Saskatchewan Regional News

Tuesday, 18 June 2013 12:08

Saskatchewan Regional News - Spring 2013

CSBE-SCGAB Annual Technical Conference and AGM

The CSBE-SCGAB Conference for Interdisciplinary Engineering in Agriculture and Biosystems is quickly approaching! Plan to be in Saskatoon July 7-10 to attend this conference that will

showcase collaborations among engineering disciplines and between academia and industry. If you cannot attend the entire conference, you are welcome to sign up for the workshops and tours to earn professional development credits!

Workshops (July 7)

Workshop 1: Sharpening your Technical Communication Skills, presented by the Graham Centre for the Study of Communication

Workshop 2: Modeling Crop & Soil Flow Using Discrete Element Method, presented by CNH Canada and DEM Solutions

Workshop 3: Renewable Energy: Solar PV and Solar Thermal Systems, presented by Rob Baron, Centre for Sustainable Innovation at Lakeland College

Workshop 4: Renewable Energy: Biomass, presented by four speaker:

1. Alok Dhungana, Lakeland College, "Pyrolysis 101"

2. Jason Praski, Titan Clean Energy Solutions, "Large scale pyrolysis and it's industry applications"

3. Ben Voss, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, "Biomass combustion"

4. Mojgan Kovoosi, BECii, "Synergies of manure biogas, ethanol production and alage production


Tours (July 9)

Tour 1: Gardiner Dam-Lake Diefenbaker, Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Development Centre, Irrigation Farms

Tour 2: PoundMaker Feedlot and Ethanol Plant, Western Beef Development Centre (solid state anaerobic digester), Cargill Canola Crushing Plant

Tour 3: Canadian Light Source, CNH Saskatoon Plant, U of S Dairy Barn


You may pre-register online or register in person (workshops and tours are first come, first served).

For more information or to pre-register, visit the conference website: http://www.csbe-scgab.ca/saskatoon2013


Call for Abstracts: Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering Science, Trades & Technology

The 2014 edition of the biennial conference of the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) will be held in Regina, Saskatchewan May 21 to 24, 2014. The Conference theme is: “Open Opportunities: Mentoring the Future”.  The call for abstracts will remain open until October 1, 2013. Visit www.ccwestt2014.caor email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="line-height: 1.3em;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="line-height: 1.3em;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information.


Letter from a Concerned Member

What percentage of the advances in Prairie agriculture has resulted from engineering research and development?  Few would argue against an answer stating that at least one-third or more of today’s agricultural progress stems from advances in agricultural and biological engineering research.  Despite recognition of these contributions, future engineering research and development within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada stands to be seriously curtailed, because engineering is often viewed as support activity and primarily the responsibility of industry.

From the beginning, agricultural engineering played a lead role in federal agricultural research, especially at Swift Current.  Today’s research facility in southwest Saskatchewan, the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre (SPARC), began in 1920 as the Dominion Experimental Farm at Swift Current with the objective “to discover suitable cultural methods and cropping systems for the dry areas of Saskatchewan and Alberta.”  Its work included the evaluation of new farm machinery and engineering-based soil and water dryland research.  Many of the earliest soil and crop management methods and implements were conceived, designed, and influenced by engineering work conducted at Swift Current: the first test combine, stubble mulching, harrow packing, soil listing, rod-weeding, cereal and forage research plot seeders and harvesters, openers for zero- and minimum-till drills, various crop harvesters for wind, snow, and biomass management, etc.  Engineering designs for soil sampling, fertilizer placement, Prairie dam construction, irrigation works and projects, salinity control, community pastures, and the like were also initiated.  In fact, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) received its major start at the Swift Current Research Farm.

SPARC continues today as the only federal research centre in the Brown soil zone within the “Palliser Triangle.”  With time, research programs for breeding semiarid plant crops, developing dryland agronomy, and promoting irrigated and non-irrigated forage production were added to the initial engineering research programs at the “Farm” during the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies.  In 1982, the Engineering Section consisted of eight engineers; two in machine design, one in tillage, one in irrigation, one in salinity, two in energy conservation and renewable energy, and one in Soil and Water (also the section head).  This Engineering Section lasted for ten years, until, upon the loss of two engineering positions, it amalgamated with the Soils Section to form the Soils and Environment Section.  By 1998, two more engineering positions were eliminated with a third in 2002, as retiring engineers were not replaced.  This left only three engineering positions still existing from the eight that functioned 20 years earlier.

During the last two years, these three engineering research programs at SPARC have been or are closing:  the Soil and Water, the Dryland Salinity, and the Engineering Design Research Programs.  The engineers serving these programs have transferred to other research programs or have been asked to retire or resign.  Soil and Water Engineer Brian McConkey is now a Strategic Coordinator for the Agricultural-Ecological Systems and Health Program; Harold Steppuhn has retired into a Honorary Scientist role (unpaid) to document 50 years of federal and provincial research in controlling dryland salinity; and Mark Stumborg has been asked to wind-down the Engineering Design and Biomass Development (Engineering) Programs.


The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Engineering Centennial Reunion will be held Sept 20 to 23, 2012 in Saskatoon. Visit http://www.engr.usask.ca/100Years/ for more information on the planned events and festivities.

The CSBE Annual Meeting and Conference will be held on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan July 7-10, 2013. Stay tuned for details on the theme, workshops, tours and call for abstracts.

Technical Note

The Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute’s Applied Bioenergy Centre (ABC) designed and commissioned a pilot scale solid state anaerobic digester located at the Western Beef Development Centre Termuende Ranch near Lanigan, Saskatchewan. Funding assistance was provided by Western Economic Diversification, Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Canada. The facility is the only solid state digester in Canada and one of two in North America. The goal of the facility is to conduct pilot scale trials to optimize digestion operating parameters and to evaluate the energy balance and economic potential of the technology.

