Western, city bridge project takes top Connections prize

Western Engineering students Rob Volcko, Thomas Zolis, Emily Keyes, Marco Furano and Arthur Gonzales placed first overall in the university category of the Connections Competition at the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Discovery Conference in Toronto this week. The team, who partnered with the City of London, presented their fourth-year design project of a cable-stayed pedestrian bridge at Talbot and Bathurst streets.

The students were tasked to design a wheelchair-accessible pedestrian bridge over the CN Rail tracks within the Talbot Street right-of-way per the City of London’s Transportation Master Plan and SoHo (South of Horton Street) Community Improvement plan. The design was a 25-metre span, cable-stayed structure with reinforced concrete piers, traction-bearing elevators and a full glass curtainwall finish.

The university category of the competition included teams from Toronto, Queen’s, Waterloo and McMaster.

OCE judges were interested in seeing collaboration with industry, and development of professional and communication skills.

“The fourth-year Capstone project at Western gave us an opportunity to develop these skills and place Western among the elite universities in Ontario,” said Volcko, who served as the team lead. “We are thrilled to be recognized for all the hard work our team put in throughout the year and are very pleased with the result. The calibre of four-year design teams at Western alone is something for the faculty to take great pride in.”

The Connections Competition brings together final-year college and undergraduate university students with Ontario companies to give students the opportunity to apply technical and professional skills to real-world problems. Participating institutions submit their top projects for consideration. A panel of judges reviews the submissions and picks finalists who present their projects at the conference where awards of $2,000 were presented for best university and best college project.

The OCE Discovery Conference is Canada’s leading innovation-to-commercialization conference, showcasing leading-edge technologies, best practices and research in Ontario.