Engineering students compete for ‘best in Canada’ title

A countdown is typically the last thing uttered by a hospital patient before being sedated for a procedure. But finding a way for patients to communicate with doctors after the sedation takes hold is a challenge Western Engineering students took on as participants in the Canadian Engineering Competition.

As last year’s winning innovative design concept, these students developed a method for sedated patients to communicate using eye movement. This is an example of the type of undergraduate engineering projects highlighted at the 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC), held at Western University March 13-16.

More than 150 of the country’s best and brightest engineering students from 27 universities will compete in seven different competitions for the chance to advance to the 2nd annual International Engineering Competition. While the challenges for this year are kept confidential until the competition begins, a Western Engineering team is hoping to repeat last year’s success as reigning champions of the innovative design competition.

CEC gives engineering students an opportunity to demonstrate their areas of expertise in front of industry professionals and peers, says co-chair Michael Zawalsky.

“We have Canada’s best and brightest current and future engineering minds together to share ideas and visions,” Zawalsky says.

Engineers increasingly find themselves at the forefront of solving the globe’s greatest challenges, but also increasingly expected to fill multidisciplinary roles to do so. The theme for CEC 2014 is ‘Engineering Intersections.’

All of the events will take place in the Spencer Engineering Building and the University Community Centre. All presentations are open to the public, however the design periods and consulting presentations are closed.

“CEC is dynamic in that each year, new functions and ideas seem to come on board,” Zawalsky adds. “This year will be the first time a new category, called Re-Engineering, will be running as a full competition.”

The four-day event includes seven different competitions:

* Junior and Senior Design – Teams of four are given 6-10 hours to design and build a prototype to solve a challenge. They must then present their design to a panel of judges and demonstrate their prototype.
Presentations open to the public. Held Saturday, March 15, 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-3:00 p.m., Spencer Engineering Building 1059. Junior Design prototype testing will be held at 3:00-4:30 p.m. in the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion Atrium.

* Consulting – Teams of four are given eight hours to solve a problem and present a solution to a panel of judges taking on the role of a consultant. Their plan must address not just the technical engineering challenges, but also political realities and economic considerations.

* Re-Engineering – Teams of two are given a standard piece of technology and must explain how they would alter that technology to be able to serve a different function.
Presentations open to the public. Held Saturday, March 15, 8:30 a.m.-noon, Spencer Engineering Building 3109

* Innovative Design – Teams of 1-4 present a design they have constructed over the previous years. These presentations are extremely technical and are usually the result of a senior design thesis project.

* Debate – Traditional parliamentary debate on a range of issues.

* Communications – Teams of 1-2 students have 30 minutes to talk about a specific engineering concept and explain it to a panel of judges and then must answer the judges’ questions on the topic.

For more information, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Zawalsky, co-chair, 2014 Canadian Engineering Competition, (w) 519-661-4204 (c), 226-919-9100 (e)

Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.