UBC Engineering Competition

The UBC Engineering Competition (UBC EC) is an all-day competition that consists of 8 different competitions for all undergraduate engineering students. Each competition has a unique focus from debate to design so be sure to check out the competition descriptions below!

If successful at the UBCEC, students will qualify for the Western Engineering Competition, held in January, for a chance to move on to the Canadian Engineering Competition.

The Competitions


Junior Design:

Exclusive to 1st and 2nd year students, the Junior Team Design category challenges teams of four students with a physical engineering problem and a time limit of 4 hours. Teams will be given a bag of usable materials to complete the challenge as set by the chair(s). The challenge will be announced on the competition day.

Example: Efficient Delivery system. The main aim is to get an object from point A to point B within the least amount of time and resources applied. There will obstacles and challenges on the path the teams must overcome. Something unexpected might also occur which needs to be taken in mind when designing the system.

Consulting Engineering:

The Consulting Engineering category gives teams of four participants of more than one engineering discipline. Approximately five hours to devise an innovative solution to a real-world problem prescribed by a hypothetical client. Competitors will have to design a detailed solution to a large scale real world engineering problem. The challenge will be announced on the competition day.

Example: A client comes to you about a problem about his or her bridge. You, the consultant(s) will form an innovative solution to his or her bridge issue. Just like the real world, the best solution with the lowest resources required, keeping safety as the number one priority, will be chosen.

Impromptu Debate:

The Impromptu Debate category challenges pairs of students to defend, from a given viewpoint, a topic disclosed just before the debate. There will be two members per team. The competitors will be given minimal preparation to assess the their abilities to convey ideas and develop arguments.

Example: Should we build the Broadway skytrain? You are required to state your arguments and since it is an engineering competition, you are required to input some technical details. This competition is setup as a tournament so the winners move up!


Re-Engineering is the action of improving the design of an engineering concept, either by adding new features or improving its original function. Here, teams of four have a 5 hour time limit. Competitors make a decision between two choices to redesign. These choices will be announced on the day of the competition. Competitors will have to improve and redesign a solution to a problem to suit an alternate solution or application. There is no building component but competitors will create a PowerPoint, any tangibles, and an abstract to present to the judges.

Example: Here the design for a remote control car. Now make it a faster smoother car. Or completely change it into a motorcycle. Choose one and present your re-engineering skills to the judges. Make sure you are clear about what you did and why!

Senior Design:

Given only a hint one week before the competition, teams of four 3rd years and up have 12 hours to develop a tactile solution to an in-depth engineering problem. Using VEX Robotics Kits and Arduinos, competitors will build a robot and code it in order to complete the chair’s challenge. Teams will need to professionally present their prototype and demonstrate the functionality of their design.

Due to the limited availability of the robotics kits, we can only accommodate 10 teams. Applicants must submit a Statement for Participation (one per team) to ubcec@ubcengineers.ca by the due date. After this date, if there are still spots, teams will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. The statement must not be more than 200 words, and should outline why your team should be allowed to participate. The statement must focus on prior projects that you have done individually and/or together.

Example: Using vex kits, your machine should carry a ball around a maze successfully from the beginning till the end without dropping the ball. If the ball is dropped the maze needs to restart. Only 3 restarts are allowed. There will be minor obstacles and bumps on the path of the maze.

Engineering Communications:

Teams of one to four will prepare a 20 minute presentation to a panel of judges. Students are assessed on their content, analysis, and presentation skills. The challenge set forth to the competitors is to describe a technically complicated process or problem in terms that the general public can understand.

Teams should choose their own presentation topic. The chosen topic must be related to the main theme (Canadian Influence) and must be technical in nature.  An abstract describing the presentation topic, no more than 200 words, must be submitted to ubcec@ubcengineers.ca by the due date. Be sure to include the team’s name as well as all team members’ names.

Example: What is the difference between V8 engine and a V6 engine? Describe it to a general public who has no idea about engines and its terms. There are different number of cylinders but what do the cylinders do in the first place?


Teams of 2-4 students from any year level or discipline are given 6 hours to program a solution to a provided problem. At the end of the 6 hours, each team will submit a digital copy of a presentation showcasing their program and their project, including all user documents, any error reports, a copy of the program, and all source code used to construct the solution. Submissions will be assessed based on problem solving ability, prototype quality, design skill, and team dynamics of the competitors.

Competitors are required to use their own computers equipped with legal copies of developmental software. Programming languages are restricted to the following: Assembly, C, C++, Objective-C, C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, Perl, VB, VHDL, Matlab, Haskell, SQL, PHP, HTML. There are no restrictions on compilers. Textbooks, course notes, and other reference materials are optional, but allowed.

Innovative Design:

This category requires the competitors (teams of one to four students) to present an innovative and commercially viable solution to a problem of their own choosing. They are expected to carry out market research and feasibility studies as well as draft a business proposal for their product. The design has to be innovative and fill a void in society’s needs.

Teams must choose a topic that is related to the main theme (Sustainable Solutions), is technical in nature, and have a design component. An abstract describing the chosen topic, no more than one page, must be submitted to ubcec@ubcengineers.ca by the due date. Be sure to include the team’s name as well as all team members’ names.

Example: You design and build a prototype of a mobile application which users use to get cheap car rides as an alternative to taxi service. You are then required to efficiently present your innovation and business plan to attract users and potential investors.

Competition Overview


Year Level






1 & 2



Consulting Engineering

Engineering Communications

Re-Engineering Design

Impromptu Debate

Innovative Design

Junior Design

McElhanney Senior Design

# of Team Members

max 4

1 or 2

max 2

must be 2

1 to 4

max 4

max 4

Design Time Limit

5 hours


5 hours



4 hours

8 hours


Thank you to our sponsors from previous years’ competitions!

Title Sponsors


McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.

Silver Sponsors



Bronze sponsors


Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – British Columbia (ACEC-BC)


Questions? Want to learn more?

Send an email to ubcec@ubcengineers.ca!