UWindsor students take top honours in provincial video contest

An artistic streak and a keen awareness of the importance of making complex information understandable translated into a first place province-wide video contest finish this week for an engineering student and amateur filmmaker.

“It was something creative,” Brian Cheung said of making the video that explains the operation of an underwater compressed air energy storage system he works on as a master’s student in civil and environmental engineering. “It was a nice break from research and calculations.”

On Tuesday, Cheung was at the OCE Discovery conference in Toronto, where it was announced that his video won first place in a student competition. The innovation conference showcases some of the top academic-industrial partnerships in the province and students were asked to produce short films describing their projects.

Along with friend and classmate Jamie Smith, Cheung produced a 2:51 minute video that explains a system that stores energy generated by wind turbines during off-peak hours by converting it into compressed air, pumping it in to large underwater bags, and releasing it through tubes to the surface to regenerate electricity when demand is higher.

Contest winners were announced at the conference on Tuesday by Ontario Economic Development and Innovation Minister Brad Duguid, who was on-hand to showcase several “smart-grid” projects. One of those was Cheung’s project, which he works on under the tutelage of associate professor Rupp Carriveau. For the last several years Dr. Carriveau has been testing the system for Hydrostor Inc., the Toronto-based company that owns the technology.

“I’m involved with system design, so basically we’re trying to figure out how to get the thing working,” said Cheung, a graduate of Vincent Massey Secondary School. “There are so many challenges associated with this project in order to make it work, but that’s what makes it so exciting.”

The fact that the victory was announced on such a high-profile stage wasn’t lost on Cheung.

The conference is designed to encourage innovation, commercialization and job creation by bringing together some of the top mentors, venture capitalists and people with great new ideas in Ontario.

“I’m grateful just to be associated with this project,” he said.

Cheung, who has been creating web sites since high school, said he’s always been interested in creative pursuits and is very cognizant of how complex information is best presented.

“You have to do the content justice and make sure your audience is seeing the right things,” he said. “When I describe to my friends what I do, they usually say ‘That’s pretty cool,’ but showing the video is a really effective tool.”

The pair collected a $2,500 cash prize for winning the contest.

Watch the video: