Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

Vehicle tech

Vehicle Technology International Conference presentations available for download

October 10, 2019

The inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference came to a conclusion last week, but the dialogue and connections that resulted will fuel future innovations in the vehicle technology sector for a long time to come.

Red River College was pleased to welcome a variety of guest speakers to discuss topics related to vehicle technology in Canada and beyond. These presentations are now available for download from the event website.

Following the conference, Martin Cash from the Winnipeg Free Press published an article on the demand for greener transportation:

“This week in Winnipeg, the inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference, organized by Red River College, focused on alternative propulsion technologies, as well as all sorts of other new ‘smart’ technologies that can be deployed on heavy duty vehicles.”

Read the rest of the article here.

 

Get to know Eddy Zuppel, Program Leader of the Vehicle Propulsion Technologies program and guest speaker at VTIC 2019

September 27, 2019

In advance of the inaugural 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference, we are profiling a number of guest speakers who will be covering a range of topics relating to vehicle technology. We are pleased to welcome Eddy Zuppel from National Research Council Canada (NRC) to speak on current and future trends related to vehicle testing, simulation and modelling, as well as NRC’s vehicle-level testing capabilities.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – your background, field of interest, where do you work and what are your areas of expertise?

“I am currently the Program Leader of the Vehicle Propulsion Technologies program. As Program Leader, I oversee research and development (R&D) activities aimed at assisting Canadian industry and policy development in vehicle electrification and clean transportation sectors. Specifically, I manage a yearly budget of $6M related to over 30 projects in the areas of electric motors, energy storage and hydrogen fuel cells.

I joined the NRC in 2015 as a senior project manager following 11 years in industry where I held different managerial positions, including Section Chief of a multidisciplinary team of 20 engineers.

I hold a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from McGill University and have co-authored eight scientific publications.”

What sparked your interest in vehicle technology?

“Influenced by my father who was a CNC programmer in the transportation industry, I have always been fascinated with the development of mechanical systems and their integration into vehicles that allow us to efficiently and confidently explore new destinations.”

Register for the 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference here.

Get to know Curtis Ross, CEO/President of the Thompson Regional Airport and Guest Speaker at VTIC 2019

September 26, 2019

Red River College is proud to host the inaugural 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference next week, and to welcome a number of guest speakers from Manitoba and beyond to speak on a variety of topics relating to vehicle technology. One speaker is Curtis Ross, CEO/President of the Thompson Regional Airport. Get to know Curtis and some of the topics he’ll be covering, below.

In addition to being the CEO/President of the Thompson Regional Airport, Curtis is also an entrepreneur and long-time business owner involved in commercial development and infrastructure related to winter weather testing in Thompson. He has been involved with the Ford Global Cold Weather test facility and currently works with Honda Canada on testing platforms and programs in Thompson. Curtis was instrumental in attracting and developing the Ford test facility and working with local entrepreneurs to expand the facility over the past 15 years.

Curtis has lived in Thompson for 30 years and is proud to be a graduate of Red River College in the trades program as a red seal carpenter, and he continues to build to this day. He is currently guiding the $70 million redevelopment of the Thompson Airport over the next four years, which will continue to make it a global hub for testing, tourism and freight distribution. Curtis and his private companies continue to be go-to place for winter weather testing logistics in Thompson, Manitoba. He also promotes the Thompson Airport and its facilitates for vehicle and aviation winter testing.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – your background, field of interest, where do you work and what are your areas of expertise?

“I continue to be a builder and developer involved in numerous commercial ventures. I’m a northerner by heart and moved to Thompson, like most people, for two years and ended up loving it and have now been here for 30 years.  My wife and I, along with some friends, also owned and operated a resort in Riding Mountain National Park which we sold a few years ago.

I want the next generation of tradespeople to know that they may start out as a tradesperson and that is a skillset they will continue to utilize for the rest of their lives in ways they may not even have envisioned when they first started out. I am intrigued and amazed at how building technologies continue to change and improve, and to this day I remain a student of the industry.”

What sparked your interest in vehicle technology?

“It’s hard to say if it was the technology alone that sparked my interest in the testing industry. I would say it was the infrastructure and testing parameters required by different testers to allow for them to test their technology. What myself and others realized was the requirement and demand for real time testing versus controlled environment testing didn’t meet the certification sign-off requirements of manufacturers. Thompson has optimum infrastructure and winter conditions, in a great location at a highly competitive cost per vehicle and tester point. In the last five years, the technology aspect of the testing is becoming a much more competitive field but also a highly confidential component of the business.”

