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Machine Learning

AquaHacking Challenge and Opportunity to Save Lake Winnipeg

January 15, 2020

On January 15, 2020, representatives from the Winnipeg office for the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) delivered an information session on their sustainability campaign to students at the ACE Project Space.  The IISD, whose mission is to champion solutions to our planet’s greatest sustainability challenges, created the AquaHacking Challenge, an initiative and competition designed to attract bright young minds who have the desire and ability to address our most urgent water issues.

Pauline Gerard, Deputy Director, IISD-ELA and Corporate Secretary, talked to our BIT, BTM, InfoSec, and PTEC students about the challenges the IISD is working to resolve in protecting and cleaning up our fresh water resources and species right here in Manitoba. Lake Winnipeg, which is the 11th largest fresh water lake in the world, is under threat due to excessive pollutants entering the watershed. The lake also serves as the sole source of potable water for many northern communities and supplies a significant commercial fishing stock. Gerard called for students’ help in assisting the organization in signing up to develop technology-backed ideas and solutions to stop further degradation of our precious fresh water resources.

Pauline Gerard, Deputy Director, IISD-ELA and Corporate Secretary describes AquaHacking

Pauline Gerard, Deputy Director, IISD-ELA and Corporate Secretary describes AquaHacking

Gerard guided students through the process of developing sustainable ideas by working on a common challenge affecting the agriculture sector today: providing agriculture producers with cost-effective solutions for managing drainage and the climate. The students were split into groups to discuss ideas around how the problem could be solved. One student from each group shared their idea to the audience. Ideas involved Internet-connected sensors, apps, and more.

The five challenges the IISD is working on for Lake Winnipeg include:

  • Providing agricultural producers with cost-effective solutions for water and land management
  • Assessing fish populations and health using non-invasive techniques
  • Preventing microplastics from entering the lake
  • Enabling local testing of drinking water quality in remote northern communities
  • Financing sustainable development initiatives by connecting individual and group funding sources

The AquaHacking Challenge is an 8-month long competition for the best ideas, connecting teams of innovative people with mentors from industry and workshops to create innovative and sustainable solutions. Technology-minded youth between the ages of 18 and 35 are encouraged to register to be part of a solution team for this competition, which starts in February with winners declared in October. Winners will receive part of a $50,000 prize pool to fund further development of their solutions.

To learn more about the AquaHacking 2020 Challenge for Lake Winnipeg and how to participate, visit or stop by the IISD booth on January 31st during the DisruptED Conference at the RBC Convention Centre.

Life Elevated – Virtual Senior Roommate

December 23, 2019

Project Term: Fall 2019

Millions of seniors who require personal care struggle with maintaining their independence, creating strain on themselves, caregivers, and nurses. Life Elevated was created to address the issue. In collaboration with students at the ACE Project Space, the firm is building a practical electronic assistive service to automate tasks that can be performed by a computer.

Building an application for an assistive device

The student team assigned to the Life Elevated project developed a database management system and a website to complement an assistive voice-activated device called a Virtual Senior Roommate or avatar that the firm had developed. The students extracted health, quality of life, and general activity information from the avatar and were able to present the data in a manner that nurses could analyze. In addition, the students learned how to a Cura Lulzbot to design and print a 3D case for the avatar to allow for easier transport.


The Life Elevated team completed the following deliverables for the project during the fall term at the ACE Project Space:

  • Database system to support the solution
  • Website with information collected from the avatar, seniors, and nurses
  • 3D designed and printed cases for the avatar.

What our students are saying

“I learned how to work effectively in a team, how to use Python/Django and git, and how to prioritize tasks. I learned team building by actively participating in group discussions and voicing my own opinions on matters at hand.” – Simon Tran

“Having this 4-month experience, it was an opportunity for me to enhance my soft skills, such as organizational, leadership, communication, and some technical skills as well.” – Nelson Munoz

“In my experience in the ACE Project Space, I’ve learned to work in a team, and by that, I mean I learned to accept other people’s opinions. There are a lot of differences in the way people do things. I self-learned new technologies and applied what I already knew to these technologies to further enhance my skills in development.” – Jose Jacap

Technologies used

  • Python
  • PyCharm
  • Django
  • PostgreSQL
  • Balsamiq Mockups 3
  • Drawio
  • Cura-lulzbot Software
Senior Information Screen

Senior Information Screen


Quality of Life Screen

Quality of Life Screen


Available Conversations Screen

Available Conversations Screen

ACE Project Space Hosts Mitacs Lunch & Learn Session

November 21, 2019

Entrepreneurs and members of Red River College faculty enjoyed a catered lunch & learn presentation about the funding opportunities provided by Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and post-secondary institutions to support industrial and social innovation in Canada with the ultimate goal of commercializing academic research.

Brent Wennekes, Director of Business Development (Manitoba) at Mitacs, described how their Accelerate program pairs entrepreneurs and companies working across all sectors of the economy with student research opportunities. Mr. Wennekes provided details about the funding model and the application process, which include a $7,500 contribution from a business in exchange for a $15,000 research award from Mitacs to support a research student intern for four months. Mitacs funding has spearheaded many of the four-month projects delivered at the ACE Project Space.

Mitacs funding recipient and CEO of ioAirFlow, Matt Schaubroeck, described his experience of having leveraged Mitacs funding while working a full-time job to kickstart his new venture. Mr. Schaubroek’s company is building an AI-supported solution using a network of temperature sensors to provide building owners and tenants with the data they need to increase energy efficiency. The research student embedded at the ACE Project Space as part of the ioAirFlow project was integral in building a marketable solution that won stage time at the Falling Walls Lab pitch contest in Berlin.

Stephen Lawrence, ACE Project Space Coordinator, shared the opportunity and process that lend to entrepreneurs the application development skills of fourth term students at the ACE Project Space with support from Mitacs. Mr. Lawrence described how the mutually beneficial relationship provides students with valuable real life project experience while providing entrepreneurs with the ability to bring their ideas to fruition.

To learn more about how to bring your business ideas to life at the ACE Project Space, please contact Stephen Lawrence, ACE Project Space Coordinator or visit our ACE Project Space web site.


June 8, 2019

TAIV home page

Project Term: Winter 2019

Establishments such as restaurants, pubs, and hotels often have TVs set up to provide customers with live news and sports entertainment. Taiv was created to replace broadcasters’ ads with targeted ads from the establishment. The original solution did not optimize ad placement during commercial breaks.

BIT and BTM students built a solution that integrates with an establishment’s point-of-sale (POS) data to fetch and analyze real-time purchases to improve ad placement.
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Natural Language Processing

September 10, 2018

Project Term: Spring/Summer 2018

This Natural Language Processing (NLP) project was a research/survey of NLP resources and algorithms that exist that can be used towards a commercial application one of our ACE Project Space partners was working on.
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Face Recognition

May 13, 2018

Research student, Jonee Ryan Ty, has been working with our ACE Department Chair, Haider Al-Saidi, on a Facial Recognition Project. Read More →

Wheelchair Training System

May 12, 2018

The Wheelchair Training System project was presented and an opportunity to create a training program for patients to learn how to use a wheelchair. Read More →

Natural Language Processing

May 11, 2018

Our research assistant, Matthias Yoo, has recently been exploring Natural Language Processing as a project that would interface with a Smart Desk concept we are working on. Read More →

ACE Smart Desk

May 10, 2018

Imagine a desk that creates experiences for you, one that can help your productivity, one you can interact with. Read More →