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

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Victoria High School. (Black Press Media file photo)
Alumni Association abandons plans for eight-lane track at Vic High

SD61 spokesperson says easement, which makes 8-lane track impossible, left out of consultation

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read