U of T Engineering team places first at the Canadian Engineering Competition

In mid-March, Dean Yip met for coffee with the team that won the 2022 Canadian Engineering Competition in the category of Senior Engineering Design. Left to right: Dean Christopher Yip, Kushagra Goel (Year 3 CompE), Ajeya Madhava Rao Vijayakumar (Year 3 MechE), Bobby Graydon (Year 4 MechE) and Karman Lochab (Year 3 ElecE). (Photo: Christopher Yip)

On March 13, four students from U of T Engineering took the top spot in the category of Senior Design at the 2022 Canadian Engineering Competition.

The championship team consisted of Kushagra Goel (Year 3 CompE), Bobby Graydon (Year 4 MechE), Karman Lochab (Year 3 ElecE) and Ajeya Madhava Rao Vijayakumar (Year 3 MechE).

“We’re all incredibly excited about our win,” says Lochab. “Competition weekend was stressful and draining so it took some time to fully digest. Now, after some well-needed rest and a lovely chat with Dean Chris Yip, we’re beginning to fully appreciate what we achieved.”

The 2022 Canadian Engineering Competition was hosted by the University of New Brunswick. This year’s competition was held virtually, with students connecting online from their home institutions across the country. The U of T Engineering team gathered in the basement of the Myhal Centre, an area specifically dedicated to student design teams.

In the Senior Design category, student teams are presented with a complex open-ended engineering design problem, and they are given only eight hours to design their solution.

Eight teams from across Canada qualified for the national competition. These teams were tasked with designing, constructing and testing an efficient mechanical energy storage system for a wind farm in New Brunswick.

The finished prototype needed to capture the energy generated over a period of one minute, store it for one minute, and then release the energy slowly over a two-minute period.

“We were given very basic materials and tools, such as dowels, hot glue and tape,” says Goel. “We didn’t have a lot to work with: no axels for our gearbox, no spool for the rope — in fact, we didn’t have any rope. We had to make one out of thread.”

The prototype created by the U of T Engineering team included a gearbox and a tower that enabled them to hoist a weight 16 feet into the air, making use of gravitational potential energy to store what was generated by the wind farm.

The U of T Engineering team built their prototype on the bottom floor of the Myhal Centre, uploading a video of their device in operation for the judges based across Canada. (Photo: Karman Lochab)

“I think the secret to our success came from the diverse experiences and skill sets that the four of us brought to the team,” says Graydon. “We benefited from a careful and efficient distribution of tasks that we refined from our experience at the provincial level.”

Graydon was competing at CEC for the second time; in 2021, he and his sister Jenny Graydon (IndE 2T0 +PEY) formed a team that placed third in the Senior Design category.

The team’s win is reflective of the rich student experience that the U of T Engineering community has worked hard to maintain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“U of T has so many great design teams — from the Concrete Toboggan Team to Blue Sky Solar Racing — where you are able to learn practical skills beyond what you get in the classroom,” says Vijayakumar. “That was absolutely critical to being successful in this competition.”

– This story was originally published on the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering News Site on March 24, 2022 by Tyler Irving

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