School of engineering science

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ENSC 100, Engineering, Technology, and Society, a course all engineering students take in their first semester in the program, addresses the issues of legal and ethical responsibilities. The course has three lectures on ethics, examining the engineer's responsibility for public safety, and two lectures on engineering and the environment.
ENSC 101, Writing Process, Persuasion, and Presentations, provides lectures on academic honesty, effective time management, and appropriate use of e-mail. In addition, a lecture is provided that addresses the issue of critical thinking within the context of various social issues.
ENSC 102, Form and Style in Professional Genres, requires completion of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS) training. In addition, students are provided information on appropriate workplace behaviour.
ENSC 305, Project Documentation and Group Dynamics, and ENSC 340/440, Engineering Science Project, provide information on safety standards, including a lecture by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), as well as lectures on entrepreneurial skills.
ENSC 406, Social Responsibility and Professional Practice, focuses on engineering ethics, law, business practice, and social responsibilities relating to issues of public and worker health and safety as well as sustainable design. Students learn the duties and responsibilities of a professional engineer to society, to colleagues, to employers, and to clients. Additionally, students learn the role of professional engineering associations and societies (such as APEGBC and IEEE), and the application of engineering codes of ethics to real-life situations.

Lectures in class are given by lawyers from Bull, Housser and Tupper, Professional Engineers from APEGBC, and experts in the field of sustainability. In tutorials, students are exposed to divergent opinions, providing opportunities for intellectual debate that help develop understanding of the complexities of the issues raised, the need to address safety as well as productivity, and the need to balance environmental sustainability with progress.

Engineering design of components, systems and proecesses that integrate mathematics, basic sciences, and engineering science is provided in the content of the upper level Engineering courses: ENSC 320, Electric Circuits II; ENSC 325, Microelectronics II; ENSC 327, Communication Systems; ENSC 350, Digital Systems Design; ENSC 351, Real Time and Embedded Systems; ENSC 380, Linear Systems; ENSC 383, Feedback Control Systems, and ENSC 387, Introduction to Electro-Mechanical Sensors and Actuators. The ENSC 4XX courses (424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 450, 472, 474, 476, 481, 483, 488, and 489) all further integrate mathematics, basic sciences, and engineering sciences in engineering design to meet specific needs.
Safety and reliability factors are included in the design experience through project courses, ENSC 340 (Engineering Science Project) and ENSC 440 (Capstone Engineering Science Project). These issues are also taught in ENSC 481 (Reliability Engineering). (As of fall 2006, ENSC 340 has been dropped from the syllabus and all students will take ENSC 440.)
Safety considerations are included in ENSC 220, Electric Circuits, which specifically includes information on safety standards and considerations related to human exposure to microwave radiation.
Economic considerations are included in ENSC 201, The Business of Engineering, which includes information on financing technology ventures, capital markets, business plans, personal finance, and taxation. Environmental considerations are included as part of the design experience in ENSC 100, Engineering, Technology and Society; ENSC 304, Human Factors and Usability Engineering; and ENSC 406, Social Responsibility and Professional Practice.
In addition to the various group laboratory exercises in the Engineering design courses, concepts of teamwork are introduced into the engineering design experience through ENSC 100, Engineering, Technology and Society; ENSC 102, Form and Style in Professional Genres; ENSC 340, Engineering Science Project; ENSC 440, Capstone Engineering Science Project; and ENSC 499, Engineering Science Undergraduate Thesis.
For the undergraduate students, the School offers the LabNet, an instructional network that delivers applications and network services in support of undergraduate courses. Engineering specific application software are supported and licensed while standard business applications are also provided for the students on both Unix and Windows platforms.

The Labnet infrastructure consists of a firewall and group of switches with 100baseT ethernet uplinks to the campus backbone. Although a Gbit fibre uplink connection is also available, it is not yet necessary. All workstations have 100baseT ports to the switches. Unix system servers are currently running Sun Solaris. By mid 2006, Windows system servers will be migrated to Windows 2003. Disk quota per student is 30MB for the PC environment and 80MB for the Unix environment.

