Campus Digest: Western team takes second in IDeA competition

By Communications Staff
May 22, 2014

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A team of five Western students with an idea to aid visually impaired athletes finished second among the finalists in the Council of Ontario Universities’ (COU) annual Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) student competition.

The team – comprised of Joseph Santarelli, Ahmed Tanashi, Justin Lam, Shuang Song and Nicole Kucirek – developed a sensor that emits a sound when swimmers who have visual impairments near the end of a pool, or when runners make their way around a track.

Song, Santarelli and Kucirek were part of a team that competed with the idea in the competition last year.

In addition to their second-place finish, the team received a bonus prize of $1,500 awarded to the IDeA that best addresses a barrier in para-sport and active living.

Nine finalists from seven Ontario universities showcased their inventions at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery Conference, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

A team from Carleton University won first place for its portable toilet that can expand by four times the usual size to make room for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers and personal support workers.

McMaster University and Carleton tied for third place. McMaster won for a mapping system that rates the accessibility of campus paths and corridors to help students with disabilities navigate unfamiliar territory. Carleton won for a mobile app and wristband that vibrates to alert those with visual disabilities that friends are nearby, allowing them to initiate conversation instead of having to be approached.

This year, 18 of 21 Ontario universities participated in the contest, which is supported through the Ontario government’s EnAbling Change program and partners at the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario in the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Last year, Carleton swept the top three awards.


Huron University College conferred degrees of Master of Divinity to four students and Master of Theological Studies to five students at its annual Theology Convocation May 8. The Western affiliate college also presented Doctor of Divinity Degreed (honoris causa) on the Right Rev. Bishop Peter Fenty and the Right Rev. Susan Moxley.

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Mechanical Engineering student Awad Khan was named runner-up in the Oxford Princeton Programme’s Future Energy Business Leaders of the 21st Century scholarship contest. Khan will receive 10 free web-based training vouchers from The Oxford Princeton Programme. 

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Political Science professor Salim Mansur’s latest book, Delectable Lie:  a liberal repudiation of multiculturalism, was awarded the Montaigne Medal by the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for the most thought-provoking book published by a small press. In his book, Mansur contends inherent in the idea of official multiculturalism in Canada is a belief, and now a policy, that all cultures are equal, and that this is a lie, albeit a ‘delectable’ lie. Cultures based on the values of liberal democracy are, according to Mansur, superior to those cultures that deny or restrict individual human rights and acquiesce to those who persecute women seeking equal rights, gays, religious or ethnic minorities and those who seek freedom based on individual rights.

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This summer Pashv Shah, a third-year Western student, will join 35 of Canada’s top young leaders traveling to China on a Junior Team Canada Trade Mission, sponsored by Global Vision. He and his fellow young Canadians will represent their communities and country this August on a delegation which will take them halfway around the world. This summer’s mission will focus on building connections between Canadian and Chinese business, government, community and cultural organizations.

“My role as an ambassador is to represent the interest of local companies in the international market and provide these companies with market research, information and access to contacts, all of which will be developed or gathered from my time in China,” Shah said. “I want to help Canadian-owned or -grown manufacturing companies expand so they can invest in more employment in both Canada and elsewhere.”

Shah was selected from a group of 650 who participated in the Economic Round Table series from coast to coast to coast. The mission departs late July with a return date in mid August.

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The Spencer Gallery in The D. B. Weldon Library hosts Lost and Forgotten, an exhibit by alumna Brenda Stonehouse, until June 28.

Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Stonehouse’s artistic mediums have varied throughout the years from photography to painting. Her interest in photography began while working with her father in his darkroom, and continues today as a record-keeping tool to assist with her painting.

The works in Lost and Forgotten come from her photography during canoe trips in the back country of Northern Ontario, hiking in her backyard or walking with friends along the banks of the Thames River and Medway Creek.

“While on these outings, I encounter many species of flora and fauna living harmoniously and/or decaying to enrich the continuous growth of the natural forest,” Stonehouse said of the exhibit. “Whether something is lost and forgotten, or it just doesn’t belong, it is cultivating new beginnings. Some of the objects preserved in these paintings have likely disappeared – but are not forgotten.”

This story originally appeared in the May 22, 2014 edition of Western News.


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