UPEI enginering students

From left: Trent Cousins with Allan Equipment, students Art Ortenburger, Alex Gamble, Luke Bennett and Amy Hsiao Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Design Engineering, UPEI (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

University of Prince Edward Island engineering students are helping Island industries and businesses solve real-world problems.

The 10 students are part of UPEI's School of Sustainable Design Engineering. 

"It's very innovative. It's very different. In fact many of the traditional engineering programs are attempting to move this way," said Associate Professor Amy Hsiao.

One of the projects is a rock removal system, which has very practical uses for P.E.I. farmers.

UPEI recently expanded the two-year engineering program to four years. Before that, if students wanted to get a degree, they would have to complete their studies elsewhere.

While the engineering students have worked with businesses before, it has never been on this scale. 

The students have been divided into three groups that are helping the Island potato, lobster and blueberry industries to solve everyday problems they encounter. 

'You don't want to be selling people rocks'

With the potato industry, students have been working on a device that will help get potatoes out of the ground without getting rocks stuck in the harvester.

"You don't want to be selling people rocks when you're selling them potatoes," said student Luke Bennett. "It's actually unreal because this is the type of environment that I like to work in. I thrive in a place like this. So I would much rather be out here getting dirty, working on something, solving problems than working on a piece of paper trying to solve a just a simple math equation." 

Trent Cousins of Allan Equipment said the piece of equipment is proprietary and will really help the company.

"It is a very competitive marketplace and there are other competitors on the market currently and we wouldn't want anybody else to get the edge that we might have." 

The group will be the first fourth-year engineering students from UPEI to get their degrees.


  • A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed quotes to Bennett and Hsiao. Their correct quotes now appear in the story.
    Jan 18, 2016 10:55 AM AT