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STEAM innovations on display at Durham College

Danielle Fegyverneki and Nathaniel Moss present their design for a sustainable vacation home in north Oshawa. (Photo by Aly Beach)

By Aly Beach/The Oshawa Express

What do immunity-boosting ice cream, a sustainable family home and a wearable medical monitoring headset all have in common? They were all recently presented at the Durham College (DC) Celebrate STEAM Student Project Exhibition.

The event, presented by the DC Office of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE), celebrated students’ latest projects related to science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics (STEAM). Students from the DC School of Science and Engineering Technology and the Centre for Food presented products, examples, prototypes and designs for new food products, wearable technology and sustainable building designs.

“I think it’s amazing. What I really enjoy about today, Celebrate STEAM, is that it’s a great day for students to show the rest of the world what they can bring to the table,” said Dean of ORSIE, Debbie McKee Demczyk. “I think it just opens up more doors for the students. They have an opportunity to be excited about what they’ve learned and think about their careers.”

Among the many creations were Chamogelo gummy bears, a healthy, vegan alternative made with vegan ingredients and no gelatin. This particular treat caught McKee Demczyk’s attention.

“I’m pretty excited about the gummy bears. They are a vegan product and it tastes like a gummy bear you would purchase off the shelf. They’re flavourful and chewy. It’s really good.”

Another comfort food available was Immuno-Boost Mint Chocolate Ice Cream. It uses echinacea, ginseng and astragalus root to support the immune system. The ice cream is dairy and sugar-free and uses coconut milk and almond milk as a base and xylitol, a sugar alcohol, for sweetness.

According to the group who presented it, the ice cream is a good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or diabetic.

“There was a need in the market. There are a lot of non-dairy ice creams but they use high amount of sugars. So, we wanted to challenge that and make a dairy-free, sugar-free product with added health benefits. We added herbs that are known to help strengthen the immune system,” says Namra Ahmad, a pharmaceutical and food science student.

Food innovation wasn’t the only thing on display at the event. TeleVital Signs Wearable Technology say they have come up with a solution to vital sign monitoring devices that can sometimes be uncomfortable and inconvenient. They created a prototype of a headset that can wirelessly monitor a patient’s vital signs and send the information to a doctor’s wireless device in real-time. The device can detect vital signs “more comfortably and more accurately,” according to Biomedical Engineering Technology student Rebecca Landry.

The headset uses customized moulds, created with 3D-printing, and goes into the ears for accurate, comfortable monitoring.  The device is meant to monitor people who have already been diagnosed with chronic health problems that may need to be monitored more often.

“The idea is to create the most normal life possible,” says Landry.

Architectural Technology students Danielle Fegyverneki and Nathaniel Moss designed a sustainable vacation home in North Oshawa for a client and his family. Working with an unlimited budget, they created a house that is compartmentalized so parts of it can shut down and not waste energy.

The home uses solar panels for power, and is insulated with straw. The house was designed to not need a furnace or air conditioner. The heat comes from the sun, the cooling comes from earth tubes, which provide cool air. The house also uses a solar chimney to help regulate temperature. Moss estimates the total cost of this house would be around $500,000.

The Celebrate STEAM event started last year and encourages students from different programs and backgrounds to work together.