Two teams from Queen’s Engineering will represent Queen’s later this month at a national annual competition for engineering students.

The Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) 2023 is scheduled for Feb. 24 to 27 and will bring engineering teams from across Canada to the University of Waterloo. The purpose of the competition is to identify the top student teams at Canadian universities in eight categories, which include junior design, senior design, re-engineering, innovative design, programming, consulting, debate, and engineering communications.

While the eight categories each have slightly different terms and objectives, most focus on solving a real-world problem within a limited timeframe and budget. Competitors are drawn from provincial competition winners, who first won competitions at their own schools.

Rotem Parran and Grace Ma, both Sc’24, comprise one of the two Queen’s teams headed to Waterloo. They are competing in the engineering communications category, which involves crafting a coherent and technically accurate presentation on a given topic which could be easily understood by a non-engineer audience. Most of the work in this particular category is completed before the event and the teams present their work on the day of the competition.

The topic for this year’s communications category is the future of hydropower. Parran and Ma first had to draft and deliver a four-minute presentation on the topic at the Queen’s Engineering Competition here on campus before expanding it to a 20-minute presentation for the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC), which was held at Western University. Both events took place in January.

“The key point we tried to make was that hydro power is in a stage where it needs development and innovation,” says Parran. “Hydro is a great renewable source, but it needs to be updated to ensure the communities around the dams are left unharmed and to reduce environmental effects. Canada has a lot of access to water and can utilize hydro power, so we feel it is up to Canadian engineers, and us in the future, to develop hydro.”

For their first-place effort, Parran and Ma took home personalized engraved glass awards from OEC 2023.

The duo competed in the 2022 Queen’s Engineering Competition, though the topic was different, where they placed third in the same category.

“We both have gained experience in the consulting industry so, over the course of a year, it really helped us develop our presentation and communication skills, and I think that's also what led to success this time,” added Ma.

Parran and Ma are currently awaiting feedback from the OEC judges which they will use to prepare for the CEC. Perfecting their presentations required many hours of research and practice, with efforts made to keep their content engaging for the audience, while also staying on top of their regular school assignments.

Grace Ma and Rotem Parran with their awards

The second team from Queen’s headed to the national competition includes Greyson Martyn, Anthony Beric, Jamey Lees, and Sam Beylerian, all Sc’25 students. The four mechanical engineering students will compete in the junior design category; junior referring to the fact that all competitors are in either their first or second year of study.

When they competed at the Queen’s level, the team built a crossbow prototype to meet the challenge of hitting specific targets with a projectile launcher. When they reached the Ontario level, the competition involved creating a mechanical arm which could move predetermined objects.

“We had no expectations to win but we all wanted to try our best and make something we’re proud of,” says Martyn. “At OEC we knew how hard the challenge was from the beginning so instead of trying to design something intricate and unique from the other groups we wanted to first just build something that would work. Having an 85 per cent mindset, doing your best, and having fun is our secret weapon.”

award recipients

 The spirit of fun and adventure that led the two teams to sign up seems to be lasting through to the competition weekends.

“We had a lot of fun with everyone who came from Queen’s for the competition,” says Ma. “There were a few people that we had never met before, and we became good friends with them over the weekend. We felt the school spirit, and everyone was very supportive of one another.”

group photo of attendees

This article is relevant to the following Strategic Actions as defined in the Strategic Plan: