Design Engineering

Hodgson wins Canadian Fluid Power Challenge

By Design Engineering staff   

Fluid Power education hydraulics pneumatics

In May, Toronto middle school students competed in the ninth annual Canadian Fluid Power Challenge, an event that provides Grade 8 students with hands-on fluid power and automation experience.

On May 7th, 18 Toronto middle schools teams competed in the ninth annual Canadian Fluid Power Challenge. A partnership of the Canadian Fluid Power Association, Kidder – TTS and the Toronto District School Board, the Challenge provides Grade 8 students with hands-on fluid power and automation experience building a mechanism with real world applicability.

This year’s competition, held at Etobicoke’s Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy, presented the four-student teams with an easier task than in past years. In the three weeks leading up to the competition, students had to design a prototype for a machine that could pick up cork-sized dowels and stand them on a stairstep ledge. On the morning of the contest, students reconstructed their prototypes using only wood dowels, paper and glue. The machines’ hydraulics were composed of syringes and plastic tubing.


Most teams opted for a counter-balanced crane design that could extend its arm, grab the target object, swivel to the destination and carefully place it on the platform. During the competition, each team had to complete as many cycles as possible during the two minute time limit, receiving a higher score for placing the object higher on the stairstep platform. In addition to speed and efficiency, teams were also judged on material costs and the quality of a written presentation.

From left: Amani Tarud, Toby Keating, Vanessa Hamkens and Andrew Smith from Hodgson Senior Public School. Team teacher Tammy Tiedeman not pictured.

Rising from its third place showing last year, Hodgson Senior Public School took first place, completing 6 cycles within the two minute time limit. Judges were impressed by the team’s straight-forward design and effective gripping mechanism.

Approaching its 10th year, the Canadian Fluid Power Challenge concept has caught on and expanded in recent years, says Canadian Fluid Power Association chairman, John Bachmann. In addition to spawning Edmonton’s Strathcona Technical Challenge (now in its fourth year), the annual event has inspired the U.S.-based National Fluid Power Association to start its own version of the competition.

“In November, they are doing events in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and one in Indiana; and they are going after 3,000 project lead-the-way schools,” he said at this year’s competition. “It’s not a Canadian story but, in a way, it is because it all started right here.”


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