Engineering Teens Captivate National Science Fair; Toronto Students Sweep More than $20,000 in Prizes, Awards

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (May 17, 2002) -Two 17-year-old Grade 11 students at Toronto’s Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute walked away with more than $20,000 in prizes, including the $7,500 EnCana Corporation Best-of-Fair Award and the EnCana-sponsored $4,500 Manning Young Canadian Innovator Award at the Canada Wide Science Fair held this week at the University of Saskatchewan campus.

The 2003 Canada Wide Science Fair will be held in Calgary next May. EnCana has signed on as a major sponsor, with a focus on the volunteer component and continued support of the Manning Innovation Awards at the Canada-Wide and the national Best of Fair Award. Additional information on other projects that earned awards through the Manning Awards Foundation can be found on

Mahvish Jafri and Faizal Ismail submitted a project entitled Boundary Layer Acceleration addressing a revolutionary approach to reducing aerodynamic drag --- a method that captivated Engineering judges and some university professors knowledgeable in the field. Their efforts, researched and developed solely by themselves earned the following awards:

  • The EnCana Corporation Best of Fair Award, $7,500 cash;
  • The Manning Innovation Award, $4,500 cash sponsored by EnCana and expense-paid trip to the Manning national innovation awards ceremony to be held at a location selected later this year;
  • The Gold Medal in the Engineering Division, and a $400 cash accompaniment;
  • The $2,500 as Best project in Senior category;
  • A $500 cash award for a project in the engineering technologies that merits a patent; and
  • Sharing a $1,000 cash prize and an additional $1,500 scholarships for each at Queen’s University; or sharing a $2,500 per year scholarship at the University of Saskatchewan.

There were more than 337 projects, involving 436 students in the culmination of science fairs that attracted more than 500,000 students across the country. Annual prizes presented at the Fair have a value exceeding $200,000.

The Jafri-Ismail team explained that drag is one of the greatest challenges faced by aerodynamicists. Their project postulated that a new form of drag reduction can be based on boundary layer acceleration --- by accelerating the boundary layer, parasitic drag would be reversed.

The Boundary layer is a layer of fluid in the immediate vicinity of a surface and is affected by the viscosity of the fluid. The fluid has a tendency to adhere to the solid surface resulting in ‘surface friction’ or ‘drag.’ Subsequent layers of flow result in lower degrees of drag.

The students proposed a “skin-frictionless” surface, using a modified plasma accelerator. Their work focused on plasma and plasma technologies, at the molecular level, that could be engineered for the desired acceleration of the boundary layer. The students described Plasma, also referred to as the fourth state of matter, as a soup of roughly equal numbers of positively and negatively charged particles. Plasma occurs when gas atoms are ionized. These charged particles can be preferentially heated by applying an electric or magnetic field to the plasma, keeping the neutral gas atoms at a low temperature. In partially ionized gases, an electric field can be used to accelerate ions and, via particle collisions, the neutral gas.

“A radio frequency glow discharge plasma developed in 1995 is a device that has found many biomedical applications. It has also been observed to accelerate a fluid at its bounding surface. A similar device has been constructed and modified to optimize acceleration effects,” the students explained to the rounds of judges visiting their exhibit.

The project included three sets of experiments to determine Plasma Panel Optimization, wind tunnel analysis of Boundary Layer Drag Reduction, and analysis of Boundary Layer Separation. The students concluded that acceleration of the boundary layer by glow discharge plasma has shown to create superior aerodynamic properties and warrants future study to determine its potential for industrial application.

“Ms. Jafri and Mr. Ismail have clearly demonstrated an innovative capability that could significantly enhance the world of aerodynamics. It is important to receive recognition for their accomplishments to date but more importantly, to encourage the continued pursuit of their interests,” said Dick Wilson, EnCana’s Vice-President Public Affairs.

Don Park, Executive Director of the Manning Innovation Awards Foundation, ( said this is the 11th year that the Foundation has been part of the CWSF, adding he is proud to be able to track some of the significant contributions that earlier winners are now making to Canadian society.

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