Turning Gears – Annual Ryerson Engineering Competition Invokes Student Creativity

Enginerds. Cranium. N00bs. As I scan these names and more on the list assembled before me, I see yet another familiar face pop up into the engineering hall. Closing my eyes, I try to brainstorm strategies for the upcoming challenge. Suddenly, the lights are dimmed and students are urged to take their seats. And so the Ryerson Engineering Competition 2013 begins. 


Quick question – what’s a synonym for a fun, pizza-loaded, and engineering-focused evening? The annual Ryerson Engineering Competition (REC), of course! An annual event held by the Ryerson Engineering Student Society (RESS), the REC challenges Ryerson engineering students to overcome a specific problem by proposing (and then carrying out) innovative solutions.

The student turnout for the Junior Design and Senior Design categories was tremendous! REC 2013 had seven categories in total, including the two aforementioned, which are all outlined below:


Junior Design – Aimed at presenting a technical challenge to first and second year engineering students

Senior Design – Geared towards presenting a technical challenge to third and fourth year engineering students

Engineering Consulting Design – Teams are presented with a real-world problem to which a practical solution must be developed and then presented

Innovative Design – Aimed at fourth year students and their respective culminating design projects (also known as their Capstone projects)

Parliamentary Debate – Teams take opposing sides of an engineering-related argument, and battle it out in a parliamentary-style debate

Programming Competition – Students compete against each other by implementing programs and code, under a common theme

Engineering Communication – Teams of two present a technical subject in a non-technical manner, attempting to cover as many perspectives as possible


As a competitor in the Junior Design category, my team and I were asked to construct a rollercoaster which included The Law of Conservation of Energy, The Law of Conservation of Momentum, and Hooke’s Law in some shape or form. You can see a picture of a completed rollercoaster design above.

Rube Goldberg, an extraordinary engineer and inventor, was cited as the inspiration for the challenge. Additionally, the roller coaster had to launch a marble into a hole a pre-determined distance away and the entire apparatus had to be built using only the materials provided. In the cover picture of this post, you can observe a makeshift pulley I made using my plastic name-tag holder (rolled up), popsicle sticks, some string, and a foam triangular prism.

For more information about the REC 2013, be sure to visit the REC 2013 homepage as well as the RESS website for upcoming Ryerson engineering events. Also, check out this video of an extremely complex Rube Goldberg machine used to initiate a Skype conversation. Until next time, strive on peeps!

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