Lakehead University Engineering team earns first place in national competition

Press play on the video above to learn more about the Engineering team.

March 20, 2018 – Thunder Bay, ON

A team of Engineering students from Lakehead University placed first in the Senior Design Category at the Canadian Engineering Competition held recently in Toronto.

The team, which competed against seven other schools, was comprised of third-year Lakehead students Graham Robertshaw, Megan Eyben, Caleb Frisby, and Zachary Kelly.

“This was a really cool experience,” said Robertshaw, who is studying Mechanical Engineering.

“We started by winning the Lakehead University Engineering Competition, then we earned second at the Ontario competition, which brought us to the Canadian Engineering Competition. It was a lot of fun . . . a unique opportunity to meet a really diverse engineering community,” he said.

In the national competition held March 8 to 11, the Lakehead team designed and built a prototype of a remotely-operated fire truck, which could race to a flaming building and accurately launch water bombs at multiple locations.

The robot, which was driven using a wireless controller, had to navigate a 3D cardboard city without leaving the road and extinguish simulated flames by dropping or launching ping-pong balls into openings cut into the buildings at various heights and angles.

Eyben, who is studying Software Engineering, was surprised at the variety of the other teams’ designs.

“Where we had a slide for the ping-pong balls, some teams had launchers to shoot the balls out. We went through a few different designs, but this was our main one,” she said.

“I feel (Lakehead) prepared me very well for this. Having the background knowledge of knowing C, the programming language which Arduino uses, that helped a lot. Knowing how to find a solution to a problem if we encounter one, that helped even more,” she said.

Frisby, who is in Mechanical Engineering, agreed that his Lakehead University education definitely helped the team win this competition.

“The problem-solving skills, understanding how to approach a problem, brainstorming possible solutions and narrowing them down from there, all of that benefitted us a lot.”

He said the hardest part of the challenge was successfully sending the ping-pong balls into the buildings.

“You had to have a feasible design. A lot weren’t accurate and ours could do it reliably.”

Kelly, who is in Software Engineering, said he learned more about electronics due to the hands-on competition. He also learned the importance of working in a team.

“We take classes on the life cycle of a project and what you should do during each step of the process instead of diving into it,” he said.

“You really have to rely on your teammates to do what they can do. Megan and I didn’t touch anything steel, we looked at software and electronics and put it in their hands to do the rest.” 

Dr. Rachid Benlamri, Acting Chair of Software Engineering, said this award is recognition of the dedication of the Lakehead Engineering team and the program’s instructors.

“This award fully demonstrates how our students have benefitted the most from our engineering programs, which aim at equipping students with creative minds and life-long learning skills that enable them to cope with the changing world,” Dr. Benlamri said.

“Through a broad and balanced curriculum, engineering students at Lakehead are offered diverse learning opportunities and a wide range of learning experiences beyond the classroom. This achievement is another indicator of educational excellence at Lakehead University and an acknowledgement of the hard work of our experienced faculty and staff,” he said.


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Media: For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brandon Walker, Media Relations Officer, at (807) 343-8177, or




Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. Maclean’s 2018 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, as well as first in Total Research Dollars, second for Citations, and third for Scholarships and Bursaries. In 2017, Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the third consecutive year. Visit

Free Expression Policy

On August 30, 2018, the Office of the Ontario Premier issued a news release directing universities across the province to develop and post institutional freedom of speech policies by January 1, 2019.

The news release stated that there would be annual monitoring regarding compliance and penalties for non-compliance.

Lakehead University already has policies and agreements regarding the rights of employees and students to academic freedom, and freedom from undue interference, harassment, discrimination and physical harm. While the University has always encouraged free expression on its campuses, it did not have a formal policy on this point as required by the directive.

After discussion with other universities and a review of Lakehead University’s policies in light of the provincial directive, a determination was made that a policy statement was necessary to fully
address the government’s requirements.

