In The News

UBC Faculty of Applied Science faculty, staff, students and alumni are often featured in in the news, researching innovations, making a difference in their community and achieving exceptional status in professional or community organizations.

A summary of the latest news articles are provided below for your interest. For complete stories, contact ErinRose Handy at 604.822.1524 or

Teens tasked with improving Canada’s food security
CBC News
Sat, 07/09/2016
Author: Rafferty Baker
Link to full text

CBC News featured the SHAD charity program that brings together exceptional students across Canada each year for one month of lectures and learning. About 60 students have been introduced to the topic of food security for this year’s main project at UBC.

“This year’s theme is to develop a product or service to ensure Canada’s food security going forward,” said UBC Materials Engineering Professor Daan Maijer. “At the end of the month, they’re responsible for delivering a business plan, a prototype or a mockup of what their product will be, as well as a pitch."

Self-driving boat prepares for Atlantic crossing
Press TV
Thu, 07/07/2016
Page: Press TV
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Press TV reported on UBC Sailbot, a team of engineering students who are aiming to make history by sending a self-driving boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

The project took three years to complete and the goal is to become the first robotic vessel to complete the feat. The 2,900-kilometer journey spans from Newfoundland to Ireland.

Vale faces more spill costs as Brazil looks to ban upstream dams
Wed, 07/06/2016
Author: R.T. Watson
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Dirk van Zyl, UBC professor of mining engineering was featured in a Bloomberg story about a proposal to toughen supervision and maintenance at existing waste storage facilities in Brazil and ban construction of the cheapest type of tailings dams.

He said that dryer storage is better for tailings, which are the ground rock and effluents left over after milling.

He also said that dry-stack tailings facilities can cost 10 times more than upstream ponds, where discharged tailings become the foundation for future embankment raises.

Similar stories in the Globe and Mail and DW.

RMOW looking into corrosion in Whistler water system
Wed, 07/06/2016
Author: Braden Dupuis
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The municipality of Whistler is working with UBC Civil Engineering Professor Loretta Li and engineering firm Kerr Wood Leidal Associates to examine corrosion in Whistler’s water distribution system, reports Pique newsmagazine.

The study, which started this month, will continue for the next two years, Li said.

“We also will look at different kinds of factors, for example the water temperature, the pH effects, and also stagnant or non stagnant (water sources),” she said, adding that the results could be useful for communities across Canada.

How Self-Piloted Drones Will Avoid Collisions in the Air
Tue, 07/05/2016
Author: Samar Warsi
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Vice reported on UBC alumni Alexander Harmsen and James Howard, co-founders of Vancouver drone start-up Iris Automation.

The company’s goal is to develop a fully autonomous drone that could help with jobs like mining exploration, pipeline construction, agricultural surveys, package deliveries, forest management, and search and rescue.

“Think about mining surveys. Right now, you have helicopter pilots flying at crazy low heights, say 40 or 50 meters above the ground, for 10 hours a day. It’s boring and it’s so dangerous. We could have a fleet of 100 drones flying seven-to-eight hours a day over huge swaths of land, and not only is that cost effective, it is so much safer for the pilots,” Harmsen said.

Similar story on TechCrunch.