Events, News, Science & Technology

Student Showcase Engineering Talent at the Waterloo Engineering Competition

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

The 6th ever Waterloo Engineering Competition (WEC) was held just over one week ago, testing the creativity, teamwork, and engineering skills of students. In less than 19 hours, teams had to solve an engineering design problem, create a prototype/report, and also present their solution to judges in order to vie for a spot to represent the University of Waterloo at the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) being held at the University of Toronto this upcoming February. This term’s competition had record participation with 40 teams signed up across the three competitions and 9 more left on waiting lists. Over 185 people were involved with the competition this term – making it the largest WEC ever. The competition has steadily grown over the last couple years and will likely continue to grow in the future.

The competition structure is split up in several different sections. First, the problem is released to teams during the welcome and briefing stage of the competition. The problem is read out to competitors and then teams have the opportunity to ask questions relating to the problem in the remaining time during this section. After the welcome and briefing stage, teams are placed into lecture halls around the engineering buildings where they work on their problem. For Junior Team Design, teams are required to develop a working prototype and presentation within a 4 hour time limit. The Senior Team Design deliverables are the same as Junior except the design and build stage is extended to 6 hours. For consulting engineering, teams are required to deliver a 15-20 page report and presentation by the end of the 6 hour design period.

For Junior Team Design, teams were required to transport water or sand from the top of an inclined platform and deliver it to the “bottom of the hill” to put out a simulated house fire. Although this may seem easy, the problem required teams to pick up the resources and deliver them all with just a single touch to a release mechanism. Teams used everyday basic household materials to build their prototypes that they had to assemble within a 4-hour design and build period. Most teams did end up with a moving prototype, but the challenge proved extremely difficult for the junior level with no team being able to extinguish the flames on presentation and demonstration day.

The problem given to junior teams was a modification of an OEC problem from a few years ago when OEC was held at the University of Guelph. In the OEC problem, teams had to transport water from a reservoir at the top of an incline to another reservoir at the bottom of the incline.

In Senior Team Design, teams had to develop a bridge that would open and close closest to 5 seconds, hold weight, and withstand lateral force. The problem given was much easier than the Spring problem with most teams able to create a working prototype in the given 6 hours. Teams were required to meet specific design constraints for holding weight and withstanding lateral force. Once teams met the minimum design constraints for holding weight and lateral force, teams were awarded half the available points for the given criterion on the marking form. Teams were then allowed to add additional weight and were awarded points scaled according to the rest of the competition.

Lastly, for consulting engineering, teams were given a transportation-based problem revolving around a real-world problem at the University of Waterloo. Teams had to evaluate vehicle parking at the University and develop a near, short, and long term solution. Teams were given actual data from Parking Services to help develop their reports and presentations that needed to address the main stakeholders of the University. After 6 grueling hours of design, teams submitted their reports and then spent the next couple hours practicing their presentations with whatever energy they had left before catching a few hours of sleep. The next morning, 8 teams remained and presented their solutions to a panel of two judges who were experienced in not only transportation, but also the University’s parking situation.

Congratulations to this term’s winners for Junior Team Design – Rahul Patel, Tarjote Chaggar, Matthew Vandenberg and William Cullen. Senior Team Design – Nevin McCallum, Cody Prodaniuk, Jeff McClure and Maple Leung. Lastly, consulting Engineering – Tim Bandura, Adriana Cameron, Trevor Jenkins, and Marc Tan.

The Waterloo Engineering Competition was founded in 2009 as the University of Waterloo qualifier for the Ontario Engineering Competition. The competition is proudly organized and sponsored by the University of Waterloo Engineering Society as well as the Sanford Fleming Foundation. WEC is held twice per year to choose two teams per category to represent the University at the provincial level. OEC is held every February and is hosted by a different university each year. OEC 2012 is being held at the University of Toronto and was last held at the University of Waterloo in 2010. Successful teams at OEC proceed to the national level Canadian Engineering Competition that is being hosted by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in March of 2012. Waterloo is no stranger to being successful at these competitions with the Junior Design team taking home the 1st place prize at CEC last year in Montreal.

The next Waterloo Engineering Competition will be held in Spring 2012 to begin choosing teams for the 2013 OEC to be held in February of 2013 at a to-be-determined Ontario Engineering University. If you missed out on this term’s competition – be sure to keep your eyes out for advertisements that will likely be popping up early Spring 2012.

Project submissions for sending Waterloo student project teams to the Innovative Design competition are now being accepted. Waterloo will be sending 2 teams – one for each stream. Check out the article in this issue of The Iron Warrior  titled “Calling all Undergraduate Engineering Design Project Teams” for more detailed information. This is an excellent opportunity to represent the University of Waterloo as well as win cash prizes to help fund your project.

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