Laurentian students looking to invent the next great thing

By Hugh Kruzel
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Sudbury Star

Noah Lambert, Mason Orlowski, Ryan Cassie and Robert Jickling have created a mine rescue device that could one day save the life of a miner in Sudbury or anywhere across the world.

Jickling answered questions about the Motorized Mine Rescue Cart at a recent event at the Cliff Fielding Centre to showcase the work of Laurentian University’s graduating engineering students.

“The stretcher basket is the heart and soul of the Mine Rescue Cart,” Jickling says. “The idea of our project stemmed from our own experience attending a competition in Colorado.

The MIG (metal inert gas)-welded framework houses the motor and differential. Controls are located at the back.

“It travels at a walking pace. The way it is configured we project a range of 13 km with this battery system.”

With robust wheels and a solid frame, this could potentially revolutionize the rescue process. Jickling, Cassie, Lambert and Orlowski say they are aware of the possibilities.

To graduate, Laurentian’s engineering students must design a project that demonstrates their skills and ideas. Working collaboratively in teams of often four or five, they apply everything they have learned in the course of their studies to a real-world problem.

“We had our first event here in the Cliff Fielding Building just before COVID,” said Markus Timusk, a professor in mechanical engineering. “We invited family, industry, community. It was a big hit. Naturally, we wanted to bring it back.”

The array of projects is extraordinary.

Want to go snowshoeing? An automated system can be your source for equipment. No attendant required. Michael Swan and Cam Green acknowledged that they “need to address hardware problems. There are some fit and finish issues, but it really is about the intention.”.

Walk further along and experience a lightweight log splitter. The simplified mechanism and action could be the solution for those of us who heat with wood. No noisy complex motor and it’s portable. Parker Campbell had videos of the idea in action.

Then there is the Maneuver Assist Wheelchair. Cole Bowhey demonstrates the system: “You don’t have to use a joystick,” he said.

“We saw there was a gap in the market and our proof of concept shows this would be affordable and easy to use,” explains Gabriella Evans. “There is no control pad. Instead, it is much more intuitive by using torsional input on the handgrips that then communicate to the motors. This is a good way to sense what the user wants.”

Evan is one out of two women graduating this year in mechanical engineering. “To meet more women in the discipline,” she says, “I volunteered at a Women in Science and Engineering event and would encourage others to join.”

Of course, students are expressing more than just their subject areas.

“They learned more than what we see from the three disciplines of mechanical, chemical and mining engineering,” says Corey Laamanen, chemical engineering coordinator. “There is design, maybe some electrical engineering and certainly (learning) how to work as a team.

“There are overlaps,” Laamanen adds. “What we have here combines everything they have been exposed to in the last four years. Here is a team using microalgae to harvest critical minerals. COVID shut us down. It is good to be back doing this event.”

Zack Emerson and Joshua Nielsen had a retrofit barbecue smoking device on display. “This is the chimney right here,” Emerson says. “It is electronic so you can dial in low smoke or high smoke or somewhere in between. There are sensors that measure temperature. The pellets go in here and a carousel system feeds them into the chamber.”

Graduating Laurentian engineering students had the opportunity recently to showcase their designs at the Cliff Fielding Centre. From the left are Noah Lambert, Mason Orlowski, Ryan Cassie and Robert Jickling, who stand behind their Motorized Mine Rescue Cart. – Hugh Kruzel photo

Smoking is an art, but Emerson and Nielsen have added science to the equation.

Travelling the great outdoors in Northern Ontario is part of the charm of the region and a team of five students hope to make it a bit easier by helping people improve their paddling.

Cole MacNeil is part of the mechatronics specialization, which combines the mechanical with electronics. His team of five hoped to develop an understanding of how to improve the efficiency of paddling.

Using the pool at the YMCA and after some trial and error, they successfully installed sensors in a smart paddle.

“The paddle looks at the power of your stroke, the duration and calorie burn. We added some gamification. I did the coding and contributed most of the software. Water and electronics don’t mix well so we had to figure how to avoid that.”

Ramesh Subramanian, associate professor of chemical engineering and computer science, and director of the Bharti School of Engineering, says the event is important.

“This is a capstone presentation,” Subramanian says. This is the reason they spend all those tortuous years at the university. It is a mandatory part of their education and yes, what they have done could lead to jobs. Some of these students may already be hired.”

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.