McMaster’s Success Bodes Well For Hamilton

We should all be celebrating the latest news that McMaster University has once again been ranked as one of the Top 100 universities in the world.

For the record, Mac is number 90, up two spots from last year.

If you think that McMaster’s high ranking only matters to students, you would be wrong.

In the old days, industry would locate where the raw materials existed for manufacturing.

Well, in the 21st century, the raw material that companies are looking for is knowledge, and these rankings show the world that McMaster and Hamilton are prime locations.

In fact, it’s already happening.

McMaster Innovation Park and the McMaster Automotive Research Centre are already attracting internationally renowned companies and researchers.

McMaster’s medical research teams are world class and the Business school is producing young, innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new companies and new jobs..

That’s why we should all be excited about McMaster and Mohawk and Redeemer and Columbia.

Our educational facilities are more than just great  institutions of learning; they’re a big part of  Hamilton’s economic future.

See the full article at 900CHML

McMaster moves up in world university rankings

An influential international ranking of the world’s universities has placed McMaster at number 90 among the world’s universities.

The Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities has moved McMaster up to No. 90 from 92 in 2013, making it one of just four Canadian schools in the Top 100, with the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill.

In total, the ranking placed 21 Canadian universities among the world’s top 500 institutions — a drop from 2013, when 23 Canadian institutions made the top 500.

There are an estimated 16,000 universities in the world.

“This ranking serves to confirm what other rankings have established over the years – that McMaster University is consistently considered to be among one of the best in Canada, and in the world,” said McMaster president Patrick Deane. “Only three other Canadian cities have a university in the Top 100.  It is certainly a strong way to help Hamilton build its national and global reputation and to attract innovators and new business opportunities to our city.”

Among the specific results, McMaster’s Social Sciences programs ranked 48th worldwide.

Since 2003, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Center for World-Class Universities has released an annual ranking of the world’s top 500 universities. The ranking is based on an assessment of each university’s quality of education, faculty and research output.

A few of the many reasons that McMaster makes the grade:

McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research is one of only a few such centres in the world.

Canada’s most influential scientist is a professor at McMaster. Salim Yusuf is a professor of cardiology and head of the Population Health Research Institute. This year he was named winner of the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for outstanding contributions to medical research.

McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine created problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine, which have been adopted at medical schools around the world.

McMaster research nuclear reactor is one of the world’s largest suppliers of the medical radioisotope iodine-125, used for the treatment of prostate cancer. The reactor is also used to inspect the turbine blades of almost all jetliners in North America.

The McMaster Automotive Resource Centre is developing technology to make cars more efficient and safer, bringing investment and jobs to Hamilton.

See the full article at Daily News McMaster

Embracing Moods and Moments

They could have been just cutesy pictures of children. But sparse, daring compositions lift Amanda Immurs’ paintings above the ordinary.

She’s one of many wonderful artists to be found in the latest Art in the Workplace exhibition at McMaster Innovation Park. On show are more than 200 paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and ceramics created by emerging and established local artists.

Immurs works with a variety of subjects, styles and materials. She is especially known for her paintings of children, three of which are in this exhibition.

“I get my inspiration for the children from many places,” she told me. “Mostly I use photos that I have taken on my travels. Many times I work with these on the computer in order to plan out what I like.”

“The paintings start with a sketch onto canvas followed by a ground of acrylic. I work with oil on top of this but most of the time I come back on top with drawing mediums like pencil and or marker.”

Immurs’ narratives are minimal, left to the viewer’s imagination.

Girl with Chair consists simply of a dark-haired girl, a ribbon tied in a bow below her chin, beside a wooden chair. We see only the upper parts of the two. And they occupy only the lower half of the painting. The rest is a bright blue space. Is it an interior, or not?

And the relationship between child and chair is tenuous. She looks rightward, moving our attention away from the chair and out of the picture.

We have no idea what the child is doing with her hands, or whether she is sitting or standing. We don’t know what the rest of the chair looks like, either.

