Province announces major funding for faculty’s expansion

Artist’s aerial rendering of the existing three engineering and computer science building and the two new facilities that will be built.

Researchers and students of UVic Engineering and Computer Science will have the space and resources they need to work on high-impact solutions in areas such as environmental sustainability and healthcare technologies, thanks to a significant contribution from the BC government.

During a July 22 event on campus, the government announced it will provide funding toward the construction of two highly advanced green buildings that will help fill an urgent need for more teaching space, hands-on learning opportunities and research labs, as the faculty continues to experience a decade-long surge in enrolment.

“Engineers and computer scientists play a critical role as innovators on global challenges such as clean and affordable energy, healthcare and well-being, and sustainable infrastructure,” said UVic President Kevin Hall.

“We aim to graduate enterprising people with a social conscience and global perspective – and these new spaces will provide the facilities to nurture highly skilled professionals who will be technological leaders and enrich the local and regional workforce and economy for decades to come.”​ Read more

New dean leads UVic Engineering and Computer Science

Mina Hoorfar stands facing the camera with trees and a flowering bush in the background.

Mina Hoorfar, an academic leader and engineer known for her inspired teaching, highly collaborative approach to research, and strong advocacy of equity, diversity and inclusion, is the new dean of UVic’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

Hoorfar began her five-year term on July 1. She joins UVic after 15 years as a professor in the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus (UBCO), leading the unit of more than 2,000 students and about 65 faculty over the last six years.

“I’m passionate about working to build on our niche strengths and to position the faculty to attract top students and researchers,” said Hoorfar. “My vision is to make UVic Engineering and Computer Science top in its class.”

Hoorfar is recognized as a top researcher and educator in advanced thermofluidics, partnering with industry on high-impact research and real-life solutions. Read more

Congrats UVic Engineering and Computer Science grads of 2021!

A montage of seven images shows graduate students in a variety of outdoor setting, including on campus, in nature and during co-op work terms.

Our faculty is so proud of the 492 students who graduated this spring from UVic Engineering and Computer Science.

On May 27, UVic awarded degrees to 375 undergraduate students, 61 Masters students and 26 PhDs from the faculty. Of these, 314 were from engineering and 148 from computer science. An additional 30 undergraduate students from other faculties were awarded degrees in a combined computer science program, for an overall total of 178 degrees related to computer science.

Because of COVID restrictions, graduating students weren’t able to take part in convocation or other in-person celebrations. However, we look forward to providing an in-person event sometime in the future.

We caught up with about a dozen grads from our faculty, who told us about their experiences during their time at UVic and their plans for the future. Read more

Team’s device for wheelchair users wins BC design competition

Two students engineering students stand outside UVic’s Engineering Lab Wing building, holding the device prototype between them.

A team of UVic students who developed a device that will enable power wheelchair users to independently unload their shopping bags has taken first place in a province-wide design competition.

A Victoria resident named Gilda approached the UVic Biomedical Engineering Design Team (BMED) last year, explaining her frustration at not being able to unload grocery bags and other items placed by store clerks on the back handles of her power chair.

Seven members of the BMED team got to work, collaborating with local health professionals and two manufacturing firms to design and build an ingenious device that attaches to a power chair. This spring, their work earned the group first place in the Simon Cox Student Design Competition, held annually by Technology for Living. Read more

A voltage boost for Vancouver Island’s EV capacity

Six people stand around a white electrical vehicle parked in a bright garage, which has “University of Victoria” on its hood.

A Victoria-based company with plans to manufacture green-energy products will be leaning heavily on UVic research expertise as it expands into the electric vehicle and stationary storage markets.

This spring, Rainhouse Canada began establishing homegrown capability in manufacturing fully functional battery packs. Initially, the packs will be designed for two applications: an electric utility truck and an off-grid energy storage system.

Rainhouse has subcontracted UVic mechanical engineering Professor Zuomin Dong to help in modelling, designing, optimizing and testing the products – ensuring they meet the design requirements to be brought to market.

These initial steps, which are part of Rainhouse’s longer-term business plan, are being funded with $200,000 from the BC government. The end goal is to establish BC- and Victoria-based expertise and manufacturing capabilities that can customize the design and fabrication of battery energy storage systems for a wide variety of industry and community applications. Read more

Computer Science student wins UVic Co-op Student of the Year

Singh stands outside on campus, with trees and buildings in the background.

Third-year computer science student Kawaljit Singh’s academic journey hasn’t been an easy one, but he’s grateful that a year-long co-op term was part of it. After facing significant academic and health challenges in 2019, Singh was ready for a change. When he received a co-op job offer from Vendasta Technologies, a Saskatoon-based e-commerce company, he accepted with great enthusiasm.

