Western Engineering Duo Secures Second Place at Canadian Engineering Competition


(From left) Samuel Farnum and Robin Cunningham, fifth-year mechatronics engineering students at Western University earn second place at the Canadian Engineering Competition in Alberta (Robooth Photo Booth Services photo).

In a remarkable display of innovation and dedication, Samuel Farnum and Robin Cunningham, fifth-year mechatronics engineering students at Western University, clinched second place in the Innovative Design Category at the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) held in early March at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering in Alberta. The duo's outstanding performance follows their first-place victory at the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) in January 2024. 

The CEC stands as a pinnacle event, bringing together top engineering undergraduates from across Canada to compete in various categories. Cunningham highlighted the rigorous selection process, stating, "Contestants at CEC must first win their school’s competition, and then place first or second at their regional competition.” This sets a high bar for participants, ensuring that only the most innovative and creative projects are showcased. 

Speaking about their project, Cunningham explained, “With ParaSight, we have developed a new medical diagnostic system for malaria that is 50 times cheaper and 50 times faster than existing solutions.” 

Malaria, a disease prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, claims the life of one child under the age of 5 every minute. The current diagnostic process, reliant on expensive equipment and specialized training, often results in misdiagnoses or missed cases. ParaSight aims to revolutionize this scenario by leveraging cost-effective hardware, advanced image processing techniques, and cloud-based solutions and AI models. 

Samuel Farnum and Robin Cunningham unveil ParaSight, their new malaria diagnostic tool,
at the poster exhibit of the Canadian Engineering Competition. This innovative solution is 50
times cheaper and faster than existing solutions (submitted photo)

Participating in the competition provided invaluable lessons for the team. "We learned the invaluable role of teamwork in engineering, particularly when team members bring diverse perspectives to the table," noted Farnum. This interdisciplinary approach, combining business acumen with medical insights, enriched their final design, making it both innovative and practical. Additionally, effective communication proved paramount, as the team had to distill complex engineering concepts into accessible presentations during the competition. 

Reflecting on their achievement and representing Western, Farnum expressed profound pride, stating, "Placing second at the Canadian Engineering Competition was an incredible honour." The duo showcased their capabilities and highlighted the calibre of talent nurtured at Western University. 

The success of the ParaSight team underscores Western's commitment to fostering innovation and excellence in engineering education. As they continue to push the boundaries of traditional engineering solutions, Cunningham and Farnum serve as inspiring ambassadors for the university, demonstrating the transformative potential of interdisciplinary collaboration and ingenuity in addressing real-world challenges.