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Ag Campus Engineering students win national championship

- March 14, 2017

Left-to-right: Alec McOnie, Patrick Wells, Alex Place and Nathaniel King. (Provided photo)
Left-to-right: Alec McOnie, Patrick Wells, Alex Place and Nathaniel King. (Provided photo)

After winning the Atlantic Engineering Junior Design Competition held at the Université de Moncton in early February, a team of four second year students — Alex Place, Alec McOnie, Nathaniel King and Patrick Wells — from the Faculty of Agriculture represented Dalhousie at the Canadian Engineering Competition in Calgary.  

The Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) is an annual competition hosted by the Canadian Federation of Engineering students and a member school. This year, CEC 2017 was hosted by the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering from March 2-5, and welcomed engineering undergraduates from coast to coast to compete in one of seven competition categories. It's the national stage for competitors to challenge themselves in technical design, communication and problem-solving.

Meeting the challenge

The Faculty of Agriculture team competed in and won the Junior Design category which challenges competitors to design and build a prototype to address a technical problem within a day. This is a counterpart to the Senior Design competition, but emphasizes prototype functionality of the design. The competitors must present their final prototype to a panel of judges at the end of the design period of five hours.

Eight teams in the Junior Design category were challenged to construct a rover and track out of LEGO and cardboard to transport a marble cargo from a starting platform 25 inches above an obstacle course to its destination on the opposite corner of a rectangular table. Once at its destination the rover was to launch the marble cargo onto the finishing platform upon stopping.

“Our rover was designed to act as a track for the marble to follow upon launching,” explains Patrick. “The marble cargo was launched by the sudden stopping of the rover. The marble continued to carry its momentum forward off the built-in track on the rover."

The team’s ramp was designed to navigate the course using a single turn made smooth using triangular slits cut out of the provided cardboard. Guardrails were also installed and reinforced to keep the rover from falling off.

A thrilling achievement

Engineering Chair Peter Havard says the department is thrilled with the team's success.

“This is only our second year participating in competitions and then winning the regionals and continuing that success at Nationals is an amazing success for our team,” he says. “They have inspired our first-year students to follow in their footsteps next year. I thank DASA, the Dean’s Office and PDI Engineering for their support which made the trip to Calgary possible.

The newly crowned champs are active on the Agricultural Campus and form the executive of the student Engineering Society.

“I felt very excited and blessed to be given the opportunity to represent Dal AC and compete at the Canadian Engineering Competition," says Alec. "We are elated to have won the Junior Design Competition for ourselves and our engineering department.”  

Check out more about the Department of Engineering and the Engineering Program.


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