The winning team of SFU engineering science students (l-r): Tony Tan, Gordon Ho, Julien Lo, Simon Zhong.

SFU students take first prize in Western Engineering Competition, third year in a row

January 20, 2017

A team of four SFU engineering science students won first place for the third consecutive year in the 2016 Western Engineering Competition (WEC), senior design category.

The team competed against 12 student groups from across Western Canada at the four-day event in Banff, Alberta, January 12 to 15. Teams had eight hours to build a robotic lift-bridge with alarms, lights and an earthquake detector.

As members of SFU’s world-ranked VEX Robotics club, the SFU team used VEX parts and everyday materials such as tape and cardboard to build a high-performance, reliable and cost-effective solution. 

The resulting “smart bridge” was “the most robust and had the fastest lift at 1.1 seconds, compared to a 30-second average for the other bridges,” says SFU team member Gordon Ho.

Simplicity was the key to success. “The bridge clipped directly to the table, so we didn’t need any counterweights or overhang supports,” says Ho. “If you do something tricky, but sacrifice speed or cost, this is not true innovation.”

As winners of the regional competition, the team will progress to the Canadian Engineering Competition in Calgary this March. "This year’s WEC has been an amazing experience,” says Ho. “The event was well organized, and getting to visit Banff made it one-of-a-kind. The 12-hour bus ride both ways paid off with the results.”