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Winter 2011




Table of Contents Message from the Dean




Alumni Corner


Christopher Labrador

Research in Action


Spotlight on Students


Staff Excellence


News & Events


Ferhat Khendek Jad Saleh Ryan Calder

Sophie Merineau, Michael Assels, Dmitry Rozhdestvenskiy, Marcelle Trotman

Keep up with the Faculty’s busy schedule

The Engineering & Computer Science Faculty Quarterly is published by the Faculty at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. Editor in Chief: ClĂŠa Desjardins Design & Photography: Marc Bourcier Please submit all editorial and advertising inquiries to: Concordia University Faculty of Engineering & Computer Science Communications Advisor Sir George Williams Campus 1515 St. Catherine W., - EV002.139 Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 2W1 or email your feedback to

Message from the Dean While white may be the colour that characterizes the season, this Faculty is finding itself increasingly defined by green. Concordia has long prided itself on its reputation of being a forwardthinking university and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has always upheld this point of view. Indeed, this was evidenced from the early days, when our own Hugh McQueen, now Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, pioneered the University’s very first paper recycling program while teaching students what it meant to be an environmentally conscious and socially aware engineer. Decades later, many of our professors share this focus—so much so that we are currently working to create a new Institute for Water, Energy, and Sustainability. Under the inspired direction of Catherine Mulligan, Professor in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, the institute will tie together not only professors from our own Faculty but also researchers from right across the University, linking our efforts with those from the John Molson School of Business, the Faculty of Arts and Science—and, yes, even the Faculty of Fine Arts! Indeed, green initiatives are important throughout the university and throughout this Faculty, as you’ll read in this edition’s cover story. As you’ll see in our student profiles, sustainability is also a priority for our students. Mechanical engineering student Jad Saleh is as devoted to Engineers Without Borders as he is to his studies, and is trying to lead Concordia down an even greener path by hoping to transform the university into Canada’s first Fair-Trade Certified educational institution. This is an initiative that the Faculty itself is

wholeheartedly supporting by making the switch to Fair Trade coffee and tea in all of our staff and faculty lounges. On the graduate side of the equation, MASc student Ryan Calder has done some groundbreaking research into what’s really going into our drinking water. Sustaining us all through our day to day work of teaching and research are, of course, our dedicated team of support staff. As you’ll see from the profile of our four Staff Excellence Awards winners, we couldn’t do it without them. The Winter 2011 edition of the Faculty Quarterly also features a profile of Concordia graduate turned VP at Research in Motion, Christopher Labrador, as well as an in-depth look at the future-focused work of Ferhat Khendek, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. And, as always, you’ll find a roundup of recent news stories and events from the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. I do hope you enjoy the read! Wishing you a sustainably productive winter term,

Robin A. L. Drew Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Greenengineering It is in the nature of a university to be forward-thinking and futurefocused. Shaping young minds to be the leaders of tomorrow takes many forms here at Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science—but one of the most important is educating our students in methods of preserving our planet, while working on groundbreaking research that looks to do just that. Although “sustainability” has become a buzzword in recent years, the move towards more socially-conscious and ecofriendly engineering practices is a necessary step in the evolution of the profession. Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has been paving the way for sustainable engineering for decades. While the Faculty’s renowned Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering (BCEE) has long been praised for work that looks to preserve the natural environment, sustainable engineering has in recent years also become the province of electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and industrial engineering, and even computer science and software engineering. This trans-departmental push for sustainable teaching and research is now being reflected by the Faculty’s plans to create a brand new Institute for Water, Energy, and Sustainability.


Under the leadership of Catherine Mulligan, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies— as well as Professor in BCEE, this new institute is shaping up to be a unique multi-Faculty project that will unite sustainable research across the board. The thinking behind the institute is straightforward, explains Mulligan, and is more about responsibility than strategy: “our duty as a Faculty is not only to provide the necessary training and skills to our graduates to work as professional engineers and computer scientists, but also to train our students to be at the forefront of sustainable development practices.” While the institute is still in the development stage, Mulligan is also encouraged by the $40,000 a year recently granted to the Faculty by Hydro Québec in support of graduate students working in sustainable energy. What’s more, Mulligan believes that the project has a solid chance of being awarded prestigious “CREATE” funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Funding from the University is helping to bolster the project: with $15,000 received from the President’s Strategic Initiative Fund, and a matching $15,000 from the Faculty, the institute will be on solid footing once it does get underway. Funding from these sources will permit the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, which would act as the institute’s home within Concordia, to hire support staff and research students, and to develop curricula geared to providing undergraduate and graduate students with the knowledge, training and capabilities to make production sustainable and promote sustainability.

