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