B. Stimpson, P.Eng., Chair, Planning Committee for PEGW 2005
"I'll call my lawyer (accountant, doctor, optometrist, chiropractor…)" would not be an unusual statement to hear, but "I'll call my engineer or my geoscientist" would be quite out of the ordinary, wouldn't it? Engineering has been called "the profession hidden in plain sight" and the same may be said of geoscience. Engineering is all around us but like the fish swimming in water the public largely takes it for granted until the "water" is removed and its absence quickly felt. We are also surrounded by the products of geoscience. How many Manitobans know that a component of their Corningware comes from a mine in Manitoba?
Provincial Engineering and Geoscience Week in Manitoba 2005, February 25-27, gave our professions the opportunity to show and celebrate the kinds of things we do and to reach out to people of all ages. The primary venue was St. Vital Centre, itself a testament to engineering. Who is not impressed by the soaring roof and massive structural members in the Food Court?
Events at St. Vital Centre were promoted to the public through Hot 103 and A-Channel. Three spots on A-Channel's "Big Breakfast" gave opportunity to demonstrate the testing of spaghetti bridges, racing of robo-critters, and unveiling of APEGM's ecologically friendly cardboard chair for the Celebrity Competition.
Friday morning, February 25, saw the official opening at St. Vital Centre, emceed by APEGM's President, Allan Silk, P.Eng. John Woods, P.Eng., President, Consulting Engineers of Manitoba, Doug Ruth, P.Eng., Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Mr. Bidhu Jha, MLA, legislative assistant to Premier Gary Doer, as well as Allan, spoke to the value and importance of engineering and geosciences to the provincial economy and our high quality of life. The Government Proclamation of Engineering and Geoscience Week in Manitoba was then read by Mr. Bidhu Jha.
Speeches over, it was time for four invited teams - A-Channel, CKY, Design Engineering Program (U of MB), and Winnipeg Law Enforcement - to fight for cardboard chair supremacy. This year's challenge was to design and build a chair from a fixed quantity of cardboard and white glue. Load capacity, weight and aesthetics were evaluated and, despite the "serious" nature of these assessments, the teams managed to find ample opportunity for friendly jesting and demonstrative exhibitions of chair building prowess. This year Winnipeg Law Enforcement won the gold ($500).
The Spaghetti Bridge Competition has become a regular feature of the week. The excellent organizational skills of the Spaghetti Bridge Building Group were again seen on Saturday when around 100 youngsters vied for building the strongest bridge out of spaghetti and white glue. Parents, grandparents, and casual onlookers cheered each bridge on to reach the goal of excellence in load capacity.
On Sunday afternoon young children sat at tables in the Food Court and experienced the fascination of making floating concrete, a 10-minute electric motor, and candy and tooth-pick structures.
A new feature in this year's events was the Robo-Critter's competition on Sunday afternoon. Five competitors (3 engineering students, 1 high school student, and 1 professional engineer) first had to build a robo-critter ("car") from a kit before racing it in a time trial.
The last event of the "week" was the annual APEGM-sponsored IMAX theatre presentation. This year the movie was Wild California Adventure. There was something in this movie for everyone. Four year olds were mesmerized watching sky surfers, while, for those who can never miss a day without engineering, (I'm sure there are some!) there was a high level walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.
Throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thousands of shoppers stopped at display booths in St. Vital Centre. APEGM's booth was front-and-centre and the gateway to displays from the Consulting Engineers of Manitoba, MacDon Industries Ltd., Manitoba Industry, Economic Development and Mines, Manitoba Hydro, Robot Games of Manitoba (Science Council of Manitoba), Bristol Aerospace, University of Manitoba (Departments of Civil Engineering, Biosystems Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geological Sciences, and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering), Smartpark, Engineers Without Borders, and the Industrial Technology Centre.
This annual event can only happen because of the involvement of 120+ people and their associated organizations. To all the volunteers, organizations, and APEGM staff who gave of their time in planning and implementing Engineering and Geoscience Week in Manitoba 2005 in the Winnipeg region, a big "Thank you."
Planning for next year's Engineering and Geoscience Week in the Winnipeg area will start in September. If you are interested in participating or would like to develop some activities in your area of the Province (if you live outside the Winnipeg region), call the APEGM Office at (204)474-2736.
