Perspectives Newsletter Spring 2021
Vol. 44, no.1 / Posted on June 15, 2021

All abstracts and submitted full/short papers are now available online in our meeting papers repository: 

https://library.csbe-scgab.ca/publications/csbe-scgab-technical-conferences

 

ying chenIt is a great honour to be the CSBE president. I am very excited for this opportunity to lead such a society that unites biosystems engineers in dedication to our students and clients. I would like to acknowledge the leadership provided by Dr. Chandra Madramootoo and the council members in the previous year. I would like to thank Dr. John Feddes for his devotion to CSBE as the Society Manager for the past eight years.  I would also like to welcome the new President-Elect, Dr Jan Adamowski, and other new council members, as well as the new secretary manager, Kelly Lund. Your willingness to serve is much appreciated. I am looking forward to working with all of you to increase the growth of our society.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Kelly Lund. She has stepped forward to serve as our Society Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of our Foundation.

Kelly is a licensed professional engineer in Alberta, and a graduate of the Biosystems Engineering program at the University of Manitoba.  She worked many years as an agricultural engineer with the Alberta government.  She lives in Edmonton with her family and apparently still has one year to go before she can send her youngest child off to kindergarten!  Most recently, Kelly is taking on some short-term contract work while completing a 2-year program in Instrumentation and Controls at the Northern Institute of Technology here in Edmonton.  A particular task that she hopes to assist with would be working through the membership list to directly encourage all members to submit their profile for our CSBE Expertise Database.  Kelly also welcomes you to contact her with any questions, comments, or ideas you have for the Society. 

Kelly Lund 250px

I have had the pleasure of serving the Society as Society Manager for 8 years. Met many interesting members along the way.  We need to continue to promote our Society and welcome new members. Also, we have lost a number of members who need to be encouraged to rejoin.

John Feddes

The CSBE/SCGAB Council welcomes its new members. We look forward to working with you all!

  • Ying Chen - President
  • Jan Adamowski - President-Elect
  • Kelly Lund - Secretary Manager
  • Valérie Orsat - Vice-president Regional
  • Mano Krishnapillai - Journal Editor
  • Nazim Cicek - Manitoba Regional Director
  • Sébastien Fournel - Directeur régional du Québec
  • Pradeep K. Goel - Ontario Regional Director

 Congratulations to the 2021 CSBE/SCGAB Award Recipients!

2021 Maple Leaf Award

farooque

2021 Young Engineer of the Year Award

farooque

2021 Glenn Downing Award

fahimeh

2021 John Clark Award

annamalai

2021 John Ogilvie Research Innovation Award

jianramesh

Contribution: Mathematical Models Of Stored-Grain Ecosystems For Management Of Stored Grains                                                

2021 John Ogilvie Research Innovation Award

ramesh

Contribution: Safe Use of Untreated or Partially Treated Wastewater in Agriculture                                                            

2021 Fellow Award

amit kumar

ASABE  ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition - $500

Design and construction of a four-wheel-drive tractor taking into consideration the rules specified by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)

Université Laval,  Équipe ULtrac – M. Deschenes, A. Desroches, A. Trottier, V. Lacasse, L. Lampron,  A. Voghell, L. Chapron, P. Desautels, J. Fréchette,  R. Leclerc

McGill University, Mutrac – A. Mescheder, A. Kaufman, A. Leak, A. Pille, A. Gleason, A. Herring, G. Fletcher, H. Macek, I. Karovitch, J. Smith, J. Lan, K. Simpson, R. del Sol Cook, S. MacDonald, S. McGuire

CSBE/SCGAB FOUNDATION  Undergraduate Scholarship - $300

Recognizes academic excellence among student members of the Society.  The Scholarship is awarded each year to the student member of the Society with the highest GPA in the preceding semester.

University of Manitoba – S. Harris

McGill University – Ms. K. Trumpler

Université Laval – F. Santerre

Dalhousie University - C. Toombs

Graduate Thesis Award (PhD) -  $200

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering – H. M. Jahromi for his thesis entitled “Graded cellular structures: a strategy to tune the structural performance of cellular materials”. (Advisor: H. Akbarzadeh)

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering - N. Gaj for his thesis entitled “An integrated approach to perforation analysis and design for corrugated drainage pipes”. (Advisor: C. Madramootoo)

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering - J. J. Malard for his thesis entitled “Méthodes pour la modélisation dynamique des composantes socioéconomiques et biologiques des systèmes agricoles à petite echelle” (Co-Supervisors: J. Adamowski, H. Melgar-Quiñonez)

University of Manitoba – U. Edet for a thesis entitled “Design of an interface for remotely supervised autonomous agricultural sprayers” (Advisor: D. Mann)

University of Manitoba – H. Hsu for a thesis entitled “Multifunctional flexible conductive materials for supercapacitors and biosensors” (Advisor: W. Zhong).

Graduate Thesis Award (MSc) - $200

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering – X. Dong for her thesis entitled “Effects of ultrasound and microwave processing on physiochemical and allergenic properties of shrimp”. (Advisor: V. Raghavan)

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering – J. R. Spiers for his thesis “Deepsoil: A deep-learning framework for rapid low-cost estimation of soil particle size distributions from digital mic”. (Advisor: V. Adamchuk)

Dalhousie University – P. Hennessy for his thesis “Convolutional Neural Networks for Real-Time Weed Identification in Wild Blueberry Production”. (Advisor: T. Esau)

University of Manitoba – J. Rentz for a thesis entitled “The effects of the Portage Diversion on adjacent agricultural land” (Advisor: R. Sri Ranjan)

University of Manitoba  - M. Green for a thesis entitled “Measurement of latency during real-time video transmission for remote supervision of agricultural machines” (Advisors: D. Mann and E. Hossain).

Université Laval – M. Jacques for a thesis “Impacts de la sévérité du stress hydrique sur la réponse photosynthétique et le rendement de la pomme de terre/ Impacts of the severity of water stress on the photosynthetic response and yield of potato” (Advisors: S. José Gumiere and J. Gallichand).

The University of Guelph – A. Goswami  for a thesis “ The Evaluation of Statistical Models in Water Quality Constituents Load Estimation in Southern Ontario, Canada”. (Advisors: P. Daggupati and R. Rudra).

Undergraduate Awards - $100

Université Laval - Undergraduate Design Project – M. Guillemette; D. Patry; V. Richard for a project « Conception d'un procédé de valorisation des sous-produits provenant de la culture de choux de Bruxelles / Design of a process for valuing by-products from the cultivation of Brussels sprouts ». (Advisor : M. Aider)

University of Manitoba -  L.  Bridgeman for a thesis entitled “Coaxial extrusion-based bioprinting of small blood vessels for clinical use: a comprehensive literature review” (Advisor: W. Zhong)

University of Manitoba - G.  Loewen for a thesis entitled “Universal and accessible design in video game controllers” (Advisors: J. Ripat, J. Paliwal)

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering – J. Russell, I. Tazi and F. Caldera for a project entitled Optimizing Liquid Fertilizer Bioreactor for Dynamic Hydroponic Systems” (Advisor: C. Madramootoo)

McGill University, Department of Bioresource Engineering – A. Bucci, K. Pantemis, L. Corbeil-Phillips, and R. Martinez for a project entitled « Cellulose-based hygienic flushable wipes » (Advisors: M. Lefsrud and C. Madramootoo)

It is Tuesday May 11th, 10:00 am Quebec time and the Welcome ceremony is starting. Stéphane Godbout, the conference’s co-chair, welcomes all participants. Karina, from Eklosion, do an excellent hosting performance.

I was very excited at the time because we have been working on the organization of this international conference for over 5 years. Initially scheduled for the summer of 2020, we were forced to cancel it due to the COVID-19 situation. Several scenarios were on the table: postpone the event entirely to 2021, hold the event virtually, or simply cancel the whole thing. With the support and endorsement of CSBE and CIGR, our committee moved forward to hold the event virtually. Fortunately, all our guest speakers remained committed to attending virtually. The program was enhanced by virtual technical tours, special sessions, and post-conference workshops. 

The quality of the presentations by our guest speakers was impressing, starting with Senator Rosa Galvez. Senator Galvez provided an excellent overview of Canada's position on GHG reduction and adaptation measures related to climate change. Kathy Baig, President of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, underlined the importance of the Ordre and its values in our profession. The place of women in engineering was discussed and the OIQ's objective of having 30% of women engineers by 2030 is more than welcome. Finally, Andy Zynga, CEO of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Food, presented how Europe wants to transform the food industry towards a more open innovation structure. The table was set for an excellent conference under the theme of interactions between society and our profession, agricultural and biosystems engineering. 

At the World Congress on Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources symposium, I was able to see the importance of decision support tools in our context where more and more variables, stakeholders, and objectives come into play. In the special session on biogas, Jennifer Green presented impressive, but accessible, biogas projects on farms and industries. With Canada's new GHG reduction targets, we have every interest in these technologies. Also related to GHG reduction, the 4th International Symposium on Gas Emissions and Dust from Livestock (EMILI) introduced innovative approaches to reducing GHG on farms such as a fume hood with biofilter to capture emissions directly from the building. The benefits and potential of biochar were also ably highlighted in the presentations introduced by expert Suzanne Allaire. According to her, biochar seems a very interesting avenue for on-farm carbon storage, in line with the Canadian objectives of the new Agricultural Climate Solutions program.  

On the second day, the virtual technical tour on farm buildings allowed us to learn more about the Chair in Educational Leadership on Sustainable Agricultural Buildings at Université Laval, the family business Industrie Harnois and the advanced R&D facilities of the Centre de développement du porc du Québec. Later in the day, the Symposium on Livestock Building Innovations kicked off with excellent technical presentations in the domain. In the middle of the day, all were invited to attend the CSBE and CIGR Awards Ceremony, accompanied by a musical performance by Quebec City band The Lost Fingers.  

On the third day of the conference, I was able to attend - and do my presentation - the special session on challenges in hydrological modeling. This is a very interesting area where the development of knowledge and computational power allows now to evaluate at several scales the impacts of beneficial agricultural practices on water quantity and quality. Later, the session on climate change showed the impact of the crisis but also presented ways to adapt or mitigate the changes. At the end of the day, we were able to listen to two experts in the field of biomethanization (Benoit Bourque) and on the impact of climate change on animal production systems (Thomas Banhazi), followed by the presentation of the Armand Blanc and Best Paper awards. 

The last day started with the CIGR general assembly and excellent technical presentations, including one on the inventory of biomass sources in Canada to better grasp the opportunities of carbon-neutral energy transition. On the same theme, Lorie Hamelin (Toulouse Biotechnology Institute) presented high-level information putting into perspective, and on a larger scale, the strategies for the supply of non-fossil carbon sources. Frederic Pelletier (MELCC) followed with an overview of the carbon market system currently in place in Quebec.  

Four days, 35 sessions, 275 technical presentations, the 2021 edition of the CIGR international conference was a real success, even if it was 100% virtual! We saw during this meeting innumerable results, ideas, and exchange showing the will to address the numerous challenges around the development for a sustainable agriculture. In the face of immense challenges, the solution to sustainable agriculture will require a multi-expert collaboration that integrates social concern and the latest knowledge in agriculture. Engineers must therefore play a key role for a better future. 

On behalf of the organizing committee, I would like to thank all of the presenters for the quality of their presentation and specially the keynotes to bring us new and sustainable ways for agriculture more nested with the society. I would also like to thank all the individuals, teams and partners who helped support the organization of the event.  

For those interested, the recordings will be available until August 18th for registered participant. You have until June 30 to register to have this access.

Text prepared by René Morissette, co-chair 
in collaboration with Stéphane Godbout, co-chair  
5th CIGR International Conference 

Our partners: 

Quebec City Business Destination, Cercle des Ambassadeurs de Québec, Faculté des sciences de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation de Université Laval, Association des ingénieursenagroalimentaire du Québec, Université Laval, Institut de recherche et de développementenagroenvironnement.

