BCIT Applied Research at a Glance

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Applied research is the core of much of what makes British Columbia Institute of Technology® (BCIT®) so unique. While it is often spoken about in a variety of terms — such as experiential learning, work integrated learning, capstone, directed studies or industry sponsored student projects — applied research is the invaluable hands-on experience that students receive to support their future careers. It is also what happens when faculty work on projects with industry to develop new methodologies, technologies, and processes. Applied research is also developing new teaching methods and tools like virtual reality simulation to enhance students’ learning outcomes. Additionally, applied research is how BCIT helps BC and Canadian companies and communities innovate for a better economy.



Message from the Dean BCIT is a people-focused organization, and faculty and staff are integral to our success. Investing in people means investing not only in their skills and day-to-day work life, but also in their desires, dreams, and hopes for the future. From individuals that begin to explore applied research to faculty and staff that have supported student projects for many years, and newly minted Canada Research Chairs to long-standing champions of scientific investigation—BCIT embraces research as an integral part of its drive for excellence. Faculty-championed research encompasses an array of subjects far beyond BCIT’s well-known signature projects and equally demonstrates our research excellence. The research activity may be part of an industry-sponsored project, a faculty member’s desire to stay current in their field, or part of a course load supporting student projects. It is enabled through institutional and school-specific research funds, professional development leave, federal and provincial government grants, as well as funding from industry, not-for-profit organizations, and international sources. Research is a key opportunity for growth at BCIT, as well as invaluable to our industry partners and our learners’ educational experience. The same commitment to relevance and excellence underpins applied research carried out by our students as part of their educational journey. Whether student practicums, capstone projects, directed studies, or Industry Sponsored Student Projects (ISSP) — each provides direct benefits to industry partners by solutions in response to industry problems and rounding off the skill sets of their future employees. If BCIT is to remain relevant to emerging industry and educational needs, research must play an essential role. Our excellence in applied research, applied problem solving and applied education is well known. Building on a solid foundation, we aim to facilitate and bolster faculty and student research, and use our campuses as living labs. Now let’s take a peek at our research champions at work.

Dr. Kim Dotto, BSc, BASc, MASc, PEng Dean, Applied Research & Centre for Applied Research and Innovation


School of Business + Media A STUDY OF BARRIERS TO INDIGENOUS EMPLOYMENT: A CASE OF THE LIL’WAT NATION Whistler, BC is located on the unceded shared traditional territories of the Squamish (Skwxwú7mesh) and the Lil’wat (LiÍwat7úl) Nations.

“ T he goal is to determine employment barriers faced by the Lil’wat Nation and to create an employer awareness program that educates on Lil’wat culture, history, and traditions, so that organizations can create a more inclusive and diverse workplace that is representative of its local population.” Sonia Dhaliwal, SITE Centre

Whistler’s labour market relies heavily on temporary foreign workers, while at the same time the local Indigenous population is underrepresented in the workforce.

This had us question why employers are looking outside the community when many people from the Lil’wat Nation are ready and willing to work. When we started speaking with the local community, many reasons and barriers for this underrepresentation were brought up, however, none of these were backed by research in the local area.


“ E very year I am truly amazed at the innovative ideas our students submit for the Student Innovation Challenge,” says Kathy Kinloch, President, BCIT “This challenge encourages students to think outside the box and inspires them to believe their ideas can one day become a reality”

Rakhymzhan Duisek from the School of Business + Media along with Aman Duisek and Mike Chen from School of Energy won second place for Entrepreneurship at the 2021 Student Innovation Challenge Virtual Awards Ceremony. Their submission “Tatti Food” is a mobile application that offers special deals with low prices and serves as a powerful advertising engine, generating sales and stronger brand recognition for the restaurants. The BCIT Student Innovation Challenge is an annual contest aimed at providing support, encouragement, and funding to BCIT students who have “bright ideas”.

IMPACTS OF VERTICAL STRUCTURE OF AIRLINE-AIRPORT RELATIONSHIP ON AIRPORT EFFICIENCY A plethora of research has been devoted to investigating the factors affecting efficiency of airports but only one paper studies the impacts of vertical structure of the airline-airport relationship on airport efficiency. Understanding the impact of vertical structure of the airline-airport relationship on airport efficiency is essential for government and airport stakeholders to formulate appropriate policies for economic welfare. Sam Choo, Faculty, Operations Management


Kathy Kinloch, President BCIT

School of Computing and Academic Studies BRIDGING THE GENDER GAP IN STEM

“ W hen I was in high school I was passionate about many subjects including arts, design, mathematics, and sciences. My choice to study computer science was based on the fact that computer science encompasses all of the above.

