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Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

Vehicle Tech

RRC and Winnipeg Transit partnership helps bridge e-bus training gap

May 28, 2021

The rise of clean tech and electric vehicles is much more than a trend – it represents a long-term, sustainable solution to lessening environmental impact by reducing emissions and fuel consumption. As industries adopt electric vehicles, the need for specialized training has increased. The Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) at Red River College (RRC) is a hub for applied research, technical services as well as training for electric and hybrid vehicles. 

“RRC was part of the Joint Task Force on Transit Electrification, which assessed the economics and the greenhouse gas emission profiles for electric transit buses (e-buses) relative to diesel buses,” says Jose (Jojo) Delos Reyes, Research Manager, VTEC. “One key component of integrating e-buses into the current fleet is providing training. This is where we saw an opportunity to approach Winnipeg Transit about supplemental training courses.”

Currently New Flyer Industries (New Flyer) provides an intensive e-bus course to transit maintenance technicians across North America. While this training is immersive, the VTEC team saw a need for reskilling and upskilling transit mechanics and technicians in preparation for the New Flyer course. 

“For those who have previous experience working with electric buses or vehicles, they may be able to jump right into the manufacturer training. However, a diesel mechanic who has never worked on an electric vehicle, for example, may benefit greatly from supplemental learning,” says Delos Reyes.

A group from the RRC transportation department took the New Flyer e-bus course to determine where knowledge gaps might exist and what information and training would be a beneficial precursor to this course. The overall goal was to develop specialized training to prepare technicians and set them up for success.

After identifying the gap and demonstrating the need for specialized training, VTEC worked closely with RRC transportation department members Tom Grant, Chair of Transportation Heavy Apprenticeships and Trades, Ken Friesen, Program Manager, Dietrich Schellenberg, Academic Coordinator, and Leonard Wiens, Apprenticeship Instructor, to develop the “Intro to Electric Bus Technology” course in collaboration with Winnipeg Transit.

The Intro to Electric Bus Technology course is composed of three one-week modules, focusing on safety aspects, knowledge of electrical fundamentals, and interpreting data communications.

“The transition to electrification brings a rapid shift in safety and technology that our technicians need to be prepared for. This course will introduce technicians to the high voltage electric vehicle systems needed to support both battery electric and fuel-cell battery electric vehicle technologies, and prepare them for the more in-depth manufacturer training,” says Eric Rensfelt, Vehicle Systems Supervisor, Winnipeg Transit. “Safety is paramount, and technicians will need to be comfortable working with the new technology, as well as be able to diagnosis the complex systems through Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming and ladder logic. The partnership between Winnipeg Transit and Red River College resulting from this course is the first step in this process.”

The first RRC e-bus training course was slated to start in May 2020, but due to the pandemic, the brakes were temporarily put on the project. 

Students learning in a classroom at RRC

This spring, the first group of trainees completed The Intro to Electric Bus Technology course. As highlighted in the course description: completing this course will provide the strong electrical foundation required for transit technicians to successfully complete the in-depth manufacturer electric bus training, and in turn upskill members of Manitoba’s workforce.

RRC works with Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery to help build Canada back better

March 4, 2021

Red River College is proud to be a founding member of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), a group of climate-action leading colleges, Cégeps, institutions, and polytechnics from across Canada who have joined forces to educate a post-pandemic workforce to support a new climate-focused economic recovery.

C2R2 champions projects across Canada to:

  • support a recovery that delivers good jobs
  • positively impact for the environment, and
  • address socio-economic inequality.

By working together, colleges can help lead the transition to a clean economy. With a vision to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis, colleges are positioned to quickly develop thousands of training and research opportunities to help Canadians access good jobs, support the transition to the low carbon economy, and foster inclusion, diversity, and equity.

Alignment with current research programs

Through the leadership of Research Partnerships & Innovation, RRC has existing research programs that align with the coalition’s focus goals, such as RRC’s extensive electric vehicle applied research experience – particularly cold-weather performance, battery-pack redesign, redevelopment, and secondary use.

RRC’s Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) provides relevant industry training and applied research. BETAC has an array of specialized equipment that can enable and support energy efficient buildings.

