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Lassonde innovators look to commercialize research with York fellowship

This story originally appeared in YFile, written by Diana Senwasane.

Three aspiring researchers at the Lassonde School of Engineering have completed York University’s Commercialization Fellowship program, advancing their potential to bring to market innovations driven by the latest in emerging technologies.

The Commercialization Fellowship program is aimed at preparing and supporting postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows in understanding the process of transforming academic research into a product or service.

Funded by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation, the program started in 2021, providing a group of annual fellows education on intellectual property (IP) and commercialization, exposure to industry and community partners, experiential learning opportunities, and a $7,500 stipend to use towards creating a proof of concept, testing their prototype and completing validation studies. 

“Research commercialization can lead to real-world solutions, turning York community’s great ideas into products and services that provide both social and economic benefits,” said Suraj Shah, associate director of commercialization and industry partnerships. 

Learn about this year’s fellows from Lassonde and their products. 

Hamed Esmaeili – Mechanical Engineering
Project title: An accelerated strategy to characterize mechanical properties of materials 

Hamed Esmaeili
Hamed Esmaeili

A PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Esmaeili’s research leverages the power of machine learning to create new software that could have widespread application in the automotive manufacturing and construction industries.

His software innovation streamlines the way in which materials’ mechanical properties are characterized, eliminating the need for extensive physical testing.  

“For designers and engineers, this software offers a way to prototype new parts or evaluate existing materials without ever having to set foot inside a lab,” says Esmaeili.  

This could prove useful in many industries such as infrastructure – when it comes to designing and testing structures, like buildings and bridges, to ensure they can withstand forces and automotive manufacturing – where components of a car, like the doors or brakes, consistently operate under various load conditions.  

Esmaeili’s software allows users to input specific parameters – such as material composition, environmental conditions and processing factors – resulting in a comprehensive prediction of a material’s behaviour when subjected to external loads. 

While the project, under the supervision of Reza Rizvi, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, is still under development, the implications are vast. Being able to predict how materials will respond in different environments – without the need to physically test each variation – can dramatically accelerate innovation, reduce costs and promote sustainability in manufactured components, making this an advancement in the manufacturing industry with far-reaching impact.  

Esmaeili said the Commercialization Fellowship has helped him utilize code development software and allowed him to conduct validation experiments in the laboratory to ensure the software effectively predicts material behaviour. 

He has completed the back-end code of his software and is currently working on developing the front end for the desktop version in the coming months. 

Parham Mohammadi – Electrical Engineering & Computer Science 
Project title: PowerSync: Intelligent V2G Charging with TinyML Analytics 

Parham Mohammadi
Parham Mohammadi

A PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Mohammadi’s project hones in on tiny machine learning (TinyML) to infuse electric vehicle (EV) chargers with unprecedented levels of intelligence and autonomy, giving them the ability to make decisions without relying on a centralized control system. 

TinyML uses artificial intelligence algorithms within the EV charger to independently manage and adapt its operations – ensuring grid stability, predictive maintenance, fault analysis and more. It aims to not only streamline operations but significantly mitigate the potential for system-level power issues as the number of EVs and chargers continue to enter the market. 

The project, supervised by Afshin Rezaei-Zare, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, reflects a broader shift toward a smarter, more efficient way of managing energy resources, especially as we pivot to renewable and clean energy solutions. Through the integration of TinyML technologies, EV chargers can seamlessly synchronize with the energy grid, efficiently distributing power without overwhelming the system. 

“For the everyday consumer and the environmentally conscious, this project is a pivotal step toward sustainable electric vehicle adoption,” says Mohammadi. “By integrating smart, autonomous chargers into the energy grid, we’re looking at a smoother, more reliable transition to green mobility solutions across the globe.” 

Mohammadi said the Commercialization Fellowship provided him with critical information for commercialization, IP management and connections with lawyers through the IP Innovation Clinic.  

He is currently in the process of developing a prototype, which is anticipated to be completed mid-summer. 

Siamak Derakhshan – Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 
Project title: Fully Soft-switched AC/DC Bi-directional Converters with High Power Factor and Minimal Low-Frequency Voltage Ripple 

Siamak Derakhshan
Siamak Derakhshan

A third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Derakhshan’s research aims to revolutionize on-board EV chargers. Deviating from traditional unidirectional charging methods, which function only to charge, Derakhshan has created a bidirectional converter, allowing the charger to not just power a car but also harness its battery power.  

The innovation unlocks tremendous possibilities – from lighting up homes during blackouts or emergencies to contributing power back to the grid during peak demand. 

Under the supervision of John Lam, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, Derakhshan’s converter enhances existing on-board EV chargers in the market by making modifications such as reducing the size of the traditionally bulky capacitor by 20 times, which improves the lifespan of the on-board charger, its efficiency and reduces the potential for thermal issues such as overheating. 

“What we are trying to do is to improve the reliability, efficiency and power density of these converters,” he says. “We are designing better and more robust control systems to better support the power grid.”

Derakhshan says the fellowship’s workshops helped him understand the importance of IP and patenting his idea. He also found value in being able to connect with industry and showcase his work to industry partners. 

Derakhshan has designed the prototype for his converter and has successfully tested it for charging. He is currently working on the next phase to test the bidirectional component. 

Read the full story on YFile to learn more about all York Fellowship recipients.