School of Engineering: What’s new for 2014-2015

International Engagement Projects, Exchanges and Learning Opportunities

The School of Engineering has two exciting on-going international exchanges and learning opportunities. The first is a visit to UBC Okanagan by engineering students from Brazil under the “Brazil Science without Borders” program, and the second is the hosting of visiting international undergraduate students from the India Institute of Technology system for the past two years.

Brazil Science without Borders: In January 2014, 22 students from Brazil arrived at the School of Engineering on UBC’s Okanagan campus as part of Brazil’s Science Without Borders (SwB) scholarship program in cooperation with the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). This program aims to provide funding for approximately 101,000 Brazilian students to study STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects through international partnerships by 2015. UBC’s Okanagan campus is privileged to host SwB students on their first trip to the Okanagan. Each student was awarded a research placement with one of our faculty members and gained valuable hard and soft skills while immersing themselves in Canadian professional culture.

Indian Institute of Technology Visits: The School of Engineering on UBC’s Okanagan campus has hosted visiting international students from the Indian Institute of Technology system for the past two years. Eight students participated in 2013 with that number increasing to 17 in 2014. Students traveled to Canada from Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Delhi, Roorkee, and Bombay, and worked on research projects that included Metallurgical and Materials, and Biotechnology and Biomedical within the Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering fields. Each student worked directly with UBC Okanagan faculty and staff in order to gain valuable research and professional culture experience.

Research initiatives with local and global impacts

All of the research conducted within the School of Engineering has linkages with both local and global impacts. The impact can be seen through partnerships with both small, local companies and large multinationals, and collaborations with other faculty from UBC Okanagan as well as faculty from a myriad of world-leading universities and research institutes.

The Electrical Engineering program is excited about new research opportunities in micro-electro-mechanical devices, digital systems and electronics, and power systems that are now possible with three new faculty members, Ian Foulds, Liwei Wang, and Ayman Elnaggar, who have strong expertise in these areas. Exciting teaching and research initiatives from the new faculty promise to bolster the quality and breadth of the Electrical Engineering program.

Foulds will establish a new research laboratory to explore cutting-edge applications of micro-fabricated systems. Wang will research topics in renewable energy integration, power system analysis, and high power electronic converter technology. His new graduate course “High Power Converters for Power System Application” will reflect rapid advancements in renewable energy integration for power utilities. Elnaggar plans to build the embedded systems culture at the School by developing new student laboratories and integrating academy programs of leading technology providers such as Intel Embedded, ARM University, Qualcomm, and Wind River University Programs. You might see his students very soon moving robots and cars using their mobiles or flying Quad-Choppers and Drones.

Civil Engineering Structures are a prime example of engineering in grandeur. The School of Engineering’s Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures (LAMS) was established by Asst. Prof. Shahria Alam to perform research in advanced/innovative materials and their structural engineering applications. This lab has the state-of-the-art facilities including large size actuators, strong foundation, and test frame along with non-destructive and durability testing equipment. LAMS is dedicated towards the development of adaptive structures that can substantially reduce various hazards (e.g. seismic, wind) to civil infrastructure, performance assessment of various structures/components and monitoring of their structural health. Since its inception, LAMS has been dedicated to provide leadership in the advancement of knowledge on advanced materials and structures through high quality training of students, original research, interaction with the community at large, and partnering with companies in British Columbia.

Biomedical Engineering Research at UBC Okanagan provides an opportunity that the knowledge and expertise in the areas of medicine and engineering are brought together. Combining engineering and medicine, our research pioneers new technologies and methodologies in order to address human-health issues. As the physical, chemical, mathematical and computational sciences merge with biology, medicine, behavior and health, the results are new materials, devices and processes that prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. The main groups of our biomedical engineering research include biomechanics (Prof. Hadi Mohammadi), biomaterials and biochemical engineering (Profs. Hadi Mohammadi and Keekyoung Kim), medical imaging (Prof. Andrew Jirasek, Physics), bio- and tele- robotics (Prof. Homayoun Najjaran), and biomicrosystems such as biosensors and lab-on-a-chip (Profs. Mina Hoorfar, Keekyoung Kim and Ian Foulds). Biomedical engineering research at the UBC links between the faculties of engineering, medicine, Kelowna General Hospital and BC Cancer agency.

Transformative and Flexible Learning

Engineering is about the application of knowledge to design things and therefore integrating design projects in the training of new engineers is vital. Design is also rewarding and fun, and students find design projects very engaging. One example of a design project undertaken by UBC Okanagan campus Electrical Engineering students can be found in Asst. Prof. Thomas Johnson’s Microwave Engineering class (ENGR470), as the students design, implement, and test a microwave amplifier. Microwave amplifiers are a ubiquitous circuit block used in every wireless communication system and the project gives students experience in the application of theoretical concepts to design practical circuit microwave circuits. Students begin with a set of design specifications for the amplifier with the objective to implement a design that meets the specifications. Computer aided design tools are used to simulate the circuit, verify the design, and create design files (artwork) to fabricate the circuit board. After the boards are fabricated by a commercial board vendor, students build and test their circuits. Microwave test equipment is used to measure the performance of the circuit and students compare the measured results of their design with the original design specifications. For many students, this is the first project where they have designed and built hardware. Students often keep their designs and proudly use them as examples of their engineering experience to help get that first job after graduating from UBC.

Community Engagement

Women in Engineering

Group Photo – Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, (February, 2014)

The School of Engineering’s Women in Engineering student committee has big plans in the next few years. Professional development, outreach initiatives, peer mentoring, a bid for a national conference, are all some of the activities in-progress. All of these activities are planned to support, and retain our university students in our program, while also reaching out to younger girls to inspire them about careers in Engineering. The Faculty of Applied Science has set an ambitious goal to increase female enrolment to 50 per cent women in our program within five years.

