How can German and Canadian innovation be combined? How to mix German engineering expertise with the multitude of Canadian inventions in a clever way?

Grit LiebscherOne country is famous for its unrivaled efficiency, machinery and heavy equipment, while the other is best known for its maple syrup production, timber trade and winter sports. At first glance, it appears quite challenging to bring the two countries together in an innovative project.

At the two-day Engineering Design and Research Competition, presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto, University of Waterloo Engineering and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, 97 high school girls from grades 10 and 11 accepted this challenge. They presented projects ranging from the Alberta-Helmholtz-Initiative to German-Canadian cooperation in aerospace engineering, from ethical restrictions for genetic modification of foods to the improvement of driving practice and road security, from architectural commonalities to the VW emissions scandal: each of the 47 teams brought a science fair-style set up of their research project and presented their ideas to judges from all three organizing institutions, which included not just engineering students, but also graduate and undergraduate students and a visiting instructor from the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies.

Group of peopleWith hopes of winning the Grand Prize, a trip to Germany, the girls explained their projects to the judges. As a happy coincidence, one of the judges brought in by the Goethe-Institut Toronto turned out to be a former student of the IcGS-program, who now happens to work at the German Consulate in Toronto.

The winning team was awarded the prize after the German mock lecture, which was taught in cooperation between Prof. Dr. Emma Betz (GSS) and Ulrike Kugler, Director of Language and Education at the Goethe-Institut Toronto.

I never thought I would learn so many new things at this event. - Karen Busche

To encourage the junior scientists’ engagement with German culture, the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies offered a German Quiz, awarding five lucky winners with packages of travel accessories suitable for a trip to Germany, which included travel adaptors and other useful travel items (actual trip to Germany not included!). In addition to the main design competition and German Quiz, the “German Competition” made five other participants the lucky winners of a guided factory tour at the facilities of Ontario Drive and Gear, which were generously donated by the company.

Group of peopleAfter presenting their design projects in the morning, the young women were then had to complete the engineering design challenge in the afternoon, which tested their skills in working with Arduino computer kits and different technical materials.

The volunteer team was rather impressed by the effort and talent demonstrated in the girls’ projects. “I never thought I would learn so many new things at this event. I appreciate the high quality of research being undertaken here and the professionalism of everything.”, Karen Busche, PAD from Germany, says. “This was really an impressive group of students,” agreed by Rayn Carroll, a PhD candidate in the department. “Their enthusiasm in a competition like this one is hopefully an indication that younger students in STEM disciplines recognize the need for engaging with culture and language, even if it is not the main pursuit of their education.” The volunteer team of the department was quite satisfied by the success of the day’s activities. They considered the event a great opportunity for taking part in outreach activities and for making new connections with the cooperating institutions of the Goethe-Institut Toronto and fellow students in Waterloo Engineering.

To see more photos or learn more about the event, visit the WE Go.DEsign website.