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April 30, 2014 2:50 PM

Innovation on display at Conestoga

Students from more than a dozen diploma programs displayed their final term projects in the Atrium at the Cambridge Engineering and Information Technology campus on Tuesday, April 29 for the annual Tech@Work Showcase.

A wide range of Engineering and Information Technology diploma programs were featured, including: Architecture - Construction Engineering Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology - Telecommunications Systems, Software Engineering Technology, Computer Programmer/Analyst, Civil Engineering Technology, Energy Systems Engineering Technology, Computer Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology and Woodworking Technician.

Students presented their projects to a panel of judges who chose one project to receive the Winter Mastercraft Award, which will be presented at Convocation in June. Established in 1980 by Conestoga President Kenneth E. Hunter, the Mastercraft Award recognizes student achievement in the area of program-related skills.

For third-year Energy Systems Engineering Technology students Jordan Bomans and Michael Kasunic, their innovative project was about satisfying a real industry need. Working with conductive glass which can be heated using an electrical current, Bomans and Kasunic developed a system that automatically melts snow to prevent it from accumulating on solar panels. After doing research, the pair realized that users often experienced a drop in power output when their solar panels were partially or fully obscured from the sun after a snowfall.

TechWork1.jpg “We did a lot of research and found there is no way to remove snow from panels aside from climbing up and doing it manually,” said Bomans. “The heated glass seemed like such a simple idea and we couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been done.”

Turning their idea into reality meant drawing on the skills they learned in the classroom at Conestoga. Kasunic found it satisfying to see how the knowledge gained in each of his courses came together to help with the project.

“Our classes at Conestoga have helped us in many ways,” explained Kasunic. “We have learned how to wire control circuits, what we need from our batteries and how to put it all together.”

Kasunic said the college was also instrumental in landing him a summer co-op position at a local solar panel company, which in turn gave him the knowledge he needed to work with the solar panels for this project.

“Without the college, I wouldn’t have found the job at the solar company. The experience I gained was very useful.”

Selected as the Winter Mastercraft Award winners, the pair hopes to introduce their project to the marketplace. With industry professionals already showing interest in their technology, Bomans and Kasunic are finding ways to make their system easier to manufacture.

“We would like to incorporate the system directly into the solar panel manufacturing process,” said Bomans. “We have already found a conductive glass that would make this possible and we want to pitch this idea to manufacturers.”

For more information on the programs offered by Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, visit the website.

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