The new institute will be built on strong foundations that already exist within the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, because sustainable research interests are reflected across all of its departments. Indeed, environmentally responsible and sustainable engineering practices are a focus for the faculty as a whole. Home to an Environmental Engineering Laboratory, the NSERC Solar Buildings Network, and soon to be the site of an internationally unique environmental chamber/solar simulator, the Faculty already houses the infrastructure for research activities into subjects ranging from hazardous wastes to the commercial development of photovoltaic-thermal façades. Even computer science finds itself implicated in the push for green initiatives. With information and communication technologies liable for 2% of global CO2 emissions annually (an amount equivalent to that put out by the aviation industry!), it’s not surprising to learn that work within the Faculty is being done to provide energy-efficient solutions that change the highemission trajectory of modern day computing. Energy efficiency is also of utmost importance for electrical and computer engineers, who are doing groundbreaking work in the field of sustainable energy systems. Indeed, our researchers are currently working on projects ranging from the practical integration of sustainable energy sources to the development of electric and hybrid vehicles. At a microscopic level, sustainable solutions are of

utmost importance, as our researchers work with elements such as hydrogen and nickel to revolutionize energy storage and conversion; while polymers are being produced that could help reduce the quantities of petroleum-based plastics in our landfills. With all this research already established within the Faculty,

Mulligan sees a bright future for green engineering here at Concordia: “through the establishment of this institute, we can make major and unique contribution on sustainable development in water, buildings, infrastructure, and energy development through programs and research.” The next step in establishing the new institute will be to hold a general meeting in the coming weeks with all interested members from the Faculty of Engineering

and Computer Science. Says Mulligan, “we want as many people as possible to participate in the establishment of this institute, so that we can be sure to have the most comprehensive representation possible.” The new institute will allow professors to foster multidisciplinary research and education by bringing together researchers from other Faculties. It will also help professors

working in these areas to reach out to practicing professionals through business and community consultation and training, as well as through industrial partnerships. Be sure to watch the “Events” section of the Faculty’s website at to find out when the general meeting will take place…and keep your eyes on our “News” listing for headlinegenerating sustainable research coming out of Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.


But when industry came calling just as he was writing up his thesis, he couldn’t refuse the opportunity.

Alumni Corner:

Christopher Labrador

The idea that he could do the kind of work that interested him, get paid for it, and acquire all the equipment necessary to carry out that work was too appealing to pass up. So Labrador left the academe for Bell Northern Research. “Off I went on my big adventure,” jokes Labrador, whose career took him and his growing family to places such as Ottawa, Halifax, Florida, North Carolina, Kansas and Texas.

Over the years, Bell Northern Research was Bachelor’s in Computer Science and absorbed into Nortel Software Engineering – 1980 Networks, and Labrador’s work kept advancing. “I went from being just a regular old programmer to being a VP responsible for about $2.5 billion worth of sales,” he recalls with Advanced research is the province not a smile. Always one with his finger on only of universities, but also of industry. the pulse of the industry, Labrador left For Christopher Labrador, industrial Nortel in 2000, just before things began innovation is both a fact of the job and to head south for the company. “I was a source of inspiration. As Vice President just really lucky,” he shrugs. of Advanced Research for Research in Motion, Labrador spends his days at Labrador then started up his own the cutting edge of new technology. As business, a company called nVisible a graduate of Concordia’s Department Networks, whose motto was “bandwith of Computer Science and Software without boundaries.” But after a few Engineering, Labrador knows firsthand years going it alone in an uncertain the extensive scholarly work that can market, he and his partner cut their often drive industrial innovation. losses and dissolved the company. Ever resilient, Labrador joined Toshiba Decisive action is a hallmark of in California as the company’s Digital Labrador’s career. As an undergraduate, Solutions Division Vice President of he was driven to succeed. Under Product Management & Technology. He the supervision of Thiruvengadam remained with the company for three Radhakrishnan, Labrador excelled and years, eventually leaving to pursue other went on to begin a master’s degree. opportunities. With great grades, an impressive scholarship, and constant academic In 2006, Research in Motion came stimulation, Labrador thought he was calling. The fit couldn’t have been better. headed towards a doctorate and even Labrador moved back to Canada and had an offer from Carnegie Mellon.


became the company’s Vice President of Product Management for Wi-Fi Products and Collaborative Voice Solutions, a position he held for three years before being made Vice President of Advanced Research. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had on a job—it’s certainly the most interesting work I’ve ever done,” says Labrador. He goes on to explain, “my job is to find out what’s missing to solve tomorrow’s problems, and then figure out how to go and get that missing piece.” Labrador’s eyes light up when he talks about his work. “Some of the projects I’m working on today would blow peoples’ socks off,” he says, listing such fascinating topics as virtual retinal displays, homomorphic encryption, quantum encryption devices...the list of innovative areas seems endless. Labrador is understandably optimistic about the future and looks forward to all the work still ahead of him. Ever curious about advancing research, he now sits on the scientific advisory board for a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada project called Healthcare Support through Information Technology Enhancements, or hSITE. The government-funded network seeks to develop an IT infrastructure that can support the complex requirements of a clinical environment. “Mobile health is set to be a big thing,” Labrador explains, “and I’m having a blast being part of it.” Although he can’t yet discuss the details, Labrador is particularly excited about his involvement in a project that could have a major impact on how diabetes is managed. For Labrador, the past 50 years was just the beginning. “I figure I’m going to live to be well over 100,” he says. Not planning to retire to a life of leisure, he hopes instead to go back to school at some point down the road. “Actually, I’m thinking about going to medical school,” says Labrador with the confidence of a man used to achieving his goals. “Not to treat patients, but to diagnose diseases by applying all that technology I have under my belt.” If this Concordia graduate does indeed become part of the medical establishment, perhaps we can all count on living past 100.

providers. They depend on network nodes and platforms that operate by running a huge amount of software that is deployed into modern mobile devices more like tiny computers than phones. The applicability of Khendek’s research can explained easily. “If a customer wants to check Facebook, on their phone and it’s not there, he will not be pleased. In order to improve this kind of availability, we need to develop architectures where software can be deployed in clusters, such that if a node fails, another one takes its load, exactly where the other one left.” Just as in home computing, where users are not surprised to have their work halted by a blue screen or spinning colour wheel, the computers that run the software on which we daily depend can sometimes hit glitches. “My research provides modeling techniques, design techniques, and validation techniques,” says Khendek, “to make sure that the software and the systems on which they are deployed are correct, available and performing efficiently. “

Research in Action

Ferhat Khendek

Ferhat Khendek, Professor and Associate Chair with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been working closely with leaders in the telecommunications industry for well over a decade. Now set to embark on a new chapter of his career, he sees a future of expanding possibilities within his specialty: telecommunications software. Khendek and his bright team of graduate students are currently hard at work developing modeling, design and validation techniques to ensure that today’s computing platforms and networks—and the software on which they rely—function correctly. Khendek sums up the research in the form of a deceptively simple question: “we ask, ‘what does it take to make software systems dependable and available?’ and look into the question from the fundamental and applied perspectives.” The answers are invaluable to today’s telecommunications and service

Khendek and his team are now wrapping up a three-year project known as “MAGIC,” which was jointly funded by Ericsson and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Officially titled “Modeling and Automatic Generation of Information and upgrade Campaigns,” the project examined standardization solutions for the programs that run between a cellular device’s operating systems and its applications software, also known as “middleware.” Explains Khendek, “companies like Siemens, Nokia, Ericsson, IBM, Microsoft and HP got together to standardize these systems and thereby promote the increased usability of applications developed for them and their customers.” In short, a

