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Votes for innovation

SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) department has hosted its Student Project Showcase since 2013. Innovative student projects are nominated by instructors to compete for two $1,500 Student Innovation Award prizes.

There was a unique twist to this year's showcase - it was held online, with 25 per cent of the judging determined by social media scores. In past years, students presented their year-end (capstone) projects to a panel of judges.

"With the showcase being held in the summer, we had students who were unable to attend," says ARIS student initiatives coordinator Joe Petermann. "The new online showcase allowed us to share the student's innovative projects with a wider audience and remove the barrier of students being unable to attend in person."

Meet the winners

This year, first place was awarded to Mechanical Engineering Technology graduates Trayce Freund, Travis Leung, Yash Modi and Jason Rodrigues. They created a hand-break mechanism for adaptive bicycles used by special-needs athletes. In second place were Connor Ferster, Fernando Arenas Rivera, Michael Shannon and Mu Yan. These Civil Engineering Technology graduates demonstrated the benefits of tannin foam in green construction.

The online showcase received a total of 641 votes and nearly 1,000 visits to the online voting page. The hand-brake mechanism received 286 votes and the tannin-foam project received 170 votes.

"Our project has the potential to help many people who have disabilities preventing them from normally activating hand-cycle brakes," says Travis Leung, on behalf of his team. "We plan for this prototype to help future capstone students to not only understand current issues but to help them further innovate."

Undertaking capstone projects inspires students to take their work to the next level.

"This project was a lot of work - in preparation, in the lab and in writing. We all really had to elevate our abilities beyond the level expected in class just to complete the project," says Connor Ferster. "Our desire to achieve academic and professional-level work was our driver and we feel great about our results."

The impressive response to this year's online showcase is cause to repeat it.

"We had hoped the minimum vote per video would be 20," says Petermann. "This showcase surpassed my expectations in terms of the number of votes and the reach of the contest. Next year's showcase will be online, and I look forward to seeing the results."

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