Marshel Glidden, Huu Duong Nguyen, Justin Tomlinson and Anika Andersen with the mechanical engineering program at Camosun College show off their Kelp Seed Launcher V2.0 that they designed for Sidney’s Cascadia Seaweed. (Cascadia Seaweed/Submitted)

Sidney company partners with Camosun College to deliver winning engineering design

Four students win award in designing new sea kelp launcher

  • Sep. 6, 2021 12:00 a.m.

A Sidney-based company is praising its partnership with Camosun College after a quartet of students delivered an award-winning solution to a technical problem involving the seeding of seaweed.

Matt Obee, vice-president of operations at Cascadia Seaweed, said partnering students from the college’s mechanical engineering program really demonstrated that they took the time to understand the company’s need in developing the Kelp Seed Launcher V2.0. “From our perspective, it was a very worthwhile partnership, something we’ll look to do more of in the future,” he said.

Obee made that comment after judges had recognized the team’s solution as the most innovative following a competition.

Student Huu Duong Nguyen said Cascadia Seaweed tasked students with developing an innovative and practical solution to improve the seeding process by developing a new kelp seed launcher.

On top of those conditions, the students faced two other conditions.

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“Nothing could touch the seeded line to guide it off the spools, otherwise it might disturb the sporophytes and reduce the cultivation density,” said student Marshel Glidden. “(Secondly), we were not able to change the geometry of the spools because Cascadia is already using these specific PVC tubes in their kelp nursery.”

Student Justin Tomlinson said the team eventually landed on a versatile mechanism holding three seed spools that can maintain the necessary tension to produce an even wrap around the farm production lines. “This design reduces the handling of seeded line and eliminates the need to cut production lines during deployment,” said Tomlinson.

Instructor Richard Burman said the award for the team recognized students who demonstrated out-of-the-box problem-solving. “For this particular challenge, the students had defined guidelines but the route to success was not clear,” said Burman. “They had to conceptualize and test many possible solutions in a short period of time.”

Student Anika Anderson thanked the instructors for their faith. “The instructors believed in our team to deliver a practical and effective solution,” she said.

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Peninsula News Review