standardized middleware means that applications can be run on a wider variety of devices. For example, says Khendek, “if I develop an app, and both Ericsson and Nokia are running the same middleware, I can sell it to both of them.” Khendek and his team helped Ericsson configure these applications properly and automatically, and speed up their time to market. The second aspect of the MAGIC project focused on how best to upgrade such applications with minimal downtime to the service. “I’m very proud of the MAGIC team’s work,” smiles Khendek, as he reflects on the project. “The students were phenomenal: we called them the MAGICians. Many of our students have now been hired by Ericsson and by other companies to build on the work they did here at Concordia. And that’s the most important thing to come out of this project and others: not necessarily the research, but the highly qualified personnel who have now graduated and will take what they have learned here out into the industry.” Khendek would like to acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Abdelwahab Hamou-Lhadj, Assistant Professor in ECE, and Dr. Maria Toeroe, from Ericsson and Adjunct Associate Professor at Concordia, to the MAGIC Project. The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science is now working to keep the momentum of the MAGIC project going by developing an Industrial Research Chair for Khendek, with the collaboration of Ericsson and NSERC. Khendek is modest when he speaks of the proposal, explaining that it is in no way a certainty. And yet, his eyes light up when he describes what its success could mean. “This would really take the research one step higher or more by setting a stable research environment with the resources that you need. This new project will take the model-based paradigm one step further from the research and theoretical findings, while grounding it with applicability.”


S tudent Jad Saleh, BEng – Mechanical Engineering For Jad Saleh, giving back to the community is a natural part of what it means to be an engineer. Now in his third year of a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, Saleh is more than a student—he is a humanitarian, activist... and future race-car driver! Originally from Lebanon, Saleh came to Canada at 17, choosing Concordia because, he says, “of the countless opportunities available here.” One of those opportunities came in the form of the Concordia chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He first got involved with the student-run society in 2008. Always a go-getter, Saleh found himself serving as acting VP Fundraising before becoming VP Communications last year. Now the society’s President, Saleh oversees a team of dedicated individuals working to improve the quality of living in third world countries while fostering social and environmental awareness at home. With Saleh at its helm, EWB Concordia is poised to tackle its most ambitious current goal: turning Concordia into Canada’s first Fair Trade certified University. “Fair Trade is hugely important in the world today,” explains Saleh, “and it’s vital that Concordia take part in this growing movement to ensure that the farmer growing the crops receives the proper payment for his work.” Already a popular movement in the UK, Fair Trade certification has recently begun to take hold in Canada. “When I heard that Vancouver became the country’s first Fair Trade certified city, I couldn’t help but be disappointed it wasn’t Montreal!” recalls Saleh. “But it occurred to me that Concordia, with our already-established reputation as an environmentally aware and socially conscious school, could become the country’s first Fair Trade certified university.” As part of this push, Saleh—with the help of his executive team at EWB Concordia—organized a special wine and cheese late in the fall semester. Attended by both Robin Drew,

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, and Judith Woodsworth, Concordia’s thenPresident, the event was a resounding success, with Woodsworth promising that University officials would “keep an open mind” when considering the ambitious proposal. For Saleh, ambition is a familiar feeling. On top of his duties as President of EWB Concordia, he is an active participant in the University’s chapter of the Society for Automotive Engineers. Having convinced a group of his close friends to join him in the society, Saleh is now working to improve upon the design of its “baja” racer—by completely redesigning it. “The car has to be as light as possible because it’s got to go as fast as it can with a lawnmower’s engine,” explains Saleh. His team’s goal this year is to reduce the car’s weight from 474 pounds to a mere 350. “We’re looking at the entire vehicle,” says Saleh with obvious enthusiasm. “Everything from the gear box to the material used in the frame. We’re even thinking about the actual size of the bolts we’re using!” Saleh, who hopes to one day find himself in the driver’s seat of this student built and designed all-terrain vehicle, believes the SAE will perform well at competitions across North America in 2011. Looking to the future, Saleh says he hopes to remain in Canada: “I love it here,” he explains. “Although it would be great to return to Lebanon, I can’t ignore the countless opportunities available to me here.” Once he finishes his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Saleh plans to remain in school but hopes to broaden his horizons. “I’m fascinated by actuarial math— something I didn’t even know existed before coming to Canada,” he enthuses. He could see himself pursuing a second bachelor’s—this time in economics, or perhaps go on to do an MBA or CFA. With such obvious dedication, and such an undeniable drive to give back to the world around him, Saleh seems destined for great things.


