Conestoga news

August 15, 2014 8:59 AM

Skills on display - Tech Showcase 2014

On the afternoon of August 12, over 90 students from a variety of technology-related programs in the areas of computing, woodworking and engineering demonstrated their final term comprehensive projects in the Summer Tech Showcase 2014 at Conestoga's Cambridge (Fountain Street) campus.

The students greeted the public and provided face-to-face or PowerPoint presentations to explain the sometimes highly technical development processes they undertook to resolve specific industry problems or create their own personal interest projects in the hopes of winning the Mastercraft Award 2014.

The award dates back to 1980 and recognizes the program-related skills of students. A total of $1,000 goes to the winner or winners, and entrants must win at their own program level to qualify for the Tech Showcase.

One of the most popular designs came from Jonathan Zorn, a third year student in the Woodworking Technology co-op diploma program. Zorn created a functional Nintendo controller at 10-times the scale of the original device that also reverses to become a coffee table.

A confessed perfectionist, Zorn spent approximately 150 hours hand-building the custom table using woods like bloodwood for the buttons and walnut for the other controllers. His attention to detail showed in the precision dovetails and his use of jigs for the controllers. Although the game design was remarkable, the real beauty of the table—and the design itself—came from its ability to flip over into a flat-topped coffee table made of exotic Brazilian kingwood. He even included spring-loaded drawers in the base to keep games organized and right at one’s fingertips.

“It’s fun, really, so I don’t mind doing it. It’s a challenge,” said Zorn, who had just written his final exam that morning. The custom game controller/coffee table isn’t his first, and he has a few other models that are painted.

Zorn said his biggest difficulty with the design was the button assembly. “The buttons weren’t working right. I needed to come up with a way to improve the feel. The hardest part was building the mechanisms for the buttons and finding a way to get the pressure right.” His creation was definitely a hit with the crowd who queued up to give it a test. Despite the relatively low cost of $500 for materials, Zorn said if he included his time in the calculation, the table would sell for at least $3,000.

However, the award winner(s) needed more than popularity to be successful. Chair of the selection committee Joanne Buchholzer said that the three judges considered the projects based on the criteria of first impression, innovation, creativity, skills and quality, as well as their usability and marketability. The other two judges were graduates of the college who now work in local industry.

When the committee looked at the features of the designs and compared them to the set criteria, it took some deliberation to select the winning project from the Mobile Solutions Development graduate certificate program. The team’s Earth Mat Design Mobile Web App earned this year’s top honour.

Danish Gupta, Hemanth Kona and Pranav Maharaj will receive their award at the November convocation ceremonies. Congratulations to all of the students who participated.