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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.

Celebrating a Community of Change: new website supports vulnerable children and their caregivers

September 17, 2019

Today, Red River College (RRC) revealed a brand-new resource that highlights the potential for positive change that is released in a low-income community when their youngest citizens have access to intense early childhood services. Community of Change is a new website that demonstrates how changing vulnerable children’s early learning opportunities not only has a positive effect on them but creates a positive ripple effect on the adults around them.

The project is the result of a partnership between Red River College, Manidoo Gi-Miini Gonaan, and Healthy Child Manitoba. RRC received nearly $234,000 in funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2016 to support new research examining how an early childhood intervention program influenced the parents and staff at the Lord Selkirk Park Child Care Centre.

“The funding we received from SSHRC allowed Red River College to bolster our leadership role in social innovation research and knowledge mobilization,” said Christine Watson, VP Academic, Red River College. “Projects like these highlight our ongoing and innovative work in the areas of health and social sciences – work we couldn’t do without the support of our partners and community.”

To celebrate the launch of Community of Change and to thank the families and staff who participated in the research project, RRC and its partners hosted a launch event at Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre.

“It’s important for us to celebrate this work with those who helped shape it. The families who agreed to tell their stories are really at the core of this research project,” said Jan Sanderson, Research Chairperson for the Research School of Health Sciences at RRC.

“Many studies have demonstrated that young children living in economically challenged circumstances face an uphill battle to meet their developmental milestones and enter kindergarten ready for the education challenges ahead,” continued Sanderson. “Fortunately, research also tells us that we can change that trajectory by intervening early and providing services that support both young children and their parents. The project at Lord Selkirk Park is demonstrating exactly that. We have seen the ripple effect boost a child’s potential, and suddenly the parent is also engaged, motivated and inspired to explore their own developmental path. Kids benefit, families benefit, and the community grows stronger and healthier.”

To learn more about the project findings, visit

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 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 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.

CANARIE Issues Call to Strengthen Cybersecurity in Canada’s Research and Education Community

July 30, 2019

CANARIE, a vital component of Canada’s digital research infrastructure (DRI) ecosystem that supports research, education, and innovation, has announced a Call for Participation that will invest in Canadian universities, colleges, and research institutions that participate in the Joint Security Project (JSP).

This call is open to universities, colleges, and research institutions connected to the twelve provincial and territorial network partners that, along with CANARIE, form Canada’s National Research and Education Network (NREN).

For more information on this call for participation, including timelines and eligibility criteria, please visit the CANARIE website:

College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) competition launching this summer

July 8, 2019

NSERC‘s College and Community Innovation program will be launching a new competition for the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF). The competition will be launched this summer with an application deadline in fall 2019. Applicants will be invited to apply for up to $120,000 per year for a duration of one to two years.

CCSIF grants are intended to support college social innovation research projects in areas such as education, integration of vulnerable populations and community development, in partnership with local community organizations. For your reference, you may also wish to review the program details from the 2017 CCSIF competition, however, please note that the program details may be revised for the 2019 competition.

More program details will be available in the coming weeks. Please contact with any questions.

Register for new webinars from Community-Based Research Canada

July 5, 2019

Are you interested in learning more about developing a co-curricular research shop model? Sign up for the latest webinar from Community-Based Research Canada (CBRC) – a national facilitator for community-based research (CBR) and campus-community engagement in Canada. Here is more information from their website:

“A research shop is a co-curricular post-secondary initiative where student volunteers work on research projects in the community. In the context of funding cuts in post-secondary education, lean and precarious resources for non-profit organizations, and multiple drivers towards experiential education, how does a research shop respond most effectively to community research requests? This webinar will present McMaster University’s experience formalizing its research shop, striving to be sustainable and relevant while balancing community needs and student experiences.”

The webinar takes place on Thursday, July 18 at 11am CST. Register here.

NSERC funding available for science promotion activities

June 26, 2019

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is seeking applications to its PromoScience Grant. PromoScience supports activities and content designed for youth in elementary school and high school, their teachers, and activities that will encourage Indigenous undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies in natural sciences and engineering.

NSERC invites applications that promote the natural sciences and engineering to Canada’s young people, particularly to groups such as girls and Indigenous peoples that are under-represented in scientific and engineering careers.

The application deadline is September 15, 2019. For more information and to apply, please visit their website.