If you’re not in Waterloo next week, you’ll hate yourself later

If you’re headed down to the Kitchener-Waterloo area next week, be sure to stop by the University of Waterloo’s William G. Davis Computer Research Centre while you’re over there.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

On Wednesday, March 24, students from the University of Waterloo’s Electrical and Computer Engineering program (ECE) will showcase a dazzling array of inventions – including an energy converter for efficient hybrid car engines, as well as a system that offers high-quality sound in a light bulb. 

More than 220 students are expect to present roughly 49 innovative solutions in a seminar format to industrial and academic attendees, presenting an array of solutions designed to address problems arising out of transportation systems, software design, power systems and communications systems amongst others.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

And on Friday, March 26, students from the first graduating class of U of W’s Nanotechnology program will show off some of their inventions, such as a miniature pesticide testing device, an electronic “nose” capable of detecting toxic vapours and a night-vision coating that can potentially be used in covert military operations.

Harnessing the power of molecules at the nanometric level, approximately 65 students will put forward 16 projects, demonstrating the unique properties of molecular manipulation, in tackling some of world’s more pressing problems. 

Both events will start at 9:30 a.m. and end at approximately 8 p.m., and will be held in U of W’s Davis Centre – the building infamously built to simulate the shape of a microchip. Throughout the day, guests are encouraged to visit the stalls and booths set up outside the auditorium and try their hand with some of the working prototypes on display.

Courtesy of Exchange magazine, here are some of the key inventions salted to make an appearance. For a full list, be sure to visit http://www.exchangemagazine.com/morningpost/2010/week11/Wednesday/031706.htm:

Nanotechnology

* Fast-tinting Electrochromic Eyewear

The project demonstrates an electrochromic technology that allows controlling the level of tint in prescription eyewear. Glasses can switch between transparent and darkened states almost instantaneously, a dramatic improvement over the unsightly five- to 10-minute delay of competing Transitions lenses when moving from outdoors to indoors. Power is only used when switching, so a simple watch battery is all that is required to operate the device.

* Night vision stealth coating

Infrared detection devices are heavily used in the military field as a method to detect enemy troops in the surrounding environment. As such, the ability to counteract this detection can provide a strategic military advantage. This project introduces a novel coating, using carbon nanotubes, that can be synthesized and applied to fabrics to enable night vision invisibility for stealth operations.

Electric and Computer Engineering

* PEF Water Treatment

The project demonstrates a compact design of a point-of-use system that enables non-chemical treatment of microbial content through water electroporation. This system avoids the use of chemical water treatments that alter the taste and odour of water. Ultimately, it may lead to a reduction in the consumption of bottled water. Electroporation allows permanent inactivation of microbial content in a liquid through the application of intense electric fields. These strong electric fields stress the cell membrane of the microbes leading to their rupture.

* Project IRIS

The project demonstrates the design of a high-altitude imaging system that utilizes a low-cost meteorological balloon to lift a reusable imaging and communications system to an altitude of 100,000 feet and then descend safely to Earth. During the course of its flight, the system maintains real-time communication with a ground control station, permitting an operator to issue new commands for image acquisition and file transfer. The imaging system can track fixed points on the ground so the operator can send geographic coordinates for detailed imaging.

* Audio Bulb

The project demonstrates a system that delivers high-quality sound and lighting in a common light bulb form factor. It provides efficient lighting as well as immersive audio without the need for the intrusive wires of traditional speakers. The light and sound can be conveniently controlled wirelessly through a computer interface. The audio bulb can be configured to produce different lighting and sound profiles, while still supporting traditional on/off control via light switches.

Event Information

For more information on these two exciting events, visit eceprojects.uwaterloo.ca/symposium.html.