2020 PEO York Chapter
Engineering Research Project of the Year Award

Project: SMRs – A Solution to Climate Change
Category: Research
Institution Name: McMaster University
Project Summary:
All Regions across Canada are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Environmentalists, activists, scientists, politicians, and ordinary people (you and I) worry about climate change and want to fix it. Serious damages are already underway and there is enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to ensure more damages to come, and if carbon emissions continue unchecked, increases in temperature will likely increase our energy demand and our ability to deliver it reliably. Shifting rainfall patterns and droughts are shrinking river flows and draining lakes leading to decreased in hydro-electric power generation; transmission line conductors sag beyond its maximum limit resulting in reduced power flows; and power system equipment such as motors and transformers need to operate at reduced ratings to avoid overheating. Wind and solar generation are expanding globally. Recent SMR (Small Modular Reactor) innovation and development could mean cheap electricity for transportation, construction, and manufacturing industries. The shift to electric cars and buses; emission-free heating and cooling systems in our homes and businesses; and energy-intensive factories using more clean power to make products will be our goals and solutions to climate change. By converting the national grid into a microgrid power network system, we will provide a carbon-free atmosphere and a better future for future generations.

Project: Reducing Municipal Water Loss and Energy Consumption through Pressure Management
Category: Research
Institution Name: HydraTek & Associates (A Division of FP&P HydraTek Inc.)
Project Summary:
A mobile unit was developed and deployed to over 20 sites involving 8 municipalities across Ontario to test segments of municipal water distribution systems for leakage characteristics. The results of the testing identify where a leak – representing a waste of both water and energy – is occurring such that efforts may be focused on locating and repairing it. This research project was sponsored by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), with additional support from the National Research Council and participating municipalities.

Project: Numerical Modeling of Fluids Migration in a Sanitary Landfill, by Combining Geophysical and Gas Emission Data.
Category: Research
Institution Name: Humber College and University of Toronto
Project Summary:
Aquifers are the only supplies of drinking water in most Ontario communities. Conventional methods to monitor leachate contaminant migration into groundwater and methane generation in landfills provide limited information. We developed an alternative methodology to fully characterize groundwater contamination sources that uses subsoil 3D electrical conductivity images and quantifies the complex synergy between methane surficial emissions and leachate accumulations at depth. This low-cost, time-effective, and non-invasive methodology provides reliable tools for choosing prevention, mitigation, and remediation strategies.

Project: Visual AI for Autonomous Train: The Ontario Train Autonomy Collaboration (OnTRAC)
Category: Research
Institution Name: York University
Project Summary:
The objective of the Ontario Train Autonomy Collaboration (OnTRAC) Project is to develop and demonstrate a prototype (at TRL7) high-performance Obstacle Detection, Classification and Tracking (ODCT) solution to support the Autonomous Vehicle Recovery capability of Autonomous Rail operation. The system combines different sensors, with innovative algorithms for object detection, classification and tracking such that the stringent safety and performance requirements for autonomous rail operation are met. This project is a massive stepping stone towards Canadian leadership in global autonomous systems.

PEO York Chapter is the largest chapter of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), with over 10,000 members in York Region and accounting for 10% of PEO's membership! With such a large engineering presence in the community, the Engineering Project of the Year Award acts as York Chapter's platform to build new, or deepen existing, relationships with high-tech companies and related businesses in the region, and ultimately highlight the engineering profession in our community!

The awards gala for the 2020 competition will be held in March 2021 at a business venue in York Region; the winner and runner-up of each category will be invited to attend the gala. The winner from each category will also receive the coveted honour of delivering a presentation on their successful project as part of the evening’s address, with the option to present video or other multimedia demonstrations showcasing the organization, the project team, and its engineering achievements.

For engineering research projects, please read further on this page for the Engineering Research Project of the Year Award details.

For engineering projects, please click here for the details of the Engineering Project of the Year Award. Any given project can only apply to one of the two awards in one given year.

peo sqObjective (Top)

The objective of this competition is to recognize the contribution, both to the engineering profession and to the local community, by an organization that has undertaken or completed an outstanding engineering research project of a technical nature within the past year. The Engineering Research Project of the Year Award aims to showcase innovations within the research and development of new engineering technologies, products, and/or services that may not have reached the market implementation stage yet. This opens up the award to academic institutions and research and development companies that are conducting cutting edge engineering research.

The benefits of participating in this competition are significant for both the Applicants and the engineering profession in York Chapter. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Connecting high-tech companies to their local engineering community and potential community partners
  • Educating engineering experts about local high-tech companies, connecting key talents and businesses
  • Creating positive economic growth through executing technological innovation and resulting in job creation and employment opportunities through technological innovation
  • Local businesses have a wide public forum in which to market their technical expertise and showcase their engineering successes
  • Raises public awareness of the engineering profession and the highlight current York Chapter activities


peo sqCompetition Description and Deadlines (Top)

Phase I: Abstract Submissions

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 27, 2021 @ 11:59pm EST. To submit your abstract, download and complete the application file and submit via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Phase II: Preliminary Evaluation

Finalists will be selected by the Engineering Project of the Year Award Committee and will be notified by Friday, February 12, 2021. The selections will be made based on the strength of each application in its ability to satisfy the evaluation criteria.

Phase III: Preparation of Final Submission

The top finalists from each category will each prepare and deliver a short presentation that illustrates the project highlights. Further details about the nature of the presentation will be communicated when the finalists are announced.

The presentations will be delivered virtually (via Zoom) to a panel of judges on Saturday, February 27, 2021.

