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THE CANNON Skule’s Newspaper since 1978

MARCH 2018, Volume XL

Breaking Down the End of the JCM Reform to the Problematic Joint Council Meeting MARGUERITE TUER-SIPOS Senior Editor In January, the Engineering Society Board of Directors (EngSoc BOD) passed a motion to get rid of the Joint Council Meeting (JCM); ultimately changing the mechanism in which the next set of Project Directors will be elected. To clarify some semantics, the Project Directors are people like the Engineering Stores Managers, the Hard Hat Café Managers, the Webmaster and other fairly important figures in the running of our undergraduate community. The JCM itself is an annual meeting where previously, all of these Project Directors were decided. The EngSoc

Council members are almost everyone who stand within a 100m radius of the Pit (i.e. Old Project Directors, Class Representatives, Officers, Discipline Club Chairs etc.). The Board of Directors is a more select group of students who make up the highest level of governance, who is voted in by us the students, to oversee all operations of the Engineering Society and the Officers. So why does the JCM have to go, and how did it work in the first place? The JCM was preceded with a nomination and interview period. Individuals submitted nomination forms for the Project Directorship they were JCM continued on page 3


40 Years of SKULE



The Cannon at 40; Skule’s Newspaper Since 1978 ALYSON ALLEN Cannon Contributor “The Cannon is the beginning of the answer. Presenting technical subjects in a newspaper format on a level of interest to all Engineering disciplines should also lend itself to appealing to anyone.” Forty years ago, this was one of the first lines from the editor in The Cannon newspaper; a

spark of something new within the SKULE community. What started as a small section in the Toike, named the “Tiny Toike”, demonstrated an ambition to spread more news on advancements in technology to the engineering students. The four pages, originally focussed on the development of nuclear technology grew into regular issues that began to demonstrate a growth

of personality within its lines. Anything regarding new advancements, to the SKULE community, to opinions, was captured in these intriguing articles. Fast forward to 2018 and we are still here today focusing on delivering innovative ideas and thoughts in our pages. The Cannon holds a glimpse of our school’s ideas and opinions. By reading a

single edition of the newspaper, you can become captivated by the topics of interest from the time period in which it was written. In 1978, The Cannon displayed an array of technical articles regarding anything from the concerns about acid rain, which were mentioned until 1981, to the potential of using wind energy and other new renewable energy sources. The following

Let’s Time Travel Trailblazing Barriers in SKULETM Back to 1978 page 4

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year, The Cannon discussed the severity of the soot accumulation in the Wallberg building due to the pollution in the city. Other volumes later in the 80s focused on new types of computers and electrical systems we now consistently use. Despite the Skule News continued on page 6

The Nuclear Future page 12


MARCH 2018


Dale Gottlieb


Rick Liu


Sarp Kavalcioglu


Fletcher Mason Clugston

SENIOR EDITORS Najah Hassan Marguerite Tuer-Sipos Dilan Somanader Patrick Diep Ahnaf Ferdous Samuel Penner Wibisha Balendran

Letter from the Editor Back in 1978, a group of engineering students saw a gap in communications at SKULE. The Toike, what was once the main source of news among students, started to drift towards the comedic style of writing it’s known for today. News on faculty and world events was dwindling at SKULE, and The Cannon was made to fill that gap. In 2018, The Cannon remains as SKULE’s main source of factual writing. Celebrating its 40th year, the team has grown from a handful of contributors and a six page spread to over 15 contributors and a 16 page publication. The writing still allows the contributors to express their interests, while talking about the news of the faculty and the world around us. For our last issue, we’re celebrating 40 years of The Cannon going strong. Our writers cover topics ranging from the year The Cannon was formed to what SKULE will be like 40 years in the future. There’s even a throwback to the 1978 issue covering CANDU nuclear reactors, with a talk about Thorium reactors. Thank you for the great year in The Cannon, and may the club live another 40 years strong!



WRITERS Chinmayee Gidwani Alyson Allen Aaron Shulman Joanna Cho

The Cannon is the official (serious) newspaper of the University of Toronto Engineering Society. Established in 1978, it serves the undergraduate students of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, with a circulation of up to 2000. Submissions are welcome by e-mail. Advertising and subscription information is available from the Engineering Society at 416-978-2917.


Diana Li


Muhammad Ali


Nadya Abdullah


Dina Castelletto

SPECIAL THANKS Matthew Garcia Melissa Lau Simonne Varela Jimmy Hou Natalie Tleel Muskan Sethi Concrete Canoe Concrete Toboggan Civ Club Iron Dragons YNCN WISE SEA

DISCLAIMER The views expressed in this newspaper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Engineering Society unless so indicated. The editors reserve the right to modify submissions to comply with the newspaper’s and the Engineering Society’s policies.

CONTACT The Cannon 10 King’s College Road Sandford Fleming Building Room B740 Toronto, ON M5S 3G4

MARCH 2018 JCM continued from page 1 interested in and were then interviewed by the outgoing Project Director, the EngSoc Officers and a BOD member. Based in this interview, a recommendation report was created by the interviewers to, unsurprisingly, either recommend or not recommend the candidate. After the nomination and interview process was complete it was time for the JCM. The JCM itself was an 8-10 hour meeting where each of these candidates would pitch their platforms while the voting council members read the recommendation reports. With the candidates for the Project Directorship out of the room, the council members would deliberate and vote. In theory it seems like it would be a good system, where a more informed grouping of people (i.e. the interviewers) spent time vetting the candidate but ultimately each Directorship was voted in by the council. In practice it was not quite what democratic dreams are made of. Problems arose when, understandably, throughout

the marathon meeting council members would give up. In order for the meeting to run however, quorum must be met (i.e. you must have a certain number of council members present for the proceedings to be valid), and so these benedict councillors would proxy their votes to someone who was planning on finishing the meeting. At some JCMs this hand-over of proxies would become so egregious a council member might start the meeting with 3 proxies and end the meeting with 7 proxies, finding themselves with the pointedly undemocratic ability to individually sway a vote. To make matters worse, the JCM became another stage for shows of contentious “Skule Spirit” where more senior council members might show up drunk to demonstrate a unique lack of respect for the entire Engineering Society. Luckily, the days of the JCM are over. Last year in February of 2017 the then President of Eng Soc, Milan Maljković, introduced a motion to abolish the JCM at the February BOD meeting. His reasoning stated

the JCM was a vestige of a time when the engineering society had no Board of Directors and was a time consuming and “troublesome” process. The alternative presented was to keep the nomination and interview process but move the voting for the candidates from the JCM to the April BOD meeting. Due to a timeline that was deemed too rushed, a lack of appropriate consultation with clubs, this motion was not passed. The sentiment that the JCM should be revised however was still felt by many in the EngSoc community. This year, under our current EngSoc President Jonathan Swyers, a new JCM Review Committee was created in October 2017 with the goal of revisiting the work done previously under Maljković. This new JCM Review Committee came up with a very similar solution as the year previous, again deciding to move the voting for the candidates to the April BOD meeting. The JCM Review Committee also made revisions to the JCM process to allocate more power to the Hiring Committee

involved in interviewing the candidate and writing the Recommendation Report. Room in these revisions was left for the BOD to challenge these recommendations with a clearer process for amendments. This motion did pass at this past February 2018 BOD meeting, and so the JCM was finally put to rest.


Although it seems quite complicated, for us the average students the resolution is fairly simple. The students voting for the person who ensures is running will now be decided by a group of highly informed individuals, rather than a group of *potentially * drunk Skule Provocateurs.

