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Romania Wins at Shell International Engineering Competition


By: Tereza Nedelescu, Guest Writer

A group of four Romanian architects, RAAO, amazed the judges from the International Engineering Competition in Calgary this September, after winning first place for the Design Competition and winning the overall Shell International Innovation Award. These architects are Radu Dorgo, Adrian Mihai, Andrei Lazar and Ovidiu Mihutescu. They have just graduated from the Faculty of Architecture, at Politehnica University in Timisoara.

Sixty students from Europe, USA and Canada competed at the Shell International Engineering Competition. The competition was broken down into a design section and a consulting one. For the Design Competition, the winners are: Politehnica, Romania (first place), University of Calgary (second place), and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden (third place). For the Consulting Competition, the winning teams are: University of British Colombia (first place), Politecnico de Milan (second place) and the University of Alberta (third place).

For the Design Competition, the teams had a piano, which they had to turn it into a calculator, able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, within 14 hours. RAAO spent 8 hours building, and 6 hours testing. After they implemented the needed operations, they added the functions of sqare root, square and factorial. The public burst into applause at their accomplishment.

Guided by the mechanical design of the piano, Radu, Adrian, Andrei and Ovidiu proposed a mechanical solution, where they used extra parts worth $110, a piano and billiard balls. Their final product was very esthetic. Here is a short presentation of the team – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUG5NMf__nk .

Lorraine Mitchelmore, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada, declared “Congratulations to all of the teams who participated in this week’s competition and to Team Romania who are the winners of the Shell International Innovation Award.” She added, “It is clear that the ingenuity displayed today will play a key role in helping us find solutions that will help shape our energy futures.”

“When we heard about this contest, we thought it would be similar to other design and engineering contests that we have participated in, in Europe,” RAAO said as they talked about the competition. “We were curious, still, since this one was organized in another continent, so we expected something to be different. When we saw that we had a functional piano, which we had to modify and do whatever we wanted with, we were very surprised. For us, it was an interesting task, and also difficult, because, being young architects, we are used to making beautiful objects, not to develop mechanisms.

Although we studied Architecture, we looked into other fields, out of passion, such as mechanics, computer science and math. Our dream is to build a design or an architecture product from end to end. We wish to get involved in all the phases of the project, together with people from other fields and this interdisciplinary collaboration will bring forth amazing results.

In the future, we will try to stay together, as a group, and to carry on our passion for design and engineering. Who knows, maybe we get to connect architecture with other fields, such as mechanics or computer science.

The best advice we have for students is to transcend the borders of university, to explore as much as they can, to take part in lots of contests and to collaborate with people from many different fields.”

The four winners have numerous other prizes. In 2012, they were awarded the 5th place in Europe for “Best Engineering Competition – Team Design.” They received an honorable mention for the “International Velux Award 2012 for Students of Architecture” for their project, “Interactive Natural Light Source.” Velux is the most prestigious student architecture contest in the world.

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