Science & Tech

Dasser Kamran/The Fulcrum
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From Feb. 12 to 14, the University of Ottawa Design League will host their first competitive ‘Designathon.’ The event will bring competitors from universities across Canada together to solve problems with computer-aided design (CAD). 

CAD helps creators sketch and optimize designs with the use of software like AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS which are automated programs that help create blueprints for infrastructure like houses and bridges, and technology, like computer chips.

The U of O Designathon was created by six students: Zachary Flahaut, Amrith Senaratne, Audrey-Anne Lapointe, David Nkwo, Nicholas Schmidt, and Tara Noorishad.

Flahaut, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student with a minor in computer technology said the point of the event is to have students test out the skills they learn in class.

“The basic goal of the Designathon is to get students to apply the skills they learned in class and to practice real-world application,” he said.

On the first day of the competition, each team must choose one of four CAD problems and within a 36 hour period come-up with a solution. Then, they will present their solutions for a panel of judges with first, second and third place winners being awarded.

When asked what the Designathon challenges are, Flahaut was tight lipped.

“We cannot announce the challenges at this time,” he said. “The only thing I can say is that there will be four different challenges that focus on problems related to four different industries.” 

“I came up with the idea for this event because I always wondered what it would be like to have a hack-a-thon for engineering fields.” 

Due to Ontario’s current social-distancing restrictions, participants will gather on Discord and Airmeets.

One of those participants will be Maxime Cardinal, a third-year undergraduate student from the U of O who is double-majoring in mechanical engineering and computing technologies. Cardinal is also the vice-president internal for the Mechanical Engineering Students Society. 

“This is the first competition in which I will participate since the start of the pandemic,” said Cardinal. “[It’s] a great opportunity to practice what I’ve learned in class.” 

With the competition only days away, preparation is already underway. 

“We’re mostly reviewing our software and making sure that we’re able to create everything that we need to create.” 

“We decided that each of our team members must be included in discussions [about plans and strategies]. This will help us avoid any communication issues during the competition.” 

But while contestants countdown the last few days until the competition, Flahaut is already looking ahead. Ultimately, he hopes to turn the Designathon into an annual event. 

“U of O Design League grows so that it can offer workshops on everything that a student might need to know about designing CAD products.”