Tag Archives: university of Manitoba

Gord Downie partners with University of Manitoba on reconciliation project

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the University of Manitoba announced a unique partnership today, teaming up with The Tragically Hip front man Gord Downie.

Downie has pledged to donate proceeds from his upcoming multimedia project,Secret Path, to support the important work of the NCTR in honouring the stories of residential school survivors. Continue reading Gord Downie partners with University of Manitoba on reconciliation project

SERF’s up at the U of M!

Back for a fifth year of operations, the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility (SERF) at the University of Manitoba is conducting its latest batch of experiments to determine environmental impact on the salt water ice of the Arctic.

While many Manitobans are finding things to do and study indoors, Dr. Fei Wang, his fellow professors and their students brave the elements to examine the intricacies of sea ice, and to use the information gathered to help calibrate their instruments for use in the field. The facility is one of only two of its kind in North America.

“My colleague, Dr. David Barber who is the Canadian research chair in arctic climate change, has been chasing this idea for a while, primarily driven by his earlier experience working in New Hampshire at the U.S. facility,” said Dr. Wang. “In 2008 we put together to a proposal to an agency called the Canada Foundation for Innovation to build this sea-ice environmental facility. We were lucky to get the funding, started construction and the whole facility became operational in 2012, with this year marking our fifth anniversary.”

The facility varies each year depending on Mother Nature, the only part the SERF team can’t control at the outdoor facility. A set of questions to be addressed is established in September each year, as members of the Artic Science Partnership community are allowed to use the facility. Variable such as salinity, water chemistry and how much of the roof they use are all decided on before the first study takes place.

“In theory we can run from December to March,” said Dr. Wang. “But in reality we can only really run in January and February. In March, while it’s still cold, the intensity of the midday sun is enough to deform the ice. We have two months of time, with two three-week experiments. We take one week to prepare the facility then run the experiment for three weeks. In between the two, we melt the ice and start over.”

“We have two types of study. There’s the geophysical study, where we study the remote sensing techniques and study the surfaces features of the ice and study the brine dynamics of the ice, or ice thickness. We test these techniques so that we can remotely determine those parameters for use in the field, for northern communities or for military operations.”

“Then we have the geochemical side of the study, where we study the chemical parameters of the sea-ice. That could be greenhouse gases, like CO2 and methane. There can be contaminants, such as mercury. We also study the fundamental parameters, including the pH, measuring the acidity of the sea ice.”

Frost Flowers
“Frost flowers are such a unique kind of phenomenon. They look very interesting just physically, but we also study their causes and effect. For instance, we study them geophysically to determine their effect on remote sensing. From a contaminants and chemistry side of things, frost flowers are extremely saline, with up to ten times the salinity of sea water. The concentration also concentrates contaminants, which can result in a high concentration of mercury or other contaminants. It’s very difficult to do field studies, because they only form at certain times and only last for a few days. Getting to them in the Arctic can be very difficult, but forming them at SERF allows for close study, from the very beginning of growth to the end of its decay.”

Climate Change
“One of the indicative comments I’ve heard from locals up there was that in the past, when they would go on hunting or fishing trips they wouldn’t have to bring any drinking water,” said Dr. Wang. “All they would have to do if they got thirsty was crush a piece of ice and you can drink it. But you cannot do this anymore. The ice that you crush now tastes just like sea water. And that tells you that the multi-year ice is disappearing, and that the ice is melting in the summer and growing again in the winter. So these talks tell us that the change is happening, and it’s happening very fast.”

School Zone – December 2015

In case you missed anything – a roundup of facts we picked up last month

Assiniboine Community College
Assiniboine Community College and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology sign MOU

Assiniboine Community College (ACC) and the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding. This MOU opens the door for ACC and MITT to more formally collaborate, which will accelerate the pace at which new and existing program partnerships can be discussed and implemented.

Paul Holden, the President and CEO of MITT said during the signing that “There’s never been a more pivotal time for educational institutions to work together to develop new, relevant and integrated programs; to create better outcomes for students, for employers, and for Manitoba. With 75,000 new people likely to join the provincial work force by 2025, the need to develop relevant training for the next generation is absolutely critical. Assiniboine and MITT recognize this need and we’re actively working in sync to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for the workplace of tomorrow.”
Continue reading School Zone – December 2015

School Zone

In case you missed anything – a roundup of news we picked up last month from Manitoba’s post-secondary schools.

Assiniboine Community College
ACC’s annual provincial impact totals $613 million
A recent study on Assiniboine Community College’s (ACC) economic impact shows a contribution of more than $613 million every year to Manitoba’s economy.
Continue reading School Zone

Faster than a speeding polar bear

How fast is a polar bear?

Well, if it’s driving in a Formula SAE race car, it can reach speeds close to 100 kilometers per hour.

The Polar Bear Racing Formula SAE team is comprised of engineering students at the University of Manitoba. The team designs and builds racecars to compete against teams from other universities, with competitions all over the world.

The cars for each team are put through their paces, tested for acceleration, skidpad (a “figure-eight” type track designed to test vehicle cornering), autocross, and an endurance event, which is a 22km autocross race.

Polar Bear Racing Team Leader Ryan Olson has been with the team for three years, seeing his role expand each season.

“During my first year on the team, I helped out with as many different aspects of the car to broaden my understanding of the various systems of the car. In my second year on the team, I became a design lead, which led me to becoming the team lead in my third year on the team.”

Ryan says it was connections he made in the engineering faculty during his first year that drew his attention and interest towards

Formula SAE.

Each team must be part of the student chapter of SAE International, an association of engineering professionals. Members of Polar Bear Racing have to join SAE International individually as well before they can join the team, although they do not have to be studying engineering to join the team.

Off to the races

Formula SAE Racing occurs at international competitions, with teams from all across the globe participating. The Polar Bear Racing team competes in two competitions per year, Formula SAE Michigan in May and Formula SAE Lincoln in June, with the team making the road trip down to the United States.

The team’s most recent excursion was to Lincoln, Nebraska in June, where they competed against 75 other schools, including teams from India, Japan and Brazil.

“The team was extremely excited to finish in 10th place overall,” said Ryan. It was the first time that the team ever finished in the top 10, and the feat earned them a “Spirit of Excellence” award and a trophy to take home.

“We also finished 2nd place in the sales presentation event, giving us another trophy, after our two presenters, Chanelle McKenzie and Quillan Daniel, wowed the judges with their presentation.”

Down the Road

Because Polar Bear Racing is self-funded, it requires funding support to get them into events like those in Nebraska and Michigan. There are other competitions around the world, but the cost and level of competition is very high for those.

“The organization itself is a not-for-profit organization that relies on sponsorship money from companies around the city to fund the manufacturing of the car,” Ryan says. “Many companies provide in-kind sponsorship and help us manufacture specific components of the car.”

No “I” in Polar Bear

The University of Manitoba first started a Formula team back in the 1980s, evolving along the way. The name Polar Bear Racing only came along in the last decade, which likely had something to do with Manitoba being the home of almost 1,000 polar bears.

The team itself is also something that is constantly evolving, with new students and members exiting or graduating.

Despite the ever-changing roster, the team dynamic remains very positive. Working towards a common goal really builds camaraderie.
Balancing schoolwork and working on the car is not an easy feat, says Ryan. Course work comes before the car, and students need to work to ensure that neither one suffers because of the other.

“Being on the Formula isn’t always for everyone given the amount of work evolved, but the experience we gain from designing and manufacturing the car and the fun we have doing make it all worthwhile.”