Engineering students and faculty face off in local escape room

With 47 seconds to spare, a team of University of Windsor professors narrowly defeated a group of engineering students in a local escape room designed in part by a UWindsor undergraduate.

In an escape room, players are locked in a room and must solve a series of puzzle and storylines to find the key to exit. In one of the most suspenseful finishes in the history of Hidden Trail — a local business that designs and creates escape rooms — a team of engineering faculty bolted out of the room 47 seconds faster than the Windsor Engineering Student Society’s team on Aug. 23, 2016.

Several of the clues the two teams encountered were connected by electromagnets — devices that create a magnetic field through the application of electricity — designed in part by Joel Bondy, a UWindsor electrical engineering student.

“Not only did Joel assist in building and designing the components, he also took the time to explain the theory behind the components to ensure that we would know how to troubleshoot any possible issues that may arise,” said Hidden Trail owner, Brent Riberdy. “He instilled confidence in our staff to utilize electronics properly in our escape rooms moving forward.”

Earlier this year, Riberdy hired Bondy to assist with the conception and execution of several electrical components in two Hidden Trail escape rooms: The Speakeasy and the Mad Hatter’s Birthday. The two first met when Bondy and his friends participated in a Hidden Trail escape room. In this particular room, there was a key hidden in a sink pipe that participants were meant to retrieve with an extendable magnet. Instead, Bondy fastened a hook to the end of a string he found on a pull-chain light bulb and dropped the string down the pipe to hook the key.

“It was impressive to watch,” said Riberdy, who was monitoring the team’s progress on surveillance cameras.

When Bondy responded to a Hidden Trail job ad weeks later, Riberdy knew he was perfect for the job. Bondy has since left for a co-op placement at Schaeffler Group, a German auto industry supplier, until June 2017.

“Since he left, we’ve been able to build and add complicated puzzles to our rooms using the knowledge he gave us,” Riberdy said.


The engineering faculty team tackled The Speakeasy escape room in 52:01 minutes, shattering the 18 per cent room success rate. The students were close behind with a 52:48 minute finish in the Mad Hatter’s Birthday escape room, which has a 36 per cent success rate.

“It was neat to see one of our students applying theory in a fun way,” said Dr. Jeff Defoe, a mechanical engineering professor who participated on the faculty team. “It shows engineers can build fun things too. It doesn’t always have to be about designing products.”

Student participants included Jeremy Kacprzak, Felicia Tamasovics, Carlo Canape, George Mitri and Robbin Wai.

Julia Costa, the academic vice president of the engineering student society, helped round out the faculty team featuring Dr. Defoe, Dr. Jacqueline Stagner and Dr. Jennifer Johrendt.

The engineering student society will invite students to beat the faculty time on Sept. 25 at Hidden Trail. The society will reimburse the winning team’s registration fees.

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For more information about Hidden Trail and escape rooms, please visit