Maroons of the Great Dismal Swamp CHINMAYEE GIDWANI Cannon Contributor The fog settled low on the ground as the humid, dense air made its way through the trees and wetlands. The incessant noise of the insects gave the swamp a vibrant hum, almost as though it were alive. Settling behind the dense underbrush, a group of escaped slaves prayed for their captors to pass over their hiding spot. The slave owners trotted their horses around the area before circling back the way they came, evidently giving up on their search. The slaves breathed a sigh of relief. Their troubles, however, were far from over. Many

slaves escaped into the marshland between Virginia and North Carolina from the early 1600s to the 1860s, but the name of the swamp was well earned. It was The Great Dismal Swamp and it presented many challenges to life; from the panthers and bears to the disease ridden mosquitos, there was no reasonably habitable part of this marshland. And yet, there were thousands of people who lived in the swamp to escape slavery. These people were called maroons, derived from the Spanish word for “wild” or “untamed”. Despite its shortcomings, the swamp offered what even the free North

could not. In the swamp, the escaped slaves were free to form their own communities and live by their own rules. They were also able to do business with the traders that occasionally crossed the area. One of the maroons, Tom Wilson, claimed “I feel safer with alligators than with white men”. It was a place of creativity and innovation; to survive in the harsh conditions, the maroons were forced to come up with ingenious ways to avoid detection and death. Some of the settlements consisted of timber roofs with trap doors, completely hiding all traces of their presence. Others made beds of grass and leaves in the treetops,

precariously hiding high above the ground. For many years, the maroons lived free of captivity in the depths of the Dismal Swamp, learning to adapt to the harsh environment. However, when more Europeans began to colonize the United States, many colonists saw economic opportunity in the swamp. It began to be exploited for its wood and land, and the maroons faced a threat to their isolation and autonomy. By the mid 1800s, a network of canals and waterways had been built connecting much of the swamp. The maroon communities were soon disbanded

and were believed to be dispersed around the time of the Civil War. Despite its role in providing refuge for a significant portion of the slave population, as well as being a site involved in the Underground Railroad, there was little known about the communities in the swamp until a few decades ago. Fortunately, recent research has unearthed a plethora of information about the remarkable communities and every new discovery is a testament to their resilient and tenacious fight for freedom.


MARCH 2018

‘77-‘78: Snapshot of a SKULE THE CANNON AT 40 DILAN SOMANADER Cannon Senior Editor The year is 1977: Star Wars rules the box office and disco dominates the airwaves; Pierre Trudeau is prime minister; the economy is tight; hockey helmets are optional, but flared pants are a must. Here in Toronto, it’s the year we’re introduced to the Eaton Centre and the Blue Jays. Yonge Street is still the city’s sleazy, neonlit spine, with grindhouse theatres, body-rub parlours, and strip clubs stretching from Gerrard to Queen; cigarette ads still grace the pages of our newspapers; and four dollars can still buy you the latest Eagles record at Music World, or ten TTC tokens. In the annals of U of T engineering history, the year marked the beginning of a major milestone: the 197778 Skule year was the 100th year of full-time studies since the Faculty opened in 1878. Newspapers and books from the era yielded a trove of information about this slice in our history—giving us the chance to not only see how far Skule had come in a century, but what has changed (and what hasn’t) forty years on. *** As in any year, incoming students were given their first taste of Skule life via the annual F!rosh Handbook. Much of the content in the ‘77-‘78 issue of the Handbook—from Skule traditions to tips on surviving exam season—is familiar to modern eyes. One notable exception is “Places to Feed”, a section detailing food spots near campus, that in 2018 looks more like an obituaries page. A trio of cheap, dinertype restaurants could be found along College Street: Grads (right across from Wallberg), Elm (at the current site of O’Grady’s), and Students. (We’re advised that Elm is the “least deadly” of the three, “especially in small doses”). Venture further off campus and you could dine at Frank

Vetere’s at 204 Bloor St (where a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce is $1.70), Pizza Patio, Murray’s, Switzer’s, Young Lok, and countless more. Cut to the first week of September and “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac is the most popular song in the country; speed limit signs across the nation have just been converted from the imperial to the metric system (causing plenty of confusion for motorists); and NASA sends the second of its twin Voyager probes hurtling into the solar system. Orientation kicks off on Tuesday, September 6th. After registration and a few speeches, 700 hard-hatted F!rosh embark on some “general shit-disturbing” as the Handbook describes it. The first years descend on the SAC building to repaint the dome white, and march across Queen’s Park to wreak havoc at Victoria College. After “n!” beers are downed at a free pub, the group heads to a Jays game at Exhibition Stadium that evening (and witness a defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, 11-2). Classes commence at 9am on the 7th, and a sleepover pajama party is held with the women at the Nursing Faculty the following night; “beware of anyone in your class who doesn’t show up here” the Handbook warns. On the following Monday, a ceremony is held to open the Faculty’s temporary home at the old Metropolitan Library (now the Koffler Student Centre), after February’s devastating fire gutted the Sandford Fleming Building. The Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad plays proudly on the front steps, and U of T President John Evans (who was given his own hard hat) delivers a speech. Dean of Engineering Ben Etkin then cuts the blue and white ribbon to officially open Skule’s new home, and invites attendees to wander through the building. The rest of the month is characteristically actionpacked: the F!rosh Dance




on the 16th; Shinerama, the annual charity shoe-shining event to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis, on the 17th; and a scavenger hunt and picnic on the 24th. Cold and rainy weather dampens turnout for the hunt and only 25 F!rosh show up. As part of the event, an Underwood typewriter, a telephone, and an aluminumplated ship’s wheel clock are stolen from The Varsity’s offices at 91 St. George Street. “Doug Schmara, editor of the engineer’s newspaper, the Toike, said he was the judge in the scavenger hunt”, an article in the Varsity recounts. “Although [our offices] were not specifically on the victim’s list, Schmara said they came under the category of ‘miscellaneous.’” The antics continue on

September 28th, when just before 1pm, about 150 engineers swarm the main entrance of Sidney Smith Hall. They leave behind eight plastic garbage pails filled with soap, water and dry ice, which bubble up and overflow onto the lobby floor. Sudsy water inundates the east and west entrances, but the rug and chairs in the central part of the floor manage to remain unscathed. October brings with it the long-awaited annual Slave Auction: students pack the JJR MacLeod Auditorium in the Medical Sciences building on the 5th for a striptease show, and ‘auction off’ strippers for charity (keep in mind that the engineering student population was over 90% male in the late 70s). Oktoberfest,

billed in the Handbook as the “biggest and wildest event of the year”, is held on Friday the 7th. Four circus tents are erected on Front Campus, where students are treated to food, plenty of beer, games (like tricycle races and tug-of-war) and live entertainment from noon until 1am on Saturday morning. October 15th is the day of the Homecoming Parade. And on the 25th, the Toike publishes part two of four of its Star Wars spoof “Star Whores”, but it’s a little too raunchy to warrant a plot summary here. November sees the annual car rally on the 5th; a victory for the Engineering Swim Team over Knox and Victoria Colleges on the 9th; and in non-Skule related news, a Queen concert at Maple Leaf

MARCH 2018 Gardens on the 21st. On the last day of the month, a baffled President Evans finds a 1969 Morris Mini Cooper in his office and his chair replaced with a toilet. How the car was smuggled past security guards and through several locked doors remains a mystery to him. The caper turns out to be the doing of the Brute Force Committee and makes the second page of the Toronto Star, beside the Trudeau’s 1977 Christmas card (a photo taken by the PM’s estranged wife Margaret, of him with his three sons; soon to be sixyear-old Justin can be seen seated on his father’s knee). A film called Saturday Night Fever lands in theatres right smack dab in the middle of fall exam season, on Friday, December 16th, and catapults the disco craze to dizzying heights. Late 70s Toronto is home to a sizeable community of disco lovers—twentysomethings, mostly, in halter dresses and leisure suits, dancing away at Checkers or Dinkel's or one of the hundreds of other discotheques across the city. Your average, cynical engineering student on the other hand might have found the image of John Travolta shimmying across a multicolored dancefloor quite laughable (in fact, a scathing parody of Travolta’s character in the film appears in the March ‘78 issue of the Toike). If you weren’t keen on ‘catching the fever’ like the posters implored you to, you could always see Rocky again, which was still going strong in its 52nd week at the Uptown theatre at Yonge and Bloor that weekend. Exam season ends on December 22nd, and first semester is officially a wrap. **** Classes resume on Tuesday, January 3rd, 1978. The first month of the year sees the appointment of former Faculty of Engineering Dean James Milton Ham as presidentelect of the University, with his term set to begin in July; and Cannonball, which takes place on January 21st (tickets were $10 per couple). At noon on Friday the 27th, engineers gather at Front

