RDC Invests $1.7 Million in Academic-led R&D in Newfoundland and Labrador
(Canada Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge)
ST. JOHN'S, NL, Feb. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Deepwater seabed surveying,
navigation and control systems for field robots, and improving cyber
security measures are among the 10 academic-led research and
development projects receiving more than $1.7 million in total funding
from the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and
Labrador (RDC). Today's investment leverages more than $10 million from
others sources including the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Statoil.
"Leading-edge R&D is a key contributor to Newfoundland and Labrador's
growing and robust economy," said the Honourable Keith Hutchings,
Minister Responsible for the Research & Development Corporation. "The
combination of our abundance of natural resources, world-class academic
institutions and geographic position means this province has a
competitive advantage when it comes to advancing research and
development that industry needs."
Researchers from College of the North Atlantic's Ridge Road campus,
Memorial University's Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering and
Applied Science, Marine Institute and C-CORE are receiving funding in
"Increasing R&D activity in our academic community continues to lead to
innovative technological solutions and commercialization opportunities
in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive
Officer, RDC. "Whether it is research focused on ocean engineering,
resource exploration and extraction, or advanced manufacturing, our
province's academic institutions and their researchers continue to play
a significant role designing and engineering some of the most
sophisticated tools and technologies in the world."
RDC's funding is provided through a number of academic programs designed
to increase R&D capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador, including
GeoEXPLORE, IgniteR&D, CollaborativeR&D and LeverageR&D.
"The funding programs offered by RDC are essential to Memorial's
research landscape," said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, President and
Vice-chancellor, Memorial University of Newfoundland. "RDC investments
enable our researchers to carry out projects that advance strategic
areas of research, contribute to our understanding of our world and
position Memorial as a university of distinction."
These projects are working towards the reduction of seabed impacts
related to bottom trawls, an increased understanding of the behaviour
of ice, while working and operating in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions,
and the transformation of shipping containers into dormitories for use
as student housing or as disaster relief shelters.
"It is through the support of our funding partners that we are able to
take great strides in developing new systems and technologies," said
Ann Marie Vaughan, President and CEO of College of the North Atlantic.
"The benefits associated with the college's Dormatecture project could
have long lasting effects on the housing and accommodations sector
around the world."
One project funded by RDC today aims to enhance the level of detail and
accessibility of seabed surveys using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.
The project, led by Dr. Andrew Vardy, an Associate Professor in the
Department of Computer Science in Memorial's Faculty of Science, could
be used for environmental monitoring and offshore exploration.
"AUVs are most useful in gathering data from inaccessible areas such as
underneath the Arctic ice shelf or in very deep water," said Dr. Vardy.
"The support of RDC has been critical to the project and has enabled us
to execute the project's objectives while providing a rich training
environment for undergraduate and graduate students."
An overview of the projects receiving funding from RDC is contained in
the backgrounder of this release, while more detailed project
descriptions are available online at www.rdc.org.
The Research & Development Corporation (RDC) is a provincial Crown
corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador's R&D
performance. RDC works with R&D stakeholders including business,
academia and government agencies and departments. For more information
about RDC, go to www.rdc.org.
BACKGROUNDER Research Projects Supported through RDC's Academic Programs
A total of $1,760,355 is being invested in the following 10 research
projects at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the College of the
North Atlantic. Funding is received through RDC's academic programs:
LeverageR&D, IgniteR&D, CollaborativeR&D and GeoEXPLORE and leverages
LeverageR&D attracts public funding for academic-led research and
development (R&D) in areas relevant to both industry and the
Newfoundland and Labrador economy.
Responsive AUV Localization and Mapping (REALM), $275,000 from RDC
Dr. Andrew Vardy, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Science and
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University This
project aims to expand the capabilities of the MUN Explorer Autonomous
Underwater Vehicle (AUV) by equipping it for seabed survey and
sub-bottom imaging while also conducting research on AUV navigation and
risk mitigation technologies. Funding from RDC leverages $2,054,552
from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; $240,000 from Fugro
Geosurveys; $41,839 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada; and $620,897 from other sources.