LabNet supports both Unix and Windows workstations comprised of a total of 206 workstations and 21 PCs for QNX.
The Windows platform consists of 159 Pentium 4 and higher workstations, 3 Windows Servers, and two printers. Most of the PCs run Microsoft Windows XP with a remaining few Windows 2000 workstations that will be migrated to Windows XP Professional when newer releases of applications are purchased. Some Windows NT Workstation will continue to be supported in the near term because certain CAD software versions are currently incompatible with the latest versions of Windows in this teaching environment.
Part of LabNet is in the speciality labs. Operating systems in these labs include QNX , a Real Time OS as well as various flavours of Windows depending on particular hardware and software support requirements. In addition, Labnet also has an Unix platform with 26 Sun workstations for Microelectronics projects. These machines are connected together on isolated LAN’s and then integrated via Virtual LAN into LabNet as required.
Administrative computing is offered by OfficeNet, the office administrative network that delivers business applications like desktop publishing, word processors, databases, email, Internet and file and print services to administrative and technical staff offices and a small number of faculty offices. OfficeNet is currently comprised of 25 PC workstations running Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP Professional, and 3 Windows NT servers. Server disk capacity is 40GB. In the fall of 2006, OfficeNet will undergo a major upgrade, namely a new Windows 2003 server with SQL database will be installed to enable administrative staff to utilize a new campus wide database system for administrative activities (such as registration, recruiting, course planning, human resource management, etc.).
The School policy is to provide a first rate computing facility to our students, which means an adequate supply of up to date workstations for students use. Last year the School purchased close to 50 new workstations for general as well as specific course use. We planned to purchase additional new workstations this year; however, as usual, the major difficulty that we are facing is lack of space for more computer labs. We anticipate that lack of adequate space will be a major impediment that the School will be grappling with in the upcoming years.
The application of computers is required in the Engineering Sciences and Engineering Design components of the curriculum through the use of computer simulation, computer-aided design, and embedded computer systems. ENSC 150-3, Introduction to Computer Design, introduces concepts in digital logic and assembly language programming that leads to the analysis of a simple computer’s architecture. ENSC 225-4, Microelectronics I, and ENSC 325-4, Microelectronics II, require the use of SPICE for circuit simulation and design. ENSC 250-3, Introduction to Computer Architecture, uses a hardware description language to study computer design concepts. ENSC 351-4, Real Time and Embedded Systems, introduces real-time operating systems and requires development of software applications for real-time response in computers and embedded systems. Mathematical analysis and simulation programs such as MATLAB, MAPLE and MathCad are used in many courses as an aid in Engineering design and analysis. In addition to these courses, many of our other courses rely heavily on computer aided analysis and design of engineering systems.
The School has a modest machine shop and small workshop adjacent to it. Generally, the shop is opened in the morning and closed around 5 pm on weekdays; normally the shop is not open on weekends unless there is a specific need.
A reasonably good collection of standard hand tools is available in a large tool chest. For sheet metal work, a hand-operated, multi-purpose machine is available that can shear, bend, and curl thin sheets plus bend a limited range of small diameter tubing. A small hand-operated punch can be set up to make a variety of holes, plus there is a selection of specialized punches for nibbling square holes, D-type connecters, BNC connectors, etc. Other furnishings in the machine shop include a couple of bench vises, a sink, and a fume hood (with sink). In addition, because it is the only suitable space available with proper ventilation, a solder reflow station is in the machine shop, which is mostly used by people from Kinesiology. The Power tools available are as follows:
1. Milling machine, full size

