Publication showcases students’ research
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RICHARD LAUTENS/TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE
Focusing so much of their time studying math and science, engineering students are not known for their writing. Farrokh Janabi-Sharifi is out to change that.
The associate professor in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering at Ryerson University has launched what is believed to be the first academic journal of its kind dedicated to the publication of research papers by engineering students.
“This provides a vehicle for students to publish their early results,” said Janabi-Sharifi, who is editor-inchief.
“I hope it will stimulate them to formulate problems, conduct experiments, reach conclusions and write papers about that.
“I also hope it will open them to the idea of engaging in research work and contributing to the education and science community rather than just coming here to study and then get out and get a job.”
Janabi-Sharifi said he got the idea for the journal when some of his students asked if there was anywhere for them to get their work published.
Checking the Internet, he found some geared to those studying other disciplines — such as business and law — but nothing for aspiring engineers.
With encouragement from colleagues and students as well as financial help for publishing costs from Ryerson’s dean of engineering, architecture and science, the Student Journal of Automation, Robotics, Mechatronics, and Manufacturing or SJARMM was born.
A non-profit enterprise, it debuted last month. Its beginnings are humble — nine papers, all written by Ryerson students. But Janabi-Sharifi is looking for at least 20 papers for next year and has added professors from the University of Western Ontario and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia to the journal’s editorial board, increasing the chances those studying engineering at those schools will contribute in the future.
The journal, which costs about $10 a copy, has also been sent to university libraries and engineering schools across North America to raise awareness among students and faculty. Depending on submissions, it may be published two or three times a year in the future.
“We’re not competing with advanced academic scientific journals,” said Janabi-Sharifi, who has asked students to keep their submissions to about one-third the length of typical academic journal pieces. “We’re just trying to give students an opportunity they cannot get anywhere else.”
Robyn Ellis, 27, took it. As part of her second-year studies in mechanical engineering, she and two colleagues designed, built and operated a small robot — dubbed the Copter Climber — to climb a set of stairs and then race along a straight path.
They then wrote about it in a fourpage paper. The trio found that while their project was a success because they implemented their design as a group, there were many ways it could have been improved in the design.