RDC graduates receive Capstone Project of the Year Award
Four Red Deer College graduates received a special honour on March 31, when they were awarded the inaugural Capstone Project of the Year Award by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).
The former students were all part of RDC’s Engineering Technology Diploma programs, and they joined forces for a Capstone project that was a major part of their final year of study. Connor Froc, who graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2016, partnered with Derek Lozinski, Patrick Martens and Blair Mulder, all graduates of the Electrical Engineering Technology program, for the project. The group developed a prototype of a solar panel mounting system that would automatically track the sun and increase the electricity generated by residential solar panels.
Martens describes the exciting opportunities the project presented. “I have always been interested in finding ways to make operations work better, more efficiently and faster,” he says. “When this project was assigned to us, I saw it as a great opportunity for me to combine my passion for the environment with emerging technologies.”
As they developed the project throughout the 2015-16 academic year, the group had to design a movable solar panel mount that would tolerate a variety of roof pitches, could withstand high winds and winter snow loads and adapt to solar panels of any size. The prototype mounting system they created was designed to automatically track the sun from sunrise to sunset, while drawing its power from the solar panels.
“After completing our Capstone project and having it fully functional, there was no bigger feeling of satisfaction,” says Mulder. “All the hard work my group and I had put into it really paid off.”
Their hard work was also recognized by ASET. The RDC team’s prototype was among seven Capstone projects from across Alberta that were considered for the inaugural award, and it ultimately tied another project to be named the co-recipient of the Capstone Project of the Year Award.
“This award is very positive recognition for the quality of learning experiences provided to students at RDC and the quality of work they’re able to accomplish through the Capstone course,” says Joel Gingrich, Dean, School of Trades and Technologies. “The Capstone course and the Engineering Technology diplomas have been designed with industry input to ensure students are developing skills that have direct application to industry challenges and opportunities.”
Gingrich also recognizes the connection between RDC and ASET is an important benefit for student opportunities. “ASET is represented through our Industry Advisory Committee and is always available with advice as we look toward the process of achieving industry accreditation,” he says. “ASET has been a supporter in the development of our new Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma and they are always an advocate for professionalism in the Engineering Technology sector.”
Martens, who joined Mulder to represent their RDC team at the ASET Appreciation Dinner and Awards on March 31, describes how the opportunity to participate in a Capstone project allowed him and his group to work in labs and with equipment they would not have otherwise been exposed to. He will apply many of these real-world learnings to his future career, including the confidence to persevere through problems to work towards solutions.
“My team and I are honoured and excited to receive this award and be rewarded for our efforts from our final year at RDC,” he says. “Winning this award allows us to showcase the knowledge and skills that we obtained at RDC, all the way from project management and planning through the design process to finally being able to produce a final project that we are all proud of.”
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