p o tlights Ryan Calder, MASc – Civil Engineering When you think of engineering, things like bridges, race cars, office towers, or airplanes come to mind... but drinking water? Although a concept traditionally associated with engineering, water resources management is in fact an integral part of civil engineering. This is a fact that Ryan Calder—master’s student in the Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering (BCEE)—has come to know very well during his years at Concordia. Now in the first year of a Master of Applied Science, with a concentration in Civil Engineering, Calder’s research is making waves. An article he coauthored as an undergraduate was recently published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Science & Technology. The paper, co-authored by Ketra Schmitt from the General Studies Unit (who is cosupervising Calder along with Samuel Li from BCEE), was entitled “Role of Detection Limits in Drinking Water Regulation,” and received attention on both sides of the border. “On the whole, feedback on the article has been really positive,” says Calder. A review of the article was even published in a popular science magazine. “The piece referred to Dr. Schmitt and me as a pair of myth-busters,” he laughs. “I thought that was funny because we didn’t set out to bust any myths: we just wanted to look at a claim—we didn’t know which way it would go, which I think is the most honest approach to scholarship.” That claim was a pretty hefty one. Explains Calder: “certain people in industry were publicly stating that, when it came to drinking water, detection limits were increasingly controlling environmental regulations.” That is, improved abilities to find contaminants had led directly to fewer contaminants being permitted in drinking water. Not so, proved Calder and Schmitt. “We looked at analyses done by the Environmental Protection Agency in the

United States and found that increased detection ability wasn’t a good predictor of strengthened regulations.” Ever modest, Calder shrugs off the potentially wide-reaching implications of his research. “It’s possible that a more prudent regulatory culture could result from this, but it’s hard to predict what the outcome will be ten years down the road.” Calder himself knows all about unpredictable outcomes. When he first began his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at Concordia, he had no intentions of continuing on to do graduate work. Now, Calder could easily see himself going on to pursue a PhD. Keeping his options open, Calder is hesitant to predict where he’ll end up but feels certain that his work will continue to focus on the environmental impacts of urban society. That’s not surprising, considering that he is currently employed as a junior engineer at an environmental engineering consulting firm in Montreal, which he initially joined through a CoOp placement during his undergraduate degree. His work there dovetails nicely with his master’s thesis, which is provisionally entitled “A probabilistic model for contaminant dispersion in tidal environments,” and examines how pollutants are dispersed through the somewhat unpredictable movements of estuaries. “It’s good to get this grounding in industry,” says Calder. “The more you know about what’s going on in civil and environmental engineering in the ‘real world,’ the better prepared you are to argue for real changes and improvements to current practices through academic work.” With environmentally minded students like Ryan Calder set to shape the future of engineering, it is easy to hope for green outcomes.




010 marked the return of the Staff Excellence Awards in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. Says Dean Robin Drew, “it’s important to me that we recognize the loyalty, trust, and dedication of the staff members who are truly the ones responsible for making this Faculty run as well as it does.” The four recipients—whose careers, achievements, and reactions to the awards are described below—were presented with commemorative plaques at a special reception in early December. For more on the event, including a photo slideshow, visit news-and-events.

Michael Assels First, it means that I have lots of colleagues who work very hard to make it look as if I were doing a good job. Secondly, it means that the people who nominated me are extremely talented liars. Finally, and most importantly, it means that I’ll treat my AITS colleagues to free drinks and food in celebration of the warm working environment we’ve cultivated. The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science is home to an impressive computer network that is approximately one third of the size of that of the entire university: overseeing its day-to-day functionality requires near-angelic patience and a strong work ethic. Luckily, Michael Assels, the Faculty’s Manager of Networks and Security has both. His colleague, Anne Bennett, couldn’t agree more. “For the past two decades,” she wrote in her letter of support for his nomination, “Michael has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that IT services work correctly at all times. He has been an inspiration almost everyone who has had the privilege of working with him.”

Sophie Merineau I was in shock when I received the e-mail from the Dean announcing the winners of this award, because I had no idea that I had been nominated. I am

very happy and honoured, but I also feel uncomfortable accepting this award because I am sure that many other staff members also deserve it because of their hard work and dedication, etc., but they were not lucky like me. I am privileged because I work with a great team of staff and faculty members and I feel appreciated. As the Assistant to the Chair in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Sophie holds a key position. Maureen Thuringer, Departmental Assistant and conominator, explains: “Sophie deals with critical deadlines requests and issues from faculty, staff, and students, as well as requests from the greater university community and external stakeholders. She handles it all with grace and ease and keeps our Chair on track.” Martin Pugh, the Department’s Chair, couldn’t agree more, noting that, “without Sophie’s consistent diligence, hard work and attention to detail, I would flounder around miserably in a sea of student requests, contract problems and interview arrangements!”