Employment-Related Geographic Mobility in the Canadian Context, $500,000
Dr. Barbara Neis, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, Memorial
University.This project will study employment-related geographical
mobility within Canada with a substantial focus on Newfoundland and
Labrador. Specifically, the project will study multiple sectors and
occupations associated with extended commuting (from two-three hours
daily to weeks and months away from home) for the purpose of
employment. The main objective is to understand patterns, practices and
consequences of different kinds of employment-related geographical
mobility for employers, unions, workers and their families and home and
host communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and other parts of
Canada. The seven-year research program is being done with the support
of multiple community partners from industry, labour, government and
community organizations. It will ensure that these partnering
organizations and other stakeholder groups have the opportunity to
learn more about when and why extended commuting happens, as well as
how it affects recruitment, retention, absenteeism, collective
bargaining and other aspects of employment as well as the daily lives
of workers and their families and the economic development and
resilience of home and host communities. Research of this kind if
particularly important for Newfoundland and Labrador as it transitions
from a labour exporting to a labour importing province. The policy
implications of this research include potential changes in recruitment
practices, work scheduling, policies related to supported housing and
transportation along with other policies. Funding from RDC leverages
$2,500,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of
Canada and $625,432 from other sources.
Coordinated Control and Navigation of Field Robots, $71,000 from RDC
Dr. George Mann, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial
The objective of the project is to develop and test a coordinated
navigation and control system in multiple field robots for autonomous
operations in harsh environments. The long-term objective is to develop
autonomous navigation capabilities that can be used for a variety of
industrial applications such as: mining; oil and gas; agriculture;
search and rescue; construction; and forestry. The first activity is
related to the development of a discrete event system (DES) based
control architecture for coordination and control of multiple robots.
The second activity is related to cooperative localization. The robots
should be capable of operating in areas where there is no access to
GPS. In that case the robots are localized using corporative
localization strategies and multi-robotic simultaneous localization and
mapping (SLAM) techniques. The third activity is related to
coordination through formation control strategies. The field robotic
mission will be represented as a formation control problem.
Multi-robot exploration task can be formalized using formation control.
In this activity it is anticipated to develop tracking and control
strategies for leader follower systems. In this case visual attention
based tracking systems are developed for achieving the formation. RDC
leverages $71,025 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada.
Seismic Modeling and Inversion, $215,368 from RDC
Dr. John Whitehead, Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography,
Faculty of Science
The goal of this project is develop innovative techniques in geophysical
inversion and seismic modeling that will aid natural resources
industries in the creation of more accurate geological models in a
timely and cost efficient manner. The project aims to develop a
large-scale computational resource based on current multi-processor,
multi-core, shared-memory architecture with a functional
state-of-the-art seismic modeling capability installed and tested. Dr.
Whitehead and his team also aim to commercialize the project's
intellectual property including partnerships with private sector
interests, as well as apply the proposed seismic modeling capability to
a series of problems related to exploration geophysics. Funding from
RDC leverages $861,472 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Reducing Seabed Impacts of Bottom Trawls (AIF Project), $75,000 from RDC
Dr. Paul Winger, Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources, Marine
This project investigates the development of innovative trawling systems
capable of catching commercial quantities of finfish and shellfish,
with reduced seabed contact compared to traditional systems. It
involves the expansion of current capabilities at the Marine
Institute's Flume Tank to allow for performance evaluations of trawl
nets, including a comparison of operational efficiency, net geometry,
drag, fuel consumption and by-catch levels. To characterize the trawl
relative to the seabed, innovative optical, acoustical and
laser-scanning technologies are being developed for underwater
applications. This innovative technology, which is currently not
available in other flume tanks, will enhance the researchers' ability
to evaluate scaled physical models in a controlled environment. An
investment in this area may offer significant long-term economic
development potential for the province as the application of the
technology can be used not only for sustainable fisheries development
but for research in other ocean technology sectors such as energy and
oil and gas. Funding from RDC leverages $1,815,442 from the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency's Atlantic Innovation Fund; $125,000 from
the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada;
$250,000 from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; $25,000 from
Vonin Canada; $125,000 from Vonin Ltd.; and $125,000 from other
IgniteR&D attracts highly-qualified academic researchers and builds new
research and development (R&D) capacity in areas relevant to both
industry and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.
