Students awarded for strengthening Canadian automotive sector through innovative research

NIAGARA FALLS, ON, May 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Automakers increasingly rely on innovations to help meet stringent fuel standards, decrease vehicle weight and increase vehicle connectivity. Canadian university graduate students with the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence are helping automakers achieve these goals and enhancing the automotive community through automotive research and development.

A University of Guelph team was nationally recognized May 28 at the AUTO21 2014 Conference in Niagara Falls, Ont. for its research on hybrid biobased composite materials for automotive interior parts. The team was awarded first place in the AUTO21 Highly Qualified People (HQP) Poster Competition, taking home a $4,500 prize.

"To compete in the global marketplace, Canada needs to develop products in addition to manufacturing," said Dr. Peter Frise, AUTO21 Scientific Director and CEO. "It's extremely important that graduate student ideas are deployed and become useful in the world. I think it's really an essential part of development of the country because they are the future of a critical sector in the Canadian economy."

The University of Guelph team contributes to the Hybrid Biocomposites for Automotive Applications project, which is led by Dr. Amar Mohanty, University of Guelph, and Dr. Mohini Sain, University of Toronto. Team members include Kunyu Zhang, Vidhya Nagarajan and Arturo Rodriguez.

The competition offers HQP a chance to showcase their research success and is open to students within the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence program. Nearly 50 teams presented leading-edge technologies in this year's event. The annual HQP Poster Competition boasts a total prize purse of approximately $15,000. Sixteen semi-finalist teams are selected from the initial pool of entrants, with each team member receiving a $50 bookstore voucher. The semi-finalists provide an oral defence of their research poster. Final winners are selected upon this evaluation. The winners receive a cash prize to be divided amongst the team members. Judges include senior industry, government and R&D experts.

Final ranking of the top student teams:

Project name



Hybrid Biobased Composite Materials for Automotive Interior Parts

University of Guelph


Friction Stir Welded of Magnesium Alloy Wheels

McMaster University, Queen's University, University of Toronto, University of Alberta


Do Plug-In Electric Vehicles Provide Life Cycle Air Emissions Impact Benefits Compared to Alternative Fuel Use in Non-Plug-In Vehicles?

University of Toronto


Assessing the Relevance of the Simulator as a Screening Tool for At-Risk Older Drivers

Lakehead University


Microstructural Evolution of Hot-Rolled Steel

Queen's University

Honourable Mention/$1,000


AUTO21 supports nearly 200 researchers and more than 400 student researchers at 48 universities across the country. More than 130 public and private sector organizations partner with AUTO21. With an annual research budget of approximately $11 million, AUTO21 and its partners support projects in six key areas: health, safety and injury prevention; societal issues; materials and manufacturing; design processes; powertrains, fuels and emissions; and intelligent systems and sensors. AUTO21 is supported by the Government of Canada through a Networks of Centres of Excellence program, and its administrative centre is hosted by the University of Windsor.


For further information: Kristie Pearce, Communications Manager, AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence, Tel: 519.253.3000, ext. 4128, Cell: 519.890.6830,


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