Conestoga news

February 8, 2011 1:36 PM

Historic Win for Conestoga's Engineering Program

A team of students from Conestoga’s Mechanical Systems Engineering (MSE) degree program made history this past weekend as they captured first place in the Senior Design division of the Ontario Engineering Competition, an annual event for the province’s best students from accredited engineering programs to come together and demonstrate their abilities. This is the first time that students from a college-based degree program have participated in the event, which is hosted by the Engineering Student Societies Council of Ontario (ESSCO). ESSCO represents approximately 24,000 engineering students at 16 post-secondary institutions across the province.

This year’s competition, held in London at the University of Western Ontario from February 4 - 6, focused on the theme of Engineering a Better World. Students in the Senior Design division were given the challenge of designing, constructing, testing and presenting a solution to a resource management problem using limited materials and preparation time. Details of the challenge were disclosed to the teams on Friday evening; teams were required to both present and demonstrate their solutions on the following day.

Disaster scenario mock-up

The Conestoga team, consisting of Jamie Hobson of Waterloo, Ian Hillier of Petersburg, David Timmerman of Elora and Brian Montgomery-Wilson of Orangeville, competed against 15 teams from engineering faculties across the province, including the University of Waterloo, Queen’s, McMaster and the University of Toronto. Only the Conestoga team managed to successfully complete both components of the challenge within the allotted time. The team will now go on to compete at the Canadian Engineering Competition to be held at McGill University in Montreal from March 10-13.

"We are very proud of this team of students, who have so skillfully demonstrated their abilities in competition with the best students from engineering programs across the province," said Dr. John Tibbits, president of Conestoga. "This achievement serves as a further validation of our program and of the leadership role being taken by Conestoga in project-based engineering education in Ontario.”

Participation in the event was organized by the Executive Student Council of the Conestoga Engineering Society (CES). CES provides academic, social, and professional opportunities to the undergraduate and alumni engineering students of Conestoga ITAL.

The Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga added his congratulations to the Conestoga team in the House of Commons.

This is the second time in less than a year that the Mechanical Systems Engineering degree has made an historic achievement. In September, it was accredited by Engineers Canada following a thorough review by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), making Conestoga the first college in Ontario and only second Institute of Technology in Canada to have an accredited engineering degree program.

Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is one of Canada’s premier polytechnic institutes. Recognized as leaders in applied education and research, we provide a comprehensive range of programs that prepare our graduates for success in business, industry and the community.

Biran Montgomery-Wilson, Ian Hiller, Jamie Hobson, David Timmerman, President John Tibbits

For media questions, contact Brenda Cassidy, Corporate Communications Manager, 519-748-5220 ext 3336 or


Ontario Engineering Competition - Senior Design Category
February 4-6, 2011
By Jamie Hobson, member of the Conestoga team



We received the scope for the competition - a town in Peru had suffered a series of earthquakes which destroyed their resources.

We were given a scale model of the villages and surrounding mountains (photo attached) and presented with the challenge, which included 3 sections:

  • Moving 12 wood blocks of "food" up to the top of a mountain to a specified area - all blocks must be touching the ground within the outlined for full points
  • Moving 850ml of water from either the far lake, or the close lake which has been contaminated with acid (separate problem, neutralize the water and make it drinkable)
  • Fixing the electrical wires and converting a fluctuating 15VAC to 3.3VDC (BONUS)


Design and build time: There was a parts store from which we could buy parts to build our devices. There was no upper-limit on the budget, but the the most cost effective team would be awarded additional points. During this time we also had to create a full presentation for the next day.


We began to rehearse and expand on our presentation. Although the slides were already submitted, we focused on practicing our delivery.


We were the first group to present, and it went very well: no one stuttered, questions were answers professionally and accurately, and we showed a lot of enthusiasm.


Testing time: Our device was the only one that delivered all 12 cubes of food to the village, and all 850ml of water from the far pond. Our electrical system would have worked (fully tested beforehand), but unfortunately we missed a key hint in the scope: one of the power line wires was secretly broken. We did not get full marks for this bonus section, but did receive marks for our design.

Our solutions:

  • Food delivery: We created a wagon that was pulled to the top of the hill by a geared motor. Our team also utilized a friction brake on the rear (unique solution) to create tension in a cable behind the cart to keep the cart going up the mountain in a straight line, since it was very easy to go off the sides.
  • Water delivery: We created 2 check-valves using two syringes, two pushpins, and two clay balls. The system worked perfectly. Only one other group made a true check-valve, and it was not as effective. Most teams used a series of syringes to physically close valves to allow for pumping the water.
  • Electrical: We designed a full-wave rectifier with capacitor for smoothing of the waveform - it worked perfectly in testing, but we missed the small hint in the scope about a faulty wire connection.

Scoring was based on:

  • 60% presentation (including teamwork and originality)
  • 40% demonstration (including cost-effectiveness, real-world scalability, and time)