Ontario Engineering Competition

The Ontario Engineering Competition is held annually at the end of January. Due to the provincial lockdown, the competition was held online this year. Instead of a single university or college hosting the competition, the organizing committee consisted of volunteers from several Ontario engineering schools. These organizers did an impressive job of organizing the competition under very difficult circumstances. I would like to congratulation the organizing committee for all of their efforts.

The 42nd Annual Ontario Engineering Competition featured eight different contests (Communications, Programming, Consulting, Re-Engineering, Junior Design, Senior Design, Debates, and Innovative Design). Participants compete at each school to represent their school at the provincial competition. At the University of Waterloo, our participants were selected through two competitions held in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020. Due to the fact that the University of Waterloo has two co-op streams, our university is allowed to send two sets of competitors (teams A and B) to each contest. One could also argue that this makes sense given the size of our undergraduate engineering student body compared to other schools in Ontario.

A variety of online platforms and technologies were used by the organizers for the competitions. HopIn was used as the platform for large online sessions. Smaller meetings were held using Zoom and Discord. These platforms were used effectively to communicate with hundreds of participants, volunteers, and sponsors. One University of Waterloo engineering student (Edward Yang) served as the VP Logistics and another University of Waterloo engineering student (Alaina Hansen) served as the VP Technical for the competition. I have no doubt that these students played a significant role in making the competition a success.

The Sandford Fleming Foundation is a sponsor of both the Ontario Engineering Competition and the Canadian Engineering Competition. As Chair of the Sandford Fleming Foundation, I was able to attend the Ontario Engineering Competition and serve as a judge. This year, I was assigned the task of being on the panel of judges for the Debates. I was thoroughly impressed by the debate teams. The teams were kept anonymous by assigning random team names. The theme for the team names was items of furniture. The final debate consisted of Team Shoe Rack competing against Team Twin Size Mattress. A double knockout playoff system was used during the Debates. Team Shoe Rack ultimately won twice against Team Twin Size Mattress to win the Parliamentary Debates.

In addition to the contests, participants were invited to participate in online sessions hosted by engineering companies that sponsor the competition. Hatch once again served as the title sponsor for the Ontario Engineering Competition. Their unwavering support of the competition is greatly appreciated. Participants also were invited to participate in two social events and an Awards Gala where the winners of each contest were announced.

The following schools received awards in the competitions:


  1. McMaster University
  2. Western University
  3. University of Ottawa


  1. Queen’s University
  2. University of Waterloo (A)
  3. York University


  1. University of Waterloo (A)
  2. York University
  3. Ryerson University


  1. University of Toronto
  2. Carleton University
  3. Ryerson University

Junior Design:

  1. University of Waterloo (A)
  2. Queen’s University
  3. Royal Military College

Senior Design:

  1. University of Toronto
  2. Queen’s University
  3. University of Waterloo (A)


  1. Queen’s University
  2. University of Waterloo (A)
  3. University of Waterloo (B)

Innovative Design:

  1. University of Toronto
  2. University of Waterloo (B)
  3. Western University

The top two teams from each contest will move on to represent Ontario at the Canadian Engineering Competition in February. This year’s competition is being hosted by the University of New Brunswick. On behalf of the Sandford Fleming Foundation, I would like to congratulate all of the Ontario Engineering Competition participants and I wish our representatives all the best at the Canadian Engineering Competition.

4 thoughts on “Ontario Engineering Competition”

  1. In last week’s webinar you mentioned that Grade 11 marks will be weighed more (compared to previous years) in this year’s admission process. While I understand the reasoning behind using more data, won’t weighing the grade 11 marks add to the inflation problem that universities are trying to combat? Reason is that 4 of our grade 11 marks couldn’t drop even a single percent just a month into the courses. Curious to know your thoughts.


    1. The premise that we wish to use Grade 11 marks to combat an “inflation problem” is flawed. We are using Grade 11 marks to predict Grade 12 marks that are not known. The changes to course scheduling mean that more marks need to be predicted. In previous years, we would have midterm or interim grades for most, if not all courses. This may not be the case this year.

      There are many reasons that can be attributed to grades increasing or decreasing. While many argue that grade inflation is the driving force behind grade increases, there are also cases to be made that some students simply do better on assignments, particularly when working at home. I have noticed in my university courses that students who excel at time management and completing assignments on time often do better than they would in a university course where 50% or more of the final grade is typically attributed to performance on a single final exam. I have also noticed that some of the students that excelled in their courses prior to the pandemic are now struggling. It may be the case that these students face more obstacles when attempting to complete their assignments at home. Perhaps these students lack support and guidance. They might not have a proper place to work on their assignments. They might be distracted by other issues of greater importance. Regardless, some students perform well during the pandemic and others do not.

      The admissions process attempts to select the “best” applicants from a highly diverse set of applicants. While we strive to carefully select the “best” applicants to our engineering programs, it is important to remember that an admissions system will never be perfect. Even the definition of what constitutes the “best” applicant is open to interpretation.


  2. Hello!

    It is nice to see that Waterloo is doing great even against other strong engineering schools. Is this type of competition usually open to all engineering students? Or are only certain students selected? It seems like a very fun opportunity


    1. At the University of Waterloo, the engineering student society organizes a competition to select participants for the Ontario Engineering Competition. All Waterloo Engineering students are eligible to compete in the Waterloo Engineering Competition that selects participants. Winners of the Waterloo Engineering Competition receive small financial awards through the Sandford Fleming Foundation. The awards are also officially recorded on the transcripts of the winners.

      The competitions are fun. I highly recommend participating if you can spare the time to do so.


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