Large group shot of students in a workshop area
The Sled Dogs 1/4 Scale Tractor Team (Photo courtesy Sled Dogs)

Learning beyond the classroom

FROM THOROUGH MAGAZINE: We asked our undergraduate and graduate student societies and our most active student design groups to reflect on their goals, accomplishments and challenges from the 2022-2023 academic year.

University of Saskatchewan Sled Dogs 1/4-Scale Tractor Team

We set three major goals for the 2022-2023 year. The first was to build off of last year’s strong showing at competition where we placed eighth overall in the annual International 1/4-Scale Tractor Student Design competition in Peoria, Illinois. With a tough finish in the durability event, where we were disqualified by a rear tire crossing the out-of-bounds line, we knew a better placement could be easily achieved. Our other goals involved building our 2020-year tractor, which was not completed due to Covid-19. Working on the 2020 tractor allows new recruits to get hands-on experience before working on the competition tractor. We also decided to build a load cart, to further our test abilities and increase our knowledge of our tractors. 

We are proud we had one of the largest and also youngest teams in Sled Dogs’ history. Our most significant challenge arose from having such a large team. In previous years, it has been standard to have a team of 10-15 people whereas this year we sat closer to 30. With such a large group, it was often difficult to keep everyone involved. Thankfully we had an excellent leadership group that ensured members always had tasks to work on.

In early June seven members of our team again headed to Illinois to compete. We were very excited to have a young group travelling down for competition this year as it is a great learning experience. The team improved its placing and moved up to seventh overall.  

Without the help of our donors and sponsors, we would not be able to achieve what we do. Our supporters include: Applied Industrial Technologies, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan, Automated Metal Processing Ltd., Bolt Supply House Ltd., Bourgault Industries, Brandt Industries Ltd., Claude Lague and Lilianne Chénard, Construction Fasteners, Engineering Shops, Guy Chretian, Igus, Motion Industries, MacDon Industries Ltd., Prairie Machine and Parts, Ratzlaff & Associates CPAs, Redekop Manufacturing Company, Russel Metals, Seed Master, Silverdale Farms Ltd., Terry Fonstad, Solidworks, Viterra, Zacharie C Martin.

University of Saskatchewan Bridge Team (USBT)

The U of S Bridge Team attended the 2023 C.J. Mackenzie Gala of Engineering Excellence in January 2023. (Photo: USBT)

During the 2022-2023 school year we set out with the goal to continuously improve as a team. This year we have been able to provide more access for students to get experience fabricating and welding. We worked with Saskatchewan Polytechnic to coordinate welding lessons for our team to attend at their Idylwyld campus.

The challenges we have faced as a team are common for student design groups. Given we are all full-time students and have personal lives, we do struggle at times to find the time to commit to our passion for building bridges.

We were excited to attend our competition in May in London, Ontario where our steel bridge competed against other bridges brought by teams from all over the world. We had a great experience, competing in the aesthetics, elevator pitch, presentation and overall competition. Unfortunately, during the vertical load test our bridge deflected greater than the specified serviceability limit, thus not allowing us to compete for the overall title.

In the end we finished seventh in the presentation and 10th overall in the aesthetics competition. We look forward to returning next year to improve our showing. We would like to thank our sponsors Graham, APEGS, Clifton, Russel Metals, AECOM, aodbt and Stantec for making our team and competition dreams financially possible.

Huskie Formula Racing

Huskie Formula Racing competed at the 2023 Formula SAE competition in Michigan. (Photo: HFR)

Our main goal this year was to improve and build upon our already outstanding team, which finished in the top third of a 120-team field at the annual Formula SAE competition. Our current competition car, S16, was completed this April. Upgrades included a partially redesigned chassis, rebuilt engine, redesigned aero kit, and a reclined driver’s position. We used the manufacturing equipment donated by the Engineering Advancement Trust to cut down on our cost and advance our knowledge of designing machinable parts.

We travelled to the 2023 FSAE competition in Brooklyn, Michigan in late May where the week started well, with our car flying through tech inspection. Unfortunately, we experienced two rear-end failures during competition that we could not overcome despite exceptional effort and teamwork. We will use what we learned at this competition to improve our preparation and our execution going forward.

