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COVID-19 pandemic: U of T Engineering stories

A pharmacist preps a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo: Steven Cornfield / Unsplash)

Explainer: U of T Engineering professor Omar F. Khan on COVID-19 vaccination efficacy, misconceptions and Canada’s rollout

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are being deployed and administered around the world — with vaccine development, manufacturing and distribution taking place at record-breaking speed. As Canada races to vaccinate its citizens amid an increase in variant infections, writer Liz Do spoke to Professor Omar F. Khan (BME), an immunoengineering expert. Khan, whose lab designs nanotechnology devices that...
A new study looks at how droplets expelled by a cough or sneeze can break up into smaller pieces when they collide with mask material. The research underscores the importance of multi-layer masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo: CDC, via Unsplash)

Physics experiment shows potential value of triple-layer masking

An experimental study carried out by an international team of engineers and physicists has added more evidence for the value of triple-layer masking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and similar diseases.  “Any form of mask is better than no mask,” says Professor Swetaprovo Chaudhuri (UTIAS), one of the co-authors of a new paper published today in Science Advances.   “But what we also show...
A U of T Engineering team, led by ECE graduate students, designed a UV lamp fitted with distance sensors to more efficiently disinfect contaminated surfaces. It has recently been prototyped. (Image: Jonathan Qu)

Smart UV lamp could fight COVID-19 and other diseases

A team of U of T Engineering students is using the power of UV light to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other virus-borne diseases. They have prototyped a modular, smart UV lamp — dubbed LumineSense — that can be used to disinfect contaminated surfaces. By using sensors to monitor and adjust its light emission patterns, the device is...
A study by U of T Engineering researchers found Toronto's temporary cycling infrastructure increased low-stress road access to jobs and food stores by between 10 and 20 per cent, and access to parks by 6.3 per cent (photo by Dylan Passmore)

Toronto’s COVID-19 bike lane expansion boosted access to jobs, retail: U of T Engineering study

With COVID-19 making it vital for people to keep their distance from one another, the city of Toronto undertook the largest one-year expansion of its cycling network in 2020, adding about 25 kilometres of temporary bikeways. Yet, the benefits of helping people get around on two wheels go far beyond facilitating physical distancing, according to a recent study by three... (1)

Virtual reality makes unique chemical engineering lab accessible from home

For more than 70 years, the Unit Ops Lab has been a cornerstone for undergraduate training in chemical engineering. Now, Professor Ariel Chan (ChemE) is using virtual reality and 3D simulations to make it accessible to students who are studying from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Unit Ops is like medical school for our students,” says Chan, who coordinates several...
Dean Christopher Yip in December 2020. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

The year ahead: Q-and-A with U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip

A lot of adjectives have been used to describe the year 2020 — unprecedented, unusual, challenging — but Dean Chris Yip would choose a different one: inspiring. “What I saw across our Faculty was people rising to the challenge,” he says. “That innovative spirit is what engineering is all about, and I think many of the creative solutions we developed...
Left to right: Brothers Arnaud Deza (Year 3 EngSci), Daniel Deza (Year 1 EngSci) and Gabriel Deza (Year 4 EngSci) are all studying from home this semester. Their sister Anna Deza (EngSci 2T0) joins them online. (Photo: Emmanuel Deza)

Making the most of an unusual semester: How U of T Engineering students are adapting to remote learning

Daniel Deza (Year 1 EngSci) always knew he was going to have friends at U of T Engineering — starting with his older brothers Arnaud (Year 3 EngSci) and Gabriel (Year 4 EngSci). What he didn’t anticipate is just how close the three of them were going to get this semester. All three Deza brothers are currently living — and...
An improved mathematical model developed by an international team combines the “physics of the cloud” with the “physics of the crowd” to predict the dominant modes of transmission for the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. (Image: photocreo, via Envato)

Improved COVID-19 model leverages flow physics of airborne respiratory droplet ‘clouds’

After nearly a year of studying COVID-19, scientists are still grappling with fundamental questions — including understanding the dominant modes of transmission and predicting how “superspreading” events arise. A newly improved model produced by engineers and physicists could help. Last summer, Professor Swetaprovo Chaudhuri (UTIAS) and his colleagues developed what they called a “first-principles modelling approach” to understanding the factors...
A volunteer uses digital tools created by to collect information on COVID-19 symptoms and spread in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Photo: <a href="">Durable Solutions Unit)</a>

flatten: Leveraging big data to fight COVID-19 in Mogadishu

Six months ago, Shrey Jain (Year 2 EngSci) was a first-year engineering student who just wanted to do his part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. He could never have imagined that doing so would take him halfway around the world, into the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia.  “It’s been really amazing to see the realness of it, the tangible outcomes we can have by applying...
Professor Jennifer Farmer (ChemE) is using a combination of “kitchen labs,” simulated lab platforms and data analysis reports in her Applied Chemistry course. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Farmer)

Three cool virtual labs: How U of T Engineering instructors are getting creative with remote active learning

A camera and a bottle of Gatorade were the key pieces of equipment for a recent virtual lab in Professor Jennifer Farmer’s (ChemE) course, CHE204: Applied Chemistry. “We told students that they’d have to determine the amount of food dye in the drink,” explains Farmer. Any other year, students would learn to operate a spectrometer to find the answer. “Well,...


Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist