Picture of Mojgan Jadidi

Professor draws on expertise of the Lassonde Education & Innovation Studio

When remote course delivery became a reality for the 2020 fall semester, Mojgan Jadidi knew she would need some support in turning her third-year course, ESSE3600 – GIS and Spatial Analysis, into a successful online experience, so the Lassonde assistant professor of geomatics engineering turned to the most likely source of assistance: the Lassonde Education and Innovation Studio (LEIS).

Mojgan Jadidi

Mojgan Jadidi

LEIS was established in the spring of 2020 as a way of assisting faculty at the Lassonde School of Engineering in bringing innovation into their classrooms. When the pandemic hit and instruction moved online, their work became highly valued. Jadidi is a member of LEIS, as well as a client.

“As an instructor, it’s important to give my students a learning journey, and LEIS sparked ideas about how my students could move smoothly toward applying their skills to something tangible,” said Jadidi. “Their expertise helped me design my course so that I could continue to use the flipped classroom mode once we return to in-class instruction.

“In working with LEIS, I realized that we also need to be very effective in our communications online and that students need a clear roadmap so they know what they are doing each week.”

In the flipped classroom approach, students are responsible for reading/watching the requisite informational material prior to attending class. Class time is used to discuss the concepts and theories or to work through problems that rely on what the students have learned themselves.

Jadidi asks her students to watch a series of short videos prior to attending class. They then solve problems or do exercises together or in break-out groups during a synchronous online class. The lab component of the class operates in similar fashion. Students spend the first portion of their lab time following structured lab instructions on their own. A live, synchronous lab follows, allowing for a discussion of their results and any problems they encountered.

Jadidi has also adopted a different approach to grading the course, focusing largely on competence-based assessment. Sixty per cent of the grade is based on a digital portfolio the students are required to create using COVID-19-related scenarios that also incorporate systems design, problem solving, GIS data science techniques and software, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion. There are three individual projects and a team project.

“We have both engineering and science students in the class, and they have different ways of looking at a problem and designing the solution,” Jadidi said. “They complement each other as they work together to create something new.”

The students tackle one of these digital challenges every three weeks, using the new knowledge they have accumulated during that period. First, Jadidi asks them, in a hypothetical scenario, to decide where to locate new hand sanitizing stations on campus; next, where a new COVID-19 testing centre should be built; and finally, how to make that testing centre accessible. The team project focuses on dealing with the disruptive COVID-19 situation to implement UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“These projects bring a lot of concepts and skills together and allow the students to apply their knowledge,” Jadidi said. “Although in this case, their ‘client’ is York University in a hypothetical scenario, this problem could exist anywhere, and they can apply what they’ve learned in their future career path.

“By the end of the term, they will have a digital portfolio that they can present to any employer.”

Jadidi says she hopes the class has given students skills that will assist them in their careers.

“They will know how to use data to solve problems, applying spatial data science techniques which should be useful when they seek informed decision making and optimal solutions,” she said.

She is delighted by the way her revamped course is unfolding and credits LEIS for helping her bring it to life online.

“At Lassonde, we’re always trying new educational methods to give practical experiences to the students,” Jadidi said. “We need to be innovative and move from traditional objectives to something new so students can learn.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer

Picture of Mike Daly

Professor Mike Daly Featured in CBC Article as Lead Scientist on NASA Spacecraft

Article originally published on CBC.ca.

On Tuesday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will make history as it attempts its first collection of material from an asteroid to be returned to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft — which arrived at the asteroid Bennu in 2018 — will conduct a touch-and-go manoeuvre, also referred to as TAG. This crucial part of the mission was made possible in part by Canadian technology, specifically the Canadian Space Agency’s OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA), which mapped the surface of Bennu in 3D. The asteroid lies roughly 332 million kilometres from Earth.

Lassonde Pofessor Mike Daly, is OLA’S lead instrument scientist. Daly has been working on the instrument for 12 years and is very pleased with the amount of detail and precision it was able to provide.