Campus for the annual Chariot Race. After the BNAD plays the Engineer’s Hymn, the race begins with the roar of the Cannon. The Indy’s cross the finish line first, but are later disqualified for using a banned material (plastic) for their chariot’s blockers; first place therefore goes to the Geological Engineering students. Debris from a Soviet satellite that crashed in the Northwest Territories a few days prior is awarded second place in jest, followed by Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical in last place. Later that day the BNAD heads across town for another high profile gig: this time, it’s the official opening of the new Spadina Subway extension, which expands the line from St. George to Wilson Station. An opening ceremony is held at the brand new St. Clair West Station with several politicians (including Ontario Premier Bill Davis) and TTC officials in attendance, and the BNAD provides some unofficial accompaniment to the festivities. February’s high point is undoubtedly Skule Nite 7T8, which opens to a packed house on the 8th and runs until the 12th. “The show began with a welcome [...] by host and assistant director Mark Ewen,” recounts a reviewer in the Toike. “This established the theme for the evening’s performance, a night at the drive-in, which recurred throughout the show.” The night was comprised of skits of varying lengths—from shorter ones spoofing life in the city (skits about singing and dancing Blue Jays; the infamous Yonge Street strip; and “five easy lessons on TTC-ing”) to longer ones like “Trueheart’s Delight”, an epic melodrama set in World War I. “One must give much credit [...] to director Paul Baker and producer Graham Skells and the numerous members of the cast, crew, and band for the most fantastic show put on at the university this year!” Spring midterm season is in full swing by early March, and “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees is quite fittingly the number one single in the country. On the 6th, an event entitled “What’s an engineering education good

for anyway?” is held in the Hart House Debates Room, with Dean Etkin and 7T9 student Robert Yates as guest speakers. The discussion aims to invite student participation to answer such pressing questions as, “Is our U of T education preparing us to meet the challenges of the future?” and “What will be the role of the engineer in the year 2000?” (A: “Shuttling passengers from the space station to the moon”, the event advertisement in the Toike ambitiously suggests). On March 16th, a day before Grad Ball, more than 4,000 students converge on Queen’s

Park to protest cutbacks on the university’s budget; it’s supposedly the largest student demonstration in Ontario’s history to date. In other news, the annual Interclass Water Polo tournament is held throughout the month, and on March 20th CIV8T0 emerges victorious over IND7T9 by 4-2 in the final game. April is an understandably quieter month on account of final exams. On April 12th, the last day before the start of exam season, students display more than 50 of their innovative engineering design projects to the public at the


former Metropolitan library (now the Faculty’s temporary home). Among the projects are a stair-climbing wheelchair, a low-powered car for children with cerebral palsy, and a plastic swimming pool cover to prevent heat loss at night. Exam season concludes on Thursday, April 27th, 1978, and with that, another year draws to a close. “To all those graduating this year, I congratulate you,” writes Engineering Society President Joseph Lstiburek in the Skule Yearbook. “To the rest, I pass the torch.”






6 • THE CANNON Skule News continued from page1 focus on technology, The Cannon still showed the heart of engineering. Nowadays, we may have seen a drastic change from acid rain and soot, but we still show just as much interest in renewable sources and innovations within our engineering world. It wasn’t until the second year of The Cannon being published that the SKULE community came into the focus of the newspaper. Sure, people do like reading about new technologies, yet for a newspaper to connect, certainly it must relate to students. In the 80s, we began to see timeless elements of our traditions being advertised: The BNAD, chariot races, Cannonball, clubs, anything regarding our culture. Of course, nowadays in our digitalized world, most of our faculty advertisements and updates are constantly at the tip of the fingers. Yet, these are just about the same updates as they were then; they had the common goal of wanting students to join events and have fun. The Cannon then quickly became the main source to keep the students up to date about what was happening around SKULE. As fascinating as it is to pick up an older edition of The Cannon and see the SKULE community going off about who has the best common room, new clubs being formed and news about interesting conferences, there are some

MARCH 2018 things that might make you raise an eyebrow. There was the classic usage of “gentlemen” when referring to the readers, and rather controversial articles regarding the few women in the department back in the 80s, when women made up less than 30% of the faculty. One article went as far as claiming that a feminist is considered a different type of human. Articles discussed events where students took things too far in events, such as the aggressive behaviour and songs towards the Arts & Sciences students during Frosh Week and the unsuitable content shown during Godiva Week. Discrimination present towards the LGBTQ+ community was also distinct. These are things that nowadays would be unacceptable, and instead, The Cannon today works on enforcing a stronger, more diverse, community. This new direction, toward inclusivity and diversity, began in the 90s. Slowly, The Cannon became a source for students to speak out for what they thought was wrong. In times where exam schedules were a part of the newspaper, and calculators were more expensive than now, The Cannon became a sounding board for complaints demanding a new design course be implemented in the curriculum. The Cannon worked to give a voice to the women in the program, with more information being provided about conferences for women in engineering and editorials written by

Reflect with the Execs of SKULETM! What They Learned, What They Liked, and Advice for the Next Execs OUR FIRST ISSUE CREDIT: SKULE ARCHIVES

women. Concerns about the environment even led the university to create what was the Environmental Engineering major. The Cannon was no longer just some newspaper just about new technologies. It was not just about the events in SKULE. The Cannon became a mix of a brand-new entity, taking the direction of making SKULE a better experience for anyone. Here we are forty years later, when we no longer have 12 classes a term with exams worth 100% of our marks. We no longer have international students making up only 5% of our community or women less than 30%. We no longer hold advertisements for beer in our

newspaper and we no longer have to use typewriters to deliver our news. Many things have changed but thankfully, The Cannon newspaper being an integral part of our SKULE community has not. We still speak of renewable energy, space travel, and about buildings on campus. We still give our opinions and still do some coverage on major events and conferences around the school. The Cannon is still a snapshot of our time. In a society where news is given to us all the time through our phones and we can keep updated with anything around the world when we want too, it is amazing how The Cannon is able to compete.

It isn’t about providing the most recent information, it is about providing the reader with more knowledge they might not easily find themselves, and to provide articles tailored to our unique SKULE community. As much as these articles are available to view online, there’s nothing quite as comforting as picking up a newspaper and reading through what students have written for the community. The future of The Cannon is still unknown to us, but we certainly know that it will be part of our SKULE history no matter how news will be disseminated in the future. Forty years of The Cannon marks a milestone; one for us to continue to write, speak out, and inform our community.

Reflections from the WISE Conference JOANNA CHO Cannon Contributor Probably from our earliest childhood memories we remember the classic question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Little did we know that was only the predecessor of its million other offsprings such as “What do you truly enjoy doing?” and in grade 12, “What’s

your dream school?” and even after entering university, “What discipline are you thinking of?” to our very own TrackOneBestOnes. And, lest I forget the key word that interweaves itself throughout them all: “What is your passion?” Passion. The pressure was on, and ever-building, to discover that elusive jewel with our names already engraved on

it. Job titles float around in our heads, our feelings worsened every time a movie star recounted how amazing it was to be paid for something they love. And even after choosing a profession, something in the back of our minds insidiously asks if we indeed found the correct one. As society piled on more options, our anxiety levels also rose. Of course, as I travelled to

North York on the brutally cold early February weather, I expected and even hoped to learn more about this “passion.” After all, the annual WISE National Conference seemed the perfect place to do so. This year, WISE hosted a record-breaking 400 delegates from all over the country--I met students from Concordia University, University of Saskatchewan, and even some

ambitious high-schoolers. The prime examples of successful Women in STEM ranged from senior scientists and startup CEOstoprominentresearchers at the forefront of their field. But even more inspiring than their fancy resumes were their personal journeys and struggles to actualize their WISE continued on page 11

MARCH 2018



JIMMY HOU Iron Dragons


MELISSA LAU Concrete Toboggan


Being part of the YNCN corporate team was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The Fall and Winter Career fairs were a total success with 100+ companies and over 4000 students attending these events. Planning these events takes months of preparation from company recruitment to venue booking so there is no better feeling than seeing all of the team’s hard work become a reality at the day of the event. Companies including Google, Amazon, Deloitte and Microsoft all attended these events and were pleased to meet all the enthusiastic students and have the chance to see all their potential. Similarly, students from all over engineering fields were able to network with the industry professionals and learn more about the company’s values and mission. One of my goals was to increase the number of nontech companies to allow more students to relate to our fairs; we were able to achieve that in both career fairs and received a very high satisfaction rate from students and employers!! Not only do I love all the career opportunities and networking experience i received from YNCN, I got the chance to meet some amazing people within the team . The community is very tight and it very easy to meet new people and just make new friends.We’re all engineering students with the purpose of providing the best career experiences for the students. All in all, being part of the YNCN team has been great so far and my goal is to stay within the team and continue to find new opportunities to offer to the students.