Are you up to the challenge? By: Adèle Poulin, P.Eng.
Students of all ages came out to prove they were up to the challenge at the 11th Annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition held on Saturday, February 26th, 2005, at St. Vital Center as part of Provincial Engineering and Geosciences Week (PEGW). Spaghetti bridges were also showcased on A-Channel's Big Breakfast, which aired on Monday morning, February 21st, and showed demo breaking of a few bridges.
The students were challenged to design and build a bridge with a minimum span of 300 mm, built only of spaghetti and white glue and weighing no more than 350 grams. The bridge that could withstand the highest load would be the winner. The competition was open to Manitoba students in grades 1 through 12. Awarded were cash prizes of $50.00 for each grade winner. There were also two Grand Prizes, of $200.00 each, plus tickets to the IMAX presentation "MacGillivray Freeman's Adventures in Wild California," awarded to the overall winners from the two categories, grades 1-6 and grades 7-12. All prizes were provided by APEGM.
Although with a total of 79 entries, attendance may have been about average this year, the results were above average! Over the years, the trend has been for the grand prize winning bridges to be increasingly stronger, and this year was no exception. Posters were sent to the schools to help encourage entries, with the tag line "Are you up to the challenge?" Results showed that the students certainly were!
The winners from grades 1 through 6 reached peak loads ranging from 0.91 kg to 93.5 kg. There were even pre-schoolers and kindergarteners whose bridges broke at 17.18, 36.14, and 60.56 kg. The grand prize for the grades 1-6 category went to a grade 4 team from Dr. FWL Hamilton School, whose bridge broke at 154.88 kg (or 341.45 lbs.)!
The winners from grades 7 through 12 reached peak loads ranging from 0.97 kg to 159.17 kg (only 4 kg more than the overall winner from grades 1-6). The grand prize for the grade 7-12 category went to Gabriel Nadeau, a grade 10 student from College Regional Gabrielle Roy School, whose bridge broke at 187.99 kg (or 414.5 lbs)! This was a very exciting and, in recent years, record setting bridge! It broke in a dramatic, non-ductile fashion and went out with a bang. The student behind the design was the returning champion from last year, whose bridge in 2004 gave way at 113.63 kg. The student is a returning competitor, who by analyzing, refining and modifying his design over the years, displays the skills of a true engineer.
Organizers Don Spangelo, P. Eng., Glenn Penner, P. Eng., Shane Mailey, P. Eng., and Adèle Poulin, P.Eng. would like to thank APEGM for their continued support of the event. We would also like to recognize the PEGW committee and Peter Roach for their assistance. Of course the day could not be pulled off without the help of our competition-day volunteers, who this year were: Cristian Orellana, Oscar Ramirez, Alice Rueda, Alison Weiss, Jelena Piplica, and Andrew McCorrister.
Celebrity Competition By E.P. Hancox, EIT
The Celebrity Competition got underway at the St. Vital Mall following the kick-off to the 2005 PEGW. Once again, we had four celebrity teams competing for cash prizes which they could donate to charities of their choice. Competitors were from: CKY; A-Channel; Law Enforcement, consisting of members from the Winnipeg Police Department and the RCMP; and of course, celebrities in every engineers mind, venerated professors from the University of Manitoba. This year's competition consisted of the teams building cardboard chairs from identical materials kits provided by the PEGW celebrity competition sub-committee. The rules were simple. Using the materials provided, the chairs had to have a back and be suitable for an average adult. The entries would be judged on aesthetics, final weight, and ultimate strength.
Leading up to the competition, one committee member mocked up a test chair and it was suggested that we may have been a bit cheap on cardboard supply; the member reported the mock-up to be a bit flimsy. After some discussion, the committee determined that this could itself be a convenient method of judging. The chairs were to be subjected to increasing loads with points awarded for the amount of breaking weight. Besides, collapsing chairs would make for a colorful system of awarding points and we wouldn't have to issue an addendum. Excellent!
The competition began with introductions of each team to the adoring public and a declaration by the celebrities as to which charity would benefit from the fruits of their labour. Not to mention the genius of their designs. The first part of the event saw the team's designs judged on aesthetics and functionality. Doug Ruth, Dean of Engineering at the U of M, CEM president John Woods, and Bidhu Jha, MLA for Radison were kind enough to stay for the competition and act as expert judges for this portion of the competition. The judges awarded the points based on visual impact and apparent functionality of the chairs.
Once the scores were adjusted to reflect the true entry weights and duly awarded, a final part of the competition remained; strength. This would easily separate a tight field and blow the competition wide open. Or would it? Recall the committee member's mock-up? It turns out that the chair was actually strengthened before it was shown to the rest of the committee. Committee members sat on it, the heaviest of us even stood on it. Then discussion led to a clear way of awarding points…"Yeah, let's award points for the strongest to weakest cardboard chairs. It'll be a blast"! Well I'm here to report that the sum total of the bodybuilding weights we brought was not enough to collapse any of the chairs. The celebrities even took to mocking us outright by sitting and standing on their chairs. After the first team sat on their chair, the next team sat on top of the pile of weights sitting on their chair. Finally, the upstaging led to two members from Team CKY who took life and limb in hand and stood on top of the pile of weights that were resting on top of their chair. Did I mention the television cameras were running for the duration? A near spill occurred when the weights slipped, but injury was avoided. Absolutely no one saw that coming; wink. Some unnamed competitor was heard suggesting team U of M's "substitute" chair could handle the weight. Can you say pie in the face?
In the end, all teams were awarded equal points for the (super) strength portion of the competition. Team Law Enforcement came in first place and will present their $600 earnings to their favorite charity. Team CKY and U of M tied and therefore split the second and third place prizes. Team CKY will forward their $200 award to Dreams Take Flight and team U of M will send $200 to the MS Society. A-Channel, missing higher ranking by a narrow margin, will present $50 to the Children's Hospital.
After thanking the participants and judges, a challenge was thrown out to all the teams for next year's competition. It seems that there was a penalty for earning less than the largest donation for one's favorite charity. Glen Cassie from A-channel was captured by the camera crews as he was escorted off the premises in hand cuffs. I wonder if he had to serve any time?
I would like to take a moment to thank all the celebrities and guest judges for their time and efforts. Also, a huge thank you to the celebrity sub-committee members: Jenny Borecky, Joanne Simpson, Reba Faunal, and Kevin Sim; who did all the work and made a certain sub-committee chair's job all too easy.
A robot "playground" for children from Manitoba Robot Games has been a regular feature among the activities at St. Vital Centre in celebration of Provincial Engineering and Geoscience Week (PEGW). For this year's PEGW (Feb 25-27), the robots invaded some new territory at the suggestion of Herb Reynolds, Science Council of Manitoba and Manitoba Robot Games. The latter has developed a Robo-Critter kit which contains 2 3-4.5 volt DC electric motors, 2 rubber wheels, 1 formed wire motor mount, 1 remote controller with approximately 14 ft. of 4 conductor wire, and a 5" by 10" piece of Foamcore. PVC insulating tape, a hotmelt glue gun, glue sticks, a small bowl of cold water, a soldering pencil, stand, sponge, multicore solder, a very sharp knife, cutting board, and 3 "C" size batteries are also needed. Herb's suggestion was to have a competition to build a Robo-Critter from scratch on the Food Court Stage, St. Vital Centre, and to race it around a robot "playground" that consists of five "light towers" that must be bumped by the robot to switch on the light. The person who could steer his/her robot to switch on all five lights in the minimum time would be the winner.
Three engineering students (Trevor Bartkeiwicz, Patricia Bianchini-Ratmiroff, Marc Seewald), one high school student (Nishant Balakrishnan), and one professor and professional engineer (Dr. Balakrishnan) volunteered to find out who could best build and race a Robo-Critter. Each contestant developed distinctive machines. When the red flag dropped at the close of the races Marc Seewald had negotiated the course in the fastest time. It was a fun event for the public to watch and in the end all contestants were rewarded with a T-shirt or a toque from APEGM. Thanks to all five for giving up their Sunday afternoon to support Provincial Engineering and Geoscience Week in Manitoba 2005.