BCIT researcher and School of Computing and Academic Studies faculty member Dr. Mirela Gutica is part of the 41% of researchers at BCIT who are women and she is addressing this gender gap issue through her research at BCIT.

I love my students and I am inspired and motivated by their creativity, interest, and passion. Yet I do wish to have more diversity in my classroom.”

Dr. Mirela Gutica’s research revealed that sociocultural circumstances and attitudes preceding post-secondary enrolment are important factors that influence the gender gap.

Dr. Mirela Gutica Program Head, Computer Systems Technology

BCIT RESEARCHERS JOIN INTERNATIONAL TEAM STUDYING NEUTRINOS IN FAMOUS UNDERGROUND JAPANESE EXPERIMENT BCIT Faculty members Dr. Barry Pointon and Dr. Michal Aibin recently joined the Canadian Hyper-K group to work with researchers and students involved in the existing Super-Kamiokande (Super-K) and the future HyperKamiokande (Hyper-K) neutrino physics experiments in Japan.

“ I am excited to join the Canadian Hyper-K group. This is an incredible opportunity for BCIT, myself, and our students to work with world-class facilities, and cutting-edge research associated with the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.” Dr. Barry Pointon Faculty, Physics

LANGUAGE LEARNING FOR YOUNG NEWCOMERS This research project provides post-admission support for English as Additional Language (EAL) students in diploma programs and shares best practices for EAL students who are pursuing skilled jobs in BC and across the country. It seeks to create innovative content and language integrated curricula, develop language assessment tools, as well as build relationships with industry sponsors to provide authentic job application and interviewing experience. Dr. Nathan Devos, Faculty, Communications



“ T his project demonstrates the vision for campuses as a living lab of sustainability by bringing students across several disciplines together to solve a challenge that is relevant to advancing sustainability at BCIT and around the world.”

A collaborative research project involving faculty and students from Civil Engineering, Ecological Restoration, Chemical and Environmental Technology, and the Chemistry program examines the use of a sustainable filtration material called biochar to remove chemical contaminants from stormwater to improve water quality in creeks and rivers.

USING DRONES TO STUDY CLIMATE CHANGE IN NORWAY As an avid photographer, traveler, and Geomatics Engineering Instructor at BCIT, Dr. Eric Saczuk frequently integrates his environmental research with adventurous travel to off-thebeaten path destinations. Nearly two years ago, he traveled to Antarctica for a research sabbatical where he used remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAs) — commonly known as drones —  to map the region and study climate change. It was also this trip, that serendipitously led to his latest climate change research in Norway.

Dr. Jennie Moore Director, Institute Sustainability

“ Drones can be valuable tools for studying climate change. In the field of geomatics, drones are mostly used to capture construction data but it’s still a relatively new tool to use in conservation efforts. D rones are less invasive, quick to deploy, accomplish similar type of data collection as you would with a helicopter but at a fraction of the cost, and have the ability to cover hard to access areas much faster than can be done on foot.” Dr. Eric Saczuk Faculty, Geomatics Engineering Department

URBAN MICROCLIMATIC FACTORS CONDUCIVE TO URBAN HEAT ISLAND AND AIR POLLUTION Buildings are designed with little connection to the actual site and their surroundings, and vice versa, urban environments are environmentally disconnected from buildings. The research aims to create a platform to train students and investigate how to support the design of more comfortable and healthier outdoor environments, as well as how to design stronger environmental connections between buildings and their surroundings. Dr. Rodrigo Mora, Faculty, Building Science Graduate Program


School of Energy

IN SEARCH OF A SMOOTH PEDAL STROKE: THE BICYCLE IDLER SPROCKET DRIVETRAIN ANALYSIS In the complex world of high-end downhill mountain bike racing technology, every detail matters. That’s why three BCIT Mechanical Engineering students focused their capstone project on mitigating drivetrain issues in high pivot idler bikes. Under the guidance of Stephen McMillan, Mechanical Engineering Program Head, BCIT students Kelly James, Denton Anderson, and Jordan Donaldson created a mathematical simulator that analyzed drivetrain issues. In particular, how changes in the position, size, and tooth geometry of the idler pulley can smooth the pedal stroke.

