Posted February 15th, 2012 by Engineering

Eight Ways to Improve Society, the Economy and the Environment

U of T Engineering research with its direct impact on improving life on Earth – and the planet itself — got a huge boost with on February 13 with more than $3.2-million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The funding comes through NSERC’s Strategic Project Grants (SPG) program, which is designed to enhance Canada’s economy, society and environment in the next 10 years.

The grants encourage collaboration among academic researchers and industry and government partners and are in line with four target areas: environmental science and technologies; information and communications technologies; manufacturing; and natural resources and energy.

“Our researchers have the talent and ingenuity to help global society deal with so many challenges. But they need the financial support so they can take their research further. The Strategic Project Grants program is perfect for this kind of applied investigation. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada and NSERC for this important investment,” said Professor Paul Young (CivE), U of T’s Vice President (research).

The U of T Engineering faculty and projects supported through the SPG are:

Uwe Erb, Materials Science & Engineering
This project addresses needs of Canadian manufacturing industries in the area of new material systems for corrosion/wear/erosion-resistant coatings. It is expected that this technology can be transitioned to generate revolutionary new coating solutions for parts used in automotive, aerospace, electrical, electronics, energy, forestry, green technology, construction, consumer products and many other applications.

Amr Helmy, Electrical & Computing Engineering
This project focuses on the development of a new class of coherent sources of light that can make present-day computers nearly 1,000-times faster.

Glenn Hibbard, Materials Science & Engineering
This project will use manufacturing breakthroughs from the Canadian nanotechnology sector to create a new class of ultra-lightweight nanomaterials that will permit a significant decrease in the weight of structural components in aerospace vehicles. This innovation will, in turn, allow for larger payloads and/or smaller launch vehicles, creating an important strategic advantage for the Canadian aerospace sector.

Olivera Kesler, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
Professor Kesler is working on overcoming some of the barriers to creating bigger solid oxide fuel cells and designing manufacturing processes that can be scaled up. Solid oxide fuel cells are potentially a low-emission, efficient source of power.

Alexander McLean, Materials Science & Engineering
This project will focus on making the raw materials that are used to manufacture solar cells less expensive, thereby making solar energy a more viable and cost-effective alternative.

Andreas Moshovos, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Smartphones have moved far past their original voice calling function and now offer features such as image-based searching, speech recognition and translation. Moshovos, Natalie Enright Jerger of ECE and Kyros Kutulakos of Computer Science will identify the opportunities that exist for creating next generation smartphones and tablets with a primary target of applications that acquire, manipulate and use images and video.

Chul B. Park, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
This project will develop plastics technology that will lead to lightweight automotive parts, building products with excellent thermal insulation and environmentally-friendly packaging.

Yu Sun, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
The project will develop technologies for characterizing electrical and mechanical properties of nanomaterials and using nanomaterials to construct high performance devices.