UBC Integrated Engineering Program Launches IGEN Challenge Competition

Vancouver, Canada – September 26, 2013 – Faculty, students and alumni of the UBC Integrated Engineering program (IGEN) joined industry partners, sponsors and advisors to celebrate the launch of the inaugural IGEN Challenge competition.

The IGEN Challenge is a prize competition intended to bring out the best in UBC engineering students. Given an unsolved technical problem, students form teams and work to solve the problem over the eight-month academic year. They receive course credit for trying, and a monetary prize if they can solve it. The technical problems are provided by industry partners, who also cover the project costs and donate the prize money to the winning team. An organization can submit any technical problem that they are currently facing, and they retain full rights to any intellectual property created during the Challenge.


Dr. Daan Maijer, IGEN Program Director, (second from left) and Peter Elton, Vice President of Building Services, MMM Group, (third from left) are joined by Integrated Engineering students at the launch of the IGEN Challenge.
Photo credit: www.visionphoto.ca


“The IGEN Challenge offers our students an exciting opportunity – the chance to work on real engineering problems for real organizations, to compete, and to develop not only engineering and design skills, but also project management and teamwork abilities that are so highly valued by today’s employers,” says Professor Daan Maijer, Director of the IGEN program. “For our industry partners, the Challenge offers an opportunity to meaningfully impact student learning and to receive either a fresh look at an old problem or perhaps a conceptual idea that can be turned into working prototype and possibly even a commercially viable product.”

Student teams have now started to work towards the solution of the Challenge’s two inaugural projects, which were provided by industry partners Matt Wayrynen, a businessman and entrepreneur in the mining and medical fields, and SeaStar Solutions, a marine engineering firm. The Challenge has also benefitted from the involvement of its Gold sponsor, engineering consulting firm MMM Group Limited, which has provided vital funding for the establishment and operation of the Challenge.

“Fifty years ago, engineers used draft tables to design structures – now they use high-powered computers and simulations,” says Peter Elton, Vice President of Building Services at MMM Group. “Engineering and design have progressed both immensely and rapidly, and MMM Group is proud of its involvement in the IGEN Challenge because we see it as a significant step in the evolution of engineering education.”

This year’s Challenge is open to third- and fourth-year IGEN students, but program administrators hope that the Challenge’s initial success will inspire growth and development. “The launch of the IGEN Challenge marks what I know will be an enduring and defining element of the IGEN program,” says Maijer. “It is our hope that, with continued support and success, future competitions will be open to all students in UBC Engineering, and that every student will have the opportunity to benefit from it as they develop into the next generation of engineering leaders.”

The Faculty would like to thank MMM Group, Matt Wayrynen and SeaStar for their support, as well as IGEN Challenge Advisory Committee members Adam Lorant, entrepreneur, Gwyn Morgan, founding President and former CEO of EnCana Corp., and Dr. Dan Gelbart, entrepreneur, for their inspirational ideas and commitment towards the success of this innovative Challenge.

IGEN will host its Industry Night in April, 2014, and will showcase the results of the IGEN Challenge, along with all of its student projects.

For more information about the IGEN Challenge and the Integrated Engineering Program, please contact:

Oliver Zihlmann
Development Officer
Development and Alumni Relations
Faculty of Applied Science