Graduating students of the engineering design course

Thirty-six senior undergraduate students at McGill Bioresource Engineering Department successfully completed the final year engineering design capstone project course. Working in teams of two to four, the students undertook a range of design projects over the final academic year. The projects included design and analysis of atmospheric water harvesting systems, cellulosic flushable wipes, a multistage greenhouse system, a modular green wall, a biofuel powered pulsejet, an arsenic detector for drinking water, a photobioreactor, mealworm production and cricket rearing system, and a greenhouse gas analyzer.

Taking all the necessary public health precautions into consideration, the students were able to work as teams and build and test their projects in the various lab facilities. They presented their designs virtually via Zoom.

Congrats to these very determined and hard working students!

 

Management strategies for nutrient use efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reduction from biosolids-amended soils in Canada

Grant Clark’s Ecological Engineering Research Group culminated a 4-year, $1.75 million project in collaboration with colleagues at Dalhousie University and the University of Alberta. The project, entitled “Management strategies for nutrient use efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reduction from biosolids-amended soils in Canada” was funded by the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). An online symposium was held on May 26th, 2021, to showcase student presentations from the three universities engaged in the project. Research results will be used by AAFC and Environment and Climate Change Canada to help formulate guidelines for the agricultural use of wastewater treatment biosolids and to improve Canada’s national greenhouse gas reporting system.

mcgill youngsoo
Photo caption: Research Assistant Youngsoo Lee adjusts an automated greenhouse gas measurement chamber on the Macdonald Campus Research Farm of McGill University. Photo credit: Liam Fitzpatrick.

 

Chair in Educational Leadership on Sustainable Agricultural Buildings

La Chaire de leadership en enseignement des bâtiments agricoles durables (CLEBAD), inaugurée officiellement par le ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) le 26 novembre 2020, a lancé son site web le 1er avril dernier (https://clebad.fsaa.ulaval.ca/). Celui-ci s’ajoute à la page Facebook qui avait été créée quelques mois auparavant (https://www.facebook.com/Chaire-de-leadership-en-enseignement-des-b%C3%A2timents-agricoles-durables-742179376124181/). Ces outils de transfert des connaissances ont pour but de diffuser du contenu en lien avec les travaux de l’équipe du Pr Sébastien Fournel : projets de recherche en cours, présentations étudiantes, expérimentations en direct, publications techniques et scientifiques et actualités sur les constructions agricoles.

The Chair in Educational Leadership on Sustainable Agricultural Buildings (CLEBAD), officially inaugurated by the Ministry of Agriculture in Québec (MAPAQ) on November 26, launched his website on April 1st (https://clebad.fsaa.ulaval.ca/). Along with the Facebook page created several months ago (https://www.facebook.com/Chaire-de-leadership-en-enseignement-des-b%C3%A2timents-agricoles-durables-742179376124181/), these knowledge transfer tools aim to share information and content related Pr Sébastien Fournel’s team: current research projects, student presentations, live experiments, technical and scientific publications and news on agricultural construction.

chair

 

Les Consultats Lemay & Choinière

CLC collabore avec Gobeil Dion et Ass pour la conception et suivi de chantier du chantier de serres des Entreprises Demers à Lévis. CLC a réalisé les plans de fondation, revue de structure et civils pour tout le complexe. Le site comprend un système de bassin de rétention des eaux pluviales et de recyclage d’eau pour l’irrigation des serres. Il s’agit d’un complexe totalisant 15 hectares, ce qui en fait le plus grand au Québec.

CLC développe présentement l’expertise pour le programme de traitement des eaux de lavage des légumes et fruit. Un projet de collaboration avec l’IRDA est en cours. Plusieurs producteurs désirent être en conformité avec la règlementation du Ministère de l’environnement du Québec

Yves Choinière a été sélectionné pour participer au programme d’archive sur l’ingénierie au Canada. Ce projet est sous la gouverne de l’Institut Canadien du Génie. Une entrevue a été enregistrée et sera disponible pour relater les faits marquants de carrière. La clientèle visée est la population en général, et, surtout les jeunes étudiants qui désirent connaitre les raisons de se réaliser par un carrière en ingénierie.

