Perspectives Newsletter Spring 2014

I am excited to move into the role of President of CSBE/SCGAB in the coming year; I look forward to working with the excellent team of incumbent and incoming council members to help move the society forward. There has never been a more exciting time to work in agricultural and biological engineering! As a global society we face some of the most “wicked” challenges that humanity has ever confronted: how to sustainably provide more than 7 billion souls with food, bioproducts, and energy while preserving and restoring the health of the environment. Meeting these challenges will require many smart people that are fluent in both biology and technology. Fortunately, those are exactly the kind of people that are members of our professional society!

In my role during the past year as President Elect of the CSBE/SCGAB, I have been mandated to serve in a variety of capacities and committees. The President Elect is also tasked with forward planning to deal with short and long-term concerns to CSBE/SCGAB in areas such as publicity, services, programs, student involvement, promotion of regional activities, relations with affiliate societies, and policy.

René Morissette (CSBE/SCGAB Webmaster) and I implemented an online tool (electionbuddy) to make the nomination and election process more transparent and to facilitate greater involvement by the whole membership. I encourage you to actively participate in the nomination and election of your representatives on the CSBE/SCGAB Council and to become involved yourself.

I assisted President Predicala and Past-President Zhang with the perennial task of reviewing and updating the ByLaws and Operating Manual of the society. These important documents can be found on the society’s website (www.csbe-scgab.ca).

I have also been involved with the ongoing restructuring and improvement of the society’s journal, Canadian Biosystems Engineering (csbe-scgab.ca/publications/cbe-journal). Editor Sri Ranjan has moved the journal to an entirely online, open-access platform and is working hard to reduce manuscript review times and increase exposure. Your assistance in this work, as an editor, reviewer, or author, would be invaluable.

I continue to help represent the CSBE/SCGAB with the Engineering Institute of Canada and have participated in several meetings of their council on behalf of the society. The EIC is an association of all Canadian engineering societies that advocates the values and benefits of the engineering profession to the public and to government. As part of the CSBE/SCGAB’s involvement with EIC, we are once again helping to support and organize the Climate Change Technology Conference, the next of which will be held in Montreal in the summer of 2015. To become involved in the CCTC 2015, see the website at www.cctc2015.ca.

Being located in Montreal, I have observed first-hand the involvement of the CSBE/SCGAB in the organization of the upcoming Joint International Meeting together with our sister society, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (www.asabemeetings.org). The conference will be held on July 13-16 at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. Over 1500 delegates from around the world will come together to discuss current issues in biological and agricultural engineering and related areas. CSBE/SCGAB members from around the province of Quebec and across the country have pulled together to organize events and tours that showcase local culture and technology. Plan to join your colleagues in the beautiful, cosmopolitan city of Montreal and savour the opportunity to network, learn, and enjoy the many activities that are available. I hope to see you there!

The duties of the Society Manager include the following:

  • Record the minutes of Council meetings and the annual business meeting and distribute the minutes to Council members within one month of the meeting.
  • Carry on correspondence for the Society.
  • Serve as the office liaison with ASABE office.
  • Assist in preparing CSBE awards, commendations and student awards for the Annual meeting
  • Pay Society expenses.
  • Arrange for preparation of auditors report for AGM.
  • Serve as the office liaison with affiliate societies.
  • Report election results to Council and the annual business meeting.
  • File an annual summary with the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada.
  • Preserve all documents of the Society except those assigned to other officers or committees.
  • Carry out general secretarial duties including keeping of committee lists, bringing appropriate documents to meetings and correspondence.
  • Receive all By-law changes but not responsible for making the changes.
  • Publish and supply in quantity the Awards Booklet to the AGM.
  • Deliver the CBEJ and invoice the authors for page charges, and
  • Serve as Secretary-Treasurer for the CSBE/SCGAB Foundation
  • Send out Foundation donation tax receipts      

As you are aware, CSBE-SCGAB Society  and CSBE-SCGAB Foundation offer several awards every year. Please email me for information.  Applicants must be a student member of the Society. The Foundation will pay the membership dues for first-time-ever Graduate Students. Email me for information.

