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TMU students qualify for Canadian Engineering Competition

By Jasmine Makar

A team of Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) engineering students have qualified for the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC), which will take place from March 1 to 4 at the University of Calgary.

This comes after they qualified for and competed in the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) from Jan. 26 to 28 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

Earlier in January, 91 teams of TMU students competed in nine unique categories over two days at the Metropolitan Engineering Competition (MEC), hosted by the Metropolitan Undergraduate Engineering Society (MUES), with 24 alumni panellists and 30 judges present. 

Top-performing teams from the competition qualified for the OEC, where they faced hundreds of other competitors from across the province. 

The nine categories offered within the MEC and OEC competitions were junior design, senior design, consulting engineering, programming, engineering communication, parliamentary debate, innovative design, re-engineering and bio-engineering. 

According to third-year computer engineering student and co-chair of MEC Hamza Mahboob, one team of TMU students placed second in the OEC in the re-engineering category. Now, they are heading to Calgary in March. 

“Exams are the best ways to figure out what you don’t know. Same with hackathons and competitions” said Mahboob. “You get a good idea of what you need to improve.” 

Mahboob participated in MEC 2022 as a vice president and the year before as a competitor. He said another team composed of TMU students placed third in the parliamentary debate category but that only first and second-place winners will head to the CEC.

According to their website, the MEC hopes the competition will drive students to develop unique and creative solutions to problems within the engineering industry. 

With only eight hours to prepare and complete their projects and detailed rules for each competition category, Sumaiya Syed—one of the competition coordinators and a biomedical engineering student in her final year at TMU—said the competition tends to be uncomfortable.

“You’re going to be outside of your comfort zone [during the competition]. But when you’re uncomfortable, that’s when you grow,” said Syed.

Students and judges reiterated that networking is one of the most important aspects and opportunities that MEC offers students, regardless of a winning or losing outcome. 

The competition amplifies Participants’ skills, which can later benefit students when they enter the industry. 

“There’s a lot of judges and panellists who are there as well,” said Syed. “You get to talk to them and hear about their experiences, [they] help you pave your own path.”

Somang Nam, a postdoctoral fellow in the information technology management department at TMU, participated in the MEC as a programming judge. He stressed the importance of time management and being prepared to learn new things, such as the major programming languages.  

“Students have to learn the skills, especially when the [necessary] programming language is not their native [language]. Then they have to learn a new language within the competition,” said Nam. “They have to be focused on the given time to implement a plan and their solution.”

Ali Asad, a TMU engineering graduate and previous participant in MEC who now serves as a judge in the consulting category, shared his perspective on the importance of these types of student opportunities.

“When you put these credentials on your job application, in your resume, it does help a lot,” said Asad. “We do prioritize the applicants who have experience outside of their coursework, who have participated in different competitions, who have done monetary work.” 

Asad had one last piece of advice for TMU students participating in upcoming engineering competitions.

“I would say that communication, especially presentation skills [are] a key aspect,” he said.

Along with encouraging advice from MEC judges and co-chair of MUES, Mahboob reiterated his confidence in the TMU team. 

“After seeing the competitors this year, I’m genuinely excited to see them win in OEC,” said Mahboob.

This year, Mahboob said the MEC is intended to run in September despite the OEC generally being a January event. Exact dates will be announced later in the year, though McMaster University in Hamilton is set to host the OEC.

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