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Global Weir Teams Find Common Ground at 15th Annual Engineering Challenge

by the 2018 Engineering Challenge Committee

 

10 January 2019

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IMG_5595_E.jpgIn December, the ESCO Division of Weir hosted its 15th annual Engineering Challenge. While the event has taken different forms through the years, the 2018 challenge provided us a unique opportunity to reflect on the innovation, camaraderie and recent global expansion of our teams. 

 

Each year we challenge our global teams to perform a specific task using a certain set of materials. It’s fun, and they are typically under extreme time pressure. The theme in 2018 was “Uncovering Gold,” which we simulated using ping pong balls and plastic cups. Teams were tasked with removing a layer of cups (shown in red) with the ping pong balls, thus revealing the valuable ore below.


 

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The challenge was hosted at the Hank Swigert Center for Innovation in Portland, Oregon, but – for the first time – the majority of the teams participated remotely. Fourteen groups competed live in Portland and 20 remote teams sent video footage of their projects to be scored live.

 

Over the last 15 years, the challenge has expanded to include 34 teams from places like Australia, Brazil, South Africa, China, Netherlands, Russia and more. This year we invited our new colleagues at Weir and we were thrilled to see seven teams from other global locations join in on the fun.


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  Geert Coppen and his stalwart colleagues from the Venlo Technology Group in the Netherlands​

The innovative designs from every group served as yet another example of the passion and ingenuity that result from the merging of two high-quality, driven companies like Weir and ESCO. We saw a range of creative innovations—drop-and-swing mechanisms, a spring-loaded sled, cannons, slingshots, multi-stage designs and air blasts.

 

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Not surprisingly, our Weir colleagues fully embraced the challenge and put a lot of resources and heart into it. They dove right into the spirit of the events and integrated seamlessly into our culture of innovation, competition and camaraderie. We enjoyed getting to see the fun side of our new Weir family!

 

A Portland-based Mining Ground Engaging Tools team ultimately took home the grand prize at this year’s challenge with three sub-one-second perfect runs. As Team Leader Mark Beatley shared, “Many of us on the team this year had taken second-place multiple times…. This year when we evaluated concepts we would say, ‘That’s a good idea, but it’s a second-place idea.’”

 

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  The Mining Ground Engaging Tools team in Portland took first place honors.

Back row: Leif Jensen, Casey Springer and Bruce Bingham, and front row: Paulette Setzer, Mark Beatley and Darrin Harding

  

The diversity of the participants inspired us to learn more about our fellow team members worldwide and look forward to what lies ahead in 2019. Geert Coppen, Test Engineer TI from Weir Minerals, Netherlands, summarized this year’s event well: 


“At first, we didn’t know what to expect. But the more information we learned, the more excited we all were. I can’t say there was a favorite part…because the enthusiasm was present during the whole challenge. We had great fun participating and are eagerly waiting for the next challenge.”


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