lounge on the on the top floor of Northwood’s seniors home as residents awaited a presentation from Terry Goldsmith’s CSCI 3428 Software Engineering class.

The students took part in a Service Learning project, which combines course curriculum with community-based experiences. Their task over the fall term was to create inclusive software for residents of the long-term care facility in Halifax.

After speaking with residents and occupational therapists to discover their unique wants and needs, the students worked in groups to come up with concepts such as voice-activated software, messaging apps, and an online calendar for use in the facility. They then made modifications based on feedback from their clients.

“As a professor, and a continuing care assistant, I witnessed something truly amazing when this bright and energetic group of residents worked with my class of 30 software engineering students,” said Goldsmith.

“I saw software engineers taking on the role of continuing care assistant, and residents taking on the role of software engineer. They could learn together, because of the opportunity service learning provided,” he said.

Feedback from residents included suggestions to use voice-activated commands, face recognition capability, and requests for colours that work best for people with vision issues – black and yellow is a popular combination, explained Margaret Szabo, Director of Business Development at Northwood.

“Memos are also a useful feature, easing anxiety for people who have memory issues,” she said, adding that being able to complete any tasks in two clicks or less is also ideal.

“It’s amazing how quickly the students learn to take feedback, reflect, and change; there’s a big difference from when we started in September to the final presentations in November,” said Sarah Bray, Service Learning Placement Coordinator, Student Affairs & Services at Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s students help Northwood resident Trudie Helmke.

Saint Mary’s students help Northwood resident Trudie Helmke.

Northwood resident Trudie Helmke was particularly impressed by the team that built a voice-controlled virtual assistant that they named Ellen.

When asked if she would use one of the apps if it were made available, Helmke said she would.

“I’ve been telling others about Ellen who would love to use it because they don’t want to keep spending money on [other similar products]… I’ve been spreading the word,” she said.

The benefits of service learning, the networking, and the connections with clients can last long after the courses end.

“It becomes real, you have to get out of the classroom and out of your comfort zone,” said Bray.

“These are skills that will serve these students in other classes and in future careers, while encouraging them to reflect on personal values, assumptions, and issues of social responsibility,” she said.

To learn more:

Service Learning opportunities for students
Service Learning Courses
Information for Faculty