SMR X Hackathon Challenge for Grade 12 High School Students

Ontario Tech is delighted to work with Inspire Tech Canada to run the first of its kind interactive SMR X Hackathon Challenge on June 6, 2020

This opportunity will provide high school students with relevant skills, to establish a new professional network, to learn about the hundreds of jobs that support the energy and nuclear sectors, and how their ideas could shape and influence a greener, low-carbon-footprint future.

During this event, youth, teachers, parents, and community will get a chance to virtually tour the labs under the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, and to participate a series of seminars related to Energy, Nuclear Power, Small Modular Reactors (SMR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Most of these seminars and lectures will be conducted by the faculty members from Ontario Tech University and Industry partners.

Additionally, the industry’s largest organizations and stakeholders will be participating in this event to see what the next generation Leaders of Tomorrow can create in terms of new ideas and solutions. As anticipated today’s youth interested in energy and climate change may one day see changes come to fruition. It’s also the opportunity to see how technology is being used to train, collaborate, learn, share, and problem solve today despite the pandemic and social distancing standards.
Lecture Series to prepare High School Students for this Challenge.

Lecture 1: Radiation Science and Nuclear Engineering Fundamentals
Tuesday, May 5 from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.
Presenter: Filippo Genco, Associate Teaching Professor, FESNS

Lecture 2: Renewable Energy
Tuesday, May 12 from 1 to 2 p.m.
Presenter: Jennifer McKellar, Associate Professor, FESNS

Lecture 3: Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
Tuesday, May 19 from 1 to 2 p.m.
Presenter: Kirk Atkinson, Associate Professor, FESNS and Director of Ontario Tech’s Centre for Small Modular Reactors

Lecture 4: Introduction to Virtual Reality (VR) Technology
Thursday, May 21 from 1 to 2 p.m.
Presenter: Alvaro Quevedo, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Information Technology


SMR X Hackathon challenge

The first colony of settlers is on its way to Mars!

In this SMR X Hackathon challenge, you will be a member of a design team given the task of designing a Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) using software and design solutions that are literally out of this world! You will work as a team, with the knowledge and support of mentors. Using design thinking, you will ideate and innovate to solve the problems that will face the first human colony on Mars. You will share your prototype with judges for the chance to win amazing prizes for you and your teammates.

This is a dynamic innovation competition that brings together people with different skill sets to solve challenges. Participants meet, ideate, and form teams to help solve some of the important engineering challenges with the knowledge and support of mentors. The design-thinking framework is used as the backbone of the process to ensure that solutions address the challenge. It also helps teams focus their creative energy on building out a prototype to show the judges.

Build the first nuclear reactor on Mars!
The first colony of settlers is on their way to Mars and they need power! