Saturday, February 12, 2011

Attracting Students with the Cutting-Edge Technology

Research interests of Dr. Youmin Zhang, Associate Professor at the Concordia University's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering spin around avionics, guidance, navigation and flight control of unmanned aerial vehicles. And acquiring Quanser's Qball-X4, an unmanned aerial vehicle system with the OptiTrack camera system and a ground station PC, allowed Dr. Zhang to effectively continue his research in these areas. But Dr. Zhang is also passionate about teaching and sharing the latest research results with his students. With the support of his department, he introduced his undergraduate and graduate students to this cutting-edge technology.

In the fall of 2010, students enrolled in the Flight Control Systems Course were able to use the Qball-X4 for the first time. The Qball system was also used in a newly offered graduate course Fault Diagnosis and Fault Tolerant Control Systems. Concordia University thus became the first academic institution in the world to use such a cutting-edge physical UAV system to teach a flight control course. Dr. Zhang brought his latest research results to the classroom and gave students a chance to get hands-on experience with the unmanned aerial technology. Students could implement a control algorithm they designed on a real unmanned aerial vehicle and test it - something they did not have the chance to do before.

UVS Lab at Concordia University. Image courtesy of Dr. Youmin Zhang.

Using cutting-edge and industry-relevant technologies in the labs help professors to attract the brightest students and motivate them to continue in their engineering career. Quanser systems allow professors to perform their research, as well as to teach various control concepts and theories. Contact our academic solutions advisors at to learn more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quanser Partners with the Regional Creative Hub

Markham region, where Quanser head office is located, is home to the largest cluster of technology and life sciences companies in Canada. Little wonder that this leading hub of technological innovation, creativity and education was where the Ontario provincial government came to announce the creation of a new innovation center called VentureLab. The establishment of the new innovation centre along with more than $1 million in funding for it, was announced by Glen Murray, Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation.

Linking together the town of Markham, provincial and federal governments, and industry and academic professionals, VentureLab will focus on creating innovative companies and new technologies. As a part of ONE, the Ontario Network of Excellence, it will help local entrepreneurs bring their ideas to marketplace and give them access to a broad network of experts and resources. VentureLab will operate from the Markham Convergence Centre, a unique business ecosystem that also houses several entrepreneurial companies from the health sciences sector. This close proximity will offer even more opportunities for collaboration and fostering innovation in Markham Region.

Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation Glen Murrey announcing creation of the VentureLab.

As one of the region's leading engineering companies, Quanser was invited to the announcement event to showcase the innovation that already exists in the region. The guests had an opportunity to see live demonstration of a cutting-edge Quanser technology: the tele-operation system developed by Quanser in collaboration with the University of Western Ontario. The system is used as a surgical simulator in training of health care professionals.

Quanser's engineers demonstrate the cutting-edge High definition Haptic Device HD^2 to the Counsellor Howard Sharp and Minister Glen Murrey

Quanser is prepared to support VentureLab clients in the future, providing engineering mentoring and using its expertise to help bring new technologies to market.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grade 8 Girls Enjoy Quanser's Ball and Beam Experiment

Every year, Blair McKay, the electronics teacher at Listowel District Secondary School, invites Grade 8 students to his custom-designed electronics lab - eLab. During the electronics workshops - eDays - the students can find out more about electronics and robotics and engage in hands-on activities.

The eDays are held separately for boys and girls. For the girls' eDay, the guest speakers are all women who have exciting careers in electrical engineering, computer engineering and mechatronics. I have been a guest speaker at eDays since 2004. This year, I talked to the girls about how much fun I have working at Quanser, and I showed them Quanser's Ball and Beam experiment. I demonstrated how the computer can control the position of the ball on the beam, and then I let the girls try to control the experiment manually by moving the mouse. All the girls were eager to participate, and although no one was able to control the position of the ball as quickly as the computer, everyone had fun trying!

The eDay workshops are clearly successful at attracting young women to take electronics in high school. At Listowel District Secondary School, Grade 9 electronics is taught as part of an Introduction to Technology class, and there are typically two full all-girl classes!