Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quanser's 2011 Holiday E-Card Is Here!

Quanser's E-Card has just been sent to the members of the global controls education and research community. This yearour card touches on some great global engineering challenges - and our collective progress in meeting them and engineering a better world. We encourage you to share the card with your friends and colleagues. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Showcase your Course Syllabus to the Worldwide Engineering Education Community


Every year, professors around the world are creating course materials to teach control theory. How similar are those course materials? How different? Now imagine if you and other engineering educators were able to tap into the best of them, and learn from their similarities and differences. Without a doubt, such syllabus sharing would lead to significant improvements in global engineering education.

Why not share your course syllabus? It's an excellent opportunity to showcase your work to a worldwide network of controls professors and engineering institutions and get recognition for your controls course design.
 
Simply email us the material at editor@quanser.com. We'll make it available to the worldwide control community. In return, you'll gain access to a large network of controls professors, the course materials they have developed and other resources for the academic community.

Quanser solutions and course materials are in over 2000 universities worldwide so the reach of your contribution would be enormous. Leading controls professors such as Dr. Dennis Bernstein and Dr. Shirley Dyke use Quanser solutions and are in the forefront of the way controls are being taught. Submit your syllabus and join this exciting community of professors in ensuring better controls teaching and better educated, real-world-ready engineering graduates. It all begins with a simple “click”!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quanser Integration with NI Expands Further

Quanser and National Instruments are taking their partnership to a new level through further alignment of their engineering education solutions. The latest additions to the NI-Quanser synergy are the CompactRIO solutions that Quanser offers for its servo-based rotary control experiments and more advanced systems such as the Active Suspension system, which was recently showcased at several NI conferences in Brazil, Germany, UK, Poland and Russia.

Fully compatible with LabVIEW graphical development software, and offering real-time performance, these solutions allow researchers to take advantage of Quanser’s open architecture experiments and discover new possibilities for complex control and measurement. Controllers and course materials for LabVIEW are included with many systems, so labs can run more efficiently. As a result, students receive valuable guidance and hands-on experience while professors can prepare the lab with minimum overhead.


Thousands of academic labs have already benefited from the flexibility that Quanser and NI's software compatibility offer. "Since NI's LabVIEW software is widely used in academia, the compatibility of Quanser's equipment with it overcomes yet another limit in application. We obtain great technical support from both Quanser and National Instruments," says Dr. Yongpeng Zhang, Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Technology at Prairie View A&M University in Texas.

The stronger alliance between Quanser and NI will allow universities to look to these two leading edge engineering education companies for an ever-growing range of teaching and research solutions for their controls systems laboratories.

Quanser will continue to collaborate with NI to provide engineering educators with greater levels of integration and improve the richness of their students’ educational experience. In addition to the existing array of lab solutions, numerous systems are in development and will be available to educational institutions and researchers in the near future. Stay tuned for more details.
Delegates at the recent conference "Engineering, Scientific and Educational Applications Based on National Instruments Technologies" in Moscow, Russia had an opportunity to see a live demo of the Quanser Active Suspension system, powered by cRIO and LabVIEW.

Quanser Hosts Two FIRST Robotics High School Teams To Help Them Envision Engineering Careers

What in the world could make twenty Markham, Ontario high school students get up at the crack of dawn and attend an off-campus event before starting a full day of classes? How about the chance to control unmanned vehicles, network with Quanser engineers—and get a closeup view of what a 21st century engineering career can look like?

The students from St. Robert Catholic High School and St. Brother André Catholic High School were here at our invitation because they had entered the upcoming 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), with Quanser sponsoring and mentoring the St. Robert team.

Students, teachers and Quanser engineers meet and mingle to get the day underway.

The day began with an informal get acquainted session and light breakfast for the students, teachers and Quanser staff. After official greetings from Tom Lee, Quanser’s Chief Education Officer, everyone moved over to a presentation area where Tom gave an illustrated talk titled, “What Is Engineering?” In just a few minutes, he explained how broad, individualized and varied an engineering career could be.

Tom Lee, Quanser's Chief Education Officer, delivers a motivational presentation titled 'What Is Engineering?"

The next speaker was Mark Breadner, Executive Director of FIRST Canada, which will host the 2012 Robotics Competition. Mark spoke about the exciting learning possibilities that the students would experience once the competition was underway, and of how today’s experience at Quanser would help the students prepare for it.

Mark Breadner, Executive Director of FIRST Canada, explains how enjoyable and involving the upcoming FIRST Robotics Competition will be for the St. Robert and St. Brother Andre teams.
The students formed into three groups: “Captivate”, “Motivate” and “Educate”, named after the three key benefits of Quanser products and solutions, and headed over to the demonstration areas to get their hands on the robotic equipment. The demo stations featured the Quanser Driving Simulator, designed to teach undergraduate students control fundamentals; the HD^2 haptic device, which introduced students to a robotic tool that incorporates the sense of touch; and an unmanned ground vehicle that could autonomously navigate, detect and collect specified objects.

Each demo area was manned by a Quanser engineer who introduced the students to the equipment, described its functions and real-world applications, then put it through its paces. After that, the students were given the opportunity to control the equipment for themselves.

A future engineer tries her hand at the Quanser Driving Simulator.

It takes a moment to get used to the touch and feel of the HD^2 haptic device.
A student takes the controls of the Quanser Unmanned Ground Vehicle.

Once every group had experienced all three demo areas, everyone reconvened in the presentation area for a lively Q&A session with an all-star panel - Quanser engineers and managers who specialize in robotics and mechatronics, software development, non-linear control, engineering management, educational materials for engineering programs, as well as business roles such as marketing management. Each panelist explained his or her role at Quanser, how they came to be engineers, and what appealed to them about working for a technology company.
Quanser engineers and management staff answer questions about pursuing engineering careers.

Students wanted to learn all they could about the engineering possibilities that await them.

How did it all go over? As one student put it, “It’s interesting to visit Quanser because this is where the actual engineering and innovation gets done. It’s definitely an advantage for us to experience an engineering company first hand.”

St. Robert Principal Jennifer Sarna summed up the day as well. “We were thrilled to come to a real engineering facility, to see what it’s like to be a real engineer and to have the classroom come to life. Our students are very lucky to work with the engineers from Quanser as they prepare for the FIRST Robotics competition next March.”

Everyone at Quanser is looking forward to working closely with the St. Robert team as they prepare for the FIRST Robotics Competition starting in January 2012. Stay tuned for posts in the coming months from Quanser mentors as they detail the St. Robert students’ progress.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Boosting Engineering Expertise and Collaboration with First Quanser Center of Excellence


As an applications engineer at Quanser, I often travel to academic institutions around the world to conduct training sessions for users of Quanser systems. My usual procedure is to install different experiments and then go over them one-by-one, training my audience on our software and our hardware, demonstrating what the experiment can do, discussing what type of research can be done with the system, and of course, what its real life applications are.

However this trip was different. I did all of the above, but instead of addressing faculty members from one university’s engineering department, I was standing in front of engineering faculty from many different universities in the Pune and southern India regions. That is because we were inaugurating the very first Quanser Center of Excellence, situated at the College of Engineering at Pune (CoEP).

Opening the first Quanser Center of Excellence
The Quanser Center of Excellence is a new and exciting Quanser initiative. It is a regional controls lab and a knowledge center. Its role is to be a hub of engineering expertise that all engineering institutions within a particular region can use to serve their education and research goals. In southern India, faculty from CoEP and other schools in the region can come in and start using the devices in the lab, perform their research, collect their data and go. Research at the Center of Excellence can also be conducted through remote connection. Researchers can collaborate and learn from one another, all while having hands-on access to our control software and a wide range of our on-site hardware in the mechatronics, unmanned vehicle systems, robotics, structural engineering and rotary areas.

The numerous available experiments were chosen after consultation with CoEP and our distributor in India, Edutech. They cover a wide range of control applications, starting with basic control topics. Faculty who make use of the Quanser Center of Excellence, Pune will get preferred technical support from Quanser, the latest curriculum updates and special access to our engineers. As you can see, the potential for quickly expanding their knowledge or furthering their research is excellent. 
Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director of the College of Engineering, Pune and Keith Blanchet, Quanser Director of Business Development at the Opening Ceremony of the first Quanser Center of Excellence.

Three Days of Focused Training and Hands-On Experience
I was in Pune for three very busy and active days. To make the training session relevant and successful, I sat down with the lab supervisor of the Center of Excellence, Pune, Dr. Pramod Shendge, the day before training started. He mentioned that many of the professors who’d be using our devices were highly focused on research. So I suggested that we dedicate one full day out of the three day workshop just to going over QUARC control design software. We did that, covering the basics of QUARC to the professors off to a good start. Since QUARC comes with plenty of demos and complete documentation and tutorials, they would be able to continue learning on their own.

We spent the second day explaining eight key control experiments, going through them individually and talking about the real-world applications these experiments related to. One example was the Active Suspension experiment and its application as the suspension system on an automobile driving down a bumpy road.

On the third day everyone got hands-on experience with the eight experiments. Each attendee came up and ran some experiments, tuned them a bit, and changed  some parameters. Before the end of the training session, everyone had a chance to work with each experiment at least once. I have to say their grasp of the experiments was remarkable.

During the training session, educators from the Pune region got hands-on experience with the new experiments that will serve students and researchers at the first Quanser Center of Excellence.