For the past 2 years, the Women in Engineering committee has partnered with School District #23 to offer the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day program in which female undergraduate students host with high-school female students to promote engineering. The response from local high school students has been incredible! We have sold out this program for the past 2 years, and have plans to expand our program and outreach initiatives with the School district to reach our targets for female enrolment.

Engineers Without Borders – global learning opportunities

Bret Nestor, – Junior Fellowship, Zambia – Engineers without Borders

Blog link:

Innovative and Interdisciplinary Learning

Alumni: Although the School of Engineering has a growing number of alumni, these young engineers are making strong contributions to society, and even in some cases already giving back to the university. Emily Landry (BASc in Electrical Engineering, 2012) is one of our School’s outstanding student alumni. Shortly after graduating from Electrical Engineering, she travelled to Ghana to conduct a solar energy feasibility study as part of Project GROW (Ghana Rural Opportunities for Women), a community development initiative that connects UBC Okanagan with rural villages in Ghana. Now employed as an electrical engineer with BC Hydro, Landry continues to contribute to Project GROW and the School of Engineering through the Capstone program. During the last semesters, Emily was the industrial sponsor for a Capstone team that designed and built a portable solar power generator, technology that could enable cost-effective electrification of rural areas of Ghana.

Emma Houiellebecq (BASc in Civil Engineering, 2013) is a second outstanding alumnus of School of Engineering spent. She spent six months in Uganda, working on gravity-flow water distribution systems for rural communities who had no access to a safe water supply. This project was a part of Africa Community Technical Service (ACTS). Emma along with another Canadian engineer worked closely with an Ugandan construction team where she was involved in all phases of the project including: conceptual design, construction stage, searching for water sources in the mountains, GPS-tracking potential pipeline routes, designing the hydraulic system using excel spreadsheets, and developing budgets and proposals for funding. Living and working in Uganda had its many unique challenges and excitements. The language and cultural barrier created difficulty in communication; living in tents for six months and eating local food for every meal were other challenges, but being passionate about her work, she could overcome all of these. Through her dedication and hard work and by utilizing her engineering skills in a real project, Emma could make a direct impact and improvement to the life of a local Ugandan community. After successfully completing this project, Emma came back to Canada. Currently she is working as a Structural Engineer at Equilibrium Consulting in Vancouver and would like to make similar impact to her own community for a safer and sustainable living in Canada.

For more information on these stories, please contact Emily Landry at and Emma Houiellebecq at

Contact information for School of Engineering:

Tel: 250 807-8723 | Fax: 250 807-9850

Social Media Contact: Tanya Chartrand,

New faculty members

Ian Foulds (Electrical) – assistant professor

Ian Foulds is a new faculty member in Electrical Engineering, coming to UBC’s Okanagan Campus from an assistant professorship position at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Foulds’ research looks at the application of micro- fabrication techniques to problems in MEMS and microfluidics. His research group is currently working on parallelizing microfluidics to reach industrially relevant production volumes, high throughput biomolecule detection and an implantable drug delivery device.

Joshua Brinkerhoff (Mechanical) – assistant professor

Joshua Brinkerhoff received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa, ON. Having grown up in Kelowna, he is excited to return to home to establish the UBC-Okanagan Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. His primary research focus is on how flow instabilities and turbulence affect the performance and efficiency of the processes and equipment used in the aerospace, nuclear, and oil and gas industries. He is also interested in the simulation of multiphase, turbulent flows as an analysis tool for compressed and liquefied natural gas (CNG and LNG) systems and to study the dispersion of atmospheric pollutants in urban and agricultural environments and in buildings employing passive ventilation systems.

Dr. Ayman Elnaggar (Electrical) – assistant professor

Ayman Elnaggar started his career with UBC Okanagan in July 2014. His areas of expertise include Digital Systems Design and Embedded Systems. Elnaggar strongly believes in students learning by doing. He plans to build the embedded systems culture on campus by developing state of the art lab and by enrolling UBC in the academy programs of leading technology providers such as Intel Embedded, ARM University, Qualcomm, and Wind River University Programs. You might see his students very soon moving robots and cars using their mobile phones or flying quad-choppers and drones over campus. Elnaggar enjoys working with his students as much as he does working on the community level. He is a leader in developing and coordinating technology-based community development initiatives to empower youth and disadvantaged communities. He is planning to encourage his students to volunteer and engage in his community outreach initiatives.

Liewei Wang (Electrical) – assistant professor

Liewei Wang received a master of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Tianjin University, China, in 2004 and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2010. From February 2009 to July 2009, he was an internship researcher at ABB Corporate Research Center, Baden-Dättwil, Switzerland. He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of British Columbia from February 2010 to July 2010. From August 2010, he joined ABB Corporate Research Center, Västerås, Sweden, as a scientist and then a senior scientist. He joined the University of British Columbia-Okanagan in July, 2014 as an assistant professor in the school of engineering. His research interests include power system analysis, operation and simulation, electrical machine and drives, power electronic converter design, control and topology, power semiconductors modeling and characterization, utility power electronics applications, HVDC and FACTS, renewable energy sources, and distributed generation. He is a holder of nine international patent filings.

Changes and promotions

The School of Engineering has hired three laboratory research technicians to support the smooth operation of the School of Engineering experimental researcher and their respective research groups. They will work with faculty members and graduate students. Their work will include fabricating and/or assembling complex equipment and test fixtures, procuring, installing, and maintaining major equipment.

Director Rehan Sadiq


Associate Dean Spiro Yannacopoulos


Dean Marc Parlange


UBC researchers are ready to engage with the community during Celebrate Research week, March 3-7.

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