By: Anthony Joseph
Algonquin electrical engineering technology graduate Terrence Morrison was one of nine students from around Canada to compete and present their projects at Polytechnics Canada’s Annual Student Applied Research Showcase Nov. 14 in Edmonton.
Twenty-one-year-old Morrison showcased the TimeKeeper-Pro project, a project he headed with three other students that sought to develop and build a hockey scoreboard prototype that could easily be controlled via laptop and the TimeKeeper-Pro timekeeping software. The end goal for the project is to pair the user friendly TKP program to hockey rink scoreboards, so that non-expert timekeepers and scorekeepers can give fast and accurate timekeeping from at all levels of hockey.
However it wasn’t enough to garner a spot in the top three at the competition. Morrison, now an electrical/electronics team lead at Courbyte Consulting Group — the developers of the TimeKeeper-Pro software — first got involved with the project at the start of his third year at the college.
At Algonquin, all third year electrical engineering technologist students are obligated to take part in an applied research project.
Though the project wasn’t on his preferred list, he grew to appreciate the opportunity.
“The project turned out to be much more involved and complicated than I originally expected,” said Morrison. “I enjoyed the challenge and appreciate all the things that I learned along the way.”
Some of the challenge came from the fact their experience with electronics was fairly limited. They were forced to explore technology that was foreign to them. And according to Morrison, two vital components to the project, circuit board design and microcontroller assembly language programming, are not taught at the college. Morrison instead had to familiarize himself on with both technologies on his time.
“The curriculum of the electrical engineering program at Algonquin is very broad. It teaches you the basics of many different parts of electrical engineering instead of focusing on merely a few disciplines,’’ said Morrison. “Starting the TimeKeeper-Pro project made me realize that I had been developed as an electrical jack of all trades, but surely not a master of electronics.”
As their original deadline of Algonquin’s Applied Research Day approached, the group was scrambling to get the scoreboard to work.
“I basically lived at school for the two weeks prior to the tradeshow,” said Morrison. “If security would have allowed it, I would have slept there…would’ve avoided a lot of pointless bussing for a mere couple hours of sleep.” The project ended up placing second at the tradeshow.
However that wasn’t the only accolade that the project garnered. The team was also awarded first place at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery 12 competition. Shortly afterwards Morrison was offered a job at Courbyte Consulting Group thanks to a FedDev grant that would allow Morrison to continue working on the project. When that ended this past October, Jeff Courtice; the owner of Courbyte, secured an IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program) grant so that they could yet again continue working on the project.
Morrison is currently developing a third prototype that they hope will be final and suitable for the marketplace. But before that happens the technology will have to go through certification as well as long term testing to see if it can endure the rigours of a harsh hockey environment.
“Hopefully people in the hockey world will realize that these scoreboards are far more user-friendly than others and that TimeKeeper-Pro will become a common name in our community arenas.”