UW Brings Home Social Awareness Award

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.

Waterloo strongly represented at Canadian Engineering Competition

Waterloo engineers did us proud this past weekend at the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC). Running from March 18 to March 21, CEC was hosted by the University of Toronto, with their St. George Campus and the Eaton Centre Marriott hotel playing host to this national event. The theme of this year’s competition was The World, Engineered. With competitors qualifying in four of the six competition categories, Waterloo was tied for the most represented school along with the University of British Columbia.

CEC is an annual competition that brings together qualifying teams in one of six categories: Consulting, Communications, Debate, Innovative Design, Team Design, and Senior Design. In order to make it to CEC, most students undergo a qualifying competition at their school. Here at UW, competitors had to first win at the newly-established Waterloo Engineering Competition (WEC), held jointly by Engineering Society and The Sir Sandford Fleming Foundation. At UW, WEC is held twice a year, during the spring and fall terms, in order to allow both streams of students an opportunity to represent their society.  Following that, teams had to place top-two in their category at their regional competitions; Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and finally Western Canada.

Waterloo was fortunate to host the Ontario Engineering Competition this past January at which the school’s teams didn’t disappoint. Teams from UW placed top-three in every category, the only school to do so, and qualified teams for CEC in 4 out of the 6 categories: Consulting, Communications, Extemporaneous Debate, and Senior Team Design.

Waterloo started competing at CEC early on Friday morning in the debate competition with the Keith Peiris and Uzair Chutani taking on a strong team from the University of Alberta. Their resolution: Patent law does more harm than good. Undertaking the role of government, and defending the resolution, Keith and Uzair fought hard with their counterparts, bringing up strong points about development time cycles and the “need to reinvent the wheel” every time a small company wants to expand on something that already exists but may already be patented. By the time the intense half hour of debate finally settled, UAlberta narrowly scraped past UW to win the match. However, since it’s not a single elimination event, the UW team was still alive and kicking and had more matches to go over the day.

Next up was Rana Tehrani Yekta of UW who was in the Engineering Communications category.  The category challenges competitors to present a clear explanation of a technical product or process in such a way that the general public can understand, or simply put, being able to make your grandparents understand your work term report. Rana gave a presentation entitled Performance Comparison of Hot Mixed Asphalt Versus Warm Mixed Asphalt and Their Effects on the Environment, that examined the different production methods of the two asphalt mixtures, and the impact that each has on the environment. She received a strong reception from the panel of industry judges and appeared confident with her work once she finished.

While both the debates and communications presentations were underway, the Senior Team Design was busy with their 8 hour design period. The Senior Team, composed of Maple Leung, Cody Prodaniuk, Nevin McCallum, and Jeff McClure were faced with one of the more difficult tasks of recent years. They had to create a machine that had to be able to open screw top jars and margarine containers, and then identify whether it contained a liquid, solid or nothing. This was supposed to simulate a biohazard situation wherein dangerous materials had to be identified autonomously. When it finally came time to present their mechanism, the team gave a strong presentation that highlighted the advantages of their system. Their final testing did not go as exactly as planned, but they still were confident with their work.

Finally, while creating a fresh water retrieval and filter system to deliver to Port-au-Prince in earthquake ravaged Haiti may seem intimidating to some, the Consulting Engineering team took the challenge head on. The team, composed of Ian Davies, Adriana Cameron, Will Zochodne, and Tim Bandura, worked diligently throughout their 6 hour design period and created a strong report and presentation that centered on pumping water from a nearby fresh water river, piping it to the city and then creating a series of smaller outlet stations from which residents could retrieve water.  Every station would contain biosand filters which could be used to sanitize the water for human consumption at an extremely low cost. A strong part of their idea included refurbishing a hydroelectric dam on the same river that has been neglected for years and is extremely underutilized, that would ultimately provide power for both the pumping station and the country as a whole.

After 48 hours of intense competition, most competitors were ready to unwind and relax by the time the Awards Banquet finally rolled around on Saturday night. The banquet was held at the ritzy Liberty Grand, at Exhibition Place. It offered an opportunity for competitors to meet one another, members of the organizing committee, and industry representatives.

After all the awards had been given out, Waterloo was fortunate enough to not go home empty handed. While none of the teams finished in the top three places of their respective categories, the Consulting Engineering team did receive the special “Social Awareness Award” for their water and energy delivery plan for Haiti. The award honours a team that considers humanity and its needs at the root of the solution. The award is considered for all competitors in the competition so it’s a great reflection on the team for winning this honourable award.

The competition ran extremely smoothly and went off without a hitch. With a pan-asian buffet dinner overlooking Dundas Square, a hotel that featured a rooftop pool overlooking the city’s core, and free wine at almost every social event, this competition has set a new standard in top-notch classiness for an engineering competition. Congrats to all UW competitors- you made us proud!

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