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this message finds you safe and in good health. We all are affected by the onset and spread of COVID-19, as it has led us to alter our professional and personal lives. However, the scientific community has demonstrated resilience against this unprecedented situation, as it continues to make progress. It is my pleasure to share with you the recent developments within our community. I gratefully acknowledge contributions of many members to this newsletter. My special thanks to Dr. Ashutosh Singh and Dr. Jaskaran Dhiman.

I wish you all good health and a very successful rest of the year.

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Goel

Ontario Regional Director

Awards and Professional Achievements

Dr. Ramesh Rudra Honoured with ASABE Fellowship

Dr. Ramesh Rudra, Professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering, will be inducted as an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Fellow during the 2021 ASABE International Meeting. Dr. Rudra possesses extraordinary qualifications and experience in watershed modeling, nonpoint source pollution control engineering, drainage engineering, water resource management, and hydrology. He has been recognized for his unusual professional distinction and great contributions, and will be honoured with this prestigious recognition.

Dr. Prasad Daggupati Awarded the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year Award

Dr. Prasad Daggupati, an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering, was recognized as the 2021 Young Engineer of the Year at the recently held CIGR 5th International Conference. His major contribution to research aims to solve the emerging water quality and quantity issues with GIS, hydrological modeling, machine learning, and field experimentation studies. Dr. Daggupati was honored for his outstanding contributions to research and teaching at a young age.

Dr. Pradeep Kumat Goel Awarded the 2020-21 MECP Illuminators Team Award

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Goel, Research Scientist, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), was recognized for his contributions in conducting the Multi-Watershed Nutrient Study (MWNS). The study was designed and conducted to investigate the relationship between land use and phosphorus transfer from agricultural watersheds.  The findings of the study would help in developing strategies to reduce phosphorus loads to the Lake Erie.

Dr. Prasad Daggupati Promoted to the Rank of Associate Professor

Dr. Prasad Daggupati from the University of Guelph’s School of Engineering has secured his tenure and has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. Our scientific community congratulates Dr. Daggupati on his promotion.

 

Research Highlights, School of Engineering, University of Guelph

Water Resources Engineering Group

The Water Resources Engineering group is actively involved in several projects related to field-scale and watershed-scale hydrological modeling. Two of the projects funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) deals with modeling phosphorus losses from the Canadian side of the Lake Erie Basin to assess management scenarios and climate change, as well as identifying the factors influencing phosphorus loads during peak loading periods to improve modeling estimates for Lake Erie. Some other projects that the group is involved in are as follows:

  • Evaluating the effect of BMPs on phosphorus losses from Jeanette and McGregor creek watersheds - funded by the Lower Thames Conservation Authority
  • Quantifying Ephemeral Gully Erosion in Lake Erie Basin using Field Experimentation and Modeling - funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
  • Development of Interactive Table-Top Tools and Digital-Products to Illustrate the Principles of Water Movement and Soil Function in Natural/Tile Drained Lands - funded by OMAFRA
  • Real-Time Flood Forecasts using Parallel Cloud Computing and Intelligent Algorithms- funded by Smart Computing for Innovation (SOSCIP) and Mitacs

Post-doctoral fellows Dr. Rituraj Shukla and Dr. Jaskaran Dhiman, along with research associate Ms. Baljeet Kaur and other members of the group, are actively working on the abovementioned projects. The group has published more than 20 research papers related to the above and other projects in peer-reviewed journals since last year.

Food Processing and Engineering Group

The Food Research lab headed by Dr. Ashutosh Singh, an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph, has been involved in several studies varying from agri-food waste valorization, design, modeling, and optimization of novel food processing techniques to the development of nano-biosensors. Last month (May 2021), one of the lab’s graduate students, Ms. Saipriya Ramalingam successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the “Development and evaluation of nano-biosensors for the detection of contaminants in food”. The developed biosensors provide viable point-of-care solutions to food safety concerns, by reducing assay time and bridging the gap between the consumer and lab.

Other Ph.D. Candidates, Ms. Gaganjyot Kaur and Ms. Prabhjot Kaur are working on an ongoing research project “Bioconversion of agricultural waste into value-added products to reduce carbon footprint and diversify product offerings”. This project involves the utilization of novel technologies for food product development and extraction of nutraceutical components from the out-graded produce. The research findings are expected to benefit both the producers and processors, by providing an economically beneficial and sustainable utilization option of out-graded produce. The research work has resulted in six research articles, recently published in peer-reviewed journals.

