Raising the bar
National contest category created for Waterloo students on “a whole other level”
Waterloo Engineering students who wowed judges with their presentation at the recent online Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) received an award in a new category created during the event to recognize their project work.
Fourth-year mechanical engineering students Jag Dhillon, Saad Haq, Tony Lee and Lucas Tang’s entry into this year’s CEC innovative design category was so impressive that the competition’s organizing committee and judges presented them with the inaugural research and entrepreneurship award.
The students, known as Team Nashwaak at the competition, initially developed a light therapy smart device to help night owls, including Tang, go to sleep.
The team then discovered the thin film optical technology incorporated into glasses not only relieves sleeping disorders but also associated emotional issues, both of which are problems many people have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic and annually throughout Canadian winters. The glasses are expected to be available by the end of 2021.
Jean Boudreau, president of Engineers Canada, said the Waterloo team displayed outstanding excellence and went above and beyond in terms of their research and entrepreneurship.
“Their project has stirred a new conversation, which would make an addition to CEC moving forward to provide a new platform for projects of this nature to be displayed,” she said when presenting the students with the new CEC award.
Tang said the judges were “floored” by his team’s presentation.
“They said we were on a whole other level compared to the other competitors and that it was no longer fair to compare us to the others,” said Tang. “They were extremely impressed by our presentation and want to see more projects of our calibre at future competitions.”
A category with the same name as the award will be part of next year’s competition.
Team Nashwaak was known as Team Lumos in the Ontario Engineering Competition held earlier this year. Team Lumos, also the name of the students’ Capstone Design (final year) engineering project, is based on a startup company called Lumos Health founded by Tang during a co-op work term as a product manager at Xiaomi Technology.
Zhao Pan, Team Lumos’ Capstone Design faculty advisor, notes that the special award is the first of its kind to be introduced by the CEC first held in 1985.
“Our students are game-changers,” said Pan, a Waterloo mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor. “They literally changed the rules of the competition.”
Held online this year due to the pandemic lockdown, the annual competition brings together over 200 undergraduate students from across Canada who placed in the top two positions of their provincial or regional competitions.
A second Waterloo Engineering team won a top CEC award. Logan Ingalls and Vyshna Krishnakumar, both third-year nanotechnology engineering students, placed second in the extemporaneous debate category.