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