If you were to ask me what the attendees got out of the three days at our first Center of Excellence, I'd say that they saw the teaching and research potential of our product lineup, but beyond that, they also understood the real value to be derived from the educational and knowledge hub that the Center of Excellence represents. Without us at Quanser being directly in the loop, they can actually start talking, sharing results and collaborating among themselves. The potential for accelerated learning, research and innovation is enormous. All of us at Quanser anticipate great progress and look forward to telling you more about the Quanser Centers of Excellence in the future.


- Amirpasha Javid -

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quanser unleashes robots and unmanned vehicles for FIRST Robotics high school teams to promote careers in engineering


Twenty high school students from two Markham area high schools will get to spend a morning with professional engineers experiencing innovative technology that could inspire them to choose exciting careers in engineering. Quanser will host students from St. Robert Catholic High School and Saint Brother Andre Catholic High School at our headquarters in Markham on Friday, December 16, 2011 at 7:00 am.

"Our young visitors will get a chance to control robots and learn firsthand about what it is like to be an engineer,” says Paul Gilbert, Quanser CEO. “The students will manipulate a driving simulator, interact with a robot used for remote surgical procedures, and control an unmanned ground vehicle as it completes a specific mission. They’ll also have plenty of opportunities to mingle with Quanser engineers and ask questions about the technology or what it is like to be an engineer.”

 
Both high schools will participate in the upcoming 2012 FIRST Robotics Championships, with Quanser sponsoring the St. Robert student team. The student teams will have six weeks to design, build, and program a 140-pound robot to compete against other high school teams in a high stakes, no-holds barred, robotics competition solving real-world challenges. They will be aiming to earn a place in the World Championship competition this April in St. Louis, Missouri.

“FIRST Robotics Canada is proud to partner with companies like Quanser. Our mission is to inspire young people to pursue further studies and careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering. Our vision is of a world which celebrates success in science, technology and engineering and in which young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes” says Mark Breadner, Executive Director, FIRST Robotics Canada.

The principal of St. Robert, Jennifer Sarna, also appreciates Quanser’s involvement. “By opening their doors to us, Quanser is allowing our students to gain a hands-on understanding of what it means to be a professional engineer, working in a state of the art facility, as part of a company that prides itself on innovation and inspiration."

The robotics that the students will be getting their hands on is currently being used by more than 2000 universities worldwide to captivate and motivate engineering students and produce graduates and researchers with industry-relevant skills and a zest for innovation. The visiting students will gain insight in to how exciting an engineering career can be. Quanser, recently voted Markham’s “most innovative company” by the Markham Board of Trade, strongly supports outreach programs that encourage young minds to pursue math, science and engineering education.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quanser Designated its First Quanser Center of Excellence


Quanser has designated the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) in southern India, as the company's first Quanser Center of Excellence

The Quanser Center of Excellence (QCE) is designed to be a regional hub of engineering education expertise - a knowledge dissemination and collaboration point for a geographic region. A Quanser Center of Excellence starts with well-equipped laboratories that allow everything from teaching basic engineering concepts or enabling advanced research in aerospace, robotics, mechatronics, structural dynamics and electronics. 

The official opening took place during a three-day event at CoEP attended by leading engineering faculty from the university and other engineering institutions in the Pune region. Opening remarks were made by Dr. Anil Sahasrabuddhe, Director, CoEP, and Keith Blanchet, Director of Sales for Quanser. Attendees took part in a three-day workshop conducted by Quanser to get acquainted with the wide array of Quanser lab workstations now available for their use at the Center of Excellence. 

“The Quanser Center of Excellence at CoEP will become the focal point of creative collaboration and best practices in leading edge engineering education within southern India’s vibrant high tech zone,” said Paul Gilbert, Quanser CEO. “We expect it will quickly become a magnet of information and inspiration for other institutions in the region.”

The region’s engineering institutions will enjoy a number of benefits from the Quanser Center of Excellence. The QCE will facilitate rapid creation of innovative course materials to assist teachers in bridging the gap between theory and hands-on practice.  It will act as a hub where faculty throughout the region can converge, share experiences and learn the latest educational practices and techniques. Dr. Sahasrabuddhe is eagerly anticipating the future at CoEP. “In the past, students would only study the systems theoretically and were required to undergo special training to use them in industry. Now they will receive such training in the college.”

Adds Gilbert, “At Quanser we choose our partners carefully. The College of Engineering, Pune is committed to innovation and has a strong collaborative relationship with Quanser. I can’t think of a more fitting first partner. “
In the near future Quanser will be inviting other universities in other parts of the world to join them in creating Centers of Excellence that will help graduate a new generation of global engineers primed to solve the complex engineering challenges that lie ahead.