You know that feeling when you’ve just done something you had initially thought was impossible? That’s exactly what I felt in January, when my team of managers and I finished up a successful tryout season, starting with season planning all the way back in August, to recruitment, training, and finally team selection, facing a plethora of challenges along the way. What these past few months have taught me is that shaping every decision around “what works best for the team” and “how to benefit the team the most” is invariably the right way to go. The Iron Dragons (Skule’s very own dragon boat team) has been built around teamwork, communication, friendship, and trust - this is why we are one of the best crews in Canada. While tryouts are over, the pre-season has only just started, and the most important part of the year, racing season, is yet to come. Though the meat of the year remains, I’m more confident than ever that we will successfully bring the Iron Dragons to Hungary, and the world championships, this July. P.S. We’re always looking for more paddlers to join us. Contact me if you’re interested!

The 2017-2018 school year has definitely been an exciting one for Civ Club as we took on more initiatives, attracted a variety of students to events and grew together as a team and being Vice Chair this year, I got the opportunity to guide and assist my fellow executives through this. Personally, this year was a big stepping stone in shaping my leadership and intrapersonal skills. Before this year with Civ Club, I would be considered as more of an “easy-going” leader, however in this position, there were times when tough decisions needed to be made and although previously, I would have found such situations intimidating, I was able to learn how to act adequately and not compromise on what I felt was right versus what would be right for the club and our goals. Being Vice Chair has allowed me to find a place to focus my interests in planning and student outreach in one area to benefit Civ Club as a whole. As a role model not only to students but my fellow executives as well, I learned that we have strength in numbers. By listening and incorporating everyone’s ideas, every executive feels like they have a place as well and this united front would show through the success of our events. The skills and experiences I gained this year have already benefited other initiatives I am a part of, and I plan to make the most of it in the remainder of my term as Vice Chair on Civ Club.

The 2017-2018 year for the University of Toronto Concrete Toboggan team was a challenging, but rewarding experience. The challenges we faced as a team helped not only to strengthen the bonds of our team, but also allowed me to learn and grow as a Concrete Director. From renovating facilities, to inadequate equipment and lack of material sponsorships, these setbacks created opportunities for me to communicate with stakeholders within the university and the outside industry to problem solve the issues at hand. Being a ‘veteran’ and a Concrete Director on the team, I was also able to further break out of my comfort zone, allowing me to be more confident in my self and my abilities to make decisions and get things done. This year, The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race was held in Waterloo. One of our main goals for the year was to engage more new members to be apart of our team and I am happy to say that we were able to achieve that goal with almost half of our team consisting of new members. At the competition, our team won multiple awards, and placed fourth overall! All the successes we achieved this year is a testament to our teamwork and the countless hours of hard work we put in to this team. I am so proud to be a part of this team and I can not wait to see what next year brings. All hail “The Great Toboggan in the Sky”!

I am Project Manager for the University of Toronto Concrete Canoe Team and I led the design and construction of the team’s latest concrete canoe over the past year. On the surface, the canoe is just some nicely-shaped concrete. It represents so much more to me though. It represents all the conflicts my team has had over aesthetic design elements, all the challenges faced in months of concrete testing, mould construction, and material procurement; the constant engagement for innovation, the enthusiasm of our newer members, the will to be a top team in Canada, and so on. In my role as project manager, managing all of these aspects has been integral to building on the success that our team has had in the past. I am with my team every step of the way, planning out when tasks need to be done and engaging executives to keep up with their projects. When I’m not working on team logistics, I’m pitching in with my own expertise to ensure that the team finds ways to improve itself. I have no doubt become a better leader with this experience and I continue to learn with the team as we innovate in the concrete canoe game. I am happy and thankful to be leading such a great team and I look forward to competing in the Canadian National Concrete Canoe Competition with our new canoe!


MARCH 2018



A Look Back at UofT Landmarks



2018 1 Spadina Circle

2018 Soldiers Tower

2018 1907 Sandford Fleming Building


2018 University College

MARCH 2018

2018 1949 Mechanical Engineering Building

1930 Mill Building (Demolished for Haultain)


2018 Simcoe Hall


2018 Galbraith Building



MARCH 2018


NAJAH HASSAN Cannon Senior Editor Hidden away in a corner of the library, headphones in your ears, pencil in your hand, ready to start working and you begin to wonder if this is really how you want to spend your Sunday. As children, we were always being told what to do. We were put in a classroom, assigned several homework questions and told that there would be serious consequences if we did not hand them in on time. Even the books we read in English class were chosen for us by our teachers and we just had to read them. It was as if most of our decisions were being made for us which is why quitting and restarting in a different direction was not something many of us considered. Then, we grew up. Or, so

we tried. Along with the many difficulties that came with this responsibility, one benefit was that we no longer had people telling us what to do. We chose our own path. Or, we chose what we thought we wanted. But at what point are you truly allowed to walk away from your decision without the guilt of thinking that maybe things would have been better if you had just stuck with it. Allow me to introduce (or re-introduce) you to the sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost fallacy is used to describe situations where you think you made a rational decision in the past because you were able to see the future value it would have. However, the reality of it is that you have become so emotionally invested in your decision and the more time you spend on it, the harder

it gets to just abandon it. In a scenario like this, the prospect of losses becomes more of our motivator than the promise of return on investments. Think about the last time you went to see a really a bad movie. When a movie begins, twenty minutes in you can usually figure out if this is something you like. No doubt, there is always the chance of a bad ending but if the first twenty minutes were unbearable, what makes you think the next 100 will be any better? So, you have a choice to make. You can either sit through the remaining 100 minutes of the movie because you paid for it and you do not want that money to go to waste, or you could leave. Whether you stay or not, there is no way you are getting your money back for the ticket you bought. However, if you stay, you will

be wasting more of your time that could have been more efficiently used elsewhere. Not surprisingly, this is a very common occurrence. Humans are driven by their need for survival and this means that sometimes our fear of losses is greater than our hope for success. A possible way to avoid this is to regularly check up on yourself. Take a step back and ask yourself “Would putting more time into this be the right way to go, or do I need to restart and try a different way?”. Sometimes even asking somebody else, who is not as close to the problem, to evaluate the situation with you can help. Turning away does not make you a quitter. It means you were smart enough to realize that this way was not the most efficient way and you would not have known that

if you had not given it a try. Taking advantage of the different opportunities around you is a good thing. Each one helps you learn more about your strengths, your limitations and your interests. But, if after trying them out you find that you have become a victim of the sunk cost fallacy, know that it is okay to run. So, the next time you find yourself in the library on a Sunday trying to decide whether you want to spend the day like this, evaluate your losses and your gains. If you spend your Sunday elsewhere, what have you got to gain and what have you got to lose? Your answer might be different from the person sitting across from you. But, that’s okay. We are not children anymore. We can choose to put the book down and pick up a different one if we want to.