C2R2 is working together to support the rapid development and deployment of new curriculum and research initiatives to support resilience in our towns and cities across Canada.

Follow along with C2R2 at resilientcolleges.ca.

Collaboration with KAP and UM is ready to roll: Mini Training Tractor revealed

July 16, 2020

A collaboration between the University of Manitoba (UM), Red River College (RRC) and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) driven by the need for an agricultural safety training tool, has produced a unique vehicle that will help predict, teach and demonstrate tractor roll overs.

The Mini Roll Over Training Tractor (Mini ROTT) was demonstrated at the UM’s Glenlea Research Station on July 16. Approximately the size of an average lawn tractor but with the appearance of a traditional tractor, the radio-controlled Mini ROTT will be used for teaching and demonstration of roll overs and activities that will enhance students’ and farmers’ understanding of farm safety practices.

“Keystone Agricultural Producers is proud to be a part of the roll over training tractor (ROTT) project through our Manitoba Farm Safety Program,” says Bill Campbell, President, KAP. “We look forward to using this innovative tool to further promote the need for safety awareness and training across our sector to reduce the risk of serious injury in the operation of tractors and large equipment on farms across the province. The partnership we have forged with the University of Manitoba and Red River College shows the importance of our industry to this province and showcases some of the brightest minds and ingenuity we have here in Manitoba.”

The project was initiated by the UM’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences to supplement hands-on safety workshops developed for diploma students and farmers.  The UM teamed up with KAP’s Manitoba Farm Safety Program staff to explore the concept of a remote-controlled tractor as an interactive training tool for teaching roll over prevention strategies.

“The Faculty, especially the farm safety training leaders in our School of Agriculture, are keenly engaged in farm safety training, both for our students and for our wider agricultural community,” says Martin Scanlon, Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, UM. “We were excited to partner with Keystone Agricultural Producers and Red River College to create this novel training tool that will assist the University of Manitoba in delivering potentially life-saving knowledge to the next generation of Manitoba producers. This project underlines the high value and mutual benefit of collaboration with talented industry partners and other educational institutions.”

UM and KAP then engaged with RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) and Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) for the fabrication process. The research staff at TACAM designed and built the tractor, with support from the VTEC team on the electronics and systems control components.

“Working with Keystone Agricultural Producers and the University of Manitoba on the roll over training tractor (ROTT) is the perfect demonstration of the value of applied research: providing tangible solutions to real-world problems,” says Fred Meier, President & CEO, RRC. “The ROTT highlights the skill and expertise of our TACAM and VTEC teams, and now that we’ve created this first product we’re excited to explore similar projects in the future. We’re proud to play a role in farm safety awareness and supporting the agriculture industry in Manitoba.”

Going forward, the Mini ROTT will be housed at the Glenlea Research Station and utilized for farm safety training for post-secondary students and Manitoba farmers. The Manitoba Farm Safety Program and UM staff plan to collaborate on expanded tractor training and develop programs aimed at creating a safer agri-food industry.

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Endowment Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through Red River College’s TACAM and VTEC-Innovation Enhancement grants, and Keystone Agricultural Producers.

MotiveLab™ featured on The Hill’s “Global Lenses: Canada” series

March 5, 2020

MotiveLab™, Red River College’s vehicle research facility, was recently featured on The Hill‘s Global Lenses: Canada series, sponsored by Invest in Canada.

The 7,000 square-foot test facility includes a climatic chamber that can reach temperature highs of + 50 C or lows of – 40 C, no matter the outdoor temperature. The lab was the perfect setting for The Hill’s recent feature, “Cold Starts in Canada.”

From The Hill:

“Canada has long been a hub for cold weather transport testing. Now it’s becoming an incubator for technologies that test alternative fuels and high-efficiency vehicles in extreme environments. That tracks with Canada’s ranking as first among G20 countries on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index. At Red River College in Winnipeg, researchers are helping global companies warm up to a brighter clean tech future by investing in Canada.”

Check out the video by clicking the image above, or by visiting their website.

 

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 here, listed by speaker:

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.