Applied Research Showcase draws top young techies

BCIT President Kathy Kinloch and teams from 11 polytechnics after making their pitches.

BCIT President Kathy Kinloch and teams from 11 polytechnics after making their pitches.

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The 9th annual Student Applied Research Showcase was held at BCIT Burnaby on Friday, November 14th. The event was hosted by Polytechnics Canada, an alliance of the leading research-intensive institutes of Canada. Polytechnics Canada members create jobs by helping small and mid-sized businesses grow through applied research and innovation.

11 teams from these polytechnic institutions across Canada presented their ideas to a panel of judges who selected the top three applied research projects to be showed at the Showcase Awards.

BCIT’s very own Joel Hooge, an Engineering student, created an innovating idea of how judge the approximate strength of masonry bricks by hitting them together to see if the sound is correct.

After the extensive damage that the country of Haiti experienced after the earthquake of 2010, due to the poor quality of the concrete that was used in the constructions of the buildings. Many developing countries cannot afford the technology that is required for standard destructive testing. Joel created an easy, low-cost fix to such a devastating problem. Joel explained how the project could have a huge impact in developing countries:

“I think this project is a good idea because it has the potential to save lives and reduce damage from natural disasters in undeveloped countries. It could allow small manufacturers of concrete blocks (who make blocks in their backyard) to improve their ability to make good, quality blocks.”

 

BCIT's entrant Joel Hooge, with his low cost concrete testing technique.

BCIT’s entrant Joel Hooge, with his low cost concrete testing technique.

I also had the opportunity to talk to the Hon. Kerry-Lynne Findaly, P.C., Q.C., Minister of National Revenue and a Member of Parliament for Delta-Richmond East, one of many keynote speakers. She said that polytechnic institutions stand out because students have the ability to gain relevant, hands on educations that will benefit them greatly when they enter into the job field.

Geoff HarperI also had the pleasure of meeting Geoffrey Harper, a 3rd level Interactive Media Design student from Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario. Geoffrey created L8RMsg, a program that has the ability to send time-delayed messages from a user’s mobile device and computer. Geoffrey, as well as the other students competing were highly driven individuals. It was interesting having the ability to catch up with many of the student presenters after their presentations and have a chance to ask them a few questions, a lot of them created their innovating ideas simply because they want to make a change in today’s technology.

In the end, despite playing host, BCIT was shut out of the awards for the top three projects. The winner of the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style showdown was Ontario’s Conestoga College, for their project, “Automated Thermal Management System.”

Team lead Richard Cunha said the goal of his project was to make oil recycling cheaper and more efficient. He says by doing that, his team’s technology could have a major impact by making it more practical on a local level.  “Currently the manufacturer works more at the industrial scale, but they’re increasingly looking at moving into commercial markets like mom and pop lube oil places,” he told Link. Apparently the panel agreed with the work, awarding his team top honours.

Richard Cunha from Ontario’s Conestoga College making his winning presentation.

Richard Cunha from Ontario’s Conestoga College making his winning presentation.

From a business students perspective, it was a very eye opening show case, I had absolutely no idea how much innovating applied-research could change modern technology. Many of the students were my age, which was even more amazing that they had created such advanced ideas. Polytechnics Canada has had more than 76,744 graduates and I am more than excited to say I’ll be one of them.