The minutes of the 2013 AGM at the U of S are posted on our web site


In 2012, the Foundation established a new program. To help our students with their travel to our CSBE-SCGAB Technical Conference and AGM, the CSBE-SCGAB Foundation will pay the fees for base conference registration and admission to the CSBE/SCGAB Awards Banquet for the winner(s) of student awards. In addition, the Foundation will provide $100 per student to a maximum of $400 per academic unit (biological/bioresource, biosystems,... eng. programs), to be used to defray the costs of travel and accommodation for attending the conference. The students must be members in good standing of the CSBE-SCGAB in order to be eligible for the awards, fee waivers, and travel support. Eligible academic units (biological/bioresource, biosystems,... eng. programs) are asked to contact the CSBE-SCGAB Foundation (John Feddes) by June 1st of each year, and provide the name, CSBE-SCGAB membership number, and project or thesis title of each winning student who are planning to travel to the conference site. I need a copy of base conference registration receipt for each student who is requesting support. I will issue a cheque to each student at the Montreal Annual meeting. 

As our CSBE society continues to evolve with an array of opportunities and challenges, I am presenting here my annual report as VP (Technical) for the year 2013 to 2014. 

I represented CSBE at the Engineering Institute of Canada's (EIC) general meeting held on September 22, 2013 at the University of Toronto. On behalf of CSBE, I offered to provide input and help with the work of the communications committee of EIC, and provided technical solutions for revamping their website. I also had opportunities to discuss with Murat Firat, the president of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society (CMBES) to explore potential opportunities to work together, and possibly conduct conferences or workshops together. 

I also am co-chairing the local organizing committee (LOC) for the 2014 ASABE-CSBE Joint International Meeting with Dr. Valerie Orsat of McGill University. We had multiple conference meetings over phone regarding organizing and making arrangements towards the ASABE meeting. A total of 350 invitation letters were prepared and sent to the conference delegates across the world in assisting towards their Canadian visa application regarding their travel to Montreal towards the ASABE-CSBE conference. The LOC also had a meeting with Sharon McKnight and ASABE conference organizers to co-ordinate the volunteers, and assisted them with their planning and preparations for the conference. 

I met with Michael Toombs, Director of the Research and Innovation Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation to liaise and raise sponsorship for the 2014 ASABE-CSBE conference. Dr. Grant Clark, Dr. Philippe Savoie and I worked together as a team, in raising additional sponsorship from MacDon Industries of Winnipeg and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ). Thanks to OMAF based at Guelph and MacDon Industries of Winnipeg for their gold level sponsorship ($5,000 each) for the CSBE-ASABE joint meeting. Thanks also due to MAPAQ for the negotiated conference registration fee arrangement, which helped them to send additional delegates to the conference. In addition, with the help of the University of Guelph, I created awareness about the society and the joint meeting with ASABE to major food manufacturing industries such as Maple Leaf Foods, PepsiCo Canada and the Ontario Poultry Council and the Grain Farmers of Ontario. 

With the help of the President-elect, I also chaired the CSBE Adhoc Journal Steering Committee to explore the opportunities to enhance the operations and possibly reduce the publication time of the journal. Thanks to Dr. Ranjan, the editor of the Canadian Biosystems Engineering journal for his efforts and commitment towards the journal activities. The Adhoc committee discussed the strategies required for improving the publication time and promoting the journal through enhanced readership and enthusiastic submissions from scientific authors. 

After having fairly extensive discussions with the LOC, I negotiated with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) to publish a free advertisement regarding the joint CSBE-ASABE meeting in their May/June 2014 issue of 'Engineering Dimensions' magazine. Sponsorship and ‘Advertisement’ matters. Through these initiatives, liaisons with external agencies and fund raising, I hope to help to raise the profile of CSBE. With this, I am looking forward for the upcoming year, and the exciting 2015 CSBE conference to be held at Edmonton. 

Published in VP Technical Reports

I took on this position in July 2013 at the annual meeting held in Saskatoon. While I’m still learning the job requirements, it has been a good experience to date.

I did participate in 5 of the 6 regularly scheduled CSBE-SCGAB Council meetings held during the year and represented CSBE-SCGAB on the ASABE Membership Council with one teleconference meeting and several email contacts.

All of the Agricultural/Biological/Biosystems Engineering departments were contacted and asked to consider our various awards for student design projects and thesis awards through CSBE and the CSBE Foundation. To date (May 21) only Laval University and University of Guelph have submitted student winners.

Regarding membership numbers for the CSBE-SCGAB we are in decline and may wish to develop some strategies to address this situation.

Membership Statistics:                       

  • September 2013: 660 paid members including students
  • March 2014: 445 paid members including 63 students
  • May 2014: 570 paid members including 128 students    

The unpaid membership was contacted via email during April 2014 and as you can see we did encourage a good number to continue their membership in the organization. However, the paid membership is still down by approximately 14%. 