Immurs says she is not painting a portrait.

“My main concern is to capture a moment or mood,” she says. “I really like how inquisitive children are.”

Dylan Swan, who paints urban and natural landscapes, takes to the outdoors in Killarney Lake. Two trees frame the view of the lake in the distance. Swan builds up a highly textured, animated surface. The twisty roots of trees, the broken, agitated lines of the rocks, and the rounded, swirling shapes of the clouds all echo nature’s dynamism.

Swan’s view is painted with crisp, cool colours. Tamara Kwapich, by comparison, embraces brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and greens in Autumn Bliss.

A bent tree frames the view like an arch. Beyond it a boy is fishing while gazing toward distant woods softened by an autumnal haze.

Ruo Chen (Sonia) Huang opts for a close-up of urban architecture. In Queen Street, she focuses on the top floor of an old building. Stair balusters and chimneys contribute strong verticals directing us upward to an almost clear blue sky.

And she’s included an obviously urban detail: graffiti on the brick wall on the right.

These are just a few of the great offerings. The exhibition is open to all artists. To apply for the next one, go and click on What’s Happening.

Regina Haggo, art historian, public speaker, curator and former professor at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, teaches at the Dundas Valley School of Art.

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

High-impact research, innovative pedagogy emphasized in McMaster SMA

The strategic mandate agreement (SMA) between Ontario and McMaster University highlights the university’s unique pedagogical approach, research-intensive setting, and its diverse program strengths. The SMA notes McMaster’s implementation of problem-based learning and inquiry and its distinctively collaborative and interdisciplinary culture, as well as the high impact of its research projects like the McMaster Automotive Resource Centre, the on-campus nuclear reactor, and the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization Program. McMaster’s Innovation Park and its partnership with Mohawk College are also cited as being beneficial to economic development. The agreement highlights several areas of institutional strength in the areas of teaching and learning, including McMaster’s Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning and its redesign of high-enrolment courses into blended formats. McMaster also receives recognition for its support of Indigenous students, Crown Wards, and other underrepresented groups. The SMA identifies 5 areas of growth: health sciences and the broad determinants of health, fostering robust societies, business and economics, science and engineering, and communications and culture.

Check out the full report at McMaster SMA

Dundas company investing $11.5m in 3D printing

A newly arrived Dundas company is gearing up to become the first in Canada to print metal and plastic parts for use in everything from jet and car engines to satellites to medical devices.

Burloak Technologies has just moved from the eastern edge of Burlington to its new home in the industrial section of Dundas. There, it is in the process of assembling $2.5 million worth of additive manufacturing machines, commonly known as 3D printers.

When the five-year investment is complete, Burloak expects to have spent about $11.5 million on equipment.

There has been plenty of hype around 3D printing, especially on the vision of every home of the future equipped with a 3D printer spitting out new vacuum parts, jewellery, toys and clothes. Some say it will herald a new Industrial Revolution and disrupt entire industries.

Burloak co-founder and chief operating officer Peter Adams says much of the ballyhoo is overblown. He believes 3D printing will fundamentally change manufacturing, but it can never replace traditional techniques such as machining and casting.

“There are many parts that will be better produced without 3D technology. The relative speed of 3D printing is slow. But for intricate, complicated parts, printing takes a fraction of the time.”

He expects manufacturing at Burloak will start as soon as next week and that the operation will be fully operational by the end of October. He anticipates the payroll will grow from its current nine to about 50 within a couple of years.

The company will own the first direct metal laser system for manufacturing in Canada, says Adams. There are only a few owned by colleges and universities or producing prototypes, he says.

“Canada seems to be way behind the curve on this.”

That translates into what he sees as a big opportunity. Adams, who is a majority shareholder in the nine-year-old company, brought in CEO Jim Glover a couple of years ago to develop a strategic plan for what Adams sees as rapid growth.

The metal printers haven’t arrived yet from Germany. But a machine that uses powdered plastic to print parts is on the floor. It’s about the size of a commercial refrigerator and costs $500,000.

Within an oxygen-free chamber, a computer guided laser reading design drawings deposits hair-thin layers of powdered plastic the way a paint brush layers paint.

The plastic is heated to just below its melting point so that the newly deposited powder fuses a strong bond with the existing layers. The process is quite similar with a metal printer.

It can take several hours to print parts and the machine can print hundreds of the same part or dozens of different ones at a time.

Adams says one of the great benefits of 3D printing is that very little of the raw material is wasted compared to machining or casting. The new technology is also highly accurate and produces components as a unit that once had to be welded together from dozens of parts. That cuts down on time and labour and makes the parts lighter and more durable.

Most importantly, the process can produce parts not possible through traditional machining or casting.

“Basically, anything that can be designed can now be made,” said Adams.

For example, curved holes can’t be drilled but they can easily be printed, he said.

General Electric has invested hundreds of millions in the technology. Its LEAP jet engine now in production will include 3D-printed parts; and Airbus in Europe has set a goal to print a complete aircraft by 2030. Adams doubts that’s doable, but says the pursuit will stretch the technology as far as it can go.

“I could definitely see something like a wing being 3D printed.”

There is already a concept car entirely printed, and ongoing research into printing human tissue from cells.

Burloak was founded in 2005 as Burloak Engineered Solution, and had been focused on design and engineering services for large manufacturers. But the company was “pressured” by clients to explore producing parts directly.

Burloak rebranded as Burloak Technologies and created operating divisions called Burloak Advanced Manufacturing Inc. and Burloak Engineered Solutions Inc.

Burloak chose to relocate to Dundas to be close to Mohawk College and McMaster Innovation Park.

Mohawk’s new Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre (AMRC) uses previous versions of the same printers being installed at Burloak.

“We will need highly skilled labour with experience with these machines. It’s hard to draw on a ready pool of talent because this is so new,” said Adams.

Robert Gerritsen, a mechanical engineering professor at Mohawk and co-ordinator of AMRC, says the college is just the second post-secondary institution in Canada to own a metal 3D printer. He says demand is huge for the technology among industry.

“I could spend 100 hours a week keeping ahead of all the inquiries and interest.”

He said having Burloak in Mohawk’s back yard is a great fit for both sides.

“We hope the centre is a magnet that grows and attracts more companies to our community because they will look for talent here. We have the best-equipped lab in the country.”

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

Architectural Spotlight: Atrium@MIP

Kickstarting the renovation projects on Longwood Road South, the premier multi-tenant building at McMaster’s Innovation Park was The Atrium@MIP. Updated in 2009 at a cost of $17 million, it continues to be a strong model of adaptive reuse for the many vacant industrial buildings throughout West Hamilton and beyond.

Formerly the Westinghouse (and later Camco) West Plant office building, it was completed in 1950 as a classic example of modern industrial architecture. Although it has been described as International Style architecture, this should be considered conceptually as a blanket term, rather than an example of a particular style. Designed by William P. Souter and Associates, the building shares similarities with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building and Albert Kahn’s Burroughs Adding Machine Plant.

The floor plans of The Atrium@MIP interior shadow the classicLarkin Administration Building – in particular, extensive spatial unity and natural light. The newly renovated framework closely resembles Wright’s Larkin masterpiece, including an innermost light court providing natural luminosity to all floors of the buildings vertical layout.

Though much smaller in scale, the surface of the building shares a similar composition to the Burroughs Adding Machine Plant. The red brick façade, stringcourses, tower-like entrance, and symmetrical windows echo the modern influence of the 1930s that inspired Khan in Plymouth.

In 2005, extensive site reclamation of The Atrium@MIP began under the watchful eye of Lintack Architects. Immediately, the mechanical and electrical systems were replaced to increase energy efficiency throughout the entire superstructure. Then, interior partitions were removed to adjust to the new layout, providing better accommodation for a multitude of new offices and the addition of three new elevators.