“When I was thinking about what this instrument had to do and what it was — how it would perform — we had a much smoother Bennu, a much more boring Bennu in mind,” said Daly, who is also a professor at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering in Toronto. “So when you see the detail that came out of this instrument, it’s just unbelievable. It blew us all away, honestly.

“It’s going to be owned by Canada, and so we’re going to be able to make these samples available for generations and generations of Canadian scientists,” he said. “So, we’re basically enabling the next 50 to 100 years of discoveries based on these samples.”

It will take roughly 18.2 minutes for a signal to be received from the spacecraft. However, while NASA expects to get confirmation that the manoeuvre took place on Tuesday, it won’t know for certain until Wednesday if material was successfully collected.

Read the full article on CBC.

Latest News

JUVS Editors’ Choice Article – Canadian Science Publishing

Exciting news !!

Journal paper entitled “Individual tree species identification using Dense Convolutional Network (DenseNet) on

multitemporal RGB images from UAV”, co-authored by Sowmya Natesan, Costas Armenakis, and Udayalakshmi Vepakomma,

is published in the December 2020 issue of the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (JUVS), has been selected by the

Co-editors of the journal to be featured under the Editors’ Choice section of the Journal’s homepage:


The team has also been interviewed about the paper and the article is to be published at”


Congratulations to Sowmya Natesan, Costas Armenakis, and Udayalakshmi Vepakomma !!

K2I Academy at Lassonde Engages Girl Guides,Krystel Reyes and Neena Govindhan, in a Virtual Badge Day!

We are proud to share the exciting news of our students Neena Govindhan and Krystel Reyes, who developed and ran the Girl Guides Badge Day  and published an article in AOLS Fall 2020 publication.


The article can be found on Page 28.

Congratulations Krystel and Neena !!.

NG-14 launch on Oct 2nd!!

Exciting News !!

We will assume the launch on Oct 2., zoom room will open at 8.15pm, with NASA coverage starting at 8.45 for a possible launch at 9.16pm.

Picture of NG-14 launch


Picture of CUBESAT


Lassonde hosts 16 students for 2020 Helen Carswell STEAM Program for Women

The Lassonde School of Engineering welcomed 16 female high school students to participate in the Helen Carswell STEAM Program for Women. This year the program ran over a two-week period in a completely virtual format. The program offered participants a paid research opportunity as lab assistants doing meaningful work in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

Eight Lassonde undergraduate women in STEM joined the K2I Academy Team as mentors to develop leadership, mentorship and project management skills during this unique experience. Mentors were assigned to projects and consulted with Lassonde Faculty to develop the experience for high school student participants.

For more info, Click here


Lassonde students finalists in NASA SpaceApps global hackathon for developing COVID-19 solution

A team of five Lassonde School of Engineering students was selected as one of 40 finalists in the global hackathon SpaceApps, run by NASA, and was chosen for its work in developing a COVID-19 Preparedness Index Calculator to limit fatalities and mitigate economic fallout.

Out of the 40 teams, the Lassonde team went on to become one of eight honourable mention winners, placing in the top 14 of the 2,000 participating teams.

The hackathon was organized by various space agencies including the CSA, ESA, JAXA and CNES and saw a total of 2,000 teams and 15,000 participants take part in challenges such as an “Integrated Assessment” which asked teams to understand the impacts of COVID-19 by integrating satellite earth-observation data and socio-economic data.

 The Event Horizon team

The Lassonde Team, aptly named The Event Horizon – in keeping with the space theme – used various political, economic and societal factors from 21 selected countries to determine a ‘golden standard’ for handling the pandemic to help limit cases and deaths while also keeping the economy strong. The COVID-19 Preparedness Index Calculator and website they developed evaluated each country’s corresponding dataset (from air pollution, to stock market, to governmental trust and approval ratings) in order to determine this standard.

The team had to consider a variety of factors when developing this proposed standard including carbon monoxide emissions, stock market data, political leadership and approval rating and method of control.

