Perspectives Newsletter Fall 2012
Monday, 19 December 2011 14:46

A Few Words From President Ron MacDonald

I was contemplating the changes in technology that many of us have seen since we started our engineering careers, in my case 30 (short) years ago. We saw the introduction of desktop computers, computer controllers, robotic milking, and the use of email to transmit documents and drawings as well as a means of communications, to name a few.

I like to think I am reasonably up-to-date so I asked my 21 year old daughter Paula, in 3rd year Mechanical Engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, how she communicates, and the following compares our preferred communication methods:

Published in Editorial
Monday, 19 December 2011 14:45

News from VP membership

ASABE has signed a contract with a marketing consultant firm to help the professional society understand why ag/bio engineering students and faculty do or don’t engage with ASABE.

With the help of faculty and student leaders at three university sites, the consulting firm plans to visit each campus to conduct on-site interviews with non-member faculty and hold focus groups with non-member undergrads. They will also conduct phone interviews ahead of time with student and faculty members, as well as meeting face-to-face as time allows during campus visits. When the project is complete, the consulting firm will present ASABE with recommendations for a recruitment strategy and path forward for assessing and addressing our membership needs. This particular project is projected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012. CSBE is hoping to learn some pointers from this exercise to bring new perspective to our own recruitment efforts within Canada.

Along this line, ASABE has launched its 2012 Initiative Fund program (http://www.asabe.org/about-us/governance/initiative-fund.aspx), to support the creation of new products or services and to seed new activities targeting priorities of the society. Namely on:


  • Enhance the image of ASABE to other professional societies, the public, and the profession
  • Build cohesion within the Society - feeling/pride of belonging
  • Consistent image/brand/professional appearance



  • Strong in our traditional areas and growing in our emerging areas
  • Focus our expertise on emerging topics within renewable energy, water, fiber, food
  • Define core competencies
  • Do we aspire to be best - what arena(s)?


  • Align Society with programs at universities
  • Cooperation with other groups
  • Engagement of young professionals

Student outreach K-12 and university

Published in VP Membership Report
Monday, 19 December 2011 14:41

News from our webmaster

The web site has a new section to promote NABEC – CSBE / SCGAB Joint Meeting and Technical Conference (http://www.bioeng.ca/nabec-csbe2012) that will be held in Orillia (ON) in July 2012. This event portal also provides a papers submission system and an online registration system for both organizations.

The Perspectives Newsletter has been published traditionally in PDF format and since 1 year in HTML format (http://www.bioeng.ca/perspectives-news/latest-news). Statistics show that only few people downloaded the last PDF Newsletter (about 3%). If members prefer HTML, we will probably stop publishing the PDF format. So we would like to know your preference: PDF or HTML? Please vote here: http://www.bioeng.ca/members/surveys.

On August 2010, our online community was launched. Since then, about 180 CSBE members and people from outside the Society have subscribed. But the community activities remain very low according to publications on the wall, group discussions, and profile updates. Considering this, we would like to know if the actual website-based community should be maintained or should we use popular social network such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. We want to hear you: http://www.bioeng.ca/members/surveys. Thanks for your opinion!

I would like to invite member to publish relevant content for our members by joining us on Facebook. Also, one of our objective is to have by June 2012 at least 5 active bloggers (on www.bioeng.ca/members/blogs) to publish original content in their domain or field of interest related to bioengineering. This could make the Society a great source of up-to-date original content along with others traditional publications.


Published in Webmaster Reports

Fall Convocation at the University of Saskatchewan

Fall Convocation at the University of Saskatchewan was held on October 22, 2011 at TCU Place in downtown Saskatoon. Phani K. Adapa (Thesis: Densification of Selected Agricultural Crop Residues as Feedstock for the Biofuel Industry) and Eric E. Veikle (Thesis: Modeling the Power Requirements of a Rotary Feeding and Cutting System) were awarded Ph.D. degrees. Awarded M.Sc. degree were: 1) Alvin C. Alvarado (Thesis: Control of Hydrogen Sulphide, Amonia and Odour Emissions from Swine Barns using Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles; 2) Patricia D. Lung (Thesis: Anaerobic Digestion for Integrated Ethanol Production); and Crystal D. Rinas (Thesis: Simulated Plume Development and Decommissioning Using the Breakthrough Curves of Five Cations). During this convocation, Chelsey A. Bartlett received her Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering. Congratulations to all graduates!