Give us a taste of the topics you’ll cover at the Vehicle Technology International Conference?

“I will cover more of what makes Thompson, Manitoba attractive to many of the manufacturers, including:

  • Vehicles – commercial and retail domestic models.
  • Aircraft components, aircraft and helicopters.
  • Snowmobiles, ATVs UTVs and snow blowers.

I will also speak to the need for entrepreneurs and the opportunities for industry partners to continue to grow the testing in Thompson.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I would encourage our municipal, provincial, and federal governments to partner at all levels with those looking to grow the industry in Manitoba as a whole. We owe it to the environment and the next generations to be leaders instead of followers when it comes to new technologies and the development and manufacturing of them.”

Click here to register for the 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference.

A Q + A with Parimala Thulasiraman for the Vehicle Technology International Conference

September 25, 2019

In anticipation of the inaugural 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference, we’re profiling some of our guest speakers to highlight the fascinating topics they’ll cover. Below, learn more about Parimala Thulasiraman, professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manitoba:

Tell us about yourself – your background, field of interest, where do you work and what are your areas of expertise?

“I am a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manitoba. I received my B.Eng. (Honours) and M.A.Sc. degrees in Computer Engineering from Concordia University in Montreal, and obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in Newark, DE, USA after finishing most of my formalities in the Department of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal.

My research interests are in developing, designing and implementing parallel and distributed algorithms for complex network optimization and graph analytic real world problems. In particular, in the parallel computing area, my focus is on futuristic multi-core architectures and quantum computers.

Within the distributed computing area, my research interests are in mobile ad hoc and vehicular ad hoc networks.  To design algorithms, I borrow ideas from nature. Nature is highly parallel, distributed, adaptive and very efficient. The way ants forage for food or the way termites communicate with each other in the event of danger can be applied to solving routing or security problems in dynamic networks, respectively.”

What sparked your interest in vehicle technology?

“Autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation. Although the road network is static, the vehicular network is dynamic. As I was studying this problem, I realized that nature inspired techniques would be very useful in solving some of the challenging problems in vehicle technology. I saw a one-to-one mapping between a vehicle and a real ant in nature. Both are autonomous and communication is decentralized. The challenge I found, however, is how to map the mathematically defined nature-inspired models to the issues pertaining to dynamic applications. This sparked my interest. We cannot apply the existing nature inspired algorithms as is to solving problems. Some innovation and creativity is needed in designing decentralized, distributed algorithms. There is some fundamental research to be done in this area and it is fascinating to part of it.”

Give us a taste of the topics you’ll cover at the Vehicle Technology International Conference?

“I will be discussing the traffic aware routing problem as a single objective and multi-objective optimization problem. I will discuss the latest work on how we cluster the road points based on the flow of traffic on the road and how we predict traffic on these clusters using machine learning. In this work, traffic is the only optimization parameter. However, besides traffic, there are other parameters we can optimize on the network, that changes the problem from a single objective to multi-objective optimization problem, which is complicated to solve. The multi-objective optimization problem for routing is solved using genetic algorithm, an evolutionary, nature inspired algorithm.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

“I am excited to learn from the other speakers and audience at the conference. I would like to mention that my research would not have been possible without my research team consisting of undergraduate and graduate (MSc and PhD) students and post doctoral fellows. One of my graduate students will be presenting at this symposium.”

Register for VTIC 2019 by going to rrc.ca/vtec2019.

Get to know Frank Douma, guest speaker at the inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference

September 23, 2019

The inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference begins one week from today at the Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre in Winnipeg. RRC is pleased to welcome a range of speakers who will be covering topics relating to the evolution and future of vehicle technology in Canada in beyond.

Frank Douma is one of the guest speakers featured at this year’s conference. He is director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies, both located at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on policy and legal issues related to transportation technologies. He has authored several legal and academic articles on the topic, and been quoted in newspapers ranging from the New York Times to the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

Get to know Frank Douma below:

Tell us a little bit about yourself – your background, field of interest, where do you work and what are your areas of expertise?

“My research focuses on policy and legal issues related to transportation technologies, including telework, tolling and other transportation finance tools, safety, and self-driving vehicles. I have had an  interest in transportation issues for much of my life, but had no idea that I could make a career out of studying them until the summer after my third year at Grinnell College, when I participated in an internship in Southeast England. For eight weeks, I studied the anticipated impacts of the opening of the Channel Tunnel on the Borough of Ashford, a railroad town that became the only rail stop between London and the Tunnel.

This exposure to planning as a practice led me to obtain a Masters Degree in Public Affairs and a Law Degree from the University of Minnesota. The decision became fortuitous as my work in Ashford helped me obtain a research assistant position at the Humphrey School, looking at the potential environmental issues created by new transportation technologies. As I moved towards graduation and beyond, I parlayed that work into positions with the Twin Cities’ Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

I returned to academia in 1999 as a Research Fellow with the State and Local Policy Program, the same organization I worked with as a student at the Humphrey School. I was named the second Director in the history of the State and Local Policy Program in October 2015.

I have been quoted in news stories in the New York Times, and Wall Street Journal, as well as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Fergus Falls Daily Journal and White Bear Press – given the name of the Program, I’m most proud of the latter stories! – along with authoring a number of articles in legal and academic journals. Also, while work and family life seem to have colluded to keep me from further travel abroad (except Canada), and I have never been in a tenured or tenure track academic position, I believe my ability to find new research opportunities and define key research questions for nearly 20 years comes from understanding bureaucratic politics and understanding the meaning of life through and courses in the works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.”

What sparked your interest in vehicle technology?

“I have always had an interest in transportation, but my first exposure to advanced technology came with my student position at the Humphrey School, where I joined a project examining the possible impacts of “Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems” (now “Intelligent Transportation Systems”) on the environment. At the time, many environmentalists and others interested in social justice were skeptical that these new technologies were going to solve the existing disparities in transportation, where those who could not afford to, or were otherwise unable to, drive their own vehicle face a significant disadvantage. Since then, I have looked at ways technology could be used to address those disparities.

A breakthrough opportunity presented itself when Google re-charged the conversation about the possibility of self-driving vehicles becoming a reality, because once we remove the requirement of having to own and be physically able to drive, the ability to access transportation that is available when one wants it, at an affordable price, becomes possible.”

Give us a taste of the topics you’ll cover at the Vehicle Technology International Conference?

“I will focus on the policy level obstacles and opportunities I mention above, as they relate to development and deployment of connected and automated vehicles. I will outline some of the misconceptions (such as how we cannot deploy the technology because lawyers will prevent it) as well as some of the real opportunities for deployment. I’ll further note that there still is room for improvement and change in policy if we want to address the disparities I mention above, however. Hopefully, some of the lessons I have learned in looking at this topic from the US perspective will also lead to useful insight on Canadian policy and law as well!”

To register for the conference, please visit rrc.ca/vtec2019

Meet Ying Ying Liu, guest speaker at the 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference

September 18, 2019

Red River College is hosting the inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference, September 30 – October 2 at the Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre in Winnipeg. RRC is excited to welcome a range of speakers who will be covering topics relating to the evolution and future of vehicle technology in Canada in beyond. Get to know one of the speakers, Ying Ying Liu, below:

“Nine years ago, I came to Canada as an immigrant from China. With a degree in Information Management and Systems, I worked at IBM China in business operation. I always had a fascination with the technical world and wanted to learn more about what happens behind the scenes. So when I came to Canada, I decided to start fresh by going back to school, where I embraced every single opportunity to learn.

After receiving my second bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with First Class Honours from the University of Manitoba in 2013, I went on to get my Master’s in 2016. I am now a PhD student. I have strong academic performance and a passion in solving real world problems with technologies. I also work at Manitoba Hydro as a system developer.

I joined InterDisciplinary Evolutionary Algorithmic Sciences (IDEAS) lab in 2013. My research areas are in computational intelligence, high performance computing, and distributed algorithms. My recent interest is in traffic-aware many objective dynamic route planning. I find this topic interesting because it is both theoretical and practical.

Individual vehicle routing refers to the task of finding the optimal travel path from place A to place B. With classical static routing algorithms, this problem is usually solved by finding the shortest path on a graph representing a road map with the weight of an edge representing the actual geometric distance between two junctions. A static routing algorithm is run once at the path planning stage and does not consider dynamic traffic information such as congestion, accidents and road closure.

As congestion becomes alarmingly severe in modern metropolitan areas, traffic-aware vehicle routing is one of the important problems in improving quality of life and building smart cities with higher productivity, less air pollution and less fuel consumption. In our problem setting, the road network is modelled as a graph with constantly changing edge weights, and a vehicle makes routing decision based on real-time and predictive traffic as it goes.

Our traffic-aware dynamic routing is composed of three steps:

  1. distributive road network clustering using real-time traffic
  2. traffic prediction at cluster level
  3. the vehicle incorporates the road network, clustering, and traffic information into its path planning algorithm to find a set of solutions for the optimizations of total vehicular emission cost (TEC), travel time, number of turns, and distance.