At the same time, advanced energy efficient and cosmetic upgrades were applied to the exterior of the edifice. Modern insulation, state-of-the-art windows, and an R valve roof coupled with two L-shaped aluminum clad canopies flanking the entrance provide a necessarily contemporary component to the sweeping facelift performed.

Leading the way, the Atrium@MIP was a rewarding project that may provide important lessons to further generations of reuse pending on various uninhabited yet promising sites in Hamilton. These idle but auspicious locations represent the spirit of Hamilton, centralized in an ambitious city and the history it carries forward.

See the full article at Rebuild Hamilton

McMaster hosts Symposium on Education & Cognition August 13–15

Cognitive scientists and educators will convene at McMaster University on August 13–15 for the 2nd annual Symposium on Education & Cognition. Scholars at the symposium will explore how cognitive principles can inform instructional design and critical issues in education to bridge the gap between the lab and the classroom. Notable speakers will include Dan Schacter (Harvard), Daniel Ansari (WesternU), and 3M award winner Pippa Lock.

For more information, please visit the event website!

Mac partnership close to solving alternate energy puzzle

A new Hamilton company is on the verge of solving one of the biggest problems in the drive to use heat from the earth as a new form of energy.

The company, Capture Technologies Corp., is being formed out of a joint project between a Toronto-based engineering firm and McMaster University.

Jake Windsor, the company’s 24-year-old chief executive officer, said efforts to use geothermal energy to reduce the use of fossil fuels to drive heating and ventilation equipment have always been hampered by the fact the quality of energy taken from the earth deteriorates with time.

Capture’s contribution is a way of using solar energy to recharge what’s taken from the earth.

“This alternative energy industry has been damaged in the past because the heat taken from the earth doesn’t hold the same temperature and has to be reheated,” he explains. “The energy you need to do that makes the whole process expensive.”

Efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels with solar energy to reheat what’s taken from the ground have foundered in the past because of physical limitations and heavy maintenance costs.

Capture will replace solar energy systems that rely on heated liquid with a photovoltaic system that uses semiconductors to convert the sun’s rays into direct current electricity to be used to recharge the energy from the ground.

The matchmaker for that marriage is Toronto-based engineer Ladislav Rak, of the firm McClymont and Rak. He sketched out the basic idea and then went looking for a research partner to help prove the technology.

“We first met with people at the University of Toronto,” Windsor explained. “That just resulted in a lot of lunches.”

Then they connected with McMaster’s faculty of engineering and Dean Mo Elbestawi.

“Once we got to Hamilton we were just astounded at the help we received,” he said. “That’s why we’re going to launch a new company that will be born and raised in Hamilton.”

Leading the effort to prove Rak’s idea is McMaster post-doctoral fellow Hazem Mazhar, Capture’s chief technology officer.

To prove the solar-geothermal team can work, he has sunk a 200-metre deep bore hold beside a school in Caledon. From there he taps the heat of the Earth’s core, warms it up with solar energy and then pumps it into the building.

“This requires a radical design change in alternative energy systems,” he explained. “Right now the use of geothermal energy in Canada is almost nothing, but we’re going to change that.”

Early tests on the demonstration site in Caledon look promising, Mazhar said. A second live demonstration system will be installed in McMaster’s new experiential learning ExCEL building. As with many new technical advances, Windsor said early adopters of the technology will pay a premium for using it, but that will change with time.

“Right now the photovoltaic system is a little pricey, but that’s going to change,” Windsor said. “We’re the first company in Canada to try to marry solar photovoltaic and geothermal energy.”

The new company’s goal, he said, is for an initial 10 year payback on the system.

Developing Capture’s business has so far absorbed about $500,000 and Windsor estimates another $1.1 million will be needed to get a workable system on the market. To raise that the company is looking to government alternative energy programs and angel investors.

As a return for the welcome they received from Hamilton Windsor said the plan is to buy as much of the new system’s pieces and parts locally as possible, all part of the city’s effort to switch from a manufacturing centre to a clean energy hub.

