Putting Windsor On The Map

Second-year electrical and computer engineering student Austin Liolli with the lab-on-a-chip, October 31, 2016. (Photo courtesy University of Windsor)

A University of Windsor student is excited to be representing his school and country at one of the largest conferences for mechanical engineers in the world.

Second-year electrical and computer engineering student Austin Liolli and Assistant Professor Jalal Ahamed are finalists in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Young Engineer Paper Contest for their “lab-on-a-chip” device.

“The whole lab-on-a-chip is reducing hardware costs all just to one chip,” describes Liolli. “It allows people to get so many different things done, that in old labs would take entire rooms.”

Liolli says it’s the same type of technology as you can find in a pregnancy test or a device that a diabetics uses to test blood sugar, only their chip is much more versatile. He thinks it can help researchers do everything from testing material properties to detecting diseases, and it can be mass produced using 3D printers.

Ahamed says it would be useful in research labs right away and could be sold commercially, in some capacity, in the future.

“There’s more and more need, with smart phones and other devices, to have personalized medicine and to be able to do your tests on-site or on point of care, or in remote locations,” he explains.

Liolli and Ahamed will be presenting their project at the ASME’s International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Phoenix, Arizona on November 15.

Of the five finalists, they are the only ones from a Canadian school.

“A lot of these people don’t even know — let alone, what are the big schools in Canada — they don’t know the University of Windsor,” says Liolli. “So to go there and show them that we’re leading in research along with them is a huge honour.”