Western Engineering students win top prizes at Ontario Engineering Competition


Western Engineering News | February 8, 2018

Western Engineering congratulates eight of its undergraduate students who brought home first place at the 2018 Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC), hosted by the University of Ottawa, January 25-28.

Adam Kovalcik, Colin Nowers, Colin Russell and Dane Sisinni won first place in the Programming category; and Samir Abdel Rahman, Jonathan Copeland, Samuel Kloppenburg and Jordan Principe won first place in the Senior Design category. Both teams will advance to the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC), held March 8-11 at Ryerson University in Toronto.  

The OEC is an annual competition that brings together Ontario’s brightest students to participate in challenging case studies that pertain to real-world issues. The event featured 16 universities and more than 300 competitors.

Hosted by a provincial school, the OEC invites all engineering schools across the province to attend and compete in one of eight categories: Junior Design, Senior Design, Innovation, Communication, Programming, Debate, Consulting and, new to OEC this year, Re-Engineering. The top two teams in each category advance to the CEC.  

Teams competing in this year’s Programming category were required to build and run a program in six hours that could trade on a virtual stock exchange built by OEC organizers. The program was meant to be as automated as possible, with the aim to build a series of algorithms which would reflect a strategy for buying and selling stocks repeatedly without human interference. 

Western Engineering’s Programming team focused on building a program that used some of the tactics they observed at various summer jobs and on Mustang Capital, an on-campus algorithmic trading club.

“Our team is comprised of Engineering and Ivey dual-degree students, so our skill sets were well aligned with the challenge,” said Software Engineering & HBA student Adam Kovalcik. 

In terms of differentiating factors that likely placed the team in the lead, Kovalcik accredited having a user-friendly application and business case to support its use, combined with a great team of presenters with strong public speaking skills to best convey their ideas to the judges.

“The experience overall was tremendously rewarding, allowing us to combine our software knowledge with business acumen and use the full breadth of our education,” added Kovalcik. “I believe that our success reflects well on how Western Engineering is growing and cultivating students who lead in their respective fields.” 

Western Engineering’s Senior Design team was required to build and test a robotic arm to maximize reach within six hours. After one hour of initial design, challengers were given access to the “Shop” to buy materials such as Popsicle sticks, servo motors, Arduinos, tape and string, each with an associated cost. Points were awarded for minimum cost spent in the Shop and least materials wasted.

Three of the four Senior Design group members are completing a 16-month internship in the automotive industry – One at GM Cami and two at Honda.

“The team’s experience through the internship program really helped us to distinguish ourselves by using industry knowledge about robotic arms,” said Mechatronics System Engineering & HBA dual-degree student Jonathan Copeland. “We played to each other’s strengths and used our backgrounds and education to our advantage.”

Copeland added that the team’s knowledge of industry standards of robotic arms in automotive assembly impressed the judges and earned them bonus marks for the scalability portion of the challenge.

“It was a great opportunity to take what we learned from projects, class and work and apply the design process to a tough challenge in a short time,” said Copeland. “We are excited to see the calibre of talent we will compete against in the Canadian Engineering Competition.”

Western Engineering is extremely proud of its students and their successes at OEC, and wishes the two teams all the best as they prepare to represent Western University at CEC 2018.