Dmitry Rozhdestvenskiy It is an honour to be selected as the Dean’s Staff Recognition Awards 2010 winner. It has been a great pleasure working with our faculty and staff members. I perceive my success as the recognition of the great work of the Department’s technical staff. I believe our success comes from a willingness to put the students first, to help them acquire the knowledge and handson experience the industry expects from new graduates. I strive to spark the students’ interest in their future profession and support the practical part of their learning process. For Dmitry Rozhdestvenskiy, nothing brings more job satisfaction than helping engaged students learn to love their future careers. As the Design Project Specialist for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, he has the opportunity to have a direct impact on that engagement—and, as his colleagues agree, his influence has not gone unnoticed. Department Chair, William Lynch, cited in particular

Dmitry’s hard work developing technical content for the COEN/ELEC 390 course, calling his input an “exceptional contribution to the Department, its programs and students.”

Marcelle Trotman “There is a certain kind of simplicity in life that you get from serving others.” It is most rewarding for me when I look back on the efforts, dedication and continuous commitments that I have contributed to the Faculty of Engineering and Computer science. Over forty years, I have had the privilege of working with wonderful people and serving some truly great students. It means so much to me when I see young people achieving their goals and moving on to rewarding careers.  The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science is a wonderful environment to work in; and without its support and encouragement, this recognition would not have been possible. I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve this faculty and its students. Having just celebrated 40 years of service to Concordia University, Marcelle Trotman is showing no signs of slowing down. As a Coordinator of Academic Programs within the Faculty’s Student Academic Services unit, Marcelle has worked hard to help shepherd thousands of undergraduate students through their time at Concordia. As Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Christopher Trueman has worked very closely with Marcelle for the past two years and knows first-hand how deserving she is of this award. “Marcelle counsels students and is the best advocate a student could hope for,” writes Dr. Trueman. “She can often find an ingenious solution to a student’s problem, without asking for exceptions to rules that can’t be broken.”


News & Events Mecanica Solutions makes major software donation to Concordia For undergraduate students involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers, as well as for students preparing their Capstone designs, working as a team is an extremely important part of the learning process. Luckily, there are software solutions that can provide them with guidance and structure along the way. Luckier still, Montreal-based Company Mecanica Solutions was willing to give them this software— valued at more than $239,000—for free. Having provided engineering services to industry for nearly 30 years, officials at Mecanica are looking to the future with their donation to Concordia. As General Manager of the company’s 360 Enterprise Software, Morty Smolash knows firsthand what the software would mean for our students. Smolash

From left to right: Robin Drew, Alex Habrich, Judith Woodsworth, and Morty Smolash commemorate the Mecanica Solutions Donation.

joked that “sparks are going to fly” due to the collaboration between Mecanica and Concordia—a sentiment echoed by Alex Habrich, president and CEO of Mecanica. Special thanks also to Dan Brisson, Cameron McKay and Sébastien Marcille at Mechanica for

their invaluable help in establishing a solid partnership between Mecanica and Concordia.

GFI Advanced Technology Group helps CIISE solve cyber-crimes Enter Chad Loeven, alumnus from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and VP at GFI, which itself is a leader in the global security community that provides the industry’s leading malware analysis tools. Thanks to him, GFI has now donated the Sandbox tool to CIISE in order to support graduate students conducting research in the security cluster. Robin Drew and Mourad Debabbi flank Chad Loeven at the GFI gift announcement


For members of the Concordia Institute of Information Systems Engineering (CIISE), having the right tools for the job can mean solving cyber-crimes before they even occur. These tools, of course, are a little more technical than the magnifying glass used by detectives

of yore: nowadays, complex software systems help highly trained individuals to better understand how malware and viruses work. That’s where software programs like GFI Sandbox come in--but with a hefty price tag of $56,000 it’s a difficult thing to acquire.

Dr. Mourad Debbabi, director of CIISE, notes that a tool like the Sandbox will allow his colleagues in the security cluster to reverse-engineer and safely test malware in a secure environment, thereby allowing researchers to see this malicious software in action while having the reassurance that it is contained.

MIE alumnus honoured Canada’s aboriginal youth now have a brand-new role model: recent Concordia graduate, Duncan Cree. In a November ceremony at the House of Commons, Cree—along with thirteen other leaders from the nation’s aboriginal communities—was honoured with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his inspirational success. Cree, who is originally from Kanesatake, was drawn to Concordia by the aerospace option offered through the mechanical engineering program. While at Concordia, he excelled—moving all the way from bachelor’s to PhD. He recalls his time at Concordia fondly, saying, “alongside my engineering courses, Concordia gave me an education on the different cultures of the world.”

The National Aboriginal Achievement award is a “great honour to receive,” says Cree, “especially when your own people have selected you. It shows that with some guidance, hard work, and determination anyone can achieve their dreams or goals.” He hopes to impress this idea upon aboriginal youth across the country by sparking an interest in education through his recent win. Cree is no stranger to hard work and is now into the second year of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which he holds at Queen’s University. There, he is researching the rehabilitation and strengthening of concrete columns and bridges with externally bonded fibre reinforced polymers.

Martin Pugh, Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and supervisor of Cree’s PhD thesis, speaks for many of his colleagues when he says that “those of us who know Duncan recall his sociable and helpful nature and the positive contributions he made to the Department during his bachelors, masters and PhD degrees. Our congratulations go to him.”

Innovation touches down at Concordia

From left to right: Jeff Lowinger, Robin Drew, Catherine Ferrie, Don Friesen (VP Engineering, Bell Helicopter Textron Canada), Robert Fews (Aerospace Special Advisor, Concordia)

With Concordia at the forefront of aerospace research in Montreal, it’s no surprise that a special visit from Bell Helicopter Textron drew a standingroom-only crowd. The presentation (a combined effort from the MontrealOttawa Chapter of the American Helicopter Society, Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, as well as its Office of the VP Research) saw Jeff Lowinger and Catherine Ferrie, two executives from the commercial helicopter giant, fly in from Texas to deliver a timely talk on the future of rotorcraft design and production. As the company’s Executive Vice President of Engineering, Lowinger’s focus is making—and selling—

tomorrow’s helicopters today. He explained that the work going on in industry was dependent on advancements in academia. “Your challenge,” he said, addressing the rapt group of students and faculty members, “is to figure out how we make today’s technology faster, cheaper, and more reliable.” For Catherine Ferrie, Director of the company’s “Xworx” division, the focus is similarly forward-thinking. As they track emerging technologies from a broad range of sources that can benefit the rotorcraft industry, Dr. Ferrie and her team develop technologies for integration into Bell’s next generation products. From basic research through

concept development, rapid prototyping and testing, the Xworx division interfaces with universities, small businesses and government labs in areas from structures and materials to sensor technology and aeronautics work. Although it was hard hit by the recent economic downturn, she was confident that the future of the aerospace industry was bright: “my job is to envision the art of what’s possible to the market—that’s why we work with universities.” With a solid history of support for projects and internships within the Concordia Institute for Aerospace Design and Innovation through its Mirabel-based facilities, Bell Helicopter Textron has long affirmed its confidence in this University. Robin Drew, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, said that the feeling is mutual. “The great turn-out from our students and faculty for this special lecture shows that aerospace research has really taken off at Concordia. This event has helped us strengthen our ties to Bell Textron, one of our most vital partners, by keeping the dialogue between industry and academia open and engaged.”


Engineers without Borders push for Fair Trade certification at event In late November, the Concordia Chapter of Engineers Without Borders organized a special Fair-Trade-focused wine & cheese event. In attendance were students from across the Faculty, professors, special guests, and Concordia’s then-President, Judith Woodsworth. As the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Saleh took to the podium once the crowd had had the chance to mingle and sample the Fair Trade wine and chocolates thoughtfully provided by EWB. Saleh opened the evening with a warm welcome and spoke a bit about the history of Engineers Without Borders before describing the real reason they had decided to throw a wine and cheese: to make the case for Concordia to become Canada’s first Fair-Trade Certified university. Following Saleh’s impassioned speech, Robin Drew, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, praised Saleh’s hard work and lent his

Jad Saleh addresses the crowd at the EWB wine & cheese

support to the Fair Trade cause, saying “hopefully we’ll have some fair trade coffee in the Faculty soon.” Judith Woodsworth then echoed the Dean’s sentiments, smiling widely as she recalled the Fair Trade coffee and chocolate given to her by EWB alongside their official pitch to have Concordia become Fair-Trade Certified. While she was not yet in a position to confirm that the University would be able to participate in the certification program, she gave the EWB hope in stating “we have an open mind.”

