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February 22, 2016 7:55 AM

4x4 Challenge supports classroom learning

A group of students in the Engineering and Information Technology programs spent their study week competing to find solutions to real-world industry challenges. They participated in Conestoga's 4x4 Challenge and presented their work at a showcase held at the Doon campus on February 19.

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Students Hayden Taylor and Connor McQuade developed a tool to help users learn how to draw with a tablet. Their work was on display at the 4x4 Challenge showcase held at Conestoga’s Doon campus on February 19.

The competition required students to work in teams: they had four days to use their skills to design and implement a minimum of four viable solutions related to education.

Ig Kolenko, chair of Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, launched the 4X4 Challenge in 2012 with the goal of inspiring students to use their creativity, knowledge and innovation to solve problems quickly and as a group.

"This year's theme encouraged students to examine an industry that is ripe for innovation - education,” said Kolenko. “I am certain that all students, at some point in their educational careers, felt their learning could have been enhanced with an innovative technical solution, or better quality content and materials. The competition gave them a chance to explore these solutions.”

Teams could develop solutions for challenges across the educational spectrum, including gamified educational materials, low cost educational solutions for the developing world or better tools to support learning of difficult subject areas.

Hobby artists and Software Engineering Technology students Connor McQuade and Hayden Taylor worked together on a solution that helps users learn how to draw using a tablet. The pair say they that while there are plenty of tools to help you draw, there is nothing currently available to help you draw with a tablet.

“The 4x4 Challenge gives you the chance to create real-world solutions,” said Taylor, adding this was “fantastic motivation” for him to spend his study week working on the challenge.

McQuade agreed and said the challenge takes students outside the scope of class projects: “A challenge like this means you really have to think for yourself.”

Other students involved in the challenge had similar sentiments. Eden Gillen, a first year Electronics Engineering Technician student said she found the challenge enhanced classroom learning experiences. She worked with Tarek Rahim, Jim Raithway and Verdi Rodrigues-Diamond on a modular android game console.

Teammate Rodrigues-Diamond said he liked that the challenge was open-ended: “It gives you a chance to figure out what you know and what you don’t.”

Some of the other solutions created by the 4x4 teams included a mobile diet app to help students make healthy food choices while on campus and a system to help new musicians learn how to play an instrument.

The 4X4 Challenge is supported by regional businesses: Canadian Tire, Blackberry and Communitech have sponsored previous challenges. Industry sponsors for 2016 included Ontario Centres of Excellence, Uncharted Research and Development, Car-San Manufacturing Limited and Ig Kolenko.

For more information about the annual 4x4 Challenge, contact Ig Kolenko

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