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Student researchers awarded for biocomposite R&D

2014-05-29 08:59:50

Automakers increasingly rely on innovations to help meet stringent fuel standards, decrease vehicle weight and increase vehicle connectivity.

Canadian university graduate students with the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence are helping automakers achieve these goals and enhancing the automotive community through automotive research and development. A University of Guelph team was nationally recognized May 28 at the 2014 AUTO21 Conference in Niagara Falls, Ont. for its research on hybrid biobased composite materials and its use in automotive interior parts. The team was awarded first place in the AUTO21 Highly Qualified People (HQP) Poster Competition, taking home a $4,500 prize.
The trio of graduate students also claimed first place in the AUTO21-Stackpole International HQP Video Competition for a three-minute video that highlights their research.

"The automotive industry benefits by being able to reduce weight and being able to use renewable resource based materials rather than petroleum based materials," Vidhya Nagarajan said. "It also adds value to locally grown biomass by incorporating it into automotive parts, which are produced at a high volume."
The University of Guelph team contributes to the Hybrid Biocomposites for Automotive Applications project, which is led by Dr. Amar Mohanty, University of Guelph, and Dr. Mohini Sain, University of Toronto. Team members include Kunyu Zhang, Nagarajan and Arturo Rodriguez.

“To compete in the global marketplace, Canada needs to develop products in addition to manufacturing,” said Dr. Peter Frise, AUTO21 Scientific Director and CEO. “It’s extremely important that graduate student ideas are deployed and become useful in the world. I think it’s really an essential part of development of the country because they are the future of a critical sector in the Canadian economy.”
The competition offers HQP a chance to showcase their research success and is open to students within the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence program. Nearly 50 teams presented leading-edge technologies in this year’s event. The annual HQP Poster Competition boasts a total prize purse of approximately $15,000. Sixteen semi-finalist teams are selected from the initial pool of entrants, with each team member receiving a $50 bookstore voucher. The semi-finalists provide an oral defence of their research poster. Final winners are selected upon this evaluation. The winners receive a cash prize to be divided amongst the team members. Judges include senior industry, government and R&D experts.
Final ranking of the top student teams:

Project name University Ranking/prize
Hybrid Biobased Composite Materials for Automotive Interior Parts University of Guelph First/$4,500
Friction Stir Welded of Magnesium Alloy Wheels McMaster University, Queen's University, University of Toronto, University of Alberta Second/$3,500
Do Plug-In Electric Vehicles Provide Life Cycle Air Emissions Impact Benefits Compared to Alternative Fuel Use in Non-Plug-In Vehicles? University of Toronto Third/$2,500
Assessing the Relevance of the Simulator as a Screening Tool for At-Risk Older Drivers Lakehead University Fourth/$1,500
Microstructural Evolution of Hot-Rolled Steel Queen's University Honourable Mention/$1,000

AUTO21 supports nearly 200 researchers and more than 400 student researchers at 48 universities across the country. More than 130 public and private sector organizations partner with AUTO21. With an annual research budget of approximately $11 million, AUTO21 and its partners support projects in six key areas: health, safety and injury prevention; societal issues; materials and manufacturing; design processes; powertrains, fuels and emissions; and intelligent systems and sensors. AUTO21 is supported by the Government of Canada through a Networks of Centres of Excellence program, and its administrative centre is hosted by the University of Windsor.

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