The Lakehead University Free Expression Policy is intended to fill this narrow gap without changing any existing rights or responsibilities of employees and students.

The policy states that the University is committed to providing an environment in which individuals and groups can express themselves, provided the content or manner of that expression is not contrary to law and does not interfere with free expression of others. The policy also affirms that existing policies and procedures for handling complaints will apply.

Social work students take action against gender-based violence

Students from Lakehead Orillia’s School of Social Work are applying their scholarship and creativity in partnership with Athena Sexual Assault and Advocacy Centre to address the issue of gender-based violence.

As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which runs from November 25 to December 10, the School of Social Work and Athena Sexual Assault and Advocacy Centre will present a community event on Friday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orillia campus.

The event will feature a speaker panel and a special screening of the documentary, “The Hunting Ground”, which explores the issues of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families.

While discrimination is not confined to college and university campuses, addressing gender-based oppression and sexual violence helps to create campuses that are safe, barrier-free and free from all forms of discrimination.

Date: Friday, Nov. 30
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: OA 1033

Visual Arts cordially invites you to visit the 10th Annual Open House

Lakehead University's Department of Visual Arts cordially invites you to visit the 10th annual Open House Show and Sale, presenting original artworks and crafts by local artists, students, faculty and alumni.

Date: Friday, Nov. 30
Time: 12 to 5 pm
Location: The Buset Centre for Music and Visual Arts

Our open house is a family friendly event with kids activities also opportunities to purchase and
glaze one of kind ceramic vessels.

This year we are celebrating the 10th annual event with lively Persian traditional music, performed by Lakehead students Masoud Manzouri and Maryam Amini from 3:30 to 4:30 pm in the Buset Centre for Music and Visual Arts, entrance off Oliver Road.

Free admission. For more information please contact Sam Shahsahabi at (807) 343 -8491. Funds from this event will support the department's Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

Department of Visual Arts Workshop on Encaustic Painting - Saturday, Nov. 3

Encaustic is the ancient Egyptian art of painting with pigmented melted beeswax. It is a versatile medium for contemporary artists with an interest in mixed media.

Through this hands-on workshop with lead artists Susan Kachor and Scott Poluyko, you will build confidence to work with hot wax by producing three to four artworks. We will work on techniques such as making pigmented wax, sculpting, glazing, photo encaustic, image transfers, stenciling, implanted collage, and stamping. All materials/electrical tools and wax are provided.

No previous painting experience necessary. Registration required. Cost is $70 for supplies.

Date: Saturday, Nov. 3
Time: 3 - 7 p.m.
Location: MV 2006

For more information contact Sam Shahsahabi 807-343-8491 or

RiVAL presents two events on film and decolonization - Oct. 24 and 25

The ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL) is pleased to host two events this week dedicated to exploring the connection between decolonization and film. Both events are free and open to the public.

"Settler Frames": A talk on film and colonialism with Dr. Ezra Winton

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 24
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: ATAC 5036

How have settlers (non-Indigenous people) framed themselves in the history of Canadian cinema? Writer, researcher and curator Ezra Winton, who co-founded Cinema Politica (the world’s largest documentary film screening network), draws on the Concordia University’s film archive for an illustrated talk about the framing of settler-Indigenous relations, settler conquest and expansion, and settler identity through the prism of desire.

Winton is a settler writer, curator and scholar who has taught media and film classes at NSCAD, Concordia University and Carleton University. His research focuses on documentary cinema, Indigenous film and media, film festivals, curatorial politics and screen ethics. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Lakehead University and is co-editing a collection of essays with Lakota artist and scholar Dana Claxton entitled Insiders/Outsiders: The Ethics and Politics of Indigenous Representation and Participation in Canada’s Media Arts (Wilfrid Laurier University Press). Winton is also the co-founder and Director of Programming of Cinema Politica, the largest campus and community based documentary screening network in the world. Ezra is based on the unceded territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) on the island of Tiohtiá:ke, or Montreal.