“We have made more progress towards our development here in Hamilton then we ever made back in Toronto,” Windsor added. “Not only has this city fostered our development, the city has welcomed and supported us through this entire process.”

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

Starinse: one of the latest inventions out of McMaster Innovation Park

Joon Kim wanted to keep his one-year-old son Talen’s teeth healthy.

He couldn’t find a cavity-fighting product that didn’t come with a “do not swallow” warning — and found mouth cleansers on the market without fluoride didn’t actually prevent tooth decay.

Creator Joon Kim said Starinse is on some natural food store shelves now, but he hopes to get it in front of more consumers.

So, he made one himself. Starinse is the product of McMaster Innovation Park, a partnership with Dennis Cvitkovitch, member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry, and six months of Kim working out of Williams Coffee in Hamilton.

Kim, CEO of Apollonia Health, isn’t an anti-fluoride activist, but acknowledges that a fierce debate about it exists. In Hamilton, the debate about fluoridated water is as old as the practice itself, which started here in the 1960s.

Fluoridated water is a cost-effective public health policy, but Kim doesn’t see why people shouldn’t have options.

He does not tell people not to use fluoride. But he does want people to have alternatives — ones that work.

“There are other things in natural food stores that do not have fluoride in the product, but they don’t necessarily have a Health Canada approved therapeutic claim,” he said. “We are the only one right now with that. It is a non-fluoride anti-cavity product.

“Our focus is science. Natural is great, but we want to validate it and make it more effective using natural products. That’s what our drive is.”

Peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet recently reclassified fluoride as a neurotoxin, and when consumed in raised quantities it can harm children’s IQ levels. It joins the ranks of arsenic, lead and mercury.

‘People want choices’

Regardless of where people stand on that debate, Kim does see a reason to get Starinse on shelves, and has been pounding the pavement relentlessly to get it there.

It is currently available in seven natural food stores around Mississauga, Milton, Toronto and Oakville, and is available for purchase at the product website. It retails for $9.99.

Starinse’s main active ingredient is xylitol, a natural sweetener used for people with diabetes, but that also has been shown to prevent tooth decay.

“Fluoride had its place — and it’s cheap. Fluoridation of water may be the cheapest way to prevent cavities to a wide, general, population, but we will continuously have this debate,” Kim said.

Starinse tastes sweet, but unlike many children’s toothpastes, which taste like bubble gum or strawberry candy, it is safe to swallow without a warning on the package — while also having an anti-cavity Health Canada designation.

“Just because something is cheap, we have been doing it for a while and it does work — it doesn’t mean we have to continuously use fluoride as the only agent. People want choices, but it’s going to be a long road,” Kim said.

Proving that other ingredients may be as safe and effective as fluoride will take a long time, Kim says, but that doesn’t mean no one should try.

“Let’s start thinking outside just, ‘Fluoride, fluoride,’” he said.

See the full article at CBC News

Meet Canada’s most influential scientist

McMaster cardiologist Salim Yusuf is being celebrated in national media as “Canada’s most influential scientist” based on citations.

Yusuf, director of the University’s Population Health Research Institute, has had nine of his studies among the world’s most cited in recent years.

The Globe and Mail newspaper broke down the numbers contained in a new report which tries to estimate who’s making the biggest impact in science worldwide.

The report, compiled by data and media company Thomson Reuters, not only indicates Yusuf’s influence, but that of others at McMaster.

“Dr. Yusuf is not an isolated success but merely the tallest spire within a cluster of the world’s most highly cited clinical researchers at McMaster,” reports the Globe. “Among Canada’s top 10 scientists across all fields, four are based there.”

Earlier this year, Yusuf was named recipient of the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award, given to outstanding leaders in Canadian medicine.

In April, he was inducted into Canada’s Medical Hall of Fame.

“To me, he represents McMaster, period,” John Kelton, dean and vice-president, health sciences, told the Globe and Mail. “We’re an upstart medical school, 40 years old, but we have always been considered, to our knowledge, one of the most innovative.”

Read the full Globe and Mail story here.