Prepared by
Danny Mann, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Professor & Head
Department of Biosystems Engineering

Milestones arrive even in the midst of a pandemic. To be completely honest, we were not even aware of the milestone until a review of the department’s history (as documented by several previous professors) revealed that the first Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering was awarded at the University of Manitoba in 1971 – marking 50 years – certainly a reason for celebration!

A Look Back at Our History

The current Department of Biosystems Engineering can trace its history back to 1906 which marked the opening of the Manitoba Agricultural College on property in Tuxedo bounded on the north by Wellington Crescent and on the east by Doncaster Street. At the time, the academic unit was referred to as the ‘Farm Mechanics Department’. As early as 1912, graduates from the Manitoba Agricultural College with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA) were offered a choice of two options: Plant Science and Agricultural Engineering. Unfortunately, the Agricultural Engineering Option of this era had little real engineering content.

Milestone1
Fig. 1.  The Engineering and Mechanics Building at the Tuxedo site of the Manitoba Agricultural College — home of the Agricultural Engineering Department from 1908 to 1913 (photographed in 1973).

For several decades, successive Heads of the Department of Agricultural Engineering held to the hope that someday students at the University of Manitoba would be able to complete a program leading to a professional engineering degree in the discipline of Agricultural Engineering. It was not until 1958 when traction towards this goal began to occur. The Head, Professor H. Lapp, submitted a brief entitled “Agricultural Engineering for Manitoba” to the Deans of both Agriculture and Engineering that described the need for a professional engineering program in Agricultural Engineering in Manitoba. A year later, six second-year engineering students at the University of Manitoba contributed to another written brief requesting the University of Manitoba to offer a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Unfortunately, two of the six students were unwilling to wait for change to occur at the University of Manitoba and transferred to the University of Saskatchewan to obtain Agricultural Engineering degrees from that institution. In 1960, the Education Committee of the Manitoba Institute of Agrologists recommended that an Agricultural Engineering degree be established at the University of Manitoba. Unfortunately, the University of Manitoba tabled its deliberations in 1964. Professor Lapp refused to give up and, in 1965, submitted a “Five-year plan of development for the Agricultural Engineering Department” to the Dean of Agriculture. Finally, in 1968, a Committee on Agricultural Engineering presented recommendations to the University of Manitoba Vice-President unanimously concluding that the University of Manitoba should offer an undergraduate course in Agricultural Engineering. Later in 1968, the establishment of the Agricultural Engineering degree program was finally approved. Although the Department of Agricultural Engineering remained an academic unit in the Faculty of Agriculture, the Agricultural Engineering undergraduate program was established in the Faculty of Engineering – this dual-faculty arrangement exists to this day with the academic staff formally belonging to the Faculty Councils in both faculties. The first students to graduate with a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1971 were G.R. Cousin, R.J. Dunlop, and M. Van Den Bosch. The Agricultural Engineering degree was first accredited by the Accreditation Board of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers in 1971. Accreditation of the Agricultural Engineering program continued until 1998 when the degree was replaced by Biosystems Engineering; the Biosystems Engineering program has been accredited since 1996.

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Fig. 2. Front view of the Agricultural Engineering Building along Dafoe Rd on the Fort Garry campus.

Between 1971 and 1998, there were a total of 172 graduates of the Agricultural Engineering program. Since 1996, there have been a total of 396 graduates of the Biosystems Engineering program (and still counting). The decision made by members of Department Council in the 1990s to change the degree from Agricultural Engineering to Biosystems Engineering had the desired effect of increasing enrolment in the program. Currently, the Biosystems Engineering program has an admission cap of 48 students – a cap that has been consistently achieved in 4 of the past 5 years.