2. Metal turning lathe, full size

3. Band saw, vertical cut

4. Band saw, horizontal cut (large material)

5. Drill press (two units)

6. Bench grinder, two wheels

Students are advised that they may make use of any of the hand tools (with care) at any time, but if they wish to use power tools they must fill out a “Request for Permission to Use Machine Shop Power Tools” form, which defines the tools they seek permission to use and for what period of time. After filling out the form, the student must discuss their request with a member of the lab facilities staff, who ascertains if the user has the necessary skills, training, and experience to safely use the machine(s) in question and a reasonable chance of successful fabrication. Because we do not provide training on this equipment, only users with previous experience using such machines are allowed to use them in our machine shop. Qualified users are given instruction about the specific machines we have. Names of authorized users and the equipment they may use are posted in the shop to permit spot checking for adherence to the policy.
Both graduate and undergraduate students may use the shop facilities. Users may be allowed access to the shop after hours and on weekends in special cases which are dealt with as they arise. Under no circumstances is anyone authorized to use power tools outside regular working hours unless there is at least one other person in the shop while the equipment is in use. Undergrads may be given access after hours during course offerings which make use of the shop (e.g., ENSC 330, ENSC 387, ENSC 440). A numerical combination lock on the shop doors permits after hours entry.
During regular working hours, users may ask any of the lab technical staff for assistance in the shop, although usually it is the Lab Facilities Engineer who gets the call since care and maintenance of the shop is his responsibility and he is most familiar with the shop resources and equipment. Faculty will generally have their grads/researchers deal with the Facilities Engineer, although on occasion faculty get involved as well.
While generally users are expected to do the work themselves, in some cases, if the time commitment is not unusually large, lab staff will actually do the work if the level of expertise required is beyond the user’s skill level, or if they have no training on the necessary tool/machine. Particularly during ENSC 440, a project course, lab staff are more frequently in the shop because students, when attempting to fabricate parts for their projects, often discover that part creation is more difficult than they expected. Lab staff provide advice and suggestions and sometimes recommend abandoning plans to use the shop if they perceive skill levels, expectations, and time allocations are unrealistically optimistic. Allowing the students the freedom to explore simple design and fabrication projects has proven invaluable in demonstrating “it’s not as simple as it looks” concepts. Many have made radical design changes after discovering it takes them two or three hours to make a simple bracket.
Due to the limited skills of the shop users and the fact we have no professional machinists on hand in the School, the complexity, quality, and precision of the work carried out in the shop is nothing extraordinary, and the most frequent shop uses are drilling holes, cutting and filing small parts, machining simple brackets and jigs, making sheet metal enclosures for electronics, and any work requiring a fume hood (e.g., epoxy preparation, heating and cooling samples for course work, etc.). Really high precision work is either ordered through the Science Technical Centre here on campus or else contracted out to off-campus suppliers.
Over the past year, the School of Engineering Science has expanded its laboratory space in concert with new program development, and augmentation of the existing program. The goal of our laboratory development program is to provide students with a guided work experience environment where higher degrees of responsibility are accepted as they progress through their studies. Students develop skills, attitudes, and experience associated with professional engineering practice. This laboratory experience coupled with co-op work terms provides our students with a solid foundation in technical practice and deportment necessary for success as a professional engineer.
Expansion related to our existing program includes dedicated and enlarged communications, embedded systems, and robotics labs. Also, the general computer labs have been expanded through an increase in the number of terminals available to the students for their projects. The new biomedical option has been allotted significant lab space and a beginning budget of $300,000 for equipment. Our intention is that the biomedical lab facilities move students beyond computer models and simulation to hands-on experience with real biomedical issues. For example, much is learned from processing EKG signals once they have been obtained, but even more is learned by actually obtaining the signals. Having to deal with issues of sensor noise, impedance changes, interference, and the like is extremely valuable in developing a professional biomedical engineer. Our biomedical labs, like our existing program labs, will provide this kind of experience.
In addition to the dedicated labs described above, we have expanded our general work area allotted for special project courses, and we also provide temporary staging areas for the duration of particular courses. Moreover, we continue to update our existing equipment, while at the same time emphasizing to the students that they may not always have this kind of equipment available to them in industry. Therefore, we also use older equipment for the purpose of comparison. For example, this spring we upgraded the test equipment in lab 1 so that the signal generators as well as the scopes are computer controlled. A segment of an ENSC 320 (Electric Circuits 2) lab took advantage of this upgrade to introduce the students to automated frequency response measurement. This approach was compared to taking the same measurements manually.
Availble to our undergraduate students is a full complement of equipment and instrumentation to support the laboratory components for all the Engineering Science undergraduate courses offered by our School. This equipment includes electronic instrumentation for the electronics and communications courses, and mechanical and robotics equipment for the mechanical and systems courses. A list of equipment acquisitions for the last three years is provided in Appendix D.

Under ordinary circumstances, laboratory equipment is upgraded through the following yearly procedure. Faculty members and lab staff responsible for a specific course originate requests for equipment along with a justification in terms of educational outcome. The requested equipment for all courses is then ranked according to planned expenditures, need, urgency, and available funds and purchased accordingly. In special circumstances the university provides one-time funds for laboratory equipment, as was the case for the new biomedical program.

Laboratory space for the undergraduate and undergraduate/research labs is listed in Table 2.
Table 2: Undergraduate and Joint Undergrad/Research Laboratory Space







(sq. m.)

Ugrad Lab

340/440 project lab



Ugrad Lab

340/440 project lab



Ugrad Lab

340/440 project lab



Ugrad Lab

340/440 project lab



Ugrad Lab

General electronics lab



Ugrad Lab

ESIL Computer lab



Ugrad Lab

Systems lab



Ugrad Lab

Real time control lab



Ugrad Lab

Communications lab



Ugrad Lab

Sensors/actuators and robotics lab



Ugrad Lab




Ugrad Lab

New ugrad biomedical lab



Ugrad Lab

New ugrad biomedical lab



Ugrad Lab

PC Computer labs



Ugrad Lab

PC Computer labs



Ugrad Lab

Digital design lab




Joint Ugrad/Res Lab




Joint Ugrad/Res Lab

Machine shop



Joint Ugrad/Res Lab

Gowning room - ulec group



Joint Ugrad/Res Lab

Class 1000 - ulec group



Joint Ugrad/Res Lab




Joint Ugrad/Res Lab

Class 100 cleanroom





As mentioned, part of our laboratory experience is aimed at developing an attitude of professionalism. A unique aspect of our School that leads to this attitude of professionalism is that our laboratories are open to our students 24/7. While this policy has produced some challenges associated with the expanding student population, we consider it an opportunity to impress upon the students the need to respect the facilities, work-place rules, and each other.

Students obtain laboratory experience and instruction in laboratory safety procedures as part of the laboratory exercises in the lower level courses. Specifically, ENSC 151 introduces laboratory instruction and ENSC 220 deals with simple lab safety procedures. Passing WHMIS is a requirement for all ENSC majors taking ENSC 102. A self instruction WHMIS program has been installed on computers in Lab 1 and all ENSC majors must pass the associated quiz. A certificate indicating successful completion of this course can be generated for students who request it.
All our labs are “hands-on” rather than demonstration labs, although some are software-based. Laboratory group sizes are typically 3 to 5 students. Technical supervision is accomplished through teaching assistants along with laboratory instructors during normal office hours.
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