Published January 8, 2014
Through my work at Scott Library and my connection with the Institute For Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), I heard of the interesting programme for first year engineering students at the University of Toronto. Each year individuals or groups can submit real world problems that require engineering solutions to the Engineering Strategies and Practice course (APS112 & APS113) in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. I submitted a proposal for my apartment building in December 2012.
Two teams were eventually selected to handle my proposal to find solutions for either a solar panel installation or a green roof. The overall goal was to increase energy efficiency of the building and/ or have a system to generate energy in an environmentally friendly fashion.
From January to the end of April 2013, I assisted two teams of five engineering students on these projects. I was struck by each team’s professionalism, courtesy and efficiency. The two team leaders communicated with me in a timely fashion, keeping me abreast of the progress of the teams’ efforts, when our next meetings would be held and if there was any additional information required to complete the design plans.
I met with the teams on several occasions for tours of my building and the surrounding area and also to allow for my debriefings on the stages of the planning/ development of the assignment. I found all the participants respectful of each other and everyone played a part in these meetings and answered all my questions and concern. The teams were thorough in their investigation, analysis and solutions. They were always open to considering my suggestions and comments regarding the project and indeed sought them out.
Each group delivered a presentation to which I was invited. Both teams gave very professional summations of their projects. Everyone handled the questions from the audience of classmates and faculty with aplomb and gave detailed responses to whatever issues raised.
Both teams completed a Final Design Specification (FDS) paper which I found to be thorough and well written, and both included impressive lists of resources used to base their conclusions and findings. I do not have sufficient professional knowledge of the engineering field to offer an in depth assessment of these sources, but as far as I am able to judge, the sources appeared relevant and worthwhile. The papers offered solutions to resource consumption and conservation. One team’s solutions included a “master” on/off switch for non-essential electrical appliances in each unit, an electricity meter in every apartment to allow everyone the option of monitoring their usage, occupancy sensor-assisted lighting in the underground parking and roof top solar panels with tracking systems. The second team designed a system called a “Power Plateau” which consisted of an array of roof top solar panels as well as a rain harvesting unit to supplement the water usage of the building’s occupants.
Summing up, I found both teams were extremely capable and effective and devoted to completing the objectives of the course in a professional and scholarly manner. They were polite and pleasant to work with and I would recommend anyone to participate in this programme. The end product of a professionally researched and written report with grounded engineering solutions geared to the specifics of individual circumstances, at no cost, helps everyone involved in this process.
All the best in 2014,
Domestic Government Documents Librarian
Disaster & Emergency Management Studies Librarian
“No matter how many setbacks there may be along the road, you may be sure that some day the right and the just will prevail. It will prevail simply because it is right and just.” Tommy Douglas