From July 24th to August 3rd, 2018, I had the pleasure of attending the European BEST Engineering Competition (EBEC) Final in Turin, Italy. Throughout the conference, I worked closely with the organizing committee from the Local BEST Group (LBG), the co-organizer team and the International BEST Board.
Having attended many competitions in Canada at both the regional and national levels, I was quick to notice many of the differences and similarities between our Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) and EBEC. The first, and most obvious difference was the variety in competitions offered to the students. In Canada, our event is comprised of 8 different competitions, all of which are completed over a two day period. This schedule is also consistent between the various levels of our competition. At EBEC, there were only two unique competitions offered; Topic Study and Team Design, with schedules that do not necessarily remain consistent from the local to international levels. Compared to the competitions offered at CEC, the competitions at EBEC were very similar to our Consulting Engineering and Senior Design competitions respectively.
In total, there were four days of competitions, comprising of 4 unique case studies for Topic Study, and two unique design challenges for Team Design. Each day, competitors in Topic Study were presented with a new case developed by one of the sponsoring companies, given 8 hours to formulate a solution and then present at the end of the day. At the beginning of the first and third days, competitors in Team Design were given a new challenge and then provided with approximately 17 hours of design time before having to present their prototypes at the end of the following day.
The types of cases and design challenges presented to the competitors were very similar to the challenges faced by students here in Canada, however the increased external influence from a partnering company on the problem development did in some cases increase the technical difficulty of the competition, especially with regards to Topic Study. The largest difference between these competitions and the Consulting and Senior Design competitions at CEC is the overall schedule for the design period and presentations. At CEC, we allow the competitors in Senior Design only an 8 hour design period, which is less than half of the time provided in Team Design, however the design period for Topic Study is equivalent to Consulting. The presentations and question periods at EBEC Final lasted no more than 10 to 15 minutes, which is substantially lesser than presentations at CEC.
Competitors and co-organizers for EBEC Final attended from every corner of Europe, bringing with them many unique languages and cultures. Most of the students did not speak English as their first language, which explains the greater focus on the technical aspects of the competitions as opposed to the presentation and communication aspect. It was very interesting being able to witness such a colour mosaic of students coming together to participate in the competition, and also to see students from different countries socialize and make friends regardless of the languages they spoke. Despite the language barriers, at EBEC Final it is very easy to meet some of the most fun, most interesting, and most inspirational students that Europe has to offer.