Canadian Consulting Engineer

Engineering students burst with ideas at University of Waterloo

March 22, 2016

A host of innovative engineering ideas are simmering at Canada’s largest university for engineering. Beginning March 16 for a week, the University of Waterloo in southwest Ontario is holding its annual Capstone Design symposia when students present 150 of those ideas.

The Capstone Design project is a requirement for fourth year undergraduate engineering student at the University of Waterloo. Other universities across Canada have similar programs where students get to engage in designing real projects as part of small teams. Designing a “real life” project fosters practical design applications, project management, research and collaboration.

At Waterloo 700 students in 12 different programs are presenting their projects over various days at the symposia. Companies sponsor prizes, culminating in an award of $60,000 to be given on March 30 to one of 15 qualifying teams.

Among the list of projects some of the most unusual include a suitcase that generates power as you travel,  a flying-wing roller coaster, and — perhaps the most popular — an on-campus brewery “to be used as an educational centre.”


From the Civil, Environmental and Geological students, projects include:

Floating Disaster Shelter for Tofino, B.C., to serve during seismic and tsunami events.

Fibre-Reinforced Polymer Bridge to replace the King Street bridge in a dilapidated area of London, Ontario.

Bursting Pipe Solution.  This involves a flexible inner pipe and a rigid outer pipe, separated by a layer of insulation. The students say it pre-empts having to bury pipes.

Geothermal Heating System for a Bridge Deck – using “geothermal energy piles to harness the earth’s energy and heat the bridge deck.”

The Mechanical engineering student projects include:

Portable Bedroom Furniture. A complete set of furniture that transforms into portable packages that fit into the back of a vehicle and require no tools for re-assembly.

Autonomous Drone Battery Station. It includes a landing pad for switching the drone’s battery to extend its mission time.

Fire Light. With an eye on the 1.3 billion people in the world that have no access to electricity, this device uses waste heat from a candle flame to power LEDs that are much brighter than the flame itself.

From the Electrical and Computer Engineering students, one idea that emerged was:

Guardian Fire Suppression System. It selectively targets and douses a particular area where fire has broken out until help arrives, saving the usual large scale water damage. The system uses infrared sensors and cameras.

To see all the ideas, click here.



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