SKULE: 40 Years from Today THE CANNON AT 40 NAJAH HASSAN Cannon Senior Editor

The following articles is based on a student poll conducted by The Cannon on what an ideal SKULE would look like in the future. It is a vision of what we would want SKULE to be and not a prediction of what we think the future will look like. The date is September 2nd, 2058. The city of Toronto is quiet. Most people are enjoying Labour day by sleeping in. But there’s a lot of noise coming from outside Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto. It’s only 8:30 in the morning, but these students seem to be energized. Some are dressed in oversized coveralls, with their bodies dyed purple and filled with way too much excitement for a Monday morning. Welcome to F!rosh Week 5T8! I can almost remember being here 40 years ago in my

own set of oversized coveralls. Some things are so familiar, yet so different. Moving in closer to the circles of students you can make out the words to their chants. It’s different from the ones we used to repeat. But, it fits. Looking around, you can see the increase in diversity in the student body. There are students of many different backgrounds, age groups, genders and ethnicities and these chants reflect that. It reminds you of the concept of inclusivity that SKULE gave so much importance to. Yet, 40 years ago, despite the efforts of inclusivity, there were some students who still felt alienated. Not here though. You can see the difference. Fake F!rosh are not as popular as they used to be. Students who are not comfortable yelling out chants and singing out loud are still having a good time. Even the commuter students feel more like a part of the SKULE community than they did in the past. Every club or

organization has a commuter representative who proposes accommodations for all SKULE events. Because of this, even commuting students can take part in all the activities without having to worry about getting home too late. The floating hardhats are still floating. Except now some of them can float right above human heads and even higher. They are also programmed with a sorting algorithm inspired by ‘The Sorting Hat’ from the Harry Potter saga that used to be popular back in the early 2000s. The hats float around to individual students and give them ideas for nonEngineering interests that they could pursue. This is all in association with the faculty’s “Modern Engineer” campaign. The Modern Engineer campaign promotes wellrounded engineers. These engineers all have some major things in common. They excel in math, science and problem-solving. The other

thing they have in common is also what makes them so unique. Each student has a certain time allotted in their weekly timetable for them to practice and develop their non-academic interests. Some of them spend the time painting, others spend it doing sports, studying philosophy or developing their musical talent. The list goes on. These interests allow students to interact with different communities of people and understand things from a different perspective, which makes them better and more empathetic problem solvers in the real world. Speaking of engineering in the real world, these students have all already taken their first steps in that sector. And the incoming first years will have had a taste too by the end of the school year. First year students are now required to take part in a course or program through the faculty that allows them to solve an engineering problem and make a difference in the

real world. This is similar to the idea of capstone projects that most fourth years used to do back in the day. Some of these projects have done so well that they have turned into startups and are doing some impactful work in the world. Not just in Canada, but in countries all over. Today, when SKULE says it wants to be inclusive, it means inclusive to everyone. The modern engineers here are aware of their social responsibility to the world and are working towards a more eco-friendly, equitable, and equal opportunity environment. And the university has no limitations in the resources it has made available to these students. Teaching and learning styles are very different from the way they were in the past. Back in the day, reverse classrooms and recorded lectures were just starting to get popular. Now, they are the norm. With new technologies in every lecture room that are

MARCH 2018 catered to individual learning styles, students feel like they are getting the most out of their time spent in lecture. Each class is filled with a large amount of discussion, problem-solving and insight that ensures each student is engaged. 40 years ago, the university was preparing itself to be a frontrunner in artificial engineering. With the introduction of machine

learning and robotics in the Engineering Science program, the faculty had begun its venture into the amazing world of artificial intelligence. Today, the University of Toronto is a leader in the field. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have seeped their way into all of the different engineering disciplines. Civil engineers are writing algorithms catered to the

self-driving transport vehicles around the city to improve traffic flow. Mechanical engineers are using search algorithms to optimize their 3D models. Technology has definitely taken over the profession, but the students do not have any complaints about it. They are pushing boundaries every day and people come from all over the world to witness these innovations.

SKULE has come a long way in the last 40 years. Still building on the principles of community support, strong academia, and engineers for the world, the students here are truly unleashing their potential and changing the way the rest of world sees engineers. They come from a diverse set of backgrounds, make time for their hobbies, make the most of their education, and engage

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in projects to solve real-world problems. As the roar of “We are we are we are we are the Engineers!” begins, You can feel the excitement building among the class of 6T2. When they pull out little models of laser cannons from their F!rosh kits that can display a holographic copy of the Cannon, I smile to myself and think about what an exciting year it’s going to be for them.

Trailblazers in History: The Women of SKULETM SARAH DE SOUSA Cannon Contributor scream so that one day a hundred years from now another sister will not have to dry her tears wondering where in history she lost her voice. -Jasmin Kaur Engineering is a male dominated field: as of 2016, only 12.8% of all professional engineers in Canada were female, and this number is apt to be similar today. Although, only a hundred years ago, this number was 0. To get to where we are today, women had to transcend the gender roles of their time to create opportunities for the women WISE continued from page 6 interests. They were breathing examples of a surprising take on the formidable, imposing “passion”weweremeanttofind. The first relief came when Keynote Speaker and CIO Irene Zaguskin compared a “10-year-plan,” or career goal (read “passion”), to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The iconic painting, she said, was actually his 10-yearlong self portrait. As his perspectives and personality shifted, he adjusted the Mona Lisa accordingly. Irene introduced how we should likewise take ownership and intentionally tweak our passions as we ourselves change. Jenise Lee, an engineering

who followed. They had to scream so that they could solidify their place, and a place for other women in engineering history. Many of these very women graduated from the University of Toronto, and one of them was Elise MacGill. ElsieMacGillwasatrailblazer. In 1927, she was the first woman to graduate from UofT with an engineering degree and the first woman in Canada to graduate with an electrical engineering degree. Her story is full of even more ‘firsts’: first woman to be admitted as full member in the engineering institute of Canada, first woman aeronautical engineer, first woman to receive Canadian engineering’s Gzowski Medal, and the list continues. Elsie’s story is truly humbling, and

you may even question how one could garner the courage to break as many glass ceilings as she did. Her courage inspired others, inspiration that even spawned the nickname “Queen of the Hurricanes” for her leading role in the production of WWII fighter aircraft the Hawker Hurricanes. Her path in engineering started here, The University of Toronto. While her interest in science and math developed in childhood, it was a degree from UofT that allowed her to pursue engineering professionally and become a pioneer in the history of women in engineering. She was not the only one. Throughout the years, many women have accomplished ‘firsts’ in Canadian engineering after graduating from the

University of Toronto, and many women have even accomplished those ‘firsts’ right here at UofT. Another important name in our history is Ursula Franklin. Although Ursula completed her education in Germany, she brought her valor and ingenuity here to the University of Toronto when she began her postdoctorate. What were Ursula’s accomplishments? She was the first woman given the honor to be named University Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, and she spearheaded research that was pivotal in ending atmospheric nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War. She earned a name for herself as a scientist, humanitarian, and woman. She was a true pioneer.

Many more women pioneers have graduated from UofT and have walked out of Convocation Hall with the expertise that allowed them to forge new paths in their fields. Many are with us today. Cristina Amon is the Engineering Faculty’s first female dean and Brenda McCabe is the first female chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and vice-dean. It is clear that when these strong women take risks, others follow. Today, more than 40% of UofT’s engineering freshmen are women, and this number is only growing . It is important that the influential women in UofT engineering history are celebrated in order to inspire others to have courage to face barriers and to break past them.

alumna and CEO of her start-up company, professed how she never knew if engineering was right for her, but she did view herself as an “environmentalist through and through.” Later, she used the rigorous logical abilities of engineering education coupled with an MBA to pursue this value, and found her own company for safer skincare. April Dunford, a tech executive and advisor, knew she was interested in tech but was unexpectedly disgusted by programming. However, she still held onto her interest, and using her natural knack for persuasion, focused on better solutions to introduce innovative products to the public. All of their stories testify

towards a new, incredibly fluid definition of passion. There is no single profession that is destined for and waiting to be found by those who search hard enough. After all, humans are flexible creatures. No one is born to be an NBA player. We may be born with a natural affinity towards athletics and a bit of talent, but the title of basketball player is entirely man-made and extremely specific. What if the person were born two centuries ago, before basketball existed? That person may have just as well flourished as a professional sprinter. Our natural tendencies, what drives us, can be applied to a multitude of different careers. Going a step further, we have the power

to adapt ourselves, devoted to the career we end up choosing. It seems honorable for the sprinter to devote hours developing muscle memory specific to his sport. Secondly, WISE showed that the narrow, rigid, cookiecutter dreams--CIO, professor, etc.--while entirely valid, are certainly not all that’s available. There is a beauty to constantly adding strokes to our everevolving Mona Lisas. Perhaps passion is not something we find, but something we somewhat create ourselves. In fact, the large majority of WISE leaders developed careers uncontainable by strict traditional definitions of “chemical engineer,” or “consultant.” Jenise, for example, combined her

environmental vision with engineering and business, and April her compelling presentation skills with technology. They molded their own careers to fit their unique combination of interests. Of course, all this abstract talk sounds like I’m floating on pink clouds; much easier said than done, especially in a competitive job market. However, I am thankful to WISE’s multitude of women who have assured us through their own lives, that the next time we find ourselves in a job or profession, we don’t have to meticulously examine every detail to see if it is “correct.” We aren’t helpless victims of a pre-destined “passion”; we can make it correct.


