Posted February 4, 2009
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Education

Engineers to Showcase Sustainable Innovations

Guelph - The University of Guelph will showcase its engineering programs and expertise when it hosts the 30th annual Ontario Engineering Competition Feb. 6 to 8.

"We're getting engineering at Guelph out to Ontario and the rest of the world," said Dan Roth, a fourth-year student in the engineering systems and computing program and an event organizer.

Teams from 15 universities will compete in six categories under the theme of "sustainable innovation." Almost 250 university students are expected to take part, including 14 from Guelph's School of Engineering.

Design project teams will receive a problem to solve, build a prototype and present their solutions. Other categories will include consulting, communications, debates and innovative design.

For the first time this year, a high school design day will also take place on campus during the university competition. High school students will design a sustainable product and observe the university competition and design projects.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, a popular speaker and author of The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Reward of Civilization and The Ingenuity Gap will speak during a Feb. 7 dinner. Homer-Dixon holds the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and is a professor at the University of Waterloo.

Student organizers hope the three-day event attracts other university students as well as the general public and high school students to observe the events.

Pointing to Guelph's mix of engineering programs — notably environmental, biological , water resources, and engineering systems and computing — Roth said this year's theme is a way of "making other schools aware of the increasing importance of designing sustainably."

This year's projects might include water, solid and hazardous waste management and energy, he said. "It's an opportunity to take what you've learned in the classroom and apply it to real problems."

Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three entries. There will also be awards for social awareness and technical excellence. Winning teams in each category may compete in the Canadian Engineering Competition to be held in March in New Brunswick. Last year, a Guelph Junior Design team won a social awareness award at the national contest for a bridge designed from sustainable materials.

The competition will be held in the MacKinnon Building and Thornbrough Building. There will be about 40 judges, including six U of G professors. There will also be a career fair involving the competition's sponsors, including various private companies, universities and engineering associations.

© Copyright 2009/Exchange Morning Post/Exchange Business Communications Inc.
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