Feb. 10, 2021

Engineering and commerce come together in international challenge

Military tactical headset design leads to early success at competition for Schulich and Haskayne students
The team's design for its military tactical headset.
The team's design for its military tactical headset. Submitted by team.

“Teamwork makes the dream work” has taken on new meanings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From daily team meetings to project development, almost every facet of “team” in the work-world has been forced to shift online. For students, not only are they doing classes virtually, but they are also doing their best to show off their skills in web-based international competitions.

For four University of Calgary students, that pivot hasn’t changed their expectation for excellence at a renowned interdisciplinary event.

ENGCOMM (Engineering and Commerce Case Competition) has allowed engineering and commerce students to work together in a case competition since 2013, with Calgary students having taken part consistently since 2016. With appearances in the final each year and two wins under their belts (2016 and 2018), this year’s team wanted to add to the mantle.

After the preliminary round in January, Daniel Lee and Adrian Keung, of the Schulich School of Engineering, and Juesheng (Marcus) Ma and Rachel Hughes, of the Haskayne School of Business, are one step closer to making that a reality.

Getting it Done

Facing teams from Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Australia, the Calgary contingent was tasked with designing a new, human-interface device (HID) for a military tactical headset.

“When developing innovative technology, our priority and focus was to understand and address the client's requirements. and then elevate and interweave this feedback with modern solutions,” Lee said. “This was achieved through biomimicry to reach both sophisticated and ergonomic designs, meshed with rigorous yet versatile applications made possible through robust hardware and software.”

The idea behind the team's design.

The idea behind the team's design.

Submitted by the team.

The team also wanted to ensure it understood the vision and needs of the users, such as controlling a micro drone in flight or acknowledging a mission order on their user device.

Their work netted them first place in the preliminary round, which sets them up for the finals Feb. 22-27.

“ENGCOMM is a great platform uniting students with a focus on combining the technical field of engineering with the interactive field of commerce,” Keung said. “This is a perfect simulation of how our current world works, which requires collaboration between both disciplines to ensure organizational success.”

More To Come

While Lee and Keung have learned a lot so far, they both acknowledge the work is far from over and goes beyond the competition.

“Intermingling and leveraging a diverse background of experience doesn’t only contribute to a successful case competition,” Lee said. “It’s essential for self-growth.”

Their instructors have been through this competition in the past before and know what it takes to win it all.

“I think we are in the lead in our division and they scored well in the first case, which is awesome,” Cameron Welsh, Senior Instructor, Business Technology Management at the Haskayne School of Business. “It builds their confidence, but the judges also gave them feedback on things to work on going into the finals. They have taken that advice, which is really the piece that makes me proud.”

No matter the outcome, the students believe the competition has given them a unique perspective.

“The opportunity to be able to represent the University of Calgary at the ENGCOMM finals is both an honour and a privilege,” Keung concluded. “Our team looks forward to what we can achieve in creating solutions that can make an impact and difference for our clients.”