Posted May 23rd, 2013 by Engineering

EngSci Students Take Top Prize With Health & Safety App

Sherri Cui (left) and Shen Wang (right) with Engineering Science Associate Chair Costas Sarris at the awards ceremony.

Sherri Cui (left) and Shen Wang (right) with Engineering Science Associate Chair Costas Sarris at the awards ceremony.

Engineering Science students Sherri Cui (1T5) and Shen Wang (1T5) have won first prize in a national safe design award competition for their innovative mobile health and safety app.

Cui and Wang were presented with the 2013 James Ham Safe Design Award by Minerva Canada Safety Management Education President Tony Pasteris at a ceremony at Ryerson University last week. The annual competition challenges Canadian university engineering students to make an original contribution toward integrating safety into engineering design. Cui and Wang received a cash prize of $3,500 for designing the app, which addresses and makes workers more aware of the risks associated with slips, trips and falls.

The award honours former U of T Engineering Dean James Milton Ham whose Royal Commission Report on Health and Safety led to the creation of Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act in 1979. Professor Ham served as Dean of U of T Engineering from 1966 to 1976 and as U of T President from 1978 to 1983.

Wang said he and Cui were thrilled to win the award. “We worked at it for the better part of the semester and took many iterations of the solution between we could come up with the final idea. We were informed about this after our final exam of second year Engineering Science. It was a great way to end off the year.”

Professor Mark Kortschot, Chair of Engineering Science, said he was proud of Cui and Wang. “I am really thrilled that Sherri and Shen showed the initiative and creativity needed to compete for and win this award. Engineering Science strives to produce engineers with a deep knowledge of fundamentals, but we also build a strong foundation of design thinking beginning on the first day of classes in first year. Sherri and Shen’s elegant approach to the very important problem of worker safety suggests that they are on their way to becoming outstanding design engineers.”

Wang described the development process: “A major step in idea generation was first recognizing that this was a huge problem. We did a lot of research regarding the biggest contributors to lost time due to injury. Afterwards, we realized that there was a barrier between our presumptions and recognizing the severity and importance of slips, trips, and falls. From there, we worked to develop better ways of conveying such important information to workers.”

The app is not yet available, Wang said. “It exists as a concept with an user interface and some front end production to display the idea. The app would require access to databases that we do not have easy access to. However, we have interest from multiple groups about our application.”

Minerva Canada is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the teaching of safety, health and environmental management in post-secondary schools across Canada. The James Ham Safe Design Awards were established to encourage students and engineering faculty members to integrate safety into all designs, produce safer designs of devices, processes and systems and raise awareness of process safety management safety, health and environment in engineering schools.

For more information about Minerva Canada and the James Ham Safe Design Award, go to