The Ontario Engineering Competition (OEC) is an annual competition
that is hosted by a different Ontario engineering school each year.
Originally called the Ontario Engineering Design Competition (OEDC),
the Ontario Engineering Competition was the brainchild of Diane
Neil and the Queen's University Engineering Society in 1980.
The first competition encouraged students to compete in three categories
(the Open Competition, the Industrial Competition, and the Communications
Competition). With only eight members on the organizing committee,
the competition attracted 56 students in 29 entries and set a high
standard for the competitions to follow.
A group of Waterloo engineering students, impressed by the competition,
was interested in continuing with OEDC and an annual event was born.
Still only three categories, the Open Competition and the Industrial
Competition were renamed to the now familiar Entrepreneurial Design
and Corporate Design in 1981. Another major addition in 1981 was
the introduction of Major Patrons for each of the competition's
In 1982, at the University of Toronto, the Communications Category
split into Editorial Communications and Explanatory Communications
bringing the number of categories to four and setting the core structure
of the competition that would remain for nearly a decade. The organizing
committee had risen to 14 members and the annual budget had grown
to more than $26,000.
Over the next three years, the prestige and professionalism of
the competition rose to the point where students all across Canada
had become aware of OEDC. With OEDC as a blueprint, three other
regional competitions and the national Canadian Engineering Design
Competition (CEDC) were born, with the first CEDC held in 1985.
OEDC continued with four categories until the Sandford Fleming
Foundation, who were disappointed with the attendance of their engineering
debating competition, approached OEDC and suggested a merger. Held
on a trial basis at first, the organizers of OEDC '91 at the University
of Waterloo added a fifth category called Extemporaneous Communications.
Since renamed to Parliamentary Debate, the debating category has
become a mainstay, albeit sometimes controversial, part of the competition.
In 1992, while at the University of Ottawa, the competition changed
its name to the Ontario Engineering Competition to reflect the fact
that the competition, and engineering in general, is about much
more than engineering design. In addition, in order to acknowledge
the fact that Canada is a bilingual nation, Compétition d'Ingénierie
de l'Ontario (CIO) was officially added to make the name OEC-CIO,
which remains to this day.
The competition added a new design category in 1997 when the Organizing
Committee at McMaster added the sixth category, Team Design, to
the competition. To this point, the competition had two design and
two communications categories that required considerable preparation
and one impromptu communications category. The idea behind Team
Design was that this new category could fill the void and create
an impromptu design category. An added benefit was that Team Design
would be limited only to junior students. This way, first year students
could have an avenue to learn about the rest of the competition,
while not at a disadvantage competing against the more experienced
and educated senior students.
This year at Waterloo, Team Design has officially become First
Year Team Design, and a seventh category of Senior Team Design has
been introduced. While the Junior Team Design provides opportunity
for exposure to the competition, the Senior Team Design is meant
to truly showcase the quick thinking and verstility of an engineering
team, and includes presentation and justification components to
keep the level of challenge appropriate for upper year engineers.
Over the past 25 years, this prestigious competition has seen tremendous
growth. In this new millennium, the Ontario Engineering Competition
is looking forward with excitement to the next 25 years and beyond.