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John Hayward using a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine.Postdoctoral research associate John Hayward logged on to use this Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine.

System logs student experience on high-tech equipment

Faculty of Science students have the unique opportunity to use high-tech research equipment on UWindsor’s campus. With a new Research Instrumentation Management System called Badger, they can now obtain proof of training and hours logged on these specialized instruments.

“This is an invaluable tool for student to demonstrate experience and proficiency with equipment,” says Chris Houser, dean of science.

“Students are able to access cutting-edge machinery through their undergraduate and graduate research and now when they are ready to apply for a job or research position, or just expand their CV, they’ll have an official report outlining their training and time invested on using such instrumentation technologies.”

An interlock control mechanism is installed on each piece of instrumentation, from X-ray equipment to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machinery. Before using the machines, users log in through an app. The equipment will not turn on unless a user is fully trained.

“It is imperative that users for these instruments are trained before using them, for their safety, for the ability to get proper data, and to keep the instruments running,” says Joe Lichaa, a technician in the Faculty of Science.

Badger started out as a tool allowing the faculty to schedule time and restrict usage to shared instrumentation in open concept laboratories and offered real-time error reporting.

“Once implemented, we found it was helpful for real-time instrumentation availability and problem notification, resolution postings and students usage reporting,” Lichaa says.

“From a service perspective, this is extremely useful because I now have an error reporting portal and can see malfunction complaints in real-time.”

The Badger system is available on all shared instrumentation in the Essex Centre of Research and continues to expand into other areas of science.

“This system also allows us to see which machines are in high demand and can alert us to which pieces may be ready to be retired,” says Lichaa.

The system is universal and could be used in other faculties. Dr. Houser says expanding its reach would enable the University as a whole to paint a detailed picture of all the technologies used on campus.

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