Working as a software developer, Singh had the opportunity to greatly advance his coding and problem-solving skills. His natural aptitude for flagging and resolving software bugs earned him the nickname “Bug Crusher” within his team. Over the course of the year, Singh resolved many different bugs, some of which were quite complex.

Singh was one of three students named UVic Co-op Student of the Year 2020. Read more

Engineering grads experience new twist on iron ring ceremony

Two photos are placed side by side: the first shows Berntsen sitting in a room, holding his hand near his chest, with the iron ring on his finger; the second is a close-up of the ring, which sits on his smallest finger.

A ceremony for recent UVic engineering graduates took place online to formalize their commitment to ethical conduct and enable them to wear the symbolic iron ring of their profession.

The “Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer” was attended this spring by 282 UVic alumni who graduated in 2020 and 2021, along with about 150 family members and other guests.

During a typical in-person ceremony, the grads – called “obligants” – stand in a big group, all holding an iron chain. This year, because of the pandemic, they were instead connected by their computers.

Representatives of Iron Ring Camp 23, the organization that runs the annual event, worked hard to ensure the ceremony retained its significance, even online. Read more

Master’s program expands students’ skills and perspectives

Harrison stands outdoors, leaning against a waist-level wooden fence, with marshland, forest and mountains in the background.

A new multi-disciplinary master’s program at UVic gives students with undergraduate degrees the chance to add big-picture, system-level thinking to their skillsets.

The one-year Industrial Ecology Program equips students with the skills needed to develop technological systems that support human well-being, while at the same time dramatically reducing negative impacts on the environment.

UVic’s program – which is hosted by the Department of Civil Engineering and involves several other programs across campus – provides a deeper understanding of the complexities of sustainable development, including the influences of economic, political and regulatory factors.

“I’m really interested in being in a job or field of study that’s human-centric,” says Emma Harrison, who joined the first cohort in September 2020. “So, when I saw this program, which looks at the interaction of humans with all these systems, including economic, social and technological, it seemed like an exciting opportunity to expand what I’d learned in my undergrad.” Read more

UVic engineering student receives BC citizenship medal

Hussain, wearing a protective face mask and gloves, stands outside Tinkerine, holding two plastic containers.

A first-year UVic engineering student is among 14 British Columbians to receive the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship, which recognizes outstanding service and commitment to helping others in their communities.

Fawzan Hussain is a “technology enthusiast, social innovator, and compassionate leader who believes that youth have the power to positively change their communities,” the BC Government said in a news release.

Hussain’s recent activities certainly confirm this. Bringing together two of his passions – helping others and 3D printing – Hussain’s recent contributions include: producing 150 assistive devices for people with disabilities, and 3D printing and delivering 1,545 personal protective devices in the fight against COVID-19.

“I’m truly humbled and honoured to receive this award,” said Hussain. “I hope to continue volunteering and supporting the community.” Read more

Global gathering explores cyber-physical systems

Yang Shi sits in a lab holding a large drone in front of him.

In 2018, UVic mechanical engineer Yang Shi played a key role in founding the first major international conference on industrial cyber-physical systems – which was then held in Russia.

This year, Shi brought the high-profile and increasingly popular annual event to Victoria.

In May, more than 500 researchers from around the globe converged – virtually – at UVic for the fourth IEEE International Conference on Industrial Cyber-Physical Systems (IEEE-ICPS 2021). Cyber-physical systems integrate computing, sensors, control and networking into physical objects and infrastructure, connecting them to the Internet and each other. Attendees discussed innovations and trends in how these systems can be applied in industrial settings, such as healthcare, transportation, security and aerospace.

“IEEE-ICPS is a flagship conference in the area of industrial cyber-physical systems and, while this year was challenging, we worked hard to make it a wonderful and memorable conference,” said Shi, who led the conference as its general chair. Read more

Engineering alumnus receives honorary degree

A head-and-shoulder image of Josh Blair on a dark blue background with the words “University of Victoria honorary degree recipient.”

Josh Blair was among seven extraordinary individuals who received UVic honorary degrees, which recognize notable achievements in scholarship, research, teaching, the creative arts and public service.

Blair – a 1995 alumnus of UVic’s Electrical Engineering Program – received an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) during a virtual ceremony in June.

Blair (top left) is the co-founder and CEO of Impro.AI, a high-tech company enabling the benefits of executive coaching to be brought to employees at all levels of organizations. He is also a partner at Esplanade Ventures, a venture capital firm that empowers entrepreneurs to deliver technology-based healthcare breakthroughs.

As a distinguished alumnus, Blair has been a strong champion for UVic, including having served on the President’s 2018 to 2023 Strategy team.

Blair’s other accomplishments include being the chair of TELUS International, a global leader in the delivery of digital customer experience solutions. Read more