Biosystems Engineering in 2021

The discipline of Biosystems Engineering emphasizes the application of engineering principles to biologically-centred systems. Biosystems engineers help to create new technologies for the well-being of humans and animals, and the preservation and enhancement of natural resources and the environment. The Biosystems Engineering program is designed to give students knowledge of the fundamental principles of engineering and introduces biological concepts to enable these engineers to successfully interact with relevant professionals when solving engineering problems involving biological systems. The Department of Biosystems Engineering offers three specializations (Biomedical, Bioresource, and Environmental) that are available to undergraduate students. The program is offered in both traditional and co-operative education formats. Profiles of a number of our alumni are featured on the department’s website (www.umanitoba.ca/engineering/biosystems).

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Fig. 3. Front view of the new EITC building at the Fort Garry campus. The offices of the Department of Biosystems Engineering are located on the second floor immediately above the entrance.

Lendre Adele Heise was the first female graduate of the Agricultural Engineering program in 1981. Although there were few female students in the Agricultural Engineering program in those early years, 41% of the most recent graduating class (June 2020) were women. The Biosystems Engineering program has been consistently attracting a proportion of female engineering students of 40% or greater since the early 2000’s. We are proud of the fact that our Biosystems Engineering program appeals to engineering students of both genders.

To complement the undergraduate program, three distinct graduate programs are available. At the Master’s level, students can choose between the research-based M.Sc. program (which began in 1967) and the course-based M.Eng. program (which began in 1976). The Ph.D. program in Biosystems Engineering was not approved until 1988. A recent addition to the Ph.D. program is a Graduate Specialization in Engineering Education to formally provide credit to doctoral students interested in specializing in the emerging academic discipline of engineering education.

Faculty and students in the Department of Biosystems Engineering conduct world-class research in a number of areas where the engineering and biological worlds intersect (i.e., machinery systems, agricultural structures, soil & water engineering, food storage & processing, etc). Historically, the department has perhaps been best known for research in the areas of grain storage & handling (including modeling of the stored-grain ecosystem) and biological (microbial) production of biofuels and bioproducts. Emerging research strengths include processing & utilization of waste biomass fibre for industrial and medical applications, computational methods for biological & biomedical imaging, smart technologies for food process engineering, sustainable food production in controlled-environment systems, remote supervision of autonomous agricultural machines, and surface engineering of polymeric materials for medical and biomedical applications. And, as introduced in the previous paragraph, doctoral students in Biosystems Engineering are able to complete research on a number of topics contributing to the scholarship of engineering education.

The Department of Biosystems Engineering is home to the University of Manitoba’s “Sustainability-in-Action Facility” (SiAF). Our Vision is that SiAF will become the campus home for experiential learning and demonstration opportunities that relate to sustainability. The current pandemic has slowed our progress on this new initiative, but we soon hope to be able to use the SiAF site to offer experiential learning opportunities in undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of renewable energy, innovative food production systems within controlled environments, sustainable building practices, and utilization of waste biomass for production of value-added materials. Furthermore, we hope that SiAF can be used to engage in public education and outreach in areas of sustainability, to initiate short-term demonstration projects with industry to showcase emerging sustainability technologies, and to support innovative research activities in areas of sustainability. We would love to have visitors to SiAF (once COVID-19 allows such activities to resume).

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Fig. 4. Sustainability-in-Action Facility (SiAF) located on the west edge of the Fort Garry campus.

Celebrating the Achievements of our Alumni

In recognition of this milestone year, members of Department Council established terms of reference for Alumni of Influence Awards to be awarded to both undergraduate and graduate alumni of the Department of Biosystems Engineering (or former Department of Agricultural Engineering). These awards are intended to help us celebrate achievements made by people who have graduated from our programs. Separate awards will be selected for those alumni who graduated prior to 1995 from the Department of Agricultural Engineering and those who graduated after 1995 from the Department of Biosystems Engineering. Nomination forms will be available on the department’s website in the near future. We encourage you to consider nominating an alumnus of our program who has positively influenced the engineering profession or the community at large. It is our intent to formally recognize the inaugural recipients of the Biosystems Engineering Alumni of Influence Awards at a special event in September.

We encourage you to visit the department’s webpage (www.umanitoba.ca/engineering/biosystems) throughout the coming months for more information on the department’s history and upcoming events celebrating this milestone anniversary.