Phase IV: Selection of Engineering Research Project of the Year Award Winner

Based on an evaluation of the detailed presentations, the winner for each category will be selected and announced at the Awards Gala in March 2020. The committee is monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will determine whether the Awards gala will be held in-person or in a digital format (i.e. on Zoom).


peo sqEvaluation Criteria (Top)

Research Project Categorization:
Projects of all types of engineering (discipline) will be considered equally. All engineering research projects will be classified into one single category.

Evaluation Criteria:

All project submissions will be judged for their quality within the following four criteria, which will be weighted as indicated below:

  1. Innovation, Technical Merit and Distinction (35%)
  2. Environmental and Social Sustainability (25%)
  3. Commercial Viability (20%)
  4. Impact to York Region & Neighbouring Communities (20%)

 Guiding questions for the criteria are shown within the application form.


peo sq Prizes and Honours (Top)

The 1st place winner will be invited to give a 5-minute presentation on their winning project at the Awards Gala. Additionally, each 1st place winner will receive the following prizes and recognitions:

  • A commemorative trophy
  • A complimentary free table at the Awards Gala for 6 or equivalent to celebrate with members of their project team.
  • A promotional article of their winning project on the Awards section of PEO York Chapter website.
  • Invitation to display an informative booth at the Gala, showcasing their projects and/or other company achievements, and presenting marketing information (limited spots available).

The runner-up will receive the following prizes and recognitions:

  • A commemorative trophy
  • Complimentary invitation for 2 representatives to attend the gala (option to purchase additional tickets is available)


peo sqEligibility (Top)

Contestant eligibility is determined based on the candidate institution successfully satisfying the following conditions:

  1. Organization has an operational presence in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or York Region.
  2. The project must be overseen by at least one licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario.
  3. The project must have been completed within 2020 or be at a substantial stage of completion (e.g. substantially designed, constructed, or manufactured) within 2020.
  4. Project details submitted must include only publicly available information.
  5. Projects that received 1st or 2nd place honours in previous year's competition are not eligible for resubmission.
  6. Projects that were not selected as finalists in the previous competition are eligible for submission, provided all of the above eligibility criteria are met.
  7. Projects can only be entered for either the Engineering Project of the Year Award or Engineering Research Project of the Year in a given year, but not both.
  8. Engineering Project of the Year Award Committee members and PEO York Chapter executive board members cannot be listed as the main project contact, project engineer, or be a presenter for the participating project competition.

In addition to the above, project eligibility is determined based on the candidate project successfully satisfying the following conditions:

  1. The research project must have an engineering application
  2. If an external industry partner is engaged in the project, their direct involvement within the research project should be less than 50% (e.g. If University X partners with Company Y for a research project, Company Y's employees cannot be directly conducting the research for more than 50% of the content)
  3. The research project should have current and/or future implications in the engineering industry and/or profession

If the project eligibility criteria are not satisfied, the applicant should be applying for the 2020 Engineering Project of the Year Award instead.

*Note: PEO York Chapter reserves the right to make changes and move projects to the Engineering Project of the Year Award competition should it be appropriate. Any change to an applicant's competition award will be communicated within 1 week of the application submission deadline.

peo sqQuestions (Top)

Please direct any questions relating to the competition to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Questions and answers that may be beneficial to all applicants will be published to this website.

Q and A
The total number of applicants will not be known prior to the application deadline. All eligible entries will be considered.
Projects selected as finalists may be profiled on the PEO York Chapter website. All finalists will be invited to the awards gala, which is attended by PEO York Chapter members and various dignitaries including PEO council members, OSPE representatives, and local MPs and/or MPPs.
Please review the application form. You will need to disclose enough information to complete the required fields. If selected as a finalist, you will be asked to prepare a presentation with additional detail about your project. Please ensure that any information you provide is internally reviewed and approved for public release. If your project is of a proprietary nature and cannot be described without revealing sensitive information, you may wish not to apply.
The PEO York Chapter Awards Committee will strive for consistency in communication wherever possible. You will be contacted by one of the members of the steering committee. The official contact for the committee is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
There is no application fee. You only need to invest your time for the preparation of the abstract and, if selected, the final presentation.
A product or system demonstration is not a requirement and may not be feasible depending on the nature of the project. However, where appropriate, demonstrations (or prototypes, etc.) are most welcome as part of the final presentation.


peo sqSponsorship (Top)

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


  1. Submission of project details implies express consent to publish any and all information in a public forum. PEO York chapter is not responsible for the safeguarding of information once it has been received. It is suggested that applicant organizations conduct a thorough review of all application materials prior to submission to address any commercial or proprietary issues related to the release of information.
  2. Contest details and deadlines are subject to change. Modifications to the competition schedule and/or logistics will be posted to this website and/or communicated directly to contest participants.
  3. The applicant agrees to provide the required information to the PEO York Chapter Awards Committee.
  4. The applicant hereby authorizes the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) York Chapter Association of its sponsors and partners to use, release and retain the applicant(s) name(s), non-financial information, photographs, video recordings, and audio recordings of the applicant(s) in connection with the promotion, administration or evaluation of this award without any compensation to the applicant.
  5. The applicant is required to submit the information with the attached application form. Only complete application forms will be considered.
  6. The applicant agrees to promptly disclose any conflicts of interest that may exist. PEO York Chapter reserves the right to resolve the conflicts of interest on a case-by-case basis.
  7. The Judging Panel may request the applicant to provide further information as necessary.
  8. The decision of the Judging Panel is final.