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UBC students want to build and study effectiveness of ‘tree canopy’ bus shelters

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VANCOUVER — Students at the University of British Columbia are hoping to build bus shelters with environmental benefits.

Tabinda Shah, a final-year urban forestry student, said she and several other students are working to build a “tree canopy bus shelter,” which would not only shelter people from the rain as they wait for their ride, but also help the environment.

“The aim of the project is to bring ecologically conscious infrastructure into dense urban areas by maximizing opportunities for green infrastructure in small spaces,” she said in an email.

The roof or shelter would be made of treated wood that can withstand the elements and host a layer of plants that are hardy and succulent, and can thrive in not just the rain but the dry months too. The excess water from the roof would run off into the ground to recharge the water table.

The students are crowdfunding the project and want to build at least three bus shelters to measure their effectiveness. Shah said each shelter costs about $50,000, and the team is hoping to have a prototype shelter built by sometime next year.

Daniel Roehr, associate professor at UBC, said while the team does not have any arrangement with the City of Vancouver or the transit agency, they do have permits to build three structures on the University of British Columbia campus.

Shah said Vancouver is a very walkable city, but that hardly anyone wants to walk in it during the winter because of a lack of pedestrian shelter from the rain.

“Being an urban forestry student, I wanted to bring a multifaceted solution to the table that would not only increase walkability in the city, but also create habitat space, more sustainable stormwater management and a biophilic city,” she said.

Roehr said Vancouver has a number of green roofs but most of them need to be irrigated, so one of the main design aims of these tree canopy bus shelters was that they would be self-sufficient.

Roehr and Shah are working with a team of other students from different disciplines on the shelters.

“We have flow devices to measure rainwater runoff from these roofs and how effective they are,” Roehr said. “We want to monitor it. And if it is effective we can use it all over the city — we could use it on all bus shelters.”

Shah said this will be the first type of bus shelter to measure how much rainwater is runoff. She added that such bus shelters are important because they are one more step towards tackling climate change.

The prototype and research will help justify whether a larger investment into such an idea would be worth it, she said.

“We’re hoping to have the prototype constructed along Wesbrook Mall at the University of British Columbia, but in an ideal world, we would want these all over the city street networks of Vancouver,” Shah said.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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