Oshawa’s Ontario Tech U helps develop Canada’s first zero-emission electric car

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Published January 5, 2023 at 3:40 pm

Canada’s first zero-emission concept electric vehicle, developed at Ontario Tech University’s Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Oshawa, made its global debut Thursday at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

Over the past two years the school was home to a top-secret and visionary national engineering project known as Project Arrow, which had one driving mission: build Canada’s first zero-emission concept electric vehicle.

Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA) selected Ontario Tech as the lead academic institution for Phase 2 of the project, an all-Canadian engineered concept funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor at Ontario Tech, said the school regularly attracts the brightest research and academic minds in key areas needed for the project’s success, including additive manufacturing, automotive engineering, aerodynamics, electrification, energy storage, battery chemistry and cybersecurity.

“Ontario Tech’s role in this ambitious undertaking is a trailblazing example of our exceptional competencies and faculty and student talent in world-class research and engineering projects,” he said. “We know how to get things done collaboratively at Ontario Tech. Our DNA contains the ideal ecosystem to drive innovation and commercialization forward that will better our planet.”

The university was chosen as the build partner due to its global reputation for excellence in energy, automotive, smart mobility and engineering research expertise, he added. “Most of all, Ontario Tech was chosen because of the reputation of its people to get things done.”

The university was also selected for its exemplary track record with industry partners and its ACE core research and testing facility that features world-class automotive prototype build capacity and a Climatic Aerodynamic Wind Tunnel with unique capabilities for concept development, including the capacity to simulate extreme cold and powerful windstorms.

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science professors, undergraduate and graduate students, and engineering technical staff helped prepare the Arrow for the full range of harsh Canadian weather conditions.

Paula Ambra, Ontario Tech ACE Project Arrow Engineering Lead, who worked closely with APMA Chief Engineer Fraser Dunn (recruited from the U.K.’s Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.) to head up Project Arrow’s build, is an example of Ontario Tech’s commitment to advancing women in STEM.

“I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to utilize my automotive background to be part of such a talented and hard-working team,” she enthused. “To see this vision of a Canadian electric vehicle prototype being designed and built right here in Canada, with some of the most incredible academic talent, skilled trades talent, supplier technology and like-minded people, is truly a once-in-a-career opportunity.”

As part of the ACE technical staff, Ambra is responsible for offering technical and business advisory services to Ontario-based companies to assist in the testing, validation and prototyping of new connected and autonomous vehicle products and technologies and supporting faculty members’ research projects. Before joining the ACE team, she held progressive engineering positions within the automotive industry, most recently as Engineering Group Manager for Lower Body Structures at General Motors Canada.

Project Arrow progressed from initial supplier meetings all the way to part design, fabrication, and full build on-site in the ACE climactic wind tunnel at Ontario Tech and all of the aerodynamic testing was performed inside the ACE Core research Facility.

Whereas today’s cars are typically built on assembly lines, every design and fabrication detail of the Arrow, from the decision on type and placement for every bolt, to the full installation and build, was completed on campus by a team of experts and future talent from the university’s engineering programs.

Andrew Genovese, a fourth-year Automotive Engineering student at Ontario Tech, was one of those “future talents” involved in the build. Genovese worked on the installation of body panels, subframes, suspension systems, brake lines, motors and was also involved with the manufacturing of parts, as well as the logistics of shipping parts for the project.

“Working on this project has been an incredible experience and I have learned so much. Being hands-on and developing almost every Arrow component has helped me further understand the challenges faced when designing and building a vehicle, and the purpose each part serves,” he said.

The team collaborated with the APMA’s many partners, including industry leaders, start-ups and large Tier-1 suppliers across Canada to contribute and collaborate on Project Arrow.

“Project Arrow is an all-Canadian initiative, and we are very happy that APMA partnered with Ontario Tech for its capabilities, both in terms of the university’s innovative ACE Core Research Facility, and the passion and experience of our faculty and students,” said Dr. Les Jacobs, Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the university. “It’s a special feeling to know that we are making a vital contribution to support innovative lab-to-market projects in our country in the critical fight against climate change.”

A group of Ontario Tech faculty researchers, led by Dr. Ahmad Barari, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS), worked closely with students and the ACE engineering team to create significant efficiencies in vehicle development processes, using emerging technologies such a digitalization in design, manufacturing, and inspection, multi-physics simulations, and additive manufacturing.”

Project Arrow also created hands-on work and learning opportunities for a group of more than twenty FEAS students, including Izzy Cossarin, a fourth year Mechatronics Engineering student.

“Over the past few months, the whole team has been working on building Canada’s first zero-emission electric vehicle concept car. Working with different suppliers and learning the entire vehicle design and build process firsthand has been such an amazing learning opportunity.”

Both Genovese and Cossarin were invited to the official unveiling of the Arrow in Las Vegas.

Video link: Behind the scenes of Project Arrow development at Ontario Tech University

With files from Ontario Tech University Marketing & Communications department

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