I did develop a set of personal goals for this position on council but was only partially successful in meeting them. Hopefully I will be more successful next year. 

Published in VP Membership Report
Sunday, 15 June 2014 11:31

Annual Report from Webmaster 2013-2014

From September to October 2013, a collaboration with Fahimeh results in a new Newsletter format. It was decided that only the online HTML version will remains (no more PDF version) with an email containing all items sent to all of our members. Perspectives Newsletter is sent every 4 months to more than 750 engineers across Canada. However, PDFs of previous newsletter will still be available for download on the website. A living document was produced as guideline for VP Regional (Fahimeh) and Regional Directors about newsletter content and timeline.

Following the AGM in 2013, a report has been produced with a section about the registration system, communication and website-related issues.

Along with Philippe Savoie, nearly 10000 scientists and technicians worldwide were contacted by email regularly between September 2013 and June 2014 to promote Montréal’s ASABE/CSBE joint meeting in 2014. We hope this will have a positive impact on meeting international participation.

In February, a new splash page for the Canadian Biosystems Engineering Journal was designed and published. This page provides a better overview of the journal structure and includes quick links to online papers, submission instructions, how to prepare a paper, submit and track your paper. Also, the 5 most recent papers title are shown along with the 5 most popular articles.


In March, the Council proposed to use an electronic voting system for Councillor’s elections. Several systems were tested and one was retained as a viable and reliable solution. A procedure was developed to guide the announcement of opened positions, the nomination of candidates, the election set up in the system with member’s database, and finally the election itself. The first electronic election result will be announced during the 2014 AGM for the President-Elect position. You are ALL invited to vote, it will only takes a few clicks!

Coming up soon: the CSBE/SCGAB LinkedIn group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Canadian-Society-Bioengineering-4804169) will become a sub-group of EIC LinkedIn group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/EIC-Engineering-Institute-Canada-ICI-4818149). This will allow us to reach more engineers (so increase your professional networking opportunities) and to increase the number of posts related to biosystem engineering thanks to group manager Diane Champagne. We will still have full access to administrate our group. However, this migration implies that our current followers will have to connect to our new sub-group; this database can’t be imported. Posts and discussions will be visible to everyone but membership will be moderated (no change). More information will be available soon about his change.

Published in Webmaster Reports

The membership committee was formed this year and a number of activities were planned by regional directors. An operating procedure was prepared to help regional directors step by step in planning and implementing regional plans. A request was made from all regional directors to submit a list of activities in their region by August 30 2014 in order to get the approval from CSBE council. All regional activities were discussed in the membership committee before being planned and funded.A number of activities are planned for the coming year for different regions and they will be carried out by the help CSBE seed finding. The membership committee had a number of conference calls over the year to discuss all plans and to update all members of past/planned activities.

I also had meetings with Rene to discuss and implement a new format for the CSBE newsletter. It resulted in a new Newsletter format which has been adapted since then. I have also helped the webmaster in preparing CSBE newsletters. 

Published in VP Regional Report

The 2012 Audit results from Thornton and Company are summarized below the results are a apparently a bit better than expected with a $24,729 loss for the year and a year-end account cash balance of $138,864 down from a starting balance of $150,748. The Deficiency of Revenue over Expenditure is larger than the Decrease in cash Flow due to the difference in accrual methods between fiscal year accounting and  Calendar year cash flow calculation methods.

There has been a slight increase in revenue due to the Journal activities.

Combined with a $30,000 reduction in expenditures  in part due to deferred program expenses r has left the society somewhat unexpectedly with a small positive excess of Revenue over Expenses.

The proposed budget for 2014 is shown in the Statement of Revenue and Expenditures and projects a $7100 . Even with the fee increase actual revenue from the Montreal combined ASBE CSBE?SCGB  AGM is capped at $10,000 ..If the journal results and some other areas continue to perform better than expected the loss projected for 2014 could be less than projected.

Download the Summary of Thornton and company audited Financial Position for the 2013 Fiscal year starting in January 1 2013 and ending December 31, 2013.

Published in Treasurer Reports

The past year has been a fairly busy one. After my inauguration into office as regional director for Alberta, at the 2013 CSBE Conference and AGM held in Saskatoon in July last year, the following tasks have been completed:

Council Activities

Eight council meetings have been held to date of which I have attended seven. Early on in the CSBE year (2013/14), all council members were requested to submit an individual plan of action for the upcoming year to the president. Four goals were outlined for Alberta namely: Establish regional committee; Connect with professional organizations such as Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA); Publish an article in quarterly editions of CSBE’s Perspectives newsletter; Organize two lecture series related to bioengineering.

