ESCO Engages Blog

Continuing the Tradition: Manila Engineers Take First Place Honors in 2022 Engineering Challenge

5 January 2022

2022 Engineering Challenge Champions: Manila GBS Tooling and Gaging team

A couple of seconds and 16 flying ping pong balls came between four finalists during the 2022 Engineering Challenge on 8 December. The annual tradition crowned a Philippines-based team victorious for the first time in the challenge’s 19-year history. 

Manila’s “GBS Tooling and Gaging” team took home first place after beating out close to 20 other global teams and then going head-to-head against Portland’s “CS-GET-It” team in the final round.

The 2022 challenge, “Connect Final Four, Zero Harm Behaviors,” used the fun and simple game of Connect Four. The game, known globally, inspired a 7-person committee to design the challenge. “The idea had to meet certain criteria, and this year we focused on fun yet simple games. Inclusiveness was at the top of our list, and we tried to make sure that each idea and building material were readily available to every participant no matter where they were located,” said Metallurgical Engineer, Laura Lupardus.

To ensure relevance to Weir values, the game board used during the challenge highlighted Weir’s Zero Harm Behaviors, a set of 12 actions that prioritize safety and wellbeing. Participants were to build a device out of materials, including wood, cups and duct tape, that launched four or more objects in a straight line in 60 seconds or less.

Combined with build materials, good planning, communication and keeping things simple helped the team clinch their win, said Erica Vicera, GBS’s captain. “The challenge reminded us how important it is to collaborate with each other and how much fun we can have when we do,” she said. 

“The competition is not only about building the best device, added Laura on what she thinks it takes to win, “but a test of how well teams can communicate and come together.”

Manila’s GBS Tooling and Gaging Team brought home top honors in the 2022 Engineering Challenge. It was the first time a Manila-based team won in the challenge’s 19-year history.

This year, a total of 17 teams from five countries, including Canada, China, the Philippines, Australia and the U.S., participated in the first round leading to an intense live-streamed, four-team semifinal and head-to-head final match across time zones. All participants displayed creativity and determination, even when things went wrong. 

Yu Zhu and his “Climber” teammates work together to use their handcrafted device and score during their submission video for the 2022 Engineering Challenge on 8 December.

Yu Zhu, energy engineer, member of ESCO Xuzhou’s “Climber” team and first-time challenge participant, said that while his team struggled early on, they were determined not to give up. “We came together, built new devices and completed the challenge,” he said.

For the past 19 years, the event has put ESCO engineers’ perseverance, teamwork and communication skills to the test. While the majority of their time is spent creating highly engineered GET solutions for customers around the globe, once a year they unite to collaborate, build relationships and embrace failing fast in a fun, competitive format, taking the lessons they learn with them into their everyday roles.

“Sometimes you have to overturn ideas when things go wrong and open yourself up to new ways of innovative thinking,” Yu shared. “These challenges are designed to show our creativity, and that can be really exciting when working with a team.”

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