WE’RE GOING GREEN! Recently, cups of Fair Trade coffee and tea throughout the EV building have been sustaining Engineering & Computer Science faculty and staff members through their morning routines—a step in the right direction when it comes to sustainable living.

CIADI holds 9th recognition awards The 9th annual Recognition Ceremony of the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation was held at Concordia’s Engineering and Visual Arts Pavilion on November 12, 2010. Present for the cocktail, speeches, and awards ceremony were past and present CIADI students, as well as professors, university representatives--including Provost David Graham, and industry leaders.

Marius Paraschivoiu with members of CIADI Global


After the crowd had had the chance to mingle over cocktails and canapés, Robin Drew, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, shared some words of welcome. He spoke of the excellent partnerships CIADI had forged within Montreal’s aerospace industry. Marius Paraschivoiu, Director of CIADI, echoed Dean Drew’s positive outlook while looking back on an excellent year of progress for

ENCS Grad wins Governor General’s Award This year’s Governor General Gold Medal goes to PhD recipient Ramin Motamedi. His extraordinary work in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering put him at the head—not just of his class—but of all Concordia graduate students at this fall’s convocation. Every year, the Office of Graduate Studies circulates the names of about 80 graduate students whose dissertations were deemed excellent or outstanding. Each Faculty determines which two of their eligible students should be selected and a committee of representatives from all four Faculties makes the final choice. “When I saw

the Institute. Looking ahead to 2011, Dean Drew described how CIADI will expand to include professors from across the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science. He also mentioned the renovations that are currently underway to build more offices in the administrative area of the 12th floor of the EV Building, which is set to become the centre of aerospace training and research at Concordia University. It was, of course, the Institute’s students, who were front and centre for the Recognition Awards. CIADI’s president, Raîssa El-Haddad, alongside Vice President Karim Sarhan, outlined the recent achievements of CIADI students, especially with regards to the past year’s CIADI Global project. This special internship program was established in 2007 to expose participating students to the various obstacles and challenges

he was on the list of eligible students, I wanted to recommend him because of both the completeness of his thesis, and the usefulness of this research,” says Motamedi’s supervisor, Associate Professor Paula Wood-Adams.

Major national award supports Ideas & Innovation

Motamedi’s research project, Microcantilever-based Rheology of Liquids, developed a methodology to determine properties of minute amounts of higher viscosity fluids. To accept his medal, he flew in from Calgary, where he’s already using putting his skills to positive use in the oil industry.

faced by aerospace companies on a global level. In the 2009-10 academic year, CIADI sent five students to Europe, where they were given an invaluable opportunity to see other parts of the world while acting as ambassadors for Concordia. On the whole, the evening represented a discussion of the bright future of the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation, which is sure to make exciting announcements in 2011, when CIADI celebrates its first decade of achievements.

George Vatistas, Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering has been awarded a prestigious “Idea to Innovation” grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, to assist in the development of a marketable product based on scientific research. The grant, worth $115,452, will fund the development of a new type of compact heat exchanger that Vatistas and his post doctoral fellow Mohamed Fayed designed based on pioneering research into swirling flows. Because few research programs mature into marketability, these awards are a rare occurrence. Vatistas says he is honoured to be part of such a select crowd, noting that the award “shows that the work going on right here in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science has great value, both academically and in industry.”


MIE group wins prestigious art poster prize

The Gallery of Fluid Motion, an annual contest organized by the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics, is arguably the most prestigious visualisation competition in fluid mechanics in the world. So it’s eye-popping to learn that a poster submitted by Hoi Dick Ng, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, was selected as one of the winning entries! Ng and his colleagues—Mohamed Fayed, Rocco Portaro, Amy-Lee Gunter, Hamid Ait Abderrahmane—attended the event, which took place at the end of November in Long Beach California. There, their poster was admired by over 2,000 conference delegates and also selected for one of the event’s three Milton van Dyke awards, in recognition for their extraordinary work. The group’s photographic images will be published in a special issue of Physics of fluids - Album of Fluid Motion and will be permanently displayed on the APS-DFD gallery of fluid motion website.

Winter 2011  

ENCS Faculty Quarterly Winter 2011

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