Xiao Xue is a University of Victoria fine arts graduate who designed a system to allow an abandoned truck camper to walk in search of a truck. Her work recently won first place at the Rainhouse Technology Challenge in Vic West. Tim Collins/Victoria News

Xiao Xue is a University of Victoria fine arts graduate who designed a system to allow an abandoned truck camper to walk in search of a truck. Her work recently won first place at the Rainhouse Technology Challenge in Vic West. Tim Collins/Victoria News

‘Walking’ camper wins top prize at tech contest in Victoria West

Rainhouse competition highlights technology and imagination

Tim Collins/Victoria News

For the third year in a row, Ray Brougham and his company, Rainhouse Manufacturing (formerly Prototype Equipment Design) hosted their Design Challenge.

The event sees teams of innovative young people come together to showcase their inventions and go head to head to compete for the annual title of most interesting/ innovative product.

“The truth is, all of these teams are engaged in separate competitions within their own disciplines,” said Brougham. “This competition is really just an opportunity to show off what they’ve done and share ideas with like-minded young people.”

Brougham’s company is well suited to host an event of this kind, as the Victoria firm is itself well established as a major innovator and problem solver in the high-tech engineering world. Since their start in 2000, Rainhouse has solved engineering challenges in the defence, marine, technology, medical and scientific industries.

“Like these young men and women, we don’t back down from a challenge. It’s why we love helping them develop their ideas and then assist in bringing them to life,” said Brougham.

The contenders in the competition were as diverse and impressive as one could imagine.

Brice Edwards and Austin Wollf’s entry of a satellite prototype is one example. They had also entered it into the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge, where teams of university students build a small satellite, with the winning craft eventually launched into space.

“Our prototype uses pyrolitic graphite in its design. When heated, its magnetic properties change and it functions as a magnetic attitude control system, utilizing the magnetic fields of surrounding bodies in space,” explained Wollf. It’s a system described by the team’s mentor, James Harrington, as Star Trek come to life.

Other entries were no less impressive.

UVic Aero Drone, a group that has developed several unmanned aerial drones that can be used, amongst other purposes, to aid in search and rescue efforts or deliver urgent medical equipment in minutes. Another group, AUVic Submersible, has developed an underwater vehicle that can operate at depth without the need of a tether for control and movement.

But the winner of this year’s competition was unique by virtue of having no immediate technological or engineering application in the real world. Instead, it was a work of art.

Xiao Xue is a UVic Fine Arts graduate who gathered her inspiration from a close friend who is an amputee.

“I saw that after he lost his leg he was obsessed with different prosthetics, but gave no thought to the limb he’d lost” she said. “It seemed to be a metaphor for a society where we cast things aside, treating them as parasites that, once their removed from the host, no longer have any relevance.”

Her entry was an uninstalled slide-in truck camper. She designed and built a system to allow the camper to walk on its own, ostensibly in search of a truck to make its home.

“Xiao’s work shows a unique blending of art and technology. It’s a remarkable application of imagination,” said Brougham.

editor@vicnews.com

Science

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

Rendering of the proposed residential and commercial building on the existing site of the Northern Junk buildings at 1314 and 1318 Wharf St. Victoria council sitting as committee of the whole voted May 6 to send the project to public hearing. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Proposal for underutilized Victoria harbourfront site heading to public hearing

Northern Junk buildings would be incorporated into design of new structure

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

Most Read