Perspectives Newsletter Spring 2019
Vol. 42, no.1 / Posted on June 20, 2019

Submitted by Hugh Fraser, P.Eng.

Every year, the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph holds a day in April to showcase the results of their ENGG*41X course. This capstone engineering design course is required to be completed by all engineering students in their final semester of study.  Students apply the knowledge gained throughout their time at the U of G in solving open-ended problems related to their majors.  Students work in groups of 4 or 5 in a team environment, encouraging them to collaborate.  Designs include the socio-economic and environmental impacts of their solutions.

Part of the students’ marks includes marks from judges who are brought in for the day to provide feedback. These judges come from all walks of life and all ages of life and experiences. All must have their P.Eng. and at least five judges are needed for each student group. With over 70 projects this past April 2019, it takes a lot of judges to pull this day off. Being a judge is a lot of work, yet is very fulfilling and a lot of fun. It is a great way to reconnect with University life and see how gifted the next generation of engineering students is. Students are working on exciting things that those of us who have been out of school for a long time can only marvel at.

If you would like to be a judge, there is no training involved. You must have a P.Eng. and be willing to devote most of one day to the task. There is some light ‘training’ on how to use a judging rubric, then you are unleashed to go listen to the students as they tell you what they have learned during the course. Your practical life experiences and feedback are vital to the students. Many students produce working prototypes of gadgets that one can tell will have commercial applications in the near future. To learn how you might get involved at the next one in April 2020, please contact the current course coordinator, Ping Wu at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

DigvirJayasThe College of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Saskatchewan recently announced that along with more 3,700 University of Saskatchewan students crossing the stage to receive their parchments at Spring Convocation so too did colleague and alumnus Dr. Digvir S. Jayas when he received the prestigious earned Doctor of Science degree on June 5th  at the ceremony at Merlis Belsher Place. The D.Sc. is an academic research degree awarded in a number of countries throughout the world which is awarded in recognition of substantial and sustained contributions to scientific knowledge beyond that required for a typical doctorate.

From humble beginnings as a student and farmhand working outside of New Delhi, to serving as a distinguished professor and vice-president at the University of Manitoba, Digvir Jayas’ career may be proof that you reap what you sow.

Distinguished Professor, Dr. Digvir S. Jayas was educated at the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, India; the University of Manitoba, and the University of Saskatchewan. Before assuming the position of Vice-President (Research and International), he held the position of Vice-President (Research) for two years and Associate Vice-President (Research) for eight years. Prior to his appointment as Associate Vice-President (Research), he was Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Department Head of Biosystems Engineering, and Interim Director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Registered Professional Agrologist and is currently serving as the Interim President of NSERC.

Dr. Jayas is a former Tier I (Senior) Canada Research Chair in Stored-Grain Ecosystems. He conducts research related to drying, handling and storing grains and oilseeds and digital image processing for grading and processing operations in the Agri-Food industry. He has authored or co-authored over 900 technical articles in scientific journals, conference proceedings and books dealing with issues of storing, drying, handling and quality monitoring of grains. He has collaborated with researchers in several countries but has had significant impact on the development of efficient grain storage, handling and drying systems in Canada, China, India, Ukraine and USA.

As a child growing up under the charge of his grandparents on a farm 150 kilometres southeast of New Delhi, India, Jayas saw first-hand food loss and spoilage. In a quote taken from the Winnipeg Free Press January 11, 2019 in an interview with Jayas, "My grandfather certainly is the one I would give full credit for instilling in me the value of hard work," Jayas said. "There were many issues which I thought could be solved by applying engineering to agriculture," he recalled. "I said something could be done, but at that time I was not sure I would become a professor working in that area."

In 1980, Jayas came to Canada where he completed his master’s degree in agricultural engineering at the University of Manitoba, and then went to Saskatoon, where he finished his PhD at the University of Saskatchewan.  He later returned to the U of M as an assistant professor in the agricultural engineering department. While not necessarily anticipating to be an instrumental part in the academic pursuits of hundreds of students and researchers in Manitoba and Canada, Jayas said he has always been motivated to teach and to help others understand, explore, and solve complex problems.

Dr. Jayas has received awards from several organizations in recognition of his research and professional contributions and most recently was appointed to the Order of Canada in November of 2018.  Dr. Jayas serves on the boards or committees of many organizations.  In addition to his roles as Vice-President at the University of Manitoba and Interim President of NSERC (until 2019), Jayas continues to be an active member on various boards as a member and adviser, some of which include: ArcticNet, Cancer Care Manitoba Projects Grants and Awards Committee, Churchill Marine Observatory (CMO), Composite Innovation Centre, Centre for Innovative Sensing of Structures (SIMTReC), Genome Prairie, GlycoNet, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, National Coordinating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID), North Forge Technology Exchange, NSERC Council, Oceans Research in Canada Alliance Council, Research Manitoba, Research Institute of Oncology and Hematology, RITHIM Steering Committee, and TRIUMF.  He has served as the President of the Agriculture Institute of Canada, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba (Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba), Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Canadian Society for Bioengineering, Engineers Canada, and Manitoba Institute of Agrologists. He currently chairs the board of directors of RESOLVE, a prairie research network on family violence; TRIUMF and the Smartpark Advisory Committee.

On June 21, 2019, President Eddy Isaacs inducted 49 new Fellows into the Academy of Engineering. Our member Chandra Madramootoo was one of them. Congratulations Chandra. Well deserved. The ceremony took place in Québec City, in conjunction with the Academy’s 2019 Annual General Meeting and Symposium.

 chandra madramootoo

Chandra Madramootoo, Professor, McGill University

Dr. Chandra Madramootoo is nationally and internationally recognized for his engineering research, leading to new technologies and improved water management practices in agriculture. He has received several awards for his research, teaching and contributions to the engineering profession. He has published extensively and presented his research findings at national and international conferences. At McGill University, he was the founding Director of the Brace Centre for Water Resources Management, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Associate Vice-Principal of the Macdonald Campus. He actively contributes at leadership levels in international water organizations, and international research and development institutions. 

partick brassardRecently, Patrick Brassard, one of our member presented his recent research about sustainable bio-economy at the 27th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition, Lisbon, Portugal. This paper describes a pyrolysis biorefinery concept in which energy and bio-based products are generated from the pyrolysis of forest residues.

Pyrolysis experiments were carried out with woody biomass using an auger reactor to better understand the impact of the pyrolysis operational parameters on the properties of the co-products. The response surface methodology (RSM) approach was used to set an experimental design, aiming at optimizing pyrolysis parameters (temperature, solid residence time and nitrogen flow rate) to produce high yield of bio-oil with the lowest water content possible. Further pyrolysis tests were carried out to study the fractional condensation of bio-oil into two phases: a heavy phase with a high-energy content (bio-crude oil) and a light phase containing phenol compounds and acetic acid, called wood vinegar. The fungicide potential of the wood vinegar was evaluated in laboratory. Based on the experimental results, a biorefinery scenario was established towards a future endeavor of modelling the role of pyrolysis within the French bioeconomy. The starting point is 1000 kg dry matter (DM) of soft wood forest residues, which are harvested, chipped, stored, grinded, dried and pyrolyzed. In this scenario, the bio-crude oil and non-condensed syngas are used to substitute heat, wood vinegar is used as a bio-fungicide, and biochar is used as a soil amendment. This work will allow studying the environmental consequences of this concept through a life cycle assessment.

Download the full paper here.