Engineering competition drives innovation


This year’s competition saw the biggest turnout so far, hitting a record-breaking number of participants. (Jennifer Yoo / Ryersonian Staff)

Over 300 students worked late into the night at the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre on Friday – some building miniature race cars, others a machine to cut toilet paper.

The student teams were competing in the junior and senior design competitions for the eighth annual Ryerson Engineering Competition (REC).

This year, the competition had more participants than ever before.

“It was definitely unexpected to see that many people (at registration),” said Jennifer Chan, chair of the REC organizing committee.

The REC is the most prestigious engineering competition at Ryerson.

Winners from each of the seven categories have the chance to participate in the Ontario Engineering Competition and, if successful, they go on to the national competition.

Chan encourages students of all years to compete, saying that what they learn in classrooms is theory – but they need to practically apply those theories in an innovative way.

“You kind of realize, ‘I can be innovative with this’ or ‘I can learn how to put together a consulting case’ and these are just all transferable skills for the after-school life,” Chan said.

Most accredited universities in Canada have an internal competition for engineering students.

According to Chan, the REC usually has more competitors in its internal competition than other participating universities.

Unlike several other schools, Ryerson holds a competition for all seven categories, which vary from developing prototypes to parliamentary debates.

The most popular, however, are the junior and senior design competitions.

In these categories, student teams are asked to build a prototype to solve a problem, using limited tools, no prior knowledge of what to expect and only six hours to design and build their model.

This year, junior design teams were asked to build a race car that would successfully roll down a ramp featuring various types of terrain.

For senior design, Chan and the committee wanted to challenge the upper-year students to think in new ways.

They asked the teams to build an automated device that cut a certain length of toilet paper and folded it.

“It would be a new, up-and-coming device,” said Chan.

The unique challenges caught many teams off guard.

Students came into the competition at 6 p.m., completely unaware of what the challenge would entail.

With limited resources and the clock ticking down, some teams were unable to complete their prototypes.

But for others, the challenge was exciting.

“The toilet paper problem was definitely something I wasn’t expecting,” said third-year biomedical engineering student Joshua Ng, who also participated in the junior design competition last year.

“It’s a chance to apply what you learn and really challenge yourself. It’s rewarding.”

This year, Ryerson will host the Ontario Engineering Competition, taking place Feb. 6–8.

Check out our photo gallery from the weekend’s competition.

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