“ T hese students conducted thorough research and testing of the vibration phenomenon found in the drivetrains of high-pivot rear suspension mountain bikes. I am proud of the work they have accomplished and was happy to provide my guidance to assist with their capstone project.”

“This is one piece of the puzzle,” says Stephen. There are many factors when it comes to suspension design. “If a company like Norco has a design proposal, they can easily run it through the simulation and predict the drivetrain efficiency.”

Stephen McMillan Program Head, Mechanical Engineering

PRACTICAL SOLUTION FOR LOW POWER SYNCHRONIZED DATA ACQUISITION SYSTEM With the rapid development of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and their applications in sensor network for data collection, it is possible to design a low-cost wireless multichannel data acquisition (DAQ) communication system. This would allow for low power consumption and relatively long range which performs time synchronization to collect data accurately and in a timely manner. This research has a lot of industrial applications and would eliminate the cost of cabling and installation. Dr. John Dian, Faculty, Electrical and Computer Engineering


School of Health Sciences IDENTIFYING GENES TO HELP WITH CLIMATE CHANGE Dr. Carol Wenzel, researcher and faculty member in BCIT Biotechnology — in collaboration with SFU Biology faculty Dr. Jim Mattsson and students at BCIT — is working on improving drought tolerance in C3 plants like wheat and rice by conducting molecular studies to identify mechanisms correlated with water use efficiency.

“ We are very grateful to Conviron and Plantae for their generous gift of the growth chamber. The precise growth conditions will enable us to accurately compare different plant phenotypes and the impact of drought on plant growth. T his chamber will be used for research with both co-op student projects and in the Biotechnology plant courses. We are also grateful to BCIT Institute Research Funds, funding that allows us to pursue this exciting research.” Dr. Carol Wenzel Faculty, Biotechnology

IMPACT OF USING VIRTUAL REALITY IN THE CLASSROOM The research started as a solution to learning struggles students were having with understanding complex anatomy. With the use of virtual reality (VR), Health Sciences students are able to step into the body, examine systems close-up, remove pieces and see what’s behind them, view full systems, and explore all the ridges, tissues, lobes, veins, and organs that make up the human body.

“ At the end of our research, Dan, Jen and I will publish instructional guides for faculty to use across all of BCIT’s campuses: Virtual Reality Pedagogical Framework and Workflow Processes for Lesson Templates. I personally hope my students are able to learn better with VR, enjoy learning complex content and ultimately improve their grades.” Francine Anselmo Faculty, Medical Radiography

Students reported better understanding of concepts with the aid of VR visualization and had fun learning complex anatomy in various anatomical planes.

VIRTUAL REALITY ( VR) BASED SIMULATION ON EMPATHY IN HEALTHCARE The idea of using VR simulation to promote empathy initiated from observing my son playing a PlayStation VR game. The VR game seemed to trigger a certain degree of emotion in my son that never happened from other modalities of video games. This made me wonder if VR could be used to trigger a desired emotion for good, such as empathy. The goal of this research is to develop an innovative learning strategy to promote empathy for healthcare providers. Samantha Juan, Faculty, Nursing, School of Health Sciences


School of Transportation

BCIT EMISSION REDUCTION AND RESEARCH TEST HUB Nestled along the south arm of the Fraser River on the Annacis Island campus, the BCIT Emission Reduction and Research Test Hub (ERRTH) is making waves around North America. As an applied research facility — and one of only a few of its kind —  ERRTH provides critical data needed to develop new technologies that reduce engine emissions from vehicles of all kinds. Since its launch, ERRTH continues to see a growing demand for its services.

“ We have the only Portable Emissions Measurement System on the West Coast, and word is spreading. T here are so many researchers now looking for ways to reduce emissions,” explains Thompson. With the data that his team provides, researchers can now track how their innovations perform, and therefore, how to improve them. ERRTH’s testing includes all forms of transportation, from cars and trucks to boats and trains.” Bruce Thompson Faculty, Heavy Equipment Group

THE APPLICATION OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE AND AUGMENTED REALITY INTEGRATION FOR AIRCRAFT INSPECTION An aircraft inspection drone can potentially make examining an aircraft faster and more efficient. The 85% reduction in inspection time brings planes back in service quicker and improves safety by detecting defects more consistently — leading to economic benefits and reduced travel time. Dr. Sanja Boskovic, Associate Dean, Aerospace


Centre for Applied Research and Innovation

The Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI) is home to: MAKE+, NRG, SMART, Dr. Jaimie Borisoff’s Rehabilitation Engineering Design Lab, the Centre for the Internet of Things, and ARLO — t he research office providing support to researchers across BCIT. For over 30 years, CARI has used these resources to perform applied research for industry — helping companies produce new, commercially relevant technology products and applications. In addition to the work with industry, CARI is proud of its work with students and faculty across BCIT and beyond. CARI has 34,000 sq ft of lab spaces, 15 research labs, over $34 million in lab equipment, and 45 researchers with expertise in a wide variety of areas and disciplines. As part of digital transformation, BCIT introduced the Centre for Internet of Things (IoT). The Centre for Internet of Things will keep BCIT at the forefront of this emerging technology, and enhance hands-on education and training, industry collaboration, and research. Jonathan Bassan, BSc, PEng Director, Centre for Internet of Things

MAKE+ is an interdisciplinary research group focused on product development, applied research, and education. The team optimizes the functionality, user experience, value, and commercial success of emerging health, consumer, and industrial products. This team is capable of taking complex projects and ideas from requirement discovery and concept development. Nancy Paris, DSocSci, PEng

“ IoT is an emerging technology, a future high-demand profession that is now ready to be implemented by the new Centre for Internet of Things. Students and industry can rely on state-ofthe-art training and resources to confidently meet the ever changing technology landscape.”

“ M AKE+ is a living example of the BCIT Strategic and Education Plans. Our 16-person multi-disciplinary team works with students, faculty, and industry to provide product development leadership — w hich is essential to our post-pandemic recovery.”

Director, MAKE+ and PART Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG) concentrates on issues related to natural health and food product quality, process improvement, and human health. NRG’s goal is to ensure that all Canadians can achieve the potential health and economic benefits offered by natural health products, medicinal plants, and food products. Dr. Paula Brown, PhD Canada Research Chair, Phytoanalytics Director, Natural Health and Food Products Research Group (NRG) The Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) converges expertise in the information technology, communications engineering, and energy management fields to develop prototypes and solutions for complex applied research problems. SMART has a reputation for unique experience in three strategic research themes: smart microgrid and energy management systems, electric vehicle infrastructure, and critical infrastructure cybersecurity. Dr. Hassan Farhangi, PhD, SM-IEEE, PEng Director, Smart Microgrid Applied Research 10 | BRITISH COLUMBIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

“ Working directly with industry, our team adapts and provides innovative sciencebased solutions to the challenges and opportunities that emerge in a changing market. Our team ensures that companies using NRG’s services are educated on the latest quality standards and technological advances.”

“ S MART helps Canada address climate change through the development of technologies that incorporate renewable sources of energy management. One example of this, is helping our first nations communities transition out of diesel by providing them with smart microgrid systems.”

Research Centres Across BCIT

Applied research happens across BCIT, and clusters of expertise focused on addressing complex global challenges are found in our many interdisciplinary centres of excellence. Analysis and Intelligence Research Centre Secure Computer Lab

Centre for Internet of Things

Centre of Excellence in Analytics

Polytechnic Research Institute for Simulation and Multimedia

Centre for Architectural Ecology — Collaborations in Green Roofs and Living Walls

SITE Centre of Excellence

Building Science Centre of Excellence Centre for Digital Transformation Diversity Circles

Rivers Institute Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Hub Spartan Controls Centre for Energy Education and Research

Centre for Ecocities Emission Reduction and Research Test Hub

Over the past 30 years, research at BCIT has contributed to over $60 million in additional infrastructure that is available for use by faculty, students, and industry. Across the Institute, BCIT has been awarded over $40 million in discretionary funding from granting agencies and corporate sponsors. Internally, BCIT has committed over $3 million to seed research projects across the Institute. Its leadership in technological inquiry has led to unreserved recognition by Canadian federal funding agencies. Research at BCIT is also renowned for its ability to host national centres of excellence, ability to qualify for university level funding, and multiple Canada Research Chairs (CRCs). —— Living Wall Research BCIT Centre for Architectural Ecology