This past July, the Booth School hosted over 80 international students from countries including Korea, Mexico, Germany as part of the International Design Engineering Education Association (IDEEA) Forum, an annual engineering and design challenge designed to inspire students in addressing global issues through innovative product design.
IDEEA is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the engineers and designers of the future in cutting-edge technologies relevant to mobility, product development, and industry.
Each year, students from more than 20 colleges and universities worldwide spend 6 months collaborating virtually, in international teams to design new future-oriented products. The teams then unite to present their product design to a group of judges who select winners in various categories, including ‘Best Team Collaboration’, ‘Best Design’ and ‘Overall Winner.’
After spending the first half of 2023 designing an electrical mobility solution for the trans-shipment of goods to address global warming, reduce pollution and more, the student teams met at McMaster.
“In today’s global economy, most industrial companies use engineers and designers from multiple locations to reduce the time between the design board and the manufactured product,” says Booth School Professor, Dan Centea, who made the 2023 Forum happen at McMaster.
“The collaboration within international teams has several challenges including, but not limited to local culture, vacations/holidays, time zones and varying levels of knowledge among the participants involved.”
The purpose of the IDEEA competition is to teach the students from universities located in three major time zones (Americas, Europe, Asia) to address these challenges, and prepare them for successful employment in today’s constantly evolving economy.”
Centea, with support from Heather McLaren, administrative assistant for undergraduate programs, dedicated nearly a year planning the Forum.
The event culminated with an awards gala with remarks from Booth School Director, Brian Baetz, Associate Dean of Engineering, Sarah Dickson-Anderson and Vice-Provost (International Affairs) Bonny Ibhawoh.
“Here at McMaster University, we are committed to principles of diversity and inclusion,” says Bonny Ibhawoh, Vice Provost (International Affairs) reflecting on the diversity of teams represented in the Forum.
“I also want to stress the importance of global education partnerships,” he continues. “For McMaster, a competition like this is important in developing international partnerships…competitions like these provide a fitting forum for addressing the challenges that our world faces today. From climate change to sustainability, to pandemic preparedness, we can only address these big global questions when we work together. And that’s exactly what you’re doing here today.”
In his remarks, Ibhawoh also highlighted McMaster’s dedication to advancing the greater social good in our communities through our commitment to the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “It’s important that you’re addressing these issues so that in seven years’ time, hopefully we’ll have solutions to some of these questions.”
Booth School Director Brian Baetz echoed the sentiments of Vice Provost Ibhawoh, emphasizing the pivotal role of the next generation in addressing global concerns.
“We’re going to be looking to you for solutions, looking to you for new ways of doing things, looking for a way to break the patterns that we’ve developed and charting a new course.”
Although numerous teams were handed awards, one team came out on top. Team 5 went home as ‘Overall Winners’ after developing a new shuttle-refrigerator system to transport fresh food and medicine to the elderly.
“We presented the idea of delivering refrigerators to customers using our specially designed shuttle,” says Team 5 participant, Sumin Cho of Hongik University.
“[As] we are facing an aging population and environmental problems, the delivery of these refrigerators will [make it easier] for older people to get fresh food daily and reduce the use of packaging materials.”
Marjan Alavi, program lead for M.Eng, Manufacturing Engineering who volunteered as both a judge and mentor for the competition, expressed admiration for Team 5’s efforts.
“Team 5’s project showcased a remarkable blend of innovation, creativity, sustainability, responsibility, and excellent presentation,” says Alavi.
She continues, “The team offered a multidimensional approach which required several technical skills, excellent team communication and effort. From logo design to the design of refrigerator, 3D printed model, temperature monitoring app, and the shuttle, while adhering to the standard building codes, this project demonstrated excellent planning, teamwork, and attention to details.”
“We weren’t expecting to be the winners!” said Team 5 participant, MyungWoo Jung, from Hongik University. “So we were surprised and really felt rewarded for our efforts these past few months.”
The IDEEA Forum not only encompassed diversity and collaboration, but demonstrated the importance of hands-on, experiential learning, a principle deeply embedded into the Booth School’s values.
First-hand student accounts
We invited participants to share their experiences from the Forum, from overcoming challenges involved in international collaborations, to their thoughts of McMaster University, the Forum’s significance and more.
Read what they had to say below:
Challenges and solutions working in international teams:
“One major challenge was the time difference which made it even harder to find a time slot for a regular team meeting with all our members. Our solution was to divide the team into different work groups which each had a group leader. This way we only had to find time slots in which all the group leaders and the team leader could join. Of course, the rest of the team members were encouraged to join as well.
Another challenge was that, due to our different backgrounds, we had to learn to clearly define the ideas we each had in our minds. Things that we see as normal, or the standard just aren’t the norm in other countries. This was a great opportunity to work on our communication skills to make sure we were painting the same picture in everyone’s head.”
Meeting their teams in person:
“It was incredible, (to meet my team in person.) Most of them I had never seen, even by photo, and I had never heard them speak…. but I must say that it was the best experience of IDEEA for me, to spend time with them and meet them. They are extraordinary people, and I am very grateful to have met them. They were all very interested in my culture, my language, and the food of my country… I hope I can visit Korea soon.”
“It was very fun meeting all of them in person. Getting to work on our project and preparing for the presentation together in person after 6 months was almost surreal, as everything was finally finished and coming together.”
The best part of the week:
“I formed a close connection with people from vast parts of the world and realized that together we can become original, and the scalability of our ideas can be extended globally.” – Iancu Constantin-Marian (Participated remotely), Transilvania University of Brașov, Team 5
“The best part was collaborating with my teammates. The whole night our team spent on the McMaster University Campus while writing the final presentation, that memory will stay with me for a long time as a perfect experience.”
Thoughts on McMaster University:
“[One thing] that made me love [McMaster University] was the warm reception we received from the hosts. They put so much effort turning this competition into a major friendly gathering with people trying to learn the best from others.”
Significance of the IDEEA Forum:
“In times of globalization and, at the same time, greater individualization, overcoming the comfort zone and challenging oneself with different perspectives, opinions and cultural standards is essential.”