Media Releases

Toronto’s challenges are no match for U of T Engineering students

April 11, 2014

TORONTO, ON – Ferries that leave residents in the cold on Toronto Islands, salt that jeopardizes curling games in Leaside, and mops that injure staff in downtown hospitals – GTA communities never seem to run out of challenges.

Today, first-year engineering students at the University of Toronto are hosting a day-long event to showcase their design solutions to some of the GTA’s persistent problems – with prototypes, renderings and more.

The event is the finale of Praxis II, a unique course from U of T’s Engineering Science program. The course had students collaborate with communities across the GTA to find new ways of improving our great city.

Here are eight challenges on showcase this year:

1. Better waiting areas on Toronto Islands’ ferry docks
Challenge: The Ward’s Island Ferry Port is the most-used dock by Toronto Islands’ 750 residents, and the only dock open year-round. Yet it faces major issues, like a lack of benches and washrooms, poor signage and little protection from the elements. Engineering students design a better dock for Island residents. 
2. Say goodbye to curling’s biggest enemy
Challenge: Over 650,000 Canadians step onto a curling rink each year, often bringing salt and dirt with them on the ice. Even the smallest amount of these contaminants disrupt the results of the game. Engineering students hit the ice and design new solutions for the Leaside Curling Club.
3. Cleaning up the UHN mopping process
Challenge: Hospital housekeepers at the University Health Network (UHN) wring out their mops an average of 96 times a day, making them highly susceptible to repetitive strain injuries. Engineering students develop better cleaning tools and processes to reduce strain and injury.
4. Meat at the market: refrigerating off the grid
Challenge: The popular Bolton Farmer’s Market in Caledon doesn’t have access to the power grid, causing problems for meat vendors that need to refrigerate their product. Engineering students redesign cooling devices to help meats survive the summer heat.
5. Giving Toronto paramedics precious life-saving minutes
Challenge: Whether it’s during regular maintenance or an emergency call, paramedics at Toronto EMS need quick access to critical medical supplies. Engineering student improve the time consuming process of ambulance
6. Helping stroke victims regain their speaking abilities
Challenge: Without regular practice, seniors afflicted with aphasia can have difficulty regaining their speech, such as after a stroke. The York-Durham Aphasia Centre has found group meetings to be an effective tool, when supported by daily practice. Engineering students design new practice methods to support seniors during their recovery.
7. Making materials donation more efficient at the Scott Mission
Challenge: Manual materials handling contributes to a third of all lost work and compensation costs in Canada. Toronto’s Scott Mission faces major concerns in how they unload weekly donations safely, quickly, and efficiently. Engineering students propose solutions that include the human factor in the donations process.
8. Safer seatbelts for children with intellectual disabilities
Challenge: Traveling with children and youth with intellectual disabilities can be difficult. Some may unbuckle their seatbelts, while others don’t know how to unbuckle, meaning they’d be trapped in an accident. Engineering students suggest new restraint systems to help children and their caregivers.

The showcase is an opportunity for students to explain their design proposals and receive immediate feedback from community representatives, city councilors, government officials, and professional engineers, as well as members of the general public. All are welcome.


What:                              U of T Engineering – Praxis II Showcase

Date:                                Friday, April 11, 2014

Location:                      Great Hall, Hart House (7 Hart House Circle)

Public Showcase:    9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Media Showcase:     11:30 am – 3:00 pm (Media members are welcome to attend throughout the event)

Complete information, including background materials, can be found at:

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Media contact:

 RJ Taylor
Communications & Media Relations Strategist
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto