Top five finish for McMaster mechanical engineering students at international construction competition  – Faculty of Engineering

Top five finish for McMaster mechanical engineering students at international construction competition 

group of six students in business formal outfits posing in front of a powerpoint slide.
By Naz Kittani

Mechanical engineering students from McMaster placed among the top postsecondary teams across North America in this year’s Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Student Chapter Competition

The competition provides a platform for students to develop core industry skills in their field by tasking them with producing a bid for a real, ongoing mechanical construction project. This year’s approximately 50 participating schools across Canada and the United States competed to win the bid for the mechanical scope build-out of the Kansas City Zoo Aquarium.  

Competition to capstone 

Anna Maria Esposito, Alexandre Guindon, Mostafa Koura, Daniel Soos, Abigail D’Souza and Arissa (Yiran) Chen are the star students who led their team to a fourth-place victory. The team was formed over the summer of August 2023 for the competition and stuck together for their final year capstone project, which began in September of 2023.  

“The Kansas City Zoo Aquarium project has been the foundation of our capstone,” explains Koura. “As part of the bid, we were required to present some value-added engineering opportunities. For our capstone project, we performed analysis on one of those suggested designs: a waste heat recovery system.” 

six people in white shirts and black pants posing in front of a presentation board at a student showcase.

“By combining our knowledge of mechanical systems from this project with the concepts learned in coursework, we have been able to model this proposed design,” says D’Souza.  

The team credits their time in the Mac Eng labs, classes and co-op work terms for sparking their passion for applying their learning to the world around them.  

“Our collective experiences in mechanical engineering courses and our previous co-op terms provided us with transferrable skills that we applied to the project,” says Esposito. 

The final four in Florida 

As one of the four finalists, the team travelled to Orlando, Florida from March 16 to March 21 to present their bids at the MCAA Conference, a national assembly of mechanical contracting firms, product representatives and student chapters primarily from Canada and the United States.  

seven people posing in front of a palm tree.

“It was incredible to get up in a room of mechanical engineering leaders and present our work,” says Guindon. “This project has really taken us on a journey as students who are constantly looking for new ways to learn, we are all incredibly grateful for the opportunities we have had over the past eight months.”  

Key learning

Combining academia and industry was the very foundation of their project, and the team says they learned a lot of new skills throughout the competition that made them feel ready to take on life after Mac Eng as 2024 graduates.  

“Communication in the form of learning how to give professional and engaging presentations was a big takeaway for me,” says Soos. “Also, the importance of networking with industry professionals. We made great connections with partners from the mechanical contracting industry.” 

“Getting to see and understand the hands-on applications of engineering was also a major highlight of the competition,” says Chen. “Often, we are on the technical design side of building projects, however we got to better understand how our designs come to life and the associated challenges with them with the mechanical contracting industry. The experiences I have gained from being a part of this student chapter and competition team have been invaluable.”  

Are you interested in joining the next McMaster Team competing in the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Student Chapter Competition? Learn more here.