Four score and seven weeks ago (or something to that effect), Waterloo Engineering, with Steven Jia at the wheel, won the bid for the 2019 Canadian Engineering Competitions. Shortly thereafter competition leads were hired and the planning, over a full year before the event, began. Weekly meetings, group meet-ups from across North America and sometimes further, a last couple of panicked months, all of it culminated in the spectacular display at Waterloo the weekend of March 1st.
Friday afternoon, teams began to arrive from all over our great country, every province was represented. Aside from a few minor glitches with t-shirts and name tags for the judges, check-ins went pretty smoothly. That evening, there was an opening ceremony to welcome all competitors and the Governor General herself sent a few words by video! Teams got to mingle before their big competition day Saturday, and had a chance to meet some of the judges and sponsors.
The CEC has in total 8 different competitions. Some of them, like Debate and Innovative Design, are presentation only. These comps would take place Sunday. Other competitions, like Sr. & Jr. Team Design, Programming, or Consulting have a design/preparation component as well as a presentation aspect. While teams in the first group had Saturday off to explore our lovely campus, go rock climbing, or rest up for their big day, teams in the latter group were given their problem statements early in the morning and had only 8 hours to come up with a solution.
Volunteers and all the preparation on the parts of the comp leads are to thank entirely for the smooth way the day progressed, from food and snacks to getting every question answered and translated in a timely manner. Although many teams at the competition were anglophone, some teams were francophone and all questions had to be translated into both French and English to ensure nothing could be lost in translation. If you went to the 7th floor of E7 on Saturday, you would have seen our busy hive of translators working like crazy to make sure everything was bilingual.
After their 8 hours were up, the organizing committee got to cleaning and prepping for Day 2, and the competitors headed to Bingeman’s for bowling. Apparently even the judges and sponsors got into it!
Sunday dawned dark and far too early, as OC members came to campus ahead of time to sort out potential issues (and you can bet there were plenty of last-minute fires). All too soon, competitors in the group who would be doing a day of presentations were on campus and ready to go. Briefings done, the competitions started. Judges were blown away by the caliber of the solutions, the inventiveness of designs, the quality of communications, and the ability of the debaters. There were many hard decisions made by judges throughout the day, and all gave amazing feedback to the competitors, we thank the judges immensely for dedicating their weekend to CEC.
At last, the 13th debate came to an end, deciding who would be on the podium at the evening’s gala for the final debate. And with the conclusion of the debate came the conclusion of the on-campus competitions. A frantic hour was spent tidying up both rooms on campus and ourselves for the gala event. There’s no rest for the wicked, and the OC team had their work cut out handing out headsets for translation of the debate, sorting out last minute seating changes, and final logistics… as well as some rowdy guests!
After dinner and a talk from the founders of CEC (Waterloo grads!) it was time for the final debate. The topic: The House believes that West Coast is Best Coast. The teams: University of Manitoba arguing for, and Université de Québec à Trois Rivières against. It was the ultimate east versus west debate and the whole audience got involved; the teams did an amazing job of entertaining the audience and seemed to be having a good time themselves. While judges deliberated, the time came at long last for the announcement of awards!
A rousing school chant followed many of the placements or a chorus of “East is beast” or “West is best”. Before we realized it, Steven was giving his closing remarks, and just like that the year of planning came to an end and the torch was passed to the next school! Good luck Manitoba, I’m sure you’ll do great! I think many of the competitors went home with a good experience, many memories, and (we hope) a pretty picture of this school we call home.