Conestoga news

March 6, 2017 7:16 AM

Students develop technology solutions for accessibility

During Conestoga’s Student Success Week, a group of Engineering and IT students put their technical skills to work in the college’s annual 4x4 Challenge. This year the students were required to develop innovative projects based on the theme “Solutions for Accessibility.”

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Computer Engineering Technology student Tarek Rahim won the Best New Venture award and will advance to Conestoga's Pitch Day competition where he will present his 3D-printed prosthetic hand.

The 4x4 Challenge was launched in 2012 by Ig Kolenko, chair of Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology and director of the college’s Centre for Smart Manufacturing. The event involves a minimum of four Conestoga student teams who have four days to implement solutions to industry projects. For this year’s theme, KidsAbility provided project ideas around the accessibility theme.

Teams showcased their projects to the college community, industry partners and sponsors on March 3 at the Doon campus. The showcase included remarks from Suthan Sivanesan, business development manager at Ontario Centres of Excellence and keynote speaker Michael Cullen of Novalte -- a company that specializes in control solutions for people with physical limitations.

“This was another inspiring year for the 4x4 Challenge,” said Kolenko. “It was unanimous from all in attendance that the projects on display were of incredibly high quality and all addressed the theme well. It was gratifying to see our students showcasing their entrepreneurial spirit and their prototype solutions to industry. This is a great first step towards a future of entrepreneurship.”

Awards were sponsored by eSolutions Group, Microcomputer Science Centre, HumanSystems Inc. and Kolenko himself who makes a personal donation to the event annually. 

First place was awarded to first-year Software Engineering Technology students Felipe Flor, Wesley Martin, Ricardo Mohammed and Kalvin Stares who developed a gesture interpreter for spastic movement. The solution allows people with minimal fine motor controls to interact with devices that would ordinarily require more controlled hand or arm gestures. By simulating motions like swipe right, swipe left, push down or pull up, the program interprets very inconsistent or shaky movements as a single command. The students received an $800 award.

  • Second prize, $400: Zane Chatodkath, Samir Anadkat, Muhammad Khan, John Chapple developed a solution that allows a universal TV remote to interface with mechanical switches for use by kids with disabilities
  • Third prize, $150: Tarek Rahim developed a prosthetic hand with full range of motion
  • Fourth prize, $150: Aneez Bashorun, Srinidhi Krishnan, Hiren Tank. Solution developed a sensor to track respiratory activities without the need of wearables

Third place winner Tarek Rahim, a Computer Engineering Technology student, also received the Best New Venture award sponsored by Conestoga’s Centre for Entrepreneurship which grants him automatic entry into the college’s Pitch Day @ Conestoga competition on March 30. Inspired by the work he completed in the college’s Robotics Innovation Group, Rahim based his project on a 3D-printed prosthetic hand. His design supports optional sensors and offers 20 degrees of freedom. The thumb is fully opposable and each finger can replicate the full range of motion of a human hand, including lateral movements.

Other event sponsors included Kitchener’s Open Sky Incubator, which provided 4x4 participants with free access to its incubator space.

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