The facility includes two batch reactors, each with a capacity for 10 tonnes of solid substrate. The system includes a leachate recirculation system (for inoculation and “mixing”) and a gas collection, metering and analysis instrumentation. Heated glycol piping inside the vessel maintains the temperature at 38°C.

The scale of the pilot facility also allows assessment of the unique material handling requirements for solid state digestion. Unlike liquid digestion, the substrate cannot be pumped, metered or mixed mechanically. At 20% to 50% total solids content, solid state digesters have a small footprint and do not require water or generate wastewater. The technology allows solid organic waste to be digested in its natural form. The system can also handle heterogenous, “dirty” material that would cause sedimentation and clogging issues in a traditional liquid digester.

Digestion trials in 2012 utilized solid beef feedlot manure mixed with straw and trials planned for 2013 and 2014 will generate information on the digestion of feedlot manure, wet distiller’s grains, cull potatoes and deadstock. The ABC also collaborates with the University of Saskatchewan on a bench scale solid state digester to conduct replicated trials to validate the results from the pilot facility. For more information on PAMI’s solid state digestion facility, go to http://pami.ca/bioenergy/second-generation/ or email Joy Agnew (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:46

Awards at the University of Saskatchewan

mariaMaria Rosario P. Mosqueda, a 3rd year Ph.D. student at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan has been awarded the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) Doctoral Research Award (IDRA). IDRA enables Canadians, permanent residents of Canada, and citizens of developing countries pursuing doctoral studies at a Canadian university to conduct research in developing countries on areas relating to IDRC’s research priorities. The project, “Improving the productivity of Philippine smallholder animal production through the efficient use of agro-industrial wastes and renewable energy sources”, aims to develop and evaluate the feasibility of a multi-power dryer and feed mill module that would enable small farmers to collectively and efficiently produce their own brewer’s spent grain-incorporated feed products. It will be implemented in partnership with Xavier University College of Agriculture, a private university in the Philippines.

leilaLeila Dominguez, a Ph.D. graduate student at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Univ. of Saskatchewan, was awarded second place in the R.O. Ball Graduate Student Research Competition at the 2012 Banff Pork Seminar (BPS) held in Banff, Alberta on January 17-20, 2012. Initiated in 1972, BPS is an annual event attended by pork producers, researchers, agribusiness representatives, and extension specialists from North America, Europe and Asia. Participants in the competition are graduate students involved in selected high value research related to pork production in the fields of nutrition, breeding, management, and the environment. Leila’s presentation was based on her research conducted at the Prairie Swine Centre on improving efficiency in swine barns by evaluating different heating systems, under the supervision of Dr. Bernardo Predicala.

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”.


Lope Tabil, Professor at the Chemical and Biological Engineering, UofS was a Visiting Professor at the Department of Agricultural Engineering at China Agricultural University (CAU) in Beijing between May 10 to June 2, 2011. While there he gave a series of seminars on "Biological Materials Handling" to graduate students and faculty. Dr. Tabil has on-going collaborative research with CAU in the area of Forage and Biomass Process Engineering.


Lope Tabil (center) with Ph.D. and M.Sc. students and Dr. Steven Wang (right) after the last lecture presentation at China Agricultural University.

Phani Phani Adapa successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis titled "Densification of Selected Agricultural Crop Residues as Feedstock for the Biofuel Industry" on July 27, 2011. He was co-supervised by Dr. Lope Tabil and Dr. Greg Schoenau of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Bernardo Predicala, Research Scientist at the Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, SK, and Adjunct Faculty at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at University of Saskatchewan, has been named as an Outstanding Reviewer for the Structure and Environment Division of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) journal publications. This honour is given to 10 to 11 reviewers from among the more than 900 reviewers who participated each year in the peer-review process of ASABE journals. The recipients will be recognized at an award ceremony during the 2011 ASABE Annual International Meeting at Louisvile, Kentucky in August.

(contribution from L. Tabil)

As part of the Design Capstone course, several student groups made poster and oral presentations based on their design projects. The top ranked groups which will represent the ABE program at the 2011 Engineering Innovative Design and Student Paper Competition are the following:

  • Innovative Design competition: Chantal Quesnel, Danielle Quesnel and Alison Silversides
    Title: Streambank Stabilization Design at the Rodeo Site along the Milk River, located at Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta
  • Student Paper competition: Nicholas Hall and Dallas Nelson

Title: Design of an Animal Manure Management System for the University of Saskatchewan.

(by Colleen MacPherson)

After what Ernie Barber terms a 30-year identity crisis, the discipline of agricultural engineering has a new home, a new name and a new focus in the College of Engineering.

The college recently combined its Departments of Chemical Engineering and Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering into a single entity that the acting dean believes could mark a sea change for undergraduate program innovation and delivery, organizational structure, and the intersection of the two. It is a change that has been coming for some time.


USASKAfter what Ernie Barber terms a 30-year identity crisis, the discipline of agricultural engineering has a new home, a new name and a new focus in the College of Engineering.

The college recently combined its Departments of Chemical Engineering and Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering into a single entity that the acting dean believes could mark a sea change for undergraduate program innovation and delivery, organizational structure, and the intersection of the two. It is a change that has been coming for some time.

By Colleen MacPherson

Read the full story...

Thursday, 16 September 2010 14:47

U of S College of Engineering Update

Dr. Ernie Barber was appointed as Acting Dean of the College of Engineering at the Univer-sity of Saskatchewan, effective July 1, 2010. Dr. Barber is a long-time member of CSBE and began his academic career as faculty member in the college. Since then, he has held various senior academic and administrative positions within the University. His most recent appointment was Vice-Provost responsible for teaching and learning at the University.

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