A team of students from the Lassonde School of Engineering supported by BEST Lab has won the global Engineering & Commerce Case Competition (ENGCOMM) hosted by Concordia University in Montreal. The international case competition hosted 14 teams from around the world to provide innovative solutions to three separate cases brought forward by GlobalMedic, ESB and L3Harris.
The team was diverse, coming from varying programs and study years including:
- Olga Klushina, fourth year, electrical engineering
- Allen Kaplan, third year, software engineering
- Semi Hesaj, fifth year, space engineering
- Kourosh Toghrol, second year, mechanical engineering
All four students have completed the International Experiential Entrepreneurship (York-Technion) Course and the Entrepreneurship Courses of the BEST Certificate and were the only team at the competition comprised of all engineering students. All other university teams were a combination of two engineering and two commerce students. Andrew Maxwell, Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship, was the coach of the Lassonde students, whose achievements were impressive since it was the first time York University entered the competition.
The final case came from American technology company, defense contractor and information technology services provider L3Harris. It was centered around their Canadian subsidiary, MAS, which operates as its in-service support (ISS) arm. The challenge presented to students was to innovate how maintenance and support on aircraft, naval ships and light armoured vehicles are currently being performed, modernizing L3Harris’ ISS technologies that currently rely on time-based, reactive maintenance systems.
The best solution should reduce the duration of work activity, improve efficiency, enhance operability and reliability of supported machinery and return value within 10 years. This challenge required the team to have a strong understanding of the current defense market landscape, technological landscape and the intricacies of L3Harris’ unique position as a company.
The Lassonde team’s solution was Predictive On-Demand Support (PODS). PODS is an Augmented Reality headset (built atop of Microsoft’s HoloLens) that acts as virtual tech-support, guiding users through a diagnostic autonomously. It also uses advanced data analytics from IoT devices/sensors to provide predictive maintenance capabilities, anticipating problems before they occur. A technician using PODS is able to inspect a machinery problem, guided step-by-step through a diagnostic per L3Harris’ established procedures.
On the business end, the team proposed L3Harris – a company known to acquire other companies – obtain their predictive maintenance capabilities through acquisition of technology company C3.ai. This was deemed necessary to compete against the likes of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Thales. The team forecasted that the proposed solutions could net L3Harris $550 million from immediate RFP contracts.
“This was by far the most impactful, educational and fun competition I was a part of,” said Toghrol, a second-year student on the team. “Not only were we able to tackle really difficult problems, it was great to see the judges asking us deep, thought-provoking questions. I’d like to personally thank Dr. Andrew Maxwell and the rest of the best lab, alongside Lassonde as their dedication to design thinking and innovation definitely set us apart from the rest.”