Posted April 26th, 2018 by Engineering Strategic Communications

Myhal Centre: Collaborating across disciplines to advance engineering research and innovation

Professor Brenda McCabe (CivMin) in front of the Myhal Centre. In collaboration with Angela Schoellig (UTIAS), McCabe uses autonomous drones used to monitor progress on buildings sites. The Myhal Centre provides a new home for several U of T Engineering institutes that catalyze multidisciplinary research collaborations. (Photo: Roberta Baker)

Multidisciplinary collaboration is a cornerstone of U of T Engineering research. The synthesis of diverse perspectives from a wide range of fields and backgrounds enables investigators to address complex, multifaceted challenges such as climate change, as well as to leverage emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence to create entirely new products and technologies.

Our Faculty is home to more than 25 multidisciplinary research centres and institutes that bring together world-leading experts from across engineering and beyond, including physicians, social scientists, chemists and experts in public policy. The Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship provides a new home for several of these institutes, as well as a flexible, open environment designed to catalyze new and unexpected collaborations.

These institutes — and some of our latest research projects — are:

Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN)

Founded in 2009, CGEN enables faculty and students to engage with important global challenges in fields such as sanitation, alternative energy, health costs and clean water. Through specialized curricula, research projects and strategic partnerships with organizations around the world, CGEN provides opportunities for students to develop global fluency and gain practical experience working across both disciplines and cultures.

One team of researchers led by Professor Amy Bilton (MIE), associate director of CGEN, is designing locally appropriate technologies to help farmers in Pedro Arauz (Nicaragua) navigate the region’s long, harsh dry season. These included both a wind pump and a passive water regulator, designed and tested in partnership with the community as well as the external Winds of Change initiative and the NGO Seeds of Learning. Proposed future CGEN projects include developing a power system for a small, mobile classroom in Kenya, a food security project in India, and a wireless moisture-sensing network for farmers in Nepal.

Learn more about research and educational initiatives from CGEN

Institute for Robotics & Mechatronics (IRM)

IRM brings together more than 50 principal investigators from across U of T Engineering and Computer Science to create the next generation of intelligent and autonomous robots for use in a variety of sectors, including health care, exploration, rescue, security and more.

Recent projects from IRM researchers include a robotic retrofit that automates certain complex task for electric wheelchair users, socially assistive robots designed to facilitate recreational activities among people with degenerative cognitive conditions, and autonomous drones that can navigate obstacle courses while adapting to sudden disturbances, such as a gust of wind.

Learn more about robotics research at U of T Engineering

Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE)

ISE advances multidisciplinary research in a number of areas related to clean power and sustainable electricity, including wind turbines, solar power, fuel cells and hydroelectricity. It includes more than 50 faculty members from U of T Engineering and from Geography, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.

A team led by ISE Professor Ted Sargent (ECE) recently advanced to the finals of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, an international competition to develop new technologies to capture climate-warming carbon emissions from power plants and efficiently convert them into valuable chemical products.

Other ongoing projects from ISE researchers include next-generation battery technology for electric vehicles, and a new management tool to help construction industry reduce its carbon footprint.

Learn more about sustainable energy research at U of T Engineering

Institute for Water Innovation

One of our newest institutes, the Institute for Water Innovation (IWI) is built on an industry-university alliance dedicated to sustainable water management. It includes more than 25 researchers who are establishing fundamental understanding, developing innovative technologies, and educating future leaders.

Researchers in IWI collaborate closely with drinking water authorities across the GTA and beyond to plan and prepare for changes due to new environmental regulations, population growth and climate change. They are also developing technologies such as water-permeable pavement to restore natural water flow to urban areas, and leveraging ancient microbes to develop new strategies for handing process water in the mining industry.

Learn more about water research at U of T Engineering