Update from the University of Saskatchewan Biological Engineering Task Force

The Task Force has started meeting again with representation from within the department, the College of Engineering, and other units on campus. The committee will develop a proposed program based on desired graduate characteristics and attributes and the activities and learning experiences that can help produce those attributes. From there, potential courses will be listed and gaps determined between what is available on campus and what would be proposed. The proposed timeline is to have the "ideal" list of course topics by February, gap analysis between "ideal" and existing in March, and a proposal ready to be distributed to the College in April with a vote by Faculty Council in May.

The executive summary of the Task Force’s Phase One report is below. The recommendations have been received by the Dean, but have not been accepted nor widely discussed in the College at this time.

Ross Welford

Chair Biological Engineering Task Force

Executive Summary of Phase One Report by Task Force (May, 2011)

The Task Force was asked to determine if or how an undergraduate Biological Engineering (“BLE”) program could fit in the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. BLE is a unique discipline that has a foundation in biology in addition to the core analytical tools that are common to all engineering disciplines. This foundation would prepare students to contribute to society in a wide range of applications. After seeking input from a number of sources including within the College, from other engineering programs, from alumni, and through a set of independent market research interviews, the committee recommends that a flexible BLE program with a base of Biology be developed to meet future needs.

With major research institutions and a unique suite of professional academic programs already in place, a BLE program would have a natural fit at the University of Saskatchewan. Within the College, a BLE program could complement all of the existing programs and serve as an effective pathway into post-graduate programs in Biomedical Engineering. Trends are recognized that our energy-based society will become increasingly reliant on bio-based solutions. With predictions that the bioeconomy will continue to grow, the College could be a leader in preparing engineers with a background in biology to benefit society. In order to develop and maintain a critical mass of expertise in BLE, the committee recommends that the Biology base be delivered via a program rather than as a collection of options in other programs.

The vision for an accredited engineering program is based on integrating biology into engineering to produce graduates that will lead in the emerging bio-economy and related fields. Guiding principles for the program have been outlined and intended learning outcomes are described based on the graduate attributes as required by accrediting bodies (Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, 2010). A concept for the program is described that has Living Systems at its core which refers to the interactions within living systems and the interactions with living systems. The program would not have specific options or streams but would have a broad base that could prepare students to specialize with further study in areas such as Food Availability and Security, Animal and Human Health, Bioresource Production and Utilization, and Sustainable Development within Ecosystems.

In looking toward the future, the Task Force recommends that the College proceed in the development of a BLE program by further defining the curriculum for a BLE program, producing a resource budget for delivering the program, and to consider alternate processes for admitting students into BLE and its other programs to ensure full intake of students. By acting on these recommendations, the College could take a proactive role in preparing future leaders for the upcoming challenges to be solved for society.

The University of Saskatchewan Sled Dogs ¼ Scale Tractor Team is on a roll!

For a second consecutive year, the University of Saskatchewan Sled Dogs have come in 4th place at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, held annually in Peoria, Illinois. Every year, the Sled Dogs design and build a ¼ scale pulling tractor, following rules outlined by the competition and building on past experiences. While at competition, the Sled Dogs compete against other student teams from across North America, in events ranging from manoeuvrability and sound testing, to static design judging and marketing presentation to the main event; the tractor pulls.

The University of Saskatchewan team, founded in 2002, is composed of students at the U of S in agricultural, mechanical and electrical engineering. All years and disciplines are welcome, and an agricultural background is not required. Senior members design and build a new model to compete with in the A-Team class. Junior members of the team compete with the X-Team tractor; the previous year’s model with at least three major modifications.


The 2011 University of Saskatchewan Sled Dog ¼ Scale Tractor Team with
A-team tractor (left) and X-Team tractor (right)

The 2011 tractor featured a single 31 hp Briggs and Stratton Big Block engine, CVT and transaxle from a John Deere Gator, reduced weight and a bold new look. Its most innovative features included data logging capabilities, which won the team the Campbell Scientific Award at competition, and a dynamic ballast system. The team was able to fine-tune some driveline components to finish 4th in the pulls, an improvement from 6th in 2010. The team also enhanced their writing skills to finish 3rd in the written design report.

The first ever X-team to come from the U of S competed in 2011, and finished 3rd place overall. They modified the 2010 tractor, adding a roll-over protection system (ROPS), electric assist steering and actually improved pulling performance by reducing the number of engines from three 16 hp Briggs and Stratton Vanguards to two. They also blew the competition away with their oral presentation to finish 1st in the category.

The 2012 season is now well underway. The A-Team has a preliminary design nailed down, with plans to start building in the new year. The 2012 tractor will have a lower profile with more stylized body work. Following in the 2011 tractor’s footsteps, power will be coming from a 31 hp Briggs and Stratton engine to feed a CVT/transaxle combination. The X-Team has run a fine-toothed comb over the 2011 tractor looking for ways to improve it and take it to the next level. They have plans to lower the operator platform and hood, relocate the exhaust and air intake, as well as creating the next generation of dynamic ballast.

The ASABE competition has been an annual event for 15 years. It was created by members of the equipment industry who realized that when students graduate, they are lacking many hands-on skills. The competition remains judged by representatives from major industry players including John Deere, Case-New Holland, Caterpillar, AGCO and Briggs and Stratton. The 2012 competition will again be held in Peoria, running form May 31 to June 3, 2012.

For more information on the U of S Sled Dogs, please visit www.quarterscale.usask.ca, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and for more information on the competition, please visit www.asabe.org and search “¼ scale tractor”.


Staff News:

Ron Britton received the Champion of Engineering Education Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba.

Jason Morrison received the Graduating Class Award for Excellence in Teaching from the 2011 graduating class in Biosystems Engineering. Jason Morrison will begin a 6-month research leave on January 1, 2012.

Student News:

Mahesh Sivakumar received his PhD degree, and David Wildeman received his B.Sc degree in Biosystems Engineering at the Fall 2011 Convocation.

Research Profile:

“Recovering high-value fertilizer from livestock manure”

Phosphorus has been widely accepted as the main culprit in eutrophication and related algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg. One of the sources of phosphorus to streams, rivers, and lakes is associated to run-off of livestock manure and crop fertilizers from agricultural fields. Another important aspect to consider is the non-renewable nature of phosphorus (which is traditionally mined from rock) as proven worldwide phosphorus deposits are declining. The current project evaluates the recovery of phosphorus from livestock manure in a high-value crystal form (“struvite”) that can be sold as a slow-release fertilizer to niche industries such as aqua-culture, tree nurseries, golf courses, organic farmers, etc. Phosphorus recovery re-balances the manure phosphorus content to a more favourable agronomic state, where the crops grown on manure fertilizer are picking-up much of the phosphorus, reducing the potential for run-off and stream enrichment. Recovering struvite from livestock manure would reduce the provincial dependence on imported, rock-based fertilizer and provide livestock farmers with an additional revenue stream to offset manure treatment requirements.

Two graduate students in Biosystems Engineering, Elsie Jordaan and Joe Ackerman, have been working on phosphorus recovery from hog manure over the last three years. Elsie has designed, constructed and tested a bench-scale struvite crystallization reactor, which has currently been scaled-up to a pilot-scale system (right picture). Joe has investigated a variety of strategies for releasing more phosphorus from the manure solids to encourage recovery and is currently testing the recovered products for their agronomic value. Joe and Elsie will be operating the new pilot-scale, struvite reactor in a full-scale commercial livestock facility south of Winnipeg, to evaluate its technical and economic feasibility.


This research is being supported by the Agricultural Research and Development Initiative (ARDI), Manitoba Livestock and Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) and NSERC and is supervised by Prof.
Nazim Cicek. Elsie has completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. Degrees in Biosystems Engineering and is starting her Ph.D. in Sept 2011, while Joe has completed his M.Sc. Degree in Biosystems Engineering and is in his final year of his Ph.D. program.



Mahesh Sivakumar has been appointed as “Biosystems Engineer” in POS Bio-Sciences, Saskatoon. He is responsible for coordinating pilot plant processes, managing pilot plant standard operating procedures, and production schedules.

Mahesh obtained his Ph.D. in 2011 and M.Sc. in 2007 in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Manitoba. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi, India, as well as a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the Agricultural Engineering College and Research Institute in Trichy, Tamilnadu, India.