We are excited for the future as we have been able to gain new members from the College of Engineering and beyond with the creation of our new team of first- and second-year students who have begun development of our next car, S17. This allows for development of the race car and our team, as it actively engages new members and creates opportunities that haven’t been possible in our traditional one-year design cycle. We have kept more students on the roster than ever before and are extremely excited to see the team's continued progress. All these accomplishments have been made possible through a generous donation from our honorary team members Ron and Jane Graham. 

We appreciate all of our hard-working team members who, on top of their intense course work, have been creating amazing designs, building racing simulators, fabricating/welding an entire vehicle chassis, redesigning vehicle components, implementing innovative technology, and designing business cases, all to help create this amazing race car.

Saskatoon Engineering Student Society (SESS)

The executive team of the Saskatoon Engineering Students’ Society. (Photo: SESS)

The biggest goal for the Saskatoon Engineering Students’ Society (SESS) this year was to continue fostering a welcoming and inclusive place for engineering students at USask. We strive for the SESS to be a place that everyone feels embraced for who they are, whether you are buying something from the E-Store or attending our events. We know we aren’t perfect so we encouraged feedback throughout the year to ensure we could learn from our mistakes and improve. This goal guided the society in all aspects of our work.

It is so hard to choose our greatest accomplishment as the executive all undertook great projects and events within the society that were a success, such as our first in-person Orientation since 2019, Eng Week, and many more. At our Winter Formal we got to see how excited both students and industry professionals were to interact and talk to each other again. We have a great alumni community in Saskatoon that attends industry mixers, and it is a great source of pride to not only be a part of the USask community but also host events to foster the important connections between alumni and students.

Finances are always the biggest challenge and they continued to be our biggest hurdle this year. There were times when sponsorship was low, therefore we turned our attention to advocacy work and focused on compiling what we wanted to focus on advocating for at the WESST (Western Engineering Student Societies’ Team) and CFES (Canadian Federation of Engineering Students) conferences or at the USask level.

A special thank you to Engcomp, Soli Solutions, K+S, Paddock Wood Brewing, SAL Engineering, and SCI-FI Summer Camps for supporting our initiatives this year.

Engineering Graduate Community Council

Zachary Lang (left), here with EGCC president Amin Babaeighazvini, won first prize in the EGCC’s 2023 3 Minute Thesis competition. (Photo: EGCC)

The Engineering Graduate Community Council builds community among graduate students in the College of Engineering and provides opportunities for graduate students to network with industry members. It also organizes two main events. The first is the Engineering Graduate Research Conference, where students share their research and exchange academic knowledge. The EGCC also organizes the Engineering 3 Minute Thesis Competition, where the challenge is to present complex research in an accessible and compelling way.

University of Saskatchewan Space Team (USST)

The University of Saskatchewan Space Team. (Photo: USST)

The University of Saskatchewan Space Team (USST) currently has two projects on the go: the USST Rocketry Project and the RADSAT-SK CubeSat Project, which is a partnered project with the Canadian Space Agency, College of Engineering, USST, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

The team’s biggest accomplishment this year was with the RADSAT-SK Project, when it handed the satellite off at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in Montreal to be sent for launch. The team faced numerous challenges but tackled them with resilience and determination. A major component was sent back on a rush order for modification, the team designed and soldered one of its own flight boards, and it also spent many long days testing, integrating, and assembling the satellite. 

A number of current team members and alumni travelled to Florida in early June to see the SpaceX CRS-28 rocket launch on its successful mission to take the satellite to the International Space Station (ISS). The cubesat was deployed from the ISS in the weeks following the launch, beginning the operations phase of the project.

The RADSAT-SK team is grateful for the principal investigators of the project, Dr. Sean Maw and Dr. Brian Berscheid, as well as our industry partners, Galaxia Mission Systems, Calian Advanced Technologies, and MDA, a Canadian space technology company, for making the project possible. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova and Dr. Li Chen whose research materials provided the payload for our mission.

The USST Rocketry Project is also “getting off the ground.” Our team is working towards competing in the Launch Canada Challenge in August 2024. We recently launched a mini-rocket just outside Saskatoon to test different mechanisms and concepts that are being investigated for use on the larger competition rocket. Our team is grateful for the support we have received from the College of Engineering, MDA, and APEGS as we continue to work towards our competition goal.

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