A winning proposal

Some of Ontario’s best and brightest post-secondary students teamed up with corporate partners around the province on a research project.  They then presented their results to judges, competing against each other to demonstrate that they had the most impressive results.

The finals were held recently at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 2011 conference in Toronto and winners were picked in three categories including the Ontario Power Authority Energy Conservation award.

The OPA prize was won by a team of three Queen’s University students who worked on a heat-recovery project in partnership with Covidien, a healthcare product manufacturer.

“Our project was to design and implement changes to a plant in Montreal to inexpensively and efficiently recover waste heat from a process stream by transferring the energy to an incoming raw water stream, all while meeting pharmaceutical manufacturing quality requirements,” says Anbareen Farooq of Queen’s.

Like all Connections teams, Farooq and her two teammates acted as consultants or subcontractors to their industry partners. They had to develop their own scope of work, meet regularly with their industry partner and deliver results.

And, boy, did they deliver!

The team from Queen’s found a solution that would cost about $30,000 to implement and would pay for itself in a little over a year.  Covidien is now implementing that solution now.

“It was a really great project to work on because we could come with the design and see it all the way through to the end,” Farooq added.  “So it really gave us an idea of what kind of projects happen in industry and how they operate.  We had a really great working relationship with our client and that made it all the more worth it.”

While the judges had a tough job, to pick just one winner in each category, in some ways all the teams are winners.

OCE says 85 percent of student solutions would be used by the industry partners.  Two-thirds of industry partners said they would consider hiring the students with whom they worked, and 93 percent  of students felt their project was worthwhile, providing them valuable experience to report on their resumes.