Published in Manitoba Regional News
Monday, 19 December 2011 14:10

CSBE/NABEC 2012 Annual Meeting


CSBEJuly 15-18, 2012


July 15-18, 2012LakeheadUniversity,Orillia, Ontario


For the first time since 2001, the Canadian Society for Bioengineering (CSBE/SCGAB) will join together with the Northeast Agricultural & Biological Engineering Conference (NABEC) for our annual technical conference. It will be held from July 15th through the 18th, 2012.

NABEC is a community of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and invited CSBE/SCGAB to join them as we were planning to meet in Eastern Canada. There is considerable membership overlap as CSBE/SCGAB members resident in Eastern Canadian provinces are also members of NABEC. Members of both organizations are also members of ASABE.

NABEC has traditionally had an emphasis on student presentations both graduate and undergraduate and a delightful mix of 10 minute presentations by members and students. Their term for this is to "relax professionally".

CSBE/SCGAB has had more emphasis on 15 to 20 minute presentations in "themed" technical sessions. This organization also encourages student participation and, as well, supports undergraduate students through awards to each teaching institution for the best undergraduate design project and best undergraduate thesis.

With the joint nature of this conference, presentations could be made in either the long or the short format.

The Technical Conference includes the plenary sessions, technical papers, student poster sessions, a banquet, an evening barbeque, preconference workshops and post conference tours.

The Site

The conference will be held at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University located on the edge of the town in a rural setting. The brand new facilities, which opened only last year, are built to a LEEDS standard utilizing both geothermal heating and green roof technology. Accommodations will be available on this site in the student residence, as well as at the Best Western Hotel and Comfort Inn less than 3 km away into Orillia.

Preconference Workshops

A number of preconference workshops will be offered on Sunday. These stimulating and informative half-day workshops will be presented by leading experts, and geared toward practicing professionals, government and industry representatives, and students in programs related to bioengineering. Participants in the workshops will be will be eligible to receive Continuing Professional Development credit from their professional engineering associations.

  • Biogas: Technical Approaches to Farm-Based Systems. This workshop will provide participants with a detailed understanding of the systems and equipment, and operational considerations for farm-based biogas systems.  The workshop will be run by Jake DeBruyn, Engineer for New Technology Integration with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  
  • Composting Facilities: Design Challenges and Solutions. This workshop will review current design practices and technologies for municipal and agricultural composting facilities for organic waste recycling. The workshop will be coordinated by the Canada Composting Council.
  • Energy Crop Production. This workshop will provide an analysis and understanding of the issues involved in production of biomass energy crops. The workshop will be run by Tim Rennie, professor of agricultural engineering at the Kemptville Campus of the University of Guelph.
  • Nanotechnology: Practical Solutions in Agriculture, Food and Biological Systems. This workshop is focused on the development, advancement, and deployment of nanotechnology in the agricultural and food industry. The workshop will be run by Suresh Neethirajan (University of Guelph).

Further information about the workshops will be made available on the conference website: www.bioeng.ca/events. NABEC and CSBE/SCGAB gratefully acknowledge the support and involvement of the participating the organizations.

Post Conference Tours

A post conference tour is planned for Wednesday to the Holland Marsh, a 3000 hectare area of muck land which has been supplying Ontario with vegetable crops for 100 years. On the tour we will see the reclaimed muck land, the $25 million reworking of the drainage works, the muck crops research station, the greenhouse hydroponics projects and winery.

The Area

Orillia is located in the heart of Ontario’s vacation country 90 minutes north of Toronto in an area known as the Muskokas. It is famous for its beautiful lakes and rivers and its summer activities – boating, fishing, hiking and camping. The wooden pleasure boat industry was and is centred in nearby Gravenhurst. Consider extending time at the conference into a summer family vacation to explore the area.


Visit the CSBE/SCGAB website and follow the links on the front page to the NABEC - CSBE/SCGAB Technical Conference for more information on the conference including the technical programs, area attractions, vacation ideas and registration information as it becomes available. It is updated regularly. Registration and room reservations will open on February 15th.

Come join us in Orillia. We look forward to hosting you in 2012!


Published in Notice of Meeting

Submit your news

The CSBE is looking for news from its members!

Please send your text with good resolution pictures to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Your news will be published in the next Perspectives Newsletter.

Search for News