I would like to thank the organizers of the Vehicle Technology International Conference to give me the opportunity to present research work of the IDEAS lab. I look forward to attending the conference!”

Register for the Vehicle Technology International conference here.

Get to know Kirk Burcar and Thomas Small from New Flyer

September 11, 2019

Red River College is pleased to welcome New Flyer‘s Kirk Burcar and Thomas Small as guest speakers at the inaugural 2019 Vehicle Technology International Conference, taking place September 30 to October 2 at the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre in Winnipeg.

Read more about Kirk and Thomas and the topics they’ll cover at this year’s conference – and register here to make sure you don’t miss it!

Kirk Burcar, Vice President, Engineering Services

Kirk Burcar is a seasoned production engineer, having held progressively advancing leadership roles in automotive and heavy-duty manufacturing for over three decades. He currently leads New Flyer’s engineering operation as Vice President, Engineering Services, and since joining New Flyer in 2009, Kirk has provided key direction and guidance to its critical design and production engineering programs, including reference bus development, design enhancement strategies, and quality improvement initiatives.

Prior to joining New Flyer, Kirk spent 20 years in the automotive industry, holding senior management roles in engineering and management with General Motors. Kirk holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from McGill University, and a Masters in Engineering from the University of Toronto.

 

 

Thomas Small, Director, New Product Development

Thomas Small is a product development expert and currently leads New Flyer’s New Product Development (NPD) team through its innovation, design, and development process. With over two decades of engineering experience and leadership, he oversees New Flyer’s assessment of emerging technology and implementation of new products and mobility solutions into the North American market. He also provides active support to the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium’s (CUTRIC) Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial with technical planning and design.

Prior to joining New Flyer in 2000, Thomas spent several years with the product validation team at New Holland Canada. He holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Manitoba and is an accredited Professional Engineer.

 

Kirk and Thomas will speak on a variety of topics at this year’s conference:

  • New Flyer’s tech journey: where the company has come from, where they are now, and where they’re going – and that they’re in the midst of a mobility paradigm shift
  • The electrification of transit buses in North America, including discussion on low and no-emission propulsions
  • That New Flyer is “not just a bus manufacturer” anymore, but a provider of mobility solutions that includes buses, infrastructure, and technology
  • How New Flyer supports the development of smart cities through smart mobility
  • The path to advanced driver assistance system (or ADAS) deployment, and how New Flyer is using automation to make public transit safer
  • How New Flyer is driving industry collaboration, learning, tech advancement, and workforce development through our Vehicle Innovation Center
  • Why industry advocacy is critical to success on the path to zero-emission

Visit rrc.ca/vtec2019 to register for VTIC 2019.

A Q+A with Dr. Robert Parsons for the Vehicle Technology International Conference

September 9, 2019

From September 30 to October 2, Red River College is hosting the inaugural Vehicle Technology International Conference at the Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre in Winnipeg, MB. In anticipation of the conference, we’re highlighting some of our guest speakers. For a full list of speakers from the conference, and to register, please click here.

Below is a Q+A with Dr. Robert Parsons, who teaches Sustainability Economics for the MBA program in the I.H. Asper School of Business.

About me, and what sparked my interest in this vehicle technology:

I have an eclectic background, both in terms of education and experience. I have four university degrees from three different institutions, with the most important ones being a PhD in engineering from the University of Manitoba, and a MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

I have worked in many diverse areas, including with a municipal level government, an international technology company, a consulting engineering firm, utility, and as officer and director of a non-profit. Most importantly, I acted as a specialized energy consultant for the Government of Manitoba over a number of years, through which I began working on advanced and alternative vehicle technologies, including fuel cell and battery electric vehicles. Because of this, I have also had long associations with Red River College that now stretches back roughly 15 years.

I hold the distinction of being the person in Manitoba who has driven the most different models of electric cars, currently around 10. I also have been involved with both hydrogen and battery-electric buses, and have been able to watch as such technologies moved from being quirks on drawing-boards to functional commercial units.

Since 2015, I have been teaching Sustainability Economics as a sessional instructor for the MBA program in the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. Teaching is both rewarding and stimulating, and I have focussed on trying to provide participants with opportunities for real world applications. This helps to move away from being dryly academic to highly relevant.

