Photo by lamontak590623
Every time I go to an undergraduate engineering competition, I am blown away by the talent, dedication and determination of all involved. I have had the pleasure of learning, discussing and thinking about the Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) for over 20 years. It is an annual event that takes place over a weekend in late January. Until 2020, it was an in-person event that would take place at an Ontario University and local hotel, that would host 300+ student competitors from all disciplines, and close to 100 others as judges, observers, volunteers and sponsors.
I have had a variety of roles, although never a competitor, and my first experience was when friends decided to organize OEC 2003; it was decided in 2001 while competing in their second competition (and winning the Communications event), and they put in the bid on the Sunday board meeting and won. Over the next 2 years, there was a huge learning curve for the team, numerous discussions and countless hours.
Each year, so much hard work is put into it and yet, there is a feeling of magic as the weekend gets started. The atmosphere is incredible, the excitement is very apparent and the commitment of the organizing committee and a massive group of volunteers is amazing to be around. Throughout the weekend, there are opportunities to meet and greet, make connections, network and celebrate together – from the opening reception, career fair, social events, and award banquet. When it is an online competition, the creative solutions and technology enables for one-on-one networking. When the competitions start, comes with it another opportunity to witness incredible talent and creativity in engineering from all disciplines. It never ceases to amaze me. It is a weekend of problem solving by the engineering student competitors and the organizing committee that creates experiences to last a lifetime.