NEWS BEYOND OUR BORDERS
Engineers Canada backs federal Climate Lens
Engineers Canada - The Government of Canada has announced that as part of the Investing in Canada plan, new major infrastructure projects seeking federal funding will be required to undertake an assessment of how their projects will contribute to or reduce carbon pollution and to consider climate change risks in the location, design and planned operation of a project.
This Climate Lens announcement puts Canada on track to have climate change considered as a core part of the country’s infrastructure planning. The Climate Lens applies to projects under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and select finalists under the Smart Cities Challenge.
The greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation assessment will measure an infrastructure projects’ anticipated GHG emissions impact during the construction, operation and maintenance of the asset’s expected useful life. The assessment must be completed or, at a minimum, validated by a qualified assessor, which the Climate Lens explains must be a professional engineer or a GHG accountant.
“The measurement and calculation of GHG emissions and reductions is highly complex and technically demanding to ensure confidence in the results,” said Annette Bergeron, MBA, FEC, P.Eng., Engineers Canada President. “Engineers Canada is pleased to see the federal government recognize that professional engineers have these skills, coupled with the professional responsibility, to ensure the quality and integrity of such calculations.”
Combining traditional knowledge with the PIEVC framework
Engineers Canada - Working together with the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC) and Stantec, Engineers Canada has released a new version of the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC) Protocol that is tailored specifically for the unique requirements of First Nations communities.
OFNTSC, Stantec and Engineers Canada first began developing the First Nations PIEVC/Asset Management Toolkit when applying the PIEVC Protocol to the water and wastewater systems of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. As they went through the process, they learned about elements that could be modified, refined and made applicable to First Nations, which eventually led to the creation of the new toolkit, officially launched at the OFNTSC Ontario Water Conference held in Niagara Falls on May 15, 2018.
The toolkit adapts the PIEVC Protocol to the unique characteristics of many First Nations. For example, many First Nations communities are smaller than the municipalities that have previously used the PIEVC Protocol, they often work with a skeleton infrastructure and they may not have the climate data upon which the PIEVC Protocol relies.
On the other hand, First Nations communities can take advantage of their traditional knowledge, passed down for generations, that can give them insight about nature, climate and changes in climate. It may be that members of the community see that their hunting grounds are moving, or that their medicinal plants are not available in the area where they used to be. Integrating this knowledge with the PIEVC protocol ultimately offers a far more complete picture of climate-related issues than could be obtained using data alone.
Expedited member-in-training program now permanent in BC
Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia - A pilot training program that helps members-in-training quickly get the skills and experience they need for professional licensing has reached a new milestone. Following the successful conclusion of the pilot, the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Accredited Employer Member-in-Training (MIT) Program is now a permanent offering.
The idea behind the program was to help members-in-training and their employers work together to meet the shared goal of having members-in-training become qualified, registered professionals. Since launching as a pilot in November 2015, the program has accredited 16 organizations and produced an initial cohort of 34 new professionals.
Through the Accredited Employer MIT Program, association registration staff works directly with employers to develop a training program that will ensure the organization’s MITs acquire the competencies required for professional licensure. Once the MIT completes four years of work experience and reports their work examples using the Competency-Based Assessment System, their applications qualify for an expedited review process.
Outside the program, the process for reviewing an engineer-in-training’s work experience and application can take between 8-16 weeks. Through the program, this process can take as little as five weeks. Program administrator Leila Lagroix thinks of it as “a Nexus lane” for professional registration.
“Members-in-Training like the program because they get that one-on-one support and know that they’re getting the right kinds of skills and experience. Employers like it because they know their employees will be ready to take on professional responsibility sooner.”
Bowden Refinery gets a second act—as a re-refinery
APEGA – The Bowden Refinery is now a re-refinery in two different ways. First, because the refinery is getting a new lease on life. And second, because its job will be to re-refine used oil from industry.
Energy company Gen III Oil Corp. has announced plans that will return to duty the neglected refinery near the town, located about 45 kilometres south of Red Deer. After sitting idle for 17 years, the refinery could resume activity as soon as the first quarter of 2019, with construction slated to start this summer. Once the $90 million project is complete, the redeveloped facility will become the first re-refinery in the Prairies and process about 2,800 barrels per day.
The Race to Make a Great Fake Steak
IEEE Spectrum - Some of the world’s leading food conglomerates, including Unilever, the Swiss flavour maker Givaudan and Avril Group, the Paris-based agro-industrial concern are racing to develop meat substitutes that more closely resemble real meat. There’s more than money at stake here. The global meat industry is the source of about 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions or roughly as much as what comes from all the vehicles on the planet. What’s more, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization expects meat consumption to soar in coming decades as more countries industrialize.
A number of companies have produced reasonably convincing ground-beef substitutes, but a fake steak is much more difficult to produce than a good stand-in for ground meat. Researchers are pursuing two main avenues: cultured meat and vegetable-based meat substitutes. Cultured meat is also known as lab-grown meat or in vitro meat. One of the difficulties in producing cultured meat is acquiring fetal bovine serum, which is expensive and not compatible with the ethical imperatives of the vegetarian market.
Researchers are now investigating a wide assortment of non-animal serum alternatives—for example, ones based on algae or mushroom extracts. A number of companies claim they are close to solving the serum problem.
Dutch researchers have succeeded in creating a steak substitute based on legumes which they claim has the taste and texture of meat and which they claim cooks the same as a real steak, although pictures of the product more closely resemble Spam and the product has rarely been subjected to independent taste tests.
A Prosthetic That Feels Pain
IEEE Spectrum - By mimicking the natural abilities of our skin, a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University has enabled a prosthesis to perceive and transmit the feeling of pain.
But why would anyone want to feel pain? Study author Nitish Thakor, a professor of biomedical engineering at Hopkins and IEEE Fellow, has been getting that question a lot.
In the most practical sense, pain sensors in the skin help protect our bodies from damaging objects, such as a hot stove or sharp knife. By the same token, an amputee could rely on the perception of pain to protect his or her prosthesis from damage, says Thakor.
But he also gives a more holistic, almost poetic answer: “We can now span a very human-like sense of perception, from light touch to pressure to pain and I think that makes prosthetics more human.”
The Hopkins team was inspired by the way biological touch receptors work in human skin, says Thakor. Real skin consists of layers of receptors. Similarly, the team’s “e-dermis” has numerous layers—made of piezoresistive and conductive fabrics, rather than different types of cells—that sense and measure pressure. Also, like real skin, those sensing layers react in different ways to pressure: some react quickly to stimuli, while others respond more slowly.
The pressure information from the e-dermis is converted into neuron-like pulses that are similar to the spikes of electricity, or action potentials, that living neurons use to communicate. That neuron-like, or neuromorphic, signal is then delivered via small electrical stimulations to the peripheral nerves in the skin of an amputee to elicit feelings of pressure and pain.