MARCH 2018

Thorium: An Old Technology for a Modern World SAM PENNER Cannon Senior Editor In 1941 scientists were gathered in Chicago, at what was then called the Metallurgical Laboratory, to develop a bomb. The American effort to build this plutonium device included famous pioneers in nuclear physics, one of which was Alvin Weinberg. The first nuclear reactor ever to go into operation was the ‘the graphite reactor’ in Chicago, which served as a plutonium production plant during the second world war. Alvin Weinberg later became the director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he directed many of the pioneering nuclear technologies. Different types of nuclear reactors would later be explored, mostly light water cooled (the most common today), while other designs included fluid fuel reactors as a part of power generation

development initiatives. Alvin Weinberg directed projects on these alternative fuel reactors initially to support designs for nuclear powered aircraft. According to a NASA report, they achieved reactor output temperatures of around 1100 K before discontinuing the research in 1961, when the technology was transitioned to ground based applications such as “meltdown proof ” reactors. The fuel being used in these reactor designs was molten salt using the

U-233/thorium cycle. Oak Ridge began construction of a reactor in 1962, where molten salt fuel would flow into a heat exchanger in the core. There it would transfer heat to another salt which would then transfer that to an air-cooled radiator. It was completed in 1964, with experiments run later the next year culminating in a sustained run for 6 months in 1966. Oak Ridge, despite reporting technical success with this design, would shut down the project in 1969 citing budget constraints. There are many benefits to using thorium as a nuclear fuel for power generation. The Wold Nuclear Association reports that thorium is about 3 times more abundant than uranium

and is found in a single naturally occurring isotope that has a half life many times the age of the earth. This fuel source apparently has the potential to reduce radioactive waste and be of little use in production of nuclear weapons, according to Thorium Power Canada. Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University have even proposed a plant which will use up the large amounts of weapons-grade plutonium left over from the cold war. According to Associate Professor Sergey Bedenko,

nearly 97 percent could be used up and after they will be able to run on U-235, or U-233 in thorium reactors. Barriers to the use of thorium in powering the future exist despite these advantages. The largest of which are regulatory, requiring the qualification and testing of new fuel sources before allowing them into service. This, according to the World Nuclear Association, will likely not occur without a strong business case and government support since uranium is relatively abundant and cheap. The reactor fuel represents a small portion of the overall cost to nuclear power generation. There are signs that this

old concept is gaining some footing to aid in our current power generation needs. In a 2009 report published by NASA, they describe the benefits of investing in “non-traditional” nuclear power generation to combat the problems of declining fossil fuel reserves and climate change. The World Nuclear Association lists many countries making steps to invest in thorium based nuclear technologies. India has made thorium a major goal due to their large supply of thorium and relatively small access to uranium. As well, Canada and China are participating in joint studies to research different fuel cycle options.

Although China is likely leading the world in research and development into thorium, Canada has also been active. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s Chalk River Labs have been testing thorium options as fuel for the ‘Candu’ reactor for over 50 years. In a partnership with DBI, Thorium Power Canada Inc. has designed a reactor that they say will be more efficient than conventional reactors, will not be able to achieve meltdown, and that any waste remaining at the end of its lifespan will require no external storage. Despite the slow start, perhaps our future will be powered by thorium.


MARCH 2018

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A Vision of Spring SAM PENNER Cannon Senior Editor Springtime of 1913 in Paris was ushered in by a riot. In the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées a new ballet had debuted which took the city by storm, marking the beginning of a modernist movement that would change music forever. The ballet was called le Sacre du Printemps (the Rite of Spring), commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes composed by Igor Stravinsky. Few pieces have the impact like le Sacre, and even fewer share its infamy. Igor Stravinsky, born in 1882 to a wealthy family near Saint Petersburg, began his musical education at a young age. His father, a bass who performed at the Kiev opera

house, had him enrolled in piano lessons at the age of ten. Despite his early musical influences, his parents wanted him to study law, which he did for a time at Saint Petersburg University where he also studied music theory. After a time, he stopped pursuing law and began music lessons with the influential Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov. Stravinsky had gained international acclaim with the Firebird, a ballet commissioned for the same company three years earlier. At the time he was living in Ukraine and summering in Switzerland where he wrote le Sacre. Stravinsky described his vision as: “…the image of God, as expressed in the primitivism of pagan Russia…” The piece is organized into

two parts, ‘the Adoration of the Earth’, and ‘the Sacrifice’. It begins with a bassoon playing a slow melody, that according to Stravinsky, was modified from an old piece of Lithuanian folk music. Here one gets the feeling as though we are reaching back through time. Eventually it is accompanied by flourishing of flute and other woodwinds, evoking imagery of awakening nature and birdsong. The scene is now set, members of a tribe meet where they are about to engage in a deadly game. Urgency and brutality builds slowly throughout the piece. Stravinsky is quoted in saying that upon playing an excerpt for Diaghilev he was asked how long it would go on “this way” and Stravinsky replied “Til the end, my dear.” This, ending with the

sacrificial dance in what Leonard Bernstein described as “The supreme brutality of all time” culminating in the young woman dancing herself to death as a sacrifice to the coming spring. Stravinsky’s music is a masterpiece in asymmetry and dissonance. According to a lecture given by Marcus du Sautoy as a part of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s Interplay series, he describes how music contains symmetry at a very basic level, as more pure and beautiful the sound the more symmetry it has, the purest being the sine wave. According to Stravinsky, however, perfection took on a different form, stating that “To be perfectly symmetrical is to be perfectly dead.” When the crowd first heard

the opening score they began to jeer. Stravinsky believed they disliked the level of dissonance and the jerking movements of the dancers saying “The curtain opened on a group of knock-kneed and longbraided lolitas, jumping up and down. The storm broke…” By some accounts people were throwing vegetables and hitting each other with programs. Ivan Hewett, a classical music critic, cites an account that up to 40 may have been arrested, although submits that some of these accounts could be exaggerated. Its debut saw ordered chaos on stage and a riot off stage, however, the ballet was able to finish and is now remembered as one of the greatest compositions of the 20th century.

An American’s Guide to the University of Toronto AARON SHULMAN Cannon Contributor Politics, finances, educational caliber, and adventure have all contributed to the recent surge of American students to our university. Our nation of approximately 35 million people boasts some of the world’s best universities, offering fields of study from Civil Engineering to African Studies, all at a price often unbeatable in the United States. Most American public schools have deep loyalties within their respective states, but the top tier universities tend to be nationally and even globally known, and can cost as much as a house to attend. The University of Toronto is consistently ranked among the top 25 schools in the world with the University of British Columbia and McGill University following close behind. A degree from these schools unlocks many opportunities at a significantly lower price. Although international tuition at UofT

is over C$40,000 per year, with the current USD-CAD exchange rates, attending the world-class institution is significantly cheaper than attending an American school of equal prestige and academic excellence. Our home and native land is gaining immense interest from our neighbours south of the border. I came from a high school in the United States that boasted two students who were to attend UofT, myself included, and I would not be surprised if this number jumps dramatically in the near future. During my first year at UofT, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. This was the same year our university saw a 70% increase in applications from American students. Although correlation doesn’t equal causation, in this case it might. Many Americans joked that they would move to Canada if Trump won. The Canadian immigration site crashed the day he was elected. Students who have their options open are the

