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Top 10 McMaster Engineering stories in 2021December 17, 2021

In a year of challenging and evolving circumstances, the McMaster Engineering community pushed towards a better future. With common threads of sustainability, growth, and innovation, here are some unforgettable stories that made headlines this year.

Presenting: The Top 10 from Mac Eng

10. To prevent millions more masks in landfills, McMaster researchers develop a way to recycle them 

As masks cemented themselves as part of our everyday lives, McMaster researchers mobilized with environmental sustainability at top of mind. 

Researchers at McMaster’s Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials (CEPEM) and their partner Vitacore created Canada’s first end-to-end recycling program for single-use masks and respirators. 

By sterilizing and melting down the plastic used in the items, the material can go on for further use, such as in reinforced concrete.

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9. Clinical trial on a plate: researchers to create new “breathing” lung model to study illnesses like COVID-19 

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from McMaster and SickKids worked on developing a bioengineered lung model - and it’s no larger than a grain of rice. The breakthrough is small in size, but huge in advancement, allowing scientists to study diseases and treatments with more precision in a rapidly changing world.

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8. Federal Government invests in McMaster automotive and aerospace electrification hub

McMaster Innovation Park is growing, with an exciting new state-of-the-art facility, iHub, that will see the development of energy-efficient technology.

FedDev Ontario awarded $10 million to support the initiative, which, along with additional support from select automotive manufacturing companies, will see testing of products and services like autonomous vehicles and energy-efficient aircraft.

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7. Seventy-six McMaster Engineering researchers named among the world’s top 2 per cent

It’s undeniable that McMaster Engineering professionals are at the forefront of research, exploration, and change. A Stanford University database saw 76 researchers affiliated with the Faculty named among the top two per cent of scientific experts in their discipline. We proudly celebrate their performance and resounding impacts in their field. 

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6. iBioMed student’s device to help people with limited hand mobility wins National James Dyson Award 

When biomedical and mechanical engineering student Lianna Genovese talks about her invention, Guided Hands™, she starts with the people it will help.

The entrepreneur developed a mechanical assistive device to aid those with limited hand mobility write, paint, draw, and use a touch-screen device. Genovese received the National James Dyson Award for the system and showed us what it means to design with your heart. 

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5. New Scholarship Launched to Support Black Engineering Students 

This year saw the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) McMaster Chapter launch a new scholarship for first-year Black students.

The goal of the award is to increase the number of Black students enrolling and graduating from McMaster University with an engineering degree who demonstrate leadership and are recognized for contributing to their community. 

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4. McMaster Engineering celebrates two students awarded prestigious Vanier Scholarship in 2021

Shadman Khan and Ahmed Badr were among seven doctoral students from McMaster University to receive the highly-respected Vanier Scholarship.

Khan, biomaterials engineering, is part of the research team developing a way to indicate when food is contaminated by pathogens. Meanwhile Badr, civil engineering, is working on a model to predict and mitigate impacts of climate change. 

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3. McMaster alumna leads engineers at Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization to combat world hunger

Sogol Akef, speaking from a compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, shared her story of working for The United Nations World Food Programme as a head engineer – the first and only woman at the time to do so.

Her interview, centring on tackling food insecurity, occurred months ahead of the city’s fall to the Taliban, which along with the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis.

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2. Powering a new paradigm 

Cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, scooters, aerospace: everything that moves, Ali Emadi wants to see electrified. Enedym, founded by Emadi and Berker Biligin, received a $15 million funding boost to keep that vision of transportation electrification coursing along its greener route.

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1. Seeing the light: Research breakthrough by McMaster PhD student creates a simple cost-effective laser on silicon

It’s the “holy grail of photonics” – and our most viewed story of 2021.  

PhD student Khadijeh Miarrabas Kiani is confident that lasers can change the world. She turned heads with her cutting-edge contribution – demonstrating a single, working laser on silicon, using a simple, cost-effective method – and closes out the year as a McMaster trailblazer. 

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