Volume 96, Issue 81
Wednesday, March 5, 2003

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Engineering nerds win big

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

The pocket-protecting stars of the classic film Revenge of the Nerds have nothing on the three Western engineering students who walked away victorious from last weekend's Canadian Engineering Competition.

Fourth-year computer engineering students, Stan Uhm, Talbot McInnis and Chris Jenkins, received first place in the national competition – only a month after winning the provincial competition held at Western.

"The win was extremely unexpected," Uhm said, after arriving home from the competition, which took place in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Uhm said he and his partners designed and created a "Golf Swing Analyzer," which records the swing speed, swing path, club face angle and path deviation of a golfer's swing and then tells them the theoretical flight of their ball.

According to Uhm, the idea was spawned while the group was procrastinating for their final exams last April.

"We were kind of going crazy while studying for exams, so we went outside to hit some golf balls and that is when we came up with the idea," Uhm said.

"When [the team] originally approached me with this project idea, I kind of had a healthy skepticism," said Roy Eagleson, a professor of computer engineering and the team's thesis project advisor, adding he was glad the team was able to prove him wrong.

"[After] our advisor told us it couldn't be done, we started collecting data on all the sensors – and what could be done theoretically – and it just came together for us," Uhm explained, adding the team collected data from May until October.

"Once the theoretical work was done, [we worked on building the device] for the entire month of January – pretty much eight to 12 hours a day," Uhm said.

According to McInnis, following the success of their swing analyzer, the team has contacted a lawyer and is currently looking into patenting the device. They are also sending their business plan to several potential financial investors, in the hopes of marketing it, he added.

"The second we get any feedback from someone that says they'll help us financially, then [the swing analyzer] may well be [what we do] for the rest of our lives," McInnis explained.

The team wished to express their gratitude towards the University Students' Council, Western's engineering science department and the electrical department, whose support was vital in their quest to become Canada's ultimate undergraduate engineers.

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