most able to make a change like this, likely spawning a lot of interest in schools like ours. To add to the reasons attending university in Canada is so appealing, the postsecondary education system in the United States is inherently flawed: movement between states is nearly impossible as it costs the same to attend an “out of state” school as it would to pay full international prices. Take me for example: I am from Florida and if I were to attend a public university in Texas, I would pay what someone from, say, the UK would pay. This is due to the fact that public schools are funded by states and not by the federal government, whereas in Canada it is a fully integrated system for all Canadians, regardless of province of residence (save for a few exceptions in Quebec). Life at UofT is quite an anomaly. It is notoriously a commuter school, yet it has a thriving Greek life, a tight-knit community in its professional schools, particularly

engineering, and has quite the frosh week. This sort of “collegevibe” is only getting stronger as we welcome more Americans to our school. Fraternity and sorority membership is rapidly increasing, and our residences are overflowing. The University of Toronto website even has a detailed section about applying to the university from an American high school. Students from the US may notice distinct qualities about attending school in Canada, however. Canadian students are not used to the rigorous standardized testing culture used in the U.S., they don’t fully appreciate what it means to tailgate, and they don’t often exhibit the same degree of pride when it comes to repping the home team. This isn’t necessarily negative though. We boast a distinct cross between British and American college life, making us a sort of parallel universe to the United States. Imagine the Declaration of Independence had never been signed. When you think

about it, that is exactly what Canada is. We have so many American influences, yet we utilize the British governmental system, grammar and spelling conventions, and monarchy. Even the system of the seven colleges at UofT is in the image of the British tradition such as at Oxford and Cambridge. We cannot, however, help adopting many of the traditions from our extremely close neighbour, making us a true hybrid. According to BBC, Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, allowing for a truly one of kind experience. American students will be able to return to the US boasting a unique international experience without ever leaving the continent. Our university brings together some of the brightest minds from a multitude of cultures and backgrounds. So if you are a new student here at UofT and you’re from the US, you made a great choice, trust me.


MARCH 2018

Rising fares, PRESTO takeover….and Delays How Can TTC’s Future Plans Affect You? TDOT TRANSPORT SQUAD

AHNAF FERDOUS Cannon Senior Editor As one can guess from the title of this article, TTC’s going through major changes. Some of these changes you may have already noticed at a nearby subway station such as Queen’s Park or St.George Station, where there are major renovations taking place to integrate PRESTO into fare collection. Yet, there are modifications coming to fares and service that may be hidden away from the eyes of the public. Subway ridership continues to grow with the rising population in Toronto, causing major delays and maintenance issues with the aging subway infrastructure and vehicles (trains and buses alike). Nonetheless, our transit provider has tried to address these issues by designating fixed schedules to repair apparent issues along subway tracks during the off-peak weekends, renovating station facilities, and even integrating new bus and train models into the system. This can also be seen on a much larger scale with the recent inauguration of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) of the Line 1, to expand capacity of the system to York Region commuters. However, there are other factors at play here which every regular commuter should be aware about. Albeit, the recent extension will create ease of access for more commuters to get to work in the downtown core a lot faster and save money and fuel emissions by reducing bus usage, the issue of delay is up in the air. With increased capacity one may argue that this still does not solve the crowding issues during peak hours on Line 1 since now the extension will only add more fuel to this ravaging fire. Additionally, with further infrastructure projects like

the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and Scarborough Subway Extension in the works, the TTC is going to need A LOT of financial support to dig tunnels with gargantuan boring machines for these multi-billion dollar projects. So, you may be asking how do they acquire all this money required for these endeavours? From you. At the end of the day to cover up these costs the TTC will delve into public funding to be subsidized, but also go to the extent of raising fares and collecting the increased profits from regular and occasional commuters. Thus, the concerns which remain include fare hikes, the new rollout of widespread PRESTO machines, and never-ending delays. What goes up, but never comes down? Age….and fares possibly These multi-billion dollar transit projects are not building themselves. Rather, they are built by us in a sense. Over the past 6 years fares have been increasing at a fairly high rate, usually higher than the rate of inflation. The most recent increase can be seen last year, where there was a 10 cent fare increase. This may seem like a small number and not worth the attention it garners, but to put things into perspective this fare increase in 2017 was projected to accumulate almost 28.7 million dollars. The issue here now is how that huge sum of money is used. Rather than being used to improve current service or repair aging infrastructure, most of the money was used to pay for the TYSSE project which just opened recently. So, these fare increases are unethical in the sense that the generated revenue is being used for the construction of future project, rather than helping improve the transit experience

for current, everyday riders. These riders have been loyal customers for the TTC, and for some using the TTC is their only option to get to and from work/school everyday. By pocketing dimes from millions of riders, the TTC has only used this money to fund their new projects under the impression that expanding current capacity to more riders will help distribute the sheer volumes during peak hours. Nonetheless, TTC has realized the growing discontent with the fare increases over the years, and has asked for more funding from the government while proposing a fare freeze for 2018. Yet, this comes with a drawback. With a fare freeze TTC has stated that they will not be increasing current service levels. All the current bus and subway schedules will remain as it is right now, since the TTC believes that the ridership will not increase as much for this year. Their analysis may seem legitimate, yet the one glaring issue here is how they are still treating current customers. All their approaches are considering helping improve the TTC in the near future, rather than the present. TTC has millions of riders everyday who rely heavily on fast, efficient service, but they can be let down on multiple occasions with service delays. All in all, the TTC should look at improving current service so that today’s riders can begin to have a new, positive outlook and opinion for the TTC. PRESTO-a new beginning Next, another major changes that the TTC is bringing forth is the integration of PRESTO cards and machines. These PRESTO cards will now remove actual tickets, tokens and passes so that they can be just uploaded onto one’s PRESTO card. This will bring forth


more savings for the TTC as they do not have to spend money on manufacturing and printing of all these ‘paper’ sources. As such, more PRESTO machines are being constructed at subway stations as well as having buses equipped with PRESTO machines. This seems like a realistic proposal and could very well help the TTC and the riders, but at the moment this is negatively affecting some riders. It can create a disservice to certain customers who have to use PRESTO since some station locations do not have PRESTO and a customer has to use an alternate entrance. For instance, PRESTO users would have to enter the station entrance near Varsity Stadium rather than the one just north of Rotman. These entrances are fairly far apart and can create a hassle for PRESTO users. Additionally, in some cases PRESTO may not work on some bus routes. For instance, from personal experience I had to take the 68B bus route, which goes north past Steeles Ave.E. while going along Warden Ave. On this route if someone wishes to travel north of Steeles Ave. E. into

York Region they would have to pay an extra fare abiding by York Region Transit prices. Although I personally did not use PRESTO, there were major issues with users who wished to pay this extra fare with PRESTO since most of the time the machines did not allow users to pay this extra fare with a PRESTO card. This technical complication caused problems for these users who had to somehow fish through their purses and wallets for any loose change to pay for their fare. In other words, this PRESTO integration still has its concerns and has some bugs which need fixing, and the should be looked at very carefully so that riders are not disserviced for long periods of time over a long integration period. Pardon the delay After all these financial alternatives have been discussed and have begun to roll out, a glaring issue still remains. Delays. With an ever-growing population and more York region commuters in the north coming from PRESTO continued on page 15

MARCH 2018 and to work, the delays we had earlier have still not been solved. During moments of track failures, fires, emergency alarms, medical emergencies, power outages and other technical failures, TTC service still continues to crumble under these complications during peak hours. One can even see this happening a lot more frequently during the winter months as well due to the extra maintenance required to make sure that

tracks are clear and trains can operate in the colder weather. All in all, simply increasing fares and integrating PRESTO are small steps to help the TTC garner more profit and use it to further their ongoing and future projects, but they need to look at the ‘now’ rather than the ‘future’. Riders want solutions now. Riders dread the early morning, snowy, cold winter commute because they know how the TTC can prepare for the

weather yet perform so poorly. The level of discontent with the 2017 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Transit System of the Year will continue to rise if these delays continue to progress without any improvements to service, and as such the TTC needs to possibly consider something else besides the financial alternatives at hand. Increasing bus service on busy routes, even more than usual during

winter because of the speed limitations of buses on snowcovered roadways, could definitely be a viable option to reduce delays. Additionally, even adding more frequent bus service to the other routes with lower ridership is essential as well. Inclement weather or technical issues can disservice riders who still need to get to their destination or to a subway line but cannot due to their bus route being neglected when the TTC

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manages/spreads out majority of their bus fleets to the main routes. All riders must be considered and reduced delay across all routes must occur to ensure that the public opinion on the TTC is both improved and held in high regard, rather than taking money straight out of their pockets to help fund their ‘ideal’ transit projects which will ‘solve’ all the apparent issues.

What Does Sustainability Mean? PATRICK DIEP Cannon Senior Editor Sustainability is defined as the ability to sustain. Obvious? Yes, but for some reason a lot of us, including myself, associate this definition with environmental issues. Climate change is warming the world, so how do we develop sustainable energy generation? Water pollution in our oceans and freshwater is limiting biodiversity and potable water, so how do we develop sustainable industries? There’s a multitude of environmental issues that may leave you feeling eternally screwed, but that’s if you don’t keep up to date with clean technology, commonly referred to as cleantech. The University of Toronto’s Sustainable Engineers Association (SEA) held their annual conference on January 27th. It was my first time at the event, so I didn’t know what to expect. Going down the escalator to the basement of the MaRS building was mildly intimidating, but the smell of coffee was familiar and I was quickly greeted by folks from SEA (very dapper and eloquent). I saw the itinerary while travelling on the TTC that morning, and was surprised to see some of the workshops. Defying my stereotypes about the buzz word “sustainability” were speakers from the finance and education sector. I wanted to share the biggest

piece of insight I gained at the SEA conference. Narinder Dhami is the Managing Director from LEAP, the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact. Her session presented compelling arguments for venture philanthropy and for-proit organizations with social missions (i.e. humanitarian intentions). Hearing “for-profit” and “charity” doesn’t intuitively makes sense because we often associate “charity” with selflessness in the form of gathering money and redirecting it somewhere else that needs it. However, when Dhami was asked (by me) whether non-profit and forprofit charity organizations made a more transformative impact, she explained how both have their advantages and disadvantages. While non-profit organizations can provide basic needs like food and water, for-profit organizations with a social mission can tackle very specific problems more effectively and efficiently. Dhami drew on the example of the world’s largest ambulance system in India: GVK EMRI, or 108 (their version of our 911 Emergency Services). The 108 system didn’t exist ten years ago, and hundreds of thousands of patients died because the patchwork ambulance system in India could not bring patients to the hospitals fast enough; ambulances were known as “death vans.” The


current 108 system began when venture philanthropist Venkat Changavalli, with assistance from Standford physician Dr. S. V. Mahadevan, started investing in a business model they created that would eventually acquire enough physical assets (ambulatory vans and medical equipment) and trained personnel to service Hyderabad, a city of 6,400,000 people in 2005 when it started. To expand 108 to eventually cover almost all of India, presently populated by 1,350,000,000 people, 108 was integrated into the already existing telecommunications system (which we in North America are familiar with), which allowed the Hyderabad operations model to be implemented elsewhere in the country. This system started in 2005 and was a for-profit model, but has since switched to a nonprofit model with financial support through PPPs (private-public partnerships). Dhami didn’t explain all

of this in her answer, but she explained enough to spark a paradigm shift. With a bit of research, I realized that this is what sustainability really is. We can provide as much free goods and services we want to impoverished areas through monetary donations with non-profit organizations, and this may serve some folks well, but sometimes doping communities with free things negatively impacts the local market by putting vendors out of business. What if a Taiwanese venture philanthropist thought it was a good idea to give Torontonians free (good) bubble tea because they thought shifting from coffee to tea-based drinks was healthier? Say goodbye to Chatime, ShareTea, Coco, etc. Why would I pay $6 for something that’s free elsewhere nearby? From Dhami’s finance-oriented talk, I better understood what environmental sustainability is despite it being a buzzword thrown

around during my undergrad. Environmental sustainability is about developing an economy that’s financially sound while minimizing negative impacts on the ecosystem. Yes, this requires new technology, continued innovation, and improvements in existing infrastructure, but it also requires a viable business model that grows with the cleantech start-up. The SEA conference was a wellplanned conference, and the speakers were from diverse fields and sectors – kudos to all their teams. I came to UofT for grad school expecting meaningful and impactful conferences. SEA did not disappoint, and this what I learned from just one speaker session. The speakers for Northern Canadian distant education (Cisco), Toronto’s future SmartGrid, and the rest all provided new perspectives and insights. Don’t miss out next year!


MARCH 2018

How Does a Canoe Make You an Engineer?

By: Nadya Abdullah

In addition to being jack of all trades at The Cannon, I’ve also been Concrete Lead at Concrete Canoe this year, meaning I’m in charge in making sure that the concrete in our canoe is reasonably light and doesn’t crack, which is a hard task for something normally 2.4 times heavier than water. After working a summer doing concrete research, I was ready to completely laugh off my friend’s suggestion to join the club. But over the course of my second year, I fell in love with the club and it was a welcome break to build something tangible, with my friends and making new friends. Seeing our canoe race last competition was one of my fondest memories at UofT. As Matthew Garcia became co-captain, it was up to me to replace someone who had a storied history with the club. While Matt made it look easy and effortless, I completely botched the job the first couple of weeks. I remember “accidently” adding twice the amount of silica fume during the first week of being Concrete Lead. There were also times where I spilled potentially dangerous small particulates. Nobody got hurt and nobody ever found out about my mess ups the first couple of weeks as I did my best to make it seem like I knew what I was doing. Over time, I started to make concrete faster, as I gained sort of a meta-conscious knowledge about concrete. I instantly knew the mass I needed to add or if I needed more water or less slag. This role, even though it’s been a lot of work, has truly made me appreciate what engineering is. I’ve probably learned twice as much about concrete and how to design concrete mixes in being Concrete Lead than during my entire

second year concrete course. Beyond that, I’ve gotten to experience so much of the practical skills that TAs normally do for you in “labs” or people do in industry. This has ranged from routine stuff like compression testing and density checks, to something on the cutting edge of the industry like Micro CT and SEM scans of concrete. While I don’t plan to work in the concrete industry, these are skills that employers are looking for, something that I probably only get to experience at a design team. When I ask PEY students what they do day to day, I get told that all they do is ASTM tests, call companies for quotes or spec checks, or work on scheduling. I realize that this is exactly what I do as a design team exec. I constantly contact suppliers for quotes and properties of their materials and negotiate sponsorships or purchases in addition to all my technical stuff I do. It certainly made me feel less anxious about PEY considering I already do most of it what PEY students do as a Concrete Canoe exec. Obviously, it hasn’t all

A Brief Summary of the Engineering Student

RICK LIU Cannon Design and Layout

been sunshine and rainbows. Everybody on the team is passionate and truly wants to see our canoe finish in first place or win the technical awards. We’ve had heated disagreements in the club, and I admit that I’ve been wrong or should have been less stubborn, but in the heat of the moment, everybody believes they’re right. Being able to work in teams has higher stakes when everybody cares, and is a lot different than your average ESP team. Compromising and listening, while being cliche advice, is a huge asset that not only makes you a great engineer but can get you anywhere in life. There’s also real consequences to attached to my decision making about our concrete because the competition is strict on their rules. Each of my decision has the potential to cause the canoe to break or cause us to get disqualified so there’s immense pressure to develop proper quality control. Slowly, I’ve begun to deal with the pressure, and even thrive under it. Through a couple of scares with the

rules, and many emails back and forth to the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers, I’ve learned the importance of proper documentation (maybe not strictly on an engineering notebook), and truly appreciate the work of Industrial Engineers. University doesn’t just mean “to take your degree and leave” as my friend put it. Joining any design team (including, but not limited to Concrete Canoe), and being involved in the club on a week to week basis (it

doesn’t just have to be an exec position) can educate you on the aspect of engineering thats never taught in BA1130, and taught poorly at your office in the UTTRI lab. Beyond what I learned about engineering, Concrete Canoe (and I bet other design teams) is a rite of passage for many civil engineers that connects students now and employers with the same experience and struggles. And sometimes, during the brief coffee break on casting day, you realize design teams can also be fun.


The Cannon March 2018