SFU Surrey Welcomes Western Canada’s Largest Undergraduate Engineering Competition

February 23, 2023

By Rachel Mah

Last month, students from across Western Canada gathered at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus for the 2023 Western Engineering Competition (WEC). The four-day event provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to put their technical skills to the test. The competition strives to foster innovation and challenges teams to develop creative solutions to real-world problems.

With over 200 competitors from nine universities attending the event, teams participated in one of eight competition categories such as consulting and re-engineering. This year’s event marks a significant milestone for SFU.

“This is the first time SFU has ever hosted the Western Engineering Competition, and we wanted to showcase what SFU is capable of,” says mechatronics student Nathan Cushing, who is also the chair of WEC 2023 and vice-president academics of SFU’s Mechatronic Systems Engineering Student Society.

“The organizing committee consists entirely of SFU students, all of whom worked relentlessly over the last six months to put together this competition.”

The theme of this year’s event—From Sea to Sky— aligns with the location of SFU on the B.C. Coast. Teams proposed solutions on how to protect the natural beauty of the land while ensuring that resources and energy are being used effectively. The projects were presented to a panel of judges, comprising of experts from industry and academia.

SFU engineering science students took home the first-place prize in the Junior Design category. Adam Spelrem, Thomas Challis, Yu-Xing Lim and Zachary Spencer were challenged to design a model of the future gondola on SFU’s Burnaby campus in four hours. Despite the time constraint, they managed to successfully design a prototype that contained a leveling system and was able to carry six kilograms while travelling through a zipline. They have advanced to the next round of the competition and will be one of the teams representing SFU at the upcoming Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC 2023) from February 24 to 27.

Pictured is a proposed model of the future gondola on Burnaby campus designed by our engineering students.
Pictured are students Adam Spelrem, Thomas Challis, Yu-Xing Lim and Zachary Spencer receiving their first-place prize.

In addition to providing students with the chance to apply their knowledge, WEC aims to help them build connections.

“WEC is also a powerful networking opportunity for students, as it brings together hundreds of the brightest upcoming engineers from across Western Canada along with a variety of sponsors,” explains Cushing.

“With social events, a career fair, competitions and an awards banquet, there are plenty of opportunities for students to make new friends, learn more about the industry and find future career opportunities.”

This year, WEC collaborated with SystemsFair, the annual tech career fair hosted by students at SFU Surrey, and held both events concurrently during the second day of the competition. The fair connects students with industry professionals and provides them with the opportunity to learn more about what jobs are available to them once they have graduated. With this collaboration, students can strengthen their business connections and develop their professional network.

As engineering students across Canada keep an eye on the innovative design skills that will be display at CEC 2023 this weekend, it is clear that these competitions provide students with a unique opportunity to think outside of the box, work together as a team and build solutions to better society.

To students who are considering participating in the future, Cushing encourages teams to be creative to build a winning project: “Have an open mind about what is possible. Oftentimes, the best solution is not the most obvious one.”

“The best teams are the ones that can work together effectively. When you only have a few hours to come up with a comprehensive solution, you have to rely on and support each other to pull through with a winning solution.”