Mathstronauts Hosts 6th Annual STEM Hacks Competition, Empowering STEM Education Through Innovation

Oshawa, December 10, 2023

Highlights:

  • 135 Students from Durham District School Board showcase their Python coding and STEM skills and knowledge.
  • Students tackled an autonomous vehicle challenge using machine learning. 
  • Collaboration with McMaster Engineering EcoCAR team and Ontario Tech Engineering Outreach brings Mentors and Volunteers on board.
  • Distinguished Judges from GM Canada, Ontario Tech University, TELUS, NUIX, and more lend their expertise in machine learning.

Mathstronauts proudly hosted the 6th annual STEM Hacks competition at Ontario Tech University on Saturday, December 2, 2023. The event, a collaboration with key partners such as General Motors Canada, the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Team, the Ontario Tech Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Durham District School Board, marked a celebration of innovation, collaboration, and the skills and creativity of high school students in the Durham region.

Empowering Learning Experience

STEM Hacks is an annual event a yearly competition organized by Mathstronauts, where groups of 4 to 5 participants come together to tackle an exciting hands-on design and development challenge focused on STEM. This year, secondary school students from the Durham District School Board (DDSB) had a unique opportunity to excel in a hackathon-like environment. It served as a culmination of Mathstronauts’ OVIN-funded in-class programs, allowing students to apply Python programming knowledge and skills to real-world challenges.

The core focus of this year’s competition was an autonomous vehicle challenge. Students applied introductory machine learning principles using a pre-trained machine learning model to classify traffic signs. Their task included writing a control algorithm to navigate an autonomous vehicle based on the detected traffic sign(s).

But STEM Hacks is more than just a competition. Participants had the privilege of being mentored by post-secondary students and had their projects evaluated by a panel of judges comprising experts from both academic and industry backgrounds.

A total of 135 students, forming 27 distinct teams, competed with strong determination. The challenge brought together curious individuals who are eager to learn about autonomous vehicle technology and apply their coding knowledge to a software-related problem.

Three teams were awarded 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners based on their projects. The winning teams demonstrated exceptional problem-solving skills, innovation, and teamwork.  

  • 1st Place: Asad Rizvi, Asghar Rizvi, Hassaan Naz, Syed Ahmad, Zayd Syed from Pickering High School
  • 2nd Place: Arham Wasti, Eric Rao, Krisha Kamal Pragash, Nathan Dardaine, and Sunni Xue from Anderson CVI high school
  • 3rd Place: Amna Zafar, Arni Chauhan, Izevbuwa Osa-Ogbeide, Kanisha Patel, and Nawal Ahmad from Pickering and Trafalgar Castle high schools.

A judge from GM Canada examining students’ project

Each team was guided by a mentor, who is also a post-secondary student in related fields.

Volunteers, Judges, and Industry Leaders Coming Together

 

STEM Hacks 2023 was made possible by the generous contribution of time and expertise from volunteers, judges, and industry leaders. The Ontario Tech students, and Mohawk College (Broadcast TV) students, and Mathstronauts staff volunteered their time, creating a safe and supportive environment for the participants.

14 Judges from GM Canada, TELUS, NUIX, and Ontario Tech University, including faculty and graduate students, brought a wealth of experience to the event. Their insights esure that the projects were not just innovative but also aligned with real-world expectations.



Fostering Collaboration and Mentorship

The collaboration with McMaster and Ontario Tech brought together a total of 23 mentors, with the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Team contributing 11 mentors, McMaster University providing 2, and the Ontario Tech University and Engineering Outreach teams contributing 10. This partnership reflects Mathstronauts’ dedication to creating a bridge between high school and post-secondary students, ensuring that participants not only receive guidance, but also have role models who inspire them to study about and pursue careers in the automotive industry.

An Inspiring Guest Speaker from GM Canada

Adding to the excitement, STEM Hacks 2023 featured a captivating talk by Philip Asante, Infrastructure and Platform Engineering Group Manager at General Motors Canada. He shared his own story of navigating high school and post-secondary to discover his passion in the engineering fields, and how via a combination of determination, curiosity and grit, he found his way into the automotive industry at General Motors Canada. Asante shared a message of hope and motivation for event participants to be proud of their accomplishments, dream big for their futures, and go into the direction of their academic and career endeavors with a sense of commitment and excitement.

Future Programs and Events

Parents and students interested in exploring future programs and engagements can find more information on Mathstronauts’ Program page. We are committed to develop and deliver fun and engaging project-based learning opportunities to empower youth in Canada to develop digital technology and STEM skills in.

To stay updated on upcoming programs and events, subscribe to our newsletter. You can expect to receive sporadic announcements, highlights, and exclusive content related to STEM education.

Quotes

I had dabbled in machine learning before, those with the different kind —like linear regression and stuff like that. But I think definitely going out, I did learn about a lot about pre-processing extraction and just like what you can really do with machine learning and the future possibilities of it.

– Sunni Xue, a member of the 2nd place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

I have some experience coding in Python, but not really with AI or machine learning models. Especially the learning part at the beginning, it struck a really good balance of teaching the main concepts while also applying it through actually coding it.

– Zayd Syed, a member of the 1st place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

I’ve done some coding in the past before, but I haven’t had a lot of practice recently. It just made me more confident again after doing coding for a long time. It was really fun. I think I actually learned something too.

-Kanisha Patel, a member of the 3rd place-winning team at STEM Hacks 2023

For more information and/or PR inquiries, please contact: Priska Handojo (p.handojo@mathstronauts.ca)