Two U of S alumni named to Order of Canada


Professor Emeritus Dan Ish

In an announcement made by the Governor General of Canada on December 30, 2013, two University of Saskatchewan alumni were appointed to the Order of Canada.

Professor Emeritus Daniel (Dan) Ish (BA’70, LLB’70) was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his commitment to social justice, notably as the former chief adjudicator of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.

Ish spent more than 30 years with the College of Law at the U of S, starting as a faculty member in 1975. He served as dean from 1982-88, and was acting dean twice (in the 1990s and 2000s). He is a Member of the Law Societies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1991.

Ish taught tax law and alternative dispute resolution, and his research focused on harassment and privacy in the workplace. In 2001 he joined the U of S Centre for the Study of Co-operatives where he worked on international co-operative development, co-operative law and labour relations issues relevant to co-ops. He also served as director of the centre.

Most recently, Ish was appointed the chief adjudicator of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat. He stepped down from that role in 2013, and is still involved with the program as an adjudicator.

Morley Hanson (BEd’74) was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his work to empower Inuit youth, notably as the coordinator of Nunavut Sivuniksavut.

Early in his career, Hanson taught in Northern Saskatchewan and also worked with young offenders in wilderness camps as part of the Katimavik program.

In 1988, Hanson joined the Nunavut Sivuniksavut training program in Ottawa, Ont. as an instructor. Nunavut Sivuniksavut is a non-profit college training program for Inuit youth who are preparing to enter the workforce in Nunavut or pursue additional post-secondary education. The program’s emphasis is on the history and politics in Nunavut.

On a recent sabbatical, he worked on an education development program at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda.

See the complete list of appointees and more information on the Order of Canada.

U of S alumni invent product to make winter a little easier

Will Topping and Arash Janfada with MagnoPlug in action

Will Topping and Arash Janfada with MagnoPlug in action

Anyone with a block heater on their vehicle can relate to it, but our collective embarrassment prevents us from discussing it openly—forgetting to unplug your vehicle before driving off on a frosty winter day.

Arash Janfada (AJ) (BE’03, MSc’08) calls it the “drive of shame” with the tell-tale extension cord dragging underneath the vehicle. And that’s if you’re lucky. Damage to the block heater, cord, or, as Janfada experienced, the vehicle itself, can be costly. “I had several hundred dollars of damage to my bumper one time,” he said.

Tired of wrestling with the frozen extension cord plug and paying for the costly repair, Janfada came up with the idea for MagnoPlug, an extension cable with a magnetic safety break. “I checked to see if a product like this existed.” After an unsuccessful search, he did some research on patents and learned there was no product like this.

Janfada works with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment conducting researching on environmental contaminants while pursuing his PhD at the U of S, where he satisfies his passion for research. But that doesn’t help develop the circuit necessary for MagnoPlug to function safely. Enter Will Topping (BE’12).

A mutual friend connected Janfada and Topping after the former realized he needed the expertise of an electrical engineer to create the circuitry that will work in frigid temperatures and that will switch off when the two sides of the plug are separated—a key safety component of MagnoPlug.

The initial design of MagnoPlug is specifically for block heaters; the larger connectors are designed to be easily handled with gloves or mitts on. Janfada and Topping see lots of potential for expansion. Janfada said, “It can easily be made smaller for general household use” or around construction sites.

Referencing a line from the television show The Big Bang Theory, Topping said, “‘Everything’s better with Bluetooth,’ right? I’m looking at adding timer functionality—for Christmas lights, lamps, block heaters—that can be controlled by your smartphone.” The addition of a sensor to measure power consumption is another possibility for the future.

Janfada sees other applications for the technology too. “Why not change wall plugs, and make them safer for families? Or for hospitals or research facilities like VIDO-InterVac [at the U of S] where there would be no cracks and crevices for bacteria to grow? Our plug is sealed and never live if the two parts are not connected together, so it’s easy to clean. There is a world of designs and ideas.”

Topping added with a laugh, “AJ is the ideas guy. I tell him which ones work and which ones break the laws of physics.”

Janfada and Topping have registered MagnoPlug on Kickstarter to raise funds so the product can move from working prototype into production and, assuming all goes well, to store shelves before next winter.

Read more, watch videos and learn how you can support MagnoPlug on Kickstarter.
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