students and faculty standing in model obstacle courseFirst-year engineering students pitted their skills in competition at the conclusion of the Cornerstone Design course.

First-year course sets cornerstone for engineering careers

A classroom in the Centre for Engineering Innovation was filled April 4 with engineering students and faculty as teams competed for bragging rights and cash to send an autonomous vehicle through an obstacle course.

The 60 teams were the initial class of “Cornerstone Design,” a mandatory first-year engineering course which tasks students with designing, programming, and building an autonomous emergency vehicle using an Arduino Elegoo Robot car kit.

The autonomous vehicles were to carry a patient on the back while undergoing an obstacle course. Students were not limited to the design of the patient carrier; the design was open-ended and had to represent how a patient would be transported.

Students programmed their vehicles to an obstacle avoidance algorithm to find and hit a box. Once the box was hit, a drawbridge was closed, and the robot car had to follow a line to pass over the bridge and park at a parking spot.

At the end of the semester, the students vied for a total of $3,000 in prize money for the teams best able to complete the obstacle course.

Dean of engineering Bill Van Heyst was on hand to watch the proceedings.

“It was incredible to see the level of energy and excitement from the students as they tested their vehicles in the obstacle course,” he said. “This was the first time we had a live competition in the classroom and the instructors and assistants did an outstanding job getting every team through the course.”

Professor Rashid Rashidzadeh said the class proved a valuable learning experience.

“Students had the opportunity in this course to apply their knowledge and experience engineering in practice,” he said. “It was great to see them passionately engaged and motivated throughout the course.”

Claiming first-place honours and $1,500 were Ahmed Al-Rubeei, Jaime Arias Chavez, Josh Hunt, and Josh Rodrigo. The second-place team received $1,000: Sabin Austine, Devang Dushyant Desai, Khush Patel, and Arpandeep Singh. Coming third for $500 were Jovan Djokic, Phoenix Haines, Ishveer Malhans, and Xavier Spence.

—Naomi Pelkey

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