Images highlighting key moments of the past year at USask Engineering: (clockwise from top left) made-in-Saskatchewan ventilators, a quiet building in April 2020, COVID-19 wastewater surveillance in Saskatoon, and research at the Canadian Lightsource to develop an air filter that deactivates the COVID-19 virus

A year of adaptation, innovation and grit

March 13, 2020 was the last day of routine operation at USask Engineering and the beginning of a year unlike any other.

The day-to-day lives of students, staff and faculty in the College of Engineering were turned upside-down as our building and campus closed as part of USask's response to COVID-19. All research in the college was temporarily suspended and in less than a week, students and faculty moved to online teaching and learning.

There have been innumerable challenges – logistically, mentally and emotionally – but there have been just as many examples of resourcefulness and perseverance from everyone within our college. We cannot capture every achievement – and many have been purely personal victories – but here are some highlights of USask Engineering’s COVID-19 response over the past year.

Teaching and learning in a pandemic

April 30, 2020: From business as usual to an empty building.
  • It took only a handful of days for USask Engineering to to move to remote operation. In a matter of days, and at one of the busiest times of the year – mid March – the college transformed from business as usual to remote operation.
August 18, 2020: Engineering labs go virtual
  • USask Engineering developed innovative ways to give their students virtual alternatives to a traditional hands-on lab experience. 

USask Engineering partners on made-in-Saskatchewan ventilator

Dec. 3, 2020: USask partners on made-in-Saskatchewan ventilator project
  • University of Saskatchewan Engineering was one part of the collaboration between USask and Saskatoon-based RMD Engineering. 
December 10, 2020: University innovation needed in times of crisis: Kresta op-ed
  • The pandemic has driven home the point that local problems often require local solutions, USask Engineering Dean Suzanne Kresta writes in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix. 

COVID-19 wastewater surveillance

October 30, 2020: COVID-19 levels in Saskatoon's wastewater plant point to upcoming increase in cases
  • University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers including USask Engineering's Kerry McPhedran, along with partners at the City of Saskatoon (CoS) and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) have developed a COVID-19 early warning system by sampling and testing the city’s wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
February 22, 2021: More funding for COVID-19 wastewater testing
  • A University of Saskatchewan (USask) research team has been awarded $137,392 from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to conduct a six-month COVID-19 wastewater surveillance project in Saskatoon and at five Saskatchewan First Nations communities to provide early warning of outbreaks.

Engineering researchers join fight against COVID-19

September 9, 2020: USask Engineering researchers receives COVID-19 funding on several fronts
  • Faculty and students sharing in funds from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) include Carey Simonson, Jafar Soltan, Sven Achenbach, Chris Zhang, and Randy Lin. 
January 1, 2021: USask engineers developing air filter to deactivate COVID-19 virus
  • Chemical and biological engineering professor Jafar Soltan is working with PhD candidate Nazanin Charchi to develop technology that neutralizes the COVID-19 virus.

Contributing to safety

April 3, 2020: USask unites: Engineering donates N95 masks
  • The University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Engineering contributed N95 masks, gloves and more when USask called for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health-care workers.
April 20, 2020: USask Engineering team designing 3D-printable N95 masks to address global shortage
  • Using 3D printers, a University of Saskatchewan (USask) engineering team is designing a comfortable, reusable and sanitizable N95 class respirator mask aimed at protecting emergency room doctors and nurses from COVID-19 in the midst of a global shortage of medical-grade masks.
December 11, 2020: Don't overlook ventilation as a COVID safety measure: USask HVAC expert
  • Carey Simonson, internationally recognized for his expertise in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technology, is pleased to see that people are talking about the importance of better ventilation.
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