Also, since 2017 I have provided some specialized assistance directly to Red River College’s Research Partnerships & Innovation group to support the Vehicle Technology and Energy Centre (VTEC) initiative, which the College is conducting in conjunction with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). This has primarily involved helping to develop and find funding for some new projects in this area.

What I will talk about as part of the conference:

I will be acting as the chair for one session of talks in the conference dealing with sustainability, and will also be presenting as part of that session myself. This session overall includes a number of informative talks covering diverse aspects of sustainability from different angles.

My presentation discusses a variety of insights for improving transportation that have come from sustainability economics, primarily from work done by students in my classes. These relate to electric buses, electric cars, as well as increased renewable content levels in fuels, both gasoline and diesel. As an interesting example, diesel has been well known as the second most common fossil fuel used in vehicles, after gasoline. Most with involvement in vehicle technology also know that diesel dominates for heavy duty and specialized applications, including buses, freight transport and agricultural equipment, which are all key areas for the conference. What is less known is that over the past twenty years, diesel has been progressively changing from having predictable low-costs, to becoming more expensive most of the time, compared to gasoline. Indeed diesel has been transitioning to become the “premium” and most important fossil fuel in the world. This significant change in relative pricing is an important new motivation to improve efficiency and to look for alternative motive technologies in both heavy duty and specialized areas.

Some additional material being presented and additional thoughts:

There is also a poster presentation being presented by myself and students from one of my classes. This group undertook an exhaustive cost-benefit analysis examining “externalities” associated with changing from conventional diesel transit buses to more-advanced battery electric buses.  The results involve primarily benefits, but not entirely. There are still some cautions we all need to be aware. Importantly, this more-fundamental work, which was undertaken through advanced university studies in business, was made possible given the more practically-oriented results of applied research by Red River College documenting the history and performance of the prototype electric transit bus, with which the College was an important consortium partner. This serves to highlight collaboration, and important synergies that can result.

***

Visit rrc.ca/vtec2019 to register for VTIC 2019 today!

Recycled Batteries to Give Electric Vehicles a Boost at Red River College

August 12, 2019

This week, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, announced a $60,000 investment towards a new electric vehicle (EV) charging station at Red River College’s (RRC) Notre Dame Campus.

“This investment in clean energy technologies will help ensure that Canada remains a global leader in clean energy. The Government of Canada continues to work to reduce pollution, foster change in our transportation choices and leave a cleaner planet for future generations,” said Minister Sohi.

This new Level 3 charging station, which is set to be operational by summer 2020, will use recycled lithium batteries sourced from New Flyer Industries’ fleet of electric buses. Using the recycled batteries will help improve the performance and reduce the cost of operating the station.

Currently, RRC operates five EV chargers at its Notre Dame Campus – one Level 3 charger, and four Level 2 chargers. The chargers are available for public use and are integral to research projects through the College’s Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC).

“This investment will help the College to increase our current clean technology research activity on electric vehicles, along with renewable and alternative energy sources. We’re proud to continue our work in helping to develop sustainable infrastructure and technology that will benefit the environment and economy in Manitoba and across Canada,” said Ray Hoemsen, Executive Director, Research, Partnerships & Innovation at RRC.

RRC was the first organization in Winnipeg to install and operate a Level 3 charger in March, 2015. Level 3 stations can charge an EV up to 80 per cent charge in less than 30 minutes; this is compared to a 220/240V Level 2 charger, which can take four to six hours to get to full charge, or an 110/120V Level 1 charger, which can take up to 12 hours.

 

Funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada will support heavy vehicle manufacturing and research at RRC

August 2, 2019

This morning, the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade Diversification and Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Diversification Canada, announced new funding to support Manitoba’s growth and global competitiveness.

Among the projects announced was up to $3 million in funding to Red River College to increase technology adoption and testing capabilities for heavy vehicle manufacturers in collaboration with industry partners and the Vehicle Technology Centre.

MotiveLab™ rendering

The College is currently preparing for the opening of the new extreme climate test facility MotiveLab™, which will be used to carry on-and-off-highway vehicle performance testing, and will be the first of its kind in Western Canada. The funding project will support industry-driven collaborations to advance technology and knowledge development in the area of zero emission vehicles and their production using advanced manufacturing processes. Activities include testing the performance of new technologies and products in a simulated laboratory or field-based setting, and promoting the adoption of these new technologies at domestic and international events and missions. By increasing awareness within the heavy vehicle manufacturing sector, industry will attract new customers, investment and talent to Manitoba.

Minister Carr announced a total of over $12 million in funding for four projects to support Manitoba’s economic growth and global competitiveness. Learn more about the projects and investments here.