The team members that took part in the hackathon are:

  • Sogand Talebi, first-year master’s student, Earth & Atmospheric Science
  • Adrian Fagarasanu, third-year undergraduate student, Computer Science
  • Dennis Nevelev, second-year undergraduate student, Computer Science
  • Megan Gran, third-year undergraduate student, Space Engineering
  • Ibrahim Yusuf, third-year undergraduate student, Electrical Engineering

“During this pandemic it is easy to feel powerless at times. This hackathon provided us with the opportunity to spend a couple of days researching and working on a solution to help countries during pandemics,” said Talebi.

When asked how they were able to work together so successfully in this new, socially distant world Nevelev said, “It was important to keep it lighthearted and fun. We made sure to work to the best of our abilities, enjoy the moment and not let any of the stress get to us.”


Picture of Franz Newland

C4: Groundbreaking, interdisciplinary experiential education initiative enters second year

After a successful pilot test, an international award-winning capstone course will begin its second year this September at York University.

C4: The Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom, which meets Mondays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. between September and April, is open to all York students at the end of their degrees, and enables students from different faculties to work in multidisciplinary teams focused on solving pressing, real-world challenges posed by organizations operating in both the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds – and to get credit for their work.

C4’s intertwined personal, professional and academic journey offers students a chance to expand and refine their portfolios and uniquely prepares students to succeed after graduation

Past C4 partners include the Yonge Street Mission, Markham Arts Council, Canobi Tech, L’Arche Daybreak, Foundation for Environmental Stewardship and Panoplo Inc., among many others.

In last year’s course, 74 York University students from eight faculties designed solutions for 11 social impact challenges.

Click here for more info.

Courtesy: Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS)

CBEPS Accreditation and Exemptions Committee accredits the Hydrography course offered by the Geomatics Engineering Program, Lassonde School of Engineering

The Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors (CBEPS) establishes, assesses and certifies the academic qualifications of individuals who apply to become land surveyors and/or geomatics professionals in Canada, except for Quebec.

The undergraduate course, ESSE4650 “Hydrography”, offered in Geomatics Engineering Curriculum has been approved for an exemption from the CBEPS C12 Hydrographic Surveying (syllabus) by the CBEPS Accreditation and Exemptions Committee, meaning that ESSE4650 “Hydrography” is accredited to be academically equivalent to the subject C12 Hydrographic Surveying in the CBEPS Syllabus. York’s undergraduate Geomatics Engineering Program obtained a CBEPS Level-2 accreditation for ten years starting in 2017.

Congratulations to the Geomatics Engineering Program !!.

Athina Peidou

Athina Peidou, Lassonde grad student to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Lassonde PhD student Athina Peidou is heading off to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where she will be doing innovative work on the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and GRACE Follow-on missions.

Athina PeidouNASA’s GRACE launched in March of 2002. The mission studies gravity variations in Earth such as changes to surface and bottom of the ocean and ground water storage on land masses. Peidou’s work will focus on developing strategies and methodologies for new gravitational models for the Earth.
Peidou is positioned well in this research group, having recently worked on a systematic problem present in the gravity field models. Read more about her work in a previously published article here, which details how Peidou and the team discovered that when the orbit of a mission follows an interlaced pattern while sampling the Earth gravitational signal, stripes are created on the gravity field maps.
The gravity field maps derived from satellite measurements are obscured by very disturbing thick lines sweeping from south to north, partially masking useful information. Identifying this pattern was challenging and constitutes a breakthrough, which may eventually lead to removing the stripes altogether, providing more fulsome data for researchers. Peidou will continue working on the uncertainties of the global gravity field models at JPL/NASA.
“This opportunity opens the avenues to collaborate with the top field scientists in my discipline. Now, I get to collaborate with scientists whose work I studied as a PhD student, and develop with them new methodologies for the advancements of the field,” says Peidou.

On behalf of  ESSE Department, We Wish you All the Very Best !!.

Congratulations Athina !!.

For more info, click here