UPEI engineering students learn to communicate through design

And they had fun in the process!
| Students
The FSDE Taxi team and Dr. Nadja Bressan
Dr. Nadja Bressan (centre) congratulates the FSDE Taxi team on winning the car race. The team members are (left to right) Ethan Arsenault-Saunders, John Ekpigun, Tyler Aitken, and Francis Udeh. Missing are Zaid Alawneh and Yannis Karageorgiou.

UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place rang with cheers and laughter on Friday, December 1, as students in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering sparred off against each other in a go-cart-style car race.

The students wrapped up their first-year engineering communications course with the car race, which featured 11 cars built by about 60 students. Taking first prize with a distance of 338 feet was the FSDE Taxi, a bright yellow car designed and built by Tyler Aitken, John Ekpigun, Ethan Arsenault-Saunders, Francis Udeh, Zaid Alawneh, and Yannis Karageorgiou. Coming in second with a finish of 330 feet was Frosty’s Revenge designed and built by Nathan Bailey, Tori Jayne Chapman, RJ Hetherington, Morgan McLean, and Willem Fraser. Taking the prize for public choice was The Kraken, a car by Madelyn Case, Ellen Fraser, Omar Mammoun, Isaac Anyu, and Joshua Haruna. 

While the car race was a fun way to finish the course, it was not the primary goal. Dr. Nadja Bressan, an assistant professor with the FSDE, said the course is really about learning how to communicate and collaborate. 

The students worked in teams of six to design, build, and test their cars in only five to six weeks. And they had to find a way to make their cars work without any mechanical propulsion. For some of them, it was the first time that they used power tools, welded metal, cut materials, or did assembly. 

“The students have to learn to communicate and work together,” she said. “Communication is the base of what an engineer does. Engineers need to understand the needs of their clients, communities, or future employers’ needs. If I can’t understand you, I can’t help you.”

Student Lilly Reilly said that she and her fellow students learned to work as a team to build their bright blue car.

“It’s never been just one person with a set of tools and wood making a car. Everybody is playing to their own individual strengths, and everybody has had a part in making the car. Not everybody is a builder, but everybody has been a huge part of our building process.” 

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