Membership Committee Activities

Two committee meetings have been held to date. Regional directors were requested to submit a plan detailing regional events that would be held in the CSBE year. Details of the plan included: Organizers of the event; Target participants; Expected date(s); Objectives of the event; and Budget estimate. Regional directors were notified that the CSBE had funds to support planned regional events.

2014 ASABE and CSBE/SCGAB Annual International Meeting - Planning Activities

The regional director participated in two joint local and national arrangements committee meetings to discuss how CSBE could support efforts towards the hosting of the 2014 event in Montreal. Participation as a regional director was voluntary and was seen as a learning opportunity, considering the fact that Alberta will be hosting the 2015 CSBE Conference and AGM.

Regional Advisory Committee

A regional advisory committee comprised of 7 professional members and one student member was formed in September, 2013. The committee participated in discussions pertaining to the 2015 CSBE AGM and Conference, CSBE Alberta Lecture Series and CSBE awards nominations via two teleconferences and by email correspondence. The regional committee members and non-committee members were also active in hosting the lecture series.

CSBE Alberta Winter and Spring Lecture Series

The CSBE Alberta inaugural lecture series entitled, “Bioresource Engineering - Advancing Alberta’s Bioenergy Platform”, was held in Edmonton on January 28, 2014. Forty-five people were in attendance, including 12 CSBE professional members, 2 CSBE students and 9 non-CSBE students.

A second lecture series entitled, ”Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy and the Role of Bioresource Engineering”, was held in Calgary on June 04, 2014. Twenty-seven people were in attendance, including 7 CSBE professional members. Two non-CSBE students were also in attendance.

Both events were widely advertised across the province courtesy of APEGA, Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA), Alberta Water Portal, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, etc.

2015 CSBE Conference & AGM

The 2015 conference and AGM will be held in July in Edmonton, Alberta. Over the past year effort has been made to secure a host venue in the “City of Champions”. In addition, Rick Atkins (CSBE Fellow) has been appointed chair of the local arrangements committee (LAC). Planning activities of the LAC will commence after the 2014 ASABE & CSBE/SCGAB annual international meeting in Montreal in July.

The main duties of the regional director are: encouraging suitable candidates from our Manitoba respective region to apply for CSBE membership, working with university representatives on student recruitment, meet with students early in the academic year to make them aware of CSBE/SCGAB and its objectives, organize regional activities on an annual basis, recruit a committee to help in regional activities, and act as general contact person for CSBE/SCGAB in the Manitoba region. At the start of this year, I set my goals as:
  • Organize a networking event along with orientation to the new students of Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba.
  • Forming an organizing committee to work on regional activities.
  • Develop a plan to organize professional development activity for CSBE members.
  • Identifying potential professional associations in the province for collaboration to conduct regional activities.  

Orientation and networking BBQ at Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba was organized for new graduate and undergraduate students on October 1st, 2013 by Manitoba section of CSBE, Biosystems Engineering Graduate Students’ Association (BEGSA), Manitoba section of CSBE Undergraduate Student Chapter, and Department of Biosystems Engineering.  The total attendance for this event was 94, which include graduate and undergraduate students, academic members of department of Biosystems engineering and industry members. The session started with the a talk by Dr. Danny Mann, head of the department about introduction to department of Biosystems engineering, followed by a presentation about academic writing and publication by Dr. SriRanjan, Editor, Canadian Biosystems Engineering.  Chella Vellaichamy, Manitoba regional director talked about CSBE membership and its benefits to students during and after their academic life; and distributed membership applications. Totally 22 new students attended this orientation program were joined with current enrolled students, academic staffs, and 3 industrial member for the BBQ event at 6:30pm. 

Local organizing committee to help regional director to conduct regional activities has been formed with 6 members. The members of this committee are:

1.      Chella Vellaichamy (Regional director)
2.      Dr. Danny Mann (Head of department of Biosystems engineering),
3.      Ravikanth Lankapalli (Graduate student, Department of Biosystems engineering)
4.      Steven Murray (Undergraduate student, Department of Biosystems engineering)
5.      Annette Kroeker (Bulher Versatile Inc.)
6.      Prabal Gosh (Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiative)

A tentative plan has been laid out to organize a workshop series (3 to 4 workshops) for the members in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. A membership information session will be organized in September 2014 at university of Manitoba to advertise about our society to the new students.

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