Engineering students capture second place at national competition

Five people stand in a row for photo. Blue bulletin board in background with poster on it.
With support from their academic supervisor Assistant Professor Dr. Oliver Iorhemen (centre), engineering students Christopher Ross, Jacob Burke, Avery Nystedt and Henry Flynn designed upgrades to a wastewater treatment system for their capstone project.

Prince George, B.C. - Four UNBC students have capped off receiving their Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering degrees with another outstanding accomplishment – a second-place finish at a national capstone competition.

On May 31, Jacob Burke, Henry Flynn and Christopher Ross crossed the stage at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre to receive their BASc degrees in Civil Engineering, while Avery Nystedt received a BASc degree in Environmental Engineering.

One week later, the graduates’ capstone design project captured second place in a competition at the 2024 Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) annual conference in Niagara Falls, Ont.

For their final semester this past spring, the team worked with their academic supervisor School of Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Oliver Iorhemen and industry sponsor R. Radloff and Associates to design upgrades to the Stellat’en First Nation wastewater treatment system.

Jacob Burke represented the team in the CSCE Capstone Competition in early June, which featured competitors from 19 engineering schools across the country. Burke gave an oral presentation, a poster presentation followed by a question-and-answer session and also provided a full report submission.

“I was incredibly grateful for the chance to attend the conference and present the team’s work. To be able to come away with second place was a great moment for us,” says the new graduate. “Our industry sponsor really helped us connect with the client. We were able to meet with the operations manager in the community and I feel having those discussions and bringing that forward in our design really gave strength to our project.”

As he transitions from school into a civil consulting position in his home community of Prince George, Burke credits design projects with inspiring and preparing engineering students for what they’ll encounter in their careers after graduation. 

“They give you a chance to incorporate soft skills like teamwork, industry and community collaboration, time management and an open-ended problem and apply your technical knowledge,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to take on a project that interests you, make big decisions as a small team and get feedback from our instructors and industry sponsors.”

Burke was impressed by the calibre of the presentations and depth of technical knowledge at the CSCE competition and says his main takeaway is the motivation to continue to learn and grow.

School of Engineering Chair Professor Mauricio Dziedzic attributes the UNBC team’s success to their strong academic performance and work ethic, as well as the unique elements of the program’s Capstone Design Project course. 

“UNBC’s close relationship with industry partners helps inform students as they investigate and work to find solutions to local issues that are relevant in other jurisdictions,” he says. “The capstone project empowers students with the practical skills to solve real-world challenges. It’s great to see their hard work acknowledged and placing second in this robust competition is, indeed, cause for celebration.”