NEWS FROM THE FIELD
SaskPower and FNPA sign agreement
Regina Leader-Post - SaskPower and the First Nations Power Authority (FNPA) signed a “pioneering agreement”, marking a new economic opportunity for First Nations communities and businesses.
Signed by SaskPower president Mike Marsh and FNPA president Guy Lonechild, the First Nations Opportunity Agreement agrees to source 20 megawatts of flare gas power generation projects worth an estimated $300 million in potential revenue over 20 years.
Flare gas power generation takes waste flare gas from oil and gas operations and uses it to produce electricity, instead of emitting it directly into the atmosphere.
As a result, the oil and gas operation reduces its environmental footprint, and the power is used to meet the growing demand for electricity in Saskatchewan.
The First Nations Opportunity Agreement gives FNPA the responsibility of securing First Nations-led flare gas power production projects. Power purchase agreements will then be signed and negotiated for the electricity to be sold to SaskPower and distributed on the provincial power grid over the next 20 years.
FNPA has been working closely with Flying Dust First Nation on developing a flare gas power generation opportunity.
Humboldt Journal - Saskatchewan Polytechnic welcomed Saskatchewan 120 high school teams to their Saskatoon campus for their 10th annual Robot Rumble on March 22. Besides learning about coding and electronics, this was also a great opportunity for the social aspects as well.
Corrinne Arnold with Bruno School says her students learn much more than just robotics with the program but also problem-solving.
“There’s a motherboard with a lot of holes and columns and rows. They have to know where to put the resisters and follow diagrams and problem solve your way as you go through it.” That is what students enjoy the most, says Arnold, as the students move from one problem to another to make their robot run.
Starting the program was an opportunity to spark interest in careers, training, and education in robotics and electronic systems, says Jamie Hilts, Dean for School of Mining, Energy, and Manufacturing at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
And that potential is growing, says Hilts, with both the industry becoming more advanced than 10 years ago and the event itself also growing with only a small number of schools competing at the first robot rumble.
U of S student headed to “Mars”
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - University of Saskatchewan graduate student Doug Campbell, who dreams of a career in space, is currently on a “space mission” to Mars, simulated deep in the Utah desert.
“I am looking for opportunities to build my skills and resumé for the next time the Canadian Space Agency puts out a call for astronauts,” said the master’s student in biomedical engineering.
His two-week mission simulation at the Mars Desert Research Station ranges from growing his own food to doing outdoor explorations in a spacesuit.
Campbell has been selected to join a two-year scientist-astronaut training program based in the United States that will help him prepare for venturing into outer space research once space flight becomes more accessible. The simulation at the research station is one of the last steps before completing his training in August.
He works in a landscape that is an actual geologic Mars analog — minus the dangerous atmosphere. The station is owned by the Mars Society, which supports Earth-based research for human space exploration and has received some funding from the Musk Foundation.
The “full Mars” experience in the Utah desert tests Campbell and his four fellow crew members on teamwork, research and interpersonal skills in a stressful environment. A mix of Americans and Canadians, the crew includes experts in health, geology and engineering.
As the science officer on the mission, Campbell oversees the crew’s science work, ensuring that projects move along and that data are collected. Campbell has invented and is currently testing a waterless dishwasher as a special part of his space simulation. His device holds promise for making astronauts’ lives easier when space travelling.
Campbell plans to apply for grants that will help him build his reputation in the space research community while continuing his studies at the U of S and keeping his day job at the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.
U of S Geology rocks teen’s world
CKOM - A teen geologist from the Saskatoon area is feeling a bit more weighed down after a visit to the rock vault at the University of Saskatchewan. But he’s fine with that.
Professor Kevin Ansdell, P.Geo., invited 13-year-old Judah Tyreman to visit the Geology Building to help replenish some of the rare rocks and minerals that were stolen from the teen last month.
Judah and his sisters opened the Sesula Mineral and Gem Museum and Rock Shop two years ago in Radisson, about 65 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. The museum was receiving glowing reviews, but then a thief stole between $6,000 and $8,000 worth of exhibits.
The professor wanted to help Judah resupply the museum, so he gave the boy and his family time to pick rocks from the university vault to take home.
“This is a geologist’s candy store,” Judah said of the visit.
The teen and his sisters were told to pick any rock specimens they liked. The three searched through hundreds of shelves and selected a variety of fossils and gems to bring back to their Radisson home.
“It’s quite amazing. There are so many pieces,” Judah said. “I’m so honoured.” Ansdell said many of the rocks in the vault had been sitting in the basement of the Geology Building since it was constructed in 1986.
“Once I heard on the news about the break-in, I decided it was obvious the department would want to help him re-stock,” Ansdell said.
He noted the teen’s knowledge of the field was impressive.
“I was amazed … he could identify minerals very, very quickly,” the professor said. “He would put many of our students to shame.”
Ansdell said he hopes to convince Judah to attend the University of Saskatchewan’s geology program when he’s ready.
For now, the boy is focusing on his own short-term plans for his rock museum.
The family is contemplating an expansion — including a 19th-century mine theme in the basement.
Iranian professionals face challenges in Sask.
CTV Regina - Iranians in Saskatchewan have said it used to be quick to get work permit renewals or residency status, however, their applications have been tied up for months.
Some have lost high-skilled positions due to delays in work permit renewals.
“I was working as an engineer in one of the companies. It was my ideal job. I just lost it because I cannot extend my contract,” Sahar Safaei, who is an engineer, said. At least 20 Iranians have been affected in Saskatoon and more in Regina. Many have said colleagues from other countries are not facing similar problems.
Public Safety minister Ralph Goodale said Ottawa is trying to speed up the process. “There was a disruption a number of years ago in diplomatic relations and we don’t have the on the ground consular services in Iran to be able to pursue the security issues and get the information that we need,” Goodale said.
Goodale also said Iran poses a special problem when it comes to conducting background checks.
“We are working on the backlog as rapidly as we can, including making increased staff available to try to do the processing,” he said.
Sask. expands coding and robotics in schools
Global Regina - To ensure classrooms are meeting the needs of 21st-century students, the Saskatchewan government announced new coding and robotics opportunities for middle-years and high school students in Saskatchewan.
During the 2016-17 school year, the government sought input from stakeholders throughout the province regarding curriculum renewal.
Robotics modules that incorporate coding will be developed in the area of provincial practical and applied arts in response to requests from the education and tech sector stakeholders.
These elective courses will be available to all high schools in the province and teachers for grades 7 – 9 will also have access to introduce students to coding and robotics. In 2017, a Practical and Applied Arts Reference Committee was formed to provide direction, later recommending that coding and robotics courses be developed.
A writing team was made up of teacher experts and ministry consultants who will begin developing robotics courses that incorporate coding this spring, with the goal of piloting them in the 2018 -19 school year.
The writing team will use locally developed secondary robotics courses approved for use in Saskatchewan schools as guides for the province-wide curriculum.BACK TO TOP
SRC lauded for sustainable performance
Global Regina - The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) has been recognized, once again, for its sustainable performance, ranking first on the Corporate Knights Future 40 Responsible Corporate Leaders listing.
This is the fifth consecutive year that the SRC has been recognized for its positive impacts and responsible practices by Corporate Knights.
The Future 40 was established in 2014 and ranks Canadian companies that have revenues under $1 billion, or fewer than 2,000 employees. It is based on 16 key performance indicators — all related to employee, environmental and financial management.
Information that is publicly available, including annual reports and corporate social responsibility reports, are used to provide data for the analysis.
“As one of Canada’s leading and most valued research and technology organizations, we are proud to conduct our business activities in an environmentally and socially responsible manner while continuing to provide positive economic impacts in Saskatchewan,” said SRC president and CEO Laurier Schramm. “Third-party recognition demonstrates that corporate social responsibility has become embedded in our organizational culture.”
Food for thought
CBC News - The University of Regina’s Faculty of Engineering says there was cheating during a fourth-year law and ethics exam. In February, George Sherk, an instructor in the Faculty of Engineering, handed out a quiz to his fourth-year law and professionalism class, then left the students under the supervision of teaching assistants.
According to a February 26 email from David deMontigny, P.Eng., the associate dean of engineering to the students, the university discovered “there may have been a significant amount of academic misconduct” during the quiz.
“I trust that the irony of cheating in a law and ethics class is not lost on anyone,” wrote deMontigny. “I am not impressed.”
The university says deMontigny sent the email “after he received reports from two students indicating they had witnessed other students cheating on the quiz.”
Sherk said he regrets what happened.
“I have to take responsibility for that. If I had been in the room it may not have happened. Or if I had been in the room and seen it I could have taken action against students.”
He said leaving the teaching assistants in charge put them in an awkward position: supervising an exam of their fellow students.
In an email to CBC News, the university indicated no students have been disciplined in this case because the students who reported the incident “did not provide the names of the students who were allegedly cheating and the invigilators that were in the class indicated they had not witnessed any misconduct occurring.”
However, in an email to all the students, deMontigny threatened action against any who are found to have cheated.
“If you are found to have cheated in ENGG 401, you will not graduate this year and you will forfeit your iron ring,” deMontigny wrote.