First and second place winners were named Friday afternoon in three categories at the annual competition among senior students at Western University’s Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.
“This competition, in many ways, is the culmination of years of hard work from graduating students and helps to lay the foundation for future career prospects,” said Katherine Albion, executive director of the Sarnia research park that is affiliated with the London university.
Teams of students spent the day presenting their projects, created over the course of their final year at Western, to panels of judges from Sarnia-Lambton industries and organizations.
Prizes were awarded in the categories of petrochemicals, green processes and specialty chemicals and environment.
“We put in a lot of hard work for this project, but it paid off,” Carson Otto, a member of the winning team in the specialty chemicals competition.
His fellow teammates were Austin Lowes and Tyler Jobin in the project on the industrial production of cannabidiol and tetrhydrocannabinol (compounds found in cannabis plants) oil using supercritical carbon dioxide.
“I’m headed to Niagara College for their commercial cannabis program next year,” Otto said.
The winning team in the petrochemicals category was Marina Fiorente, Mary Ames, Andrew Pho and Ryan Morgan for their project on production of dimethyl ether from methanol.
In the green process category, the team of Andrew Heaslip, Brendan Hewton, Aaron Alaimo and Timothy McDougald won for their project on catalytic dehydration of ethanol to ethylene.
Prior to moving to the research park in Sarnia, the annual competition was held at the university campus in London.
Many of the projects were on subjects with connections to Sarnia-Lambton’s chemical industries and included “a lot of innovative ideas which support some of our innovation initiatives,” Albion said.
This year’s team of judges was made up of 15 engineers from local industry.
“It’s really a unique event in all of Canada because of the support and the contributions of the community, through our sponsorships,” Albion said.
The competition had a total of $13,000 in sponsorships this year to provide prizes for the winners.
“It’s a really good networking event for both the students to connect with industry, and learn what industry’s all about, how industry operates and what they’re looking for in the future,” Albion said.