Computational Modelling of Ionic Liquid Extraction of Sulfur
Contaminants from Crude Oil, $95,037 from RDC
Dr. Christopher Rowley, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science,
This research will use computer simulations to develop more efficient
and environmentally-friendly ways of removing sulfur-containing
pollutants from refined diesel fuel. Ionic liquids are novel
alternative solvents that have demonstrated the ability to selectively
extract aromatic sulfur contaminants. In collaboration with other
researchers at Memorial, the team will develop computer modeling
techniques for simulating this extraction process, with the aim of
developing an industrially viable and environmentally sustainable
desulfurization process based on this technology. This research will
improve the ability of scientists to design ionic liquids that are
effective as desulfurization solvents. The researcher will establish a
computational modeling lab in the Department of Chemistry at Memorial.
Dormatecture - Sustainable Container Living, $99,950 from RDC
Craig Greene, College of the North Atlantic
Based at the college's Ridge Road campus in St. John's, Newfoundland and
Labrador, this project will use a shipping container to construct a
dormitory complete with bedroom, bath, kitchenette and living area. The
structure will strive to be off grid in terms of energy use, water and
sewer. This dormitory could function as a stand-alone unit or be
connected to similar units to form a student dormitory, hotel,
emergency shelter or construction camp. Under the oversight of the lead
researcher and collaborating instructors, design will be done by
students in the Architecture Engineering Technology program.
Construction of the shelter will be carried out as a series of student
projects. Funding from RDC leverages $7,000 from College of the North
Smart Grid and its Cyber Security, $99,000 from RDC
Dr. Hamid Usefi, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of
Science, Memorial University
The infrastructure in our electric grid is old, and with the emerging
technology there is a high demand to renew this infrastructure. The new
grid will be smart in the sense that there will be an efficient
monitoring of the flow of network - consumers will be able to remotely
turn on/off appliances and manage their usage. This project will
analyze the Smart Grid concept, its vulnerabilities, then research and
improve upon commonly used security measures.
CollaborativeR&D increases research and development (R&D) partnerships
and collaboration between academia and industry in areas relevant to
the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.
Compressive Ice Failure Mechanics, $300,000 from RDC
Dr. Ian Jordaan, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial
University and Centre for Arctic Research and Development, C-CORE
One of the areas that is important in further exploration of Arctic and
sub-Arctic regions is the safe, yet economic, design of vertical-walled
offshore structures and ships for the ice conditions present in these
regions. Understanding ice compressive failure behaviour and the
associated mechanics are critical in modeling ice loads and risk. While
the mechanics of ice crushing are complex, significant progress has
been made in understanding the processes involved and simplifying key
aspects of failure behavior. This project seeks to expand this
research to investigate fundamental issues, such as the behaviour of
high pressure zones and processes that limit ice failure pressures,
which are of great importance for design. Funding from RDC leverages
$300,000 from Statoil and $240,000 from C-CORE.
GeoEXPLORE is a three-year directed research program, intended to
enhance geoscience R&D capacity, collaboration, and industry innovation
in support of mineral and petroleum exploration and development in
Newfoundland and Labrador.
North Atlantic Plate Reconstruction Project, $30,000 from RDC
Dr. Jeremy Hall, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science,
This project will investigate how the Jeanne d'Arc Basin has evolved
over time in three dimensions. The results will be used to develop a
regional model of plate edge deformation over time that can be used for
future oil projects.
A graduate student, Caroline McIlroy, has been identified as a member of
the core research team and will be directly involved in the comparative
study of the Jeanne d'Arc Basin. The team will make a regional
interpretation of faults across the basin and estimate fault
displacements to arrive at the total extension through the crust. Ms.
McIlroy will conduct a detailed 3D seismic study of fault interactions
to establish how faults with different orientations move individually
to produce strain. The results will be fed into plate deformation
modelling software. Funding from RDC leverages $20,000 from Husky
Energy and $16,500 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada's Discovery Grant.
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