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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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