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November 30, 2009

The 2010 BC Winter Games are going green. After 25 years of using a torch that burns natural gas, the new BC Games torch will be kinder to the environment. And Camosun College helped make it happen.

The BC Games Society approached Camosun College for the expertise needed to design a new high-tech torch with a reduced environmental impact. Faculty and students from Camosun’s School of Trades and Technology rose to the challenge and designed and manufactured a one-of-a-kind torch that uses more than 300 LED lights to create the illusion of a flickering flame.

New & Improved

The new torch draws less power than a household toaster. For the 100 days the torch will light up the BC Winter Games, it will use about 2,000 kWh of electricity and cost only a dollar or two a day to operate.

By comparison, the old torch burned enough natural gas to meet the needs of more than ten average-sized homes for an entire year and contributed 12 tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. It cost about $50 a day to operate.

Get the flash player here:

Eight-month team project

The BC Games Torch project involved a multidisciplinary design and manufacturing team that included more than 25 faculty, staff and students from Welding, Electrical, Mechanical Engineering Technology and Electronics Engineering Technology . Two recent graduates of the Engineering Graphics Technician program were hired to see the mechanical aspects of the project through to completion.

In April 2009, the electronics department was approached by the BC Games with a request for a “green” torch. The first prototype for this torch was the brainchild of three electronics students: Matthew Drouin, Alina Jacobson, and Chrispin Ng’ang’a. These students were working on the capstone project for their Electronics & Computer Engineering Technology (Renewable Energies) diplomas.

Matt, Alina and Chrispin prepared six alternative designs for the torch and presented them to the BC Games client, who selected the “LED pod” design. They built the specified system in a four foot diameter metal bowl, and demonstrated it in June 2009, with welder’s goggles provided for the audience. Matt, the father of three, has already landed a job with a local company. Alina is considering heading to university. Chrispin, the father of two, is currently in the Electrical Engineering Bridge program and will be an engineer in two years’ time.

One of the grads contributing to the project is local artist, Frances Semple, who came to Camosun to learn high-tech skills that she can apply in her career as a sculptor. Frances was integrally involved in designing the shape of the torch, drawing on inspiration from BC artist, Emily Carr for the anodized aluminum artwork on the face of the torch.

Karl Huffman was hired on to be involved in both the design and manufacturing/fabrication teams. Before registering at Camosun, Karl’s employment involved extensive travel across the country. With the birth of his first child, Karl realized he wanted to spend more time at home with his family, and decided to update his skills for a new career.

Local industry supported the project from both a financial perspective and as an expertise resource. Rio Tinto Alcan, Colonial Countertops and Mortimer's Monumental Works Limited and Axsys Technologies provided materials used in the manufacturing. Much of the fabrication was done using the new water jet cutter that was recently donated by Western Economic Diversification funds. These funds helped Camosun establish the Vancouver Island Centre for Manufacturing and Prototyping (VICAMP) at Interurban campus, enabling Camosun and industry to collaborate in applied research and innovation.

“Camosun College is proud that we can offer the expertise needed to make this project a reality,” says Baldev Pooni, Camosun’s vice president of education and student services. “This is a great example of why Camosun College is an integral partner with local industry in serving the immediate and future needs of a sustainable community.”

The torch moves north

The BC Games Society held the inaugural light-up ceremony at Camosun’s Interurban campus on Friday, November 27. The Honourable Ida Chong, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, was on hand to flick the switch, before a crowd of more than one hundred students, faculty and industry partners.

The torch is now on its way north for the Terrace 2010 BC Winter Games’ torch lighting event on December 5th. The Terrace event will mark 100 days until 2000 athletes, coaches and officials from across BC attend the March 4-7 BC Winter Games.

Facts & Figures

  • Energy Consumption: 850 watts
  • Energy Equivalent: Toaster 800 – 1500 watts
  • Electricity used over 100 days: 2,040 KWh
  • Number of LED lights used: 303
  • Height and weight: 544 kg and 4.5 m tall (1200 lbs and 15 ft.)
  • Green House Gasses removed from the environment: 900,000 cubic feet of natural gas and 1.5 tonnes of green house gasses

Design & Manufacturing team

  • Artist:
    Frances Semple
  • Mechanical Design Team:
    Karl Huffman, Ross Lyle, Frances Semple, Will Spaulding
  • Electronics Design Team:
    Alan Duncan, Mel Dundas, Wayne Mayes, Joyce van de Vegte, Matthew Drouin, Alina Jacobson, Chrispin Ng’ang’a
  • Manufacturing/Fabrication Mechanical Team:
    Karl Huffman, Ross Lyle, Will Spaulding, Neil Porter, Pat Nicholson, Lou Bonin, Steve Ferguson, Travis Hancock, Christian Milne, Matt Zeleny
  • Manufacturing/Fabrication Electronics Team:
    Kelly Holmquist, Tristan Nixon, Gurbinder Dhade, Eric McVeigh, Kevin Turner, Jonathan Valeza, Greg Dyer, Paul Hey, Dustin Wallace, Jeremiah Wilbur
  • Electrical Team:
    Ken Holland, Chris Walden
  • Project Manager:
    Ranjan Bhattacharya
  • Technical Support (VICAMP):
    Xiao Fang Hu, Dana Lajunesse
  • BC Games Society:
    Kelly Mann


Last updated: December 4, 2009 11:19 am

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