"(No) Fear of an Indigenous Planet": selected films from DocFuturism

Date: Thursday, Oct. 25
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: The Hub Bazaar (507 Victoria Ave. E)

RiVAL and the Cinema Politica Network are pleased to invite all members of the Thunder Bay and nearby communities to a special premiere of a selection of films that help us imagine the lands we currently call "Canada" 150 years from now: Documentary Futurism! Featuring a majority of young indigenous film-makers, this program of six short experimental "documentaries about the future" is thought-provoking, moving, funny and profound.
Dr. Ezra Winton, cofounder and head of programming at Cinema Politica will introduce the program and other guests may be in attendance.


We are pleased to inform you the 14th annual GO ENG Girl event will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Lakehead University. GO ENG Girl is sponsored by Ontario's Faculties of Engineering & the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE).

GO ENG Girl provides opportunities for young women in Grades 7 and up, as well as their parents, to meet role models, participate in hands-on activities and learn about the wide range of undergraduate programs available in engineering and career options for engineering graduates.

There is no cost to attend and snacks will be provided for both the young women and their parents. Registration is available online at

Be an Advisor to the Office of Human Rights and Equity

In recognition that equity-seeking groups are often the experts on both their situations and the
needed solutions, we are pleased to announce the launch of Advisory Committees to the Office of Human Rights and Equity (OHRE).

Advisory Committees will provide critical information to the OHRE on issues that affect specific
equity seeking groups as well as recommend best practices in prevention and response

The Advisory Committees will consist of students, staff and faculty who identify as belonging to a respective equity-seeking group as well as allies with experience working for human rights. Advisory Committees will be facilitated by the OHRE and will meet once per semester. There will be four advisory committees:

  • Advisory Committee on Creed Based Discrimination
  • Advisory Committee on Race and Racial Discrimination
  • Advisory Committee on Sexuality and Gender (LGBTQ2IS+) Discrimination
  • Advisory Committee on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

If you are interested in being a part of one of the advisory committees please fill out the application form, indicating your interest. We are looking for applicants from both Thunder Bay and Orillia Campus. This initiative is open to all members of the University community (faculty, staff, and students) and we strongly encourage members of equity-seeking groups to apply.
The Office of Human Rights and Equity will follow up with applicants selected to be a part of each of the Committees by the end of October.

The deadline to apply is Monday, Oct. 15. For more information please contact the Office of Human Rights and Equity at ext. 7765 or by email at

Sharing Circle For Young Indigenous Women

Thunder Bay Safe Space Research Project Indigenous women and youth face many challenges - particularly within the City of Thunder Bay.

The goal of the project is to get a better understanding of what these challenges are, and what to do about them.

What you would recommend be done to help Thunder Bay become a safe space for young Indigenous women, where they can realize their goals, hopes, and dreams?

Sharing Circle For Young Indigenous Women, ages 18-29

Friday October 5, 2018 @ 12:00 pm
@ 380 Ray Boulevard (ONWA Building)
Lunch Provided!

If you are interested in participating or have any further questions, please message the graduate
student researchers, Alycia Benson & Josie Zussino:

Facebook: Thunder Bay Safe Space Research Project
Lead Investigators: Dr. C. Southcott & Dr. P McGuire

New Exhibit on Early Photography at the Lakehead

Early Photography at the Lakehead is a new exhibit as part of an ongoing partnership between the Department of History and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society to bring museum exhibits to the Thunder Bay Campus.

Photographs provide a valuable window into the Lakehead’s early years, but less attention is paid to the photographers themselves. Learn more about individuals who documented the early 20th century such as Jennie Leach, Fryer’s Studio, J.F. Cooke, George Ryerson Evans, and Fred Creech.

To see the new display, visit the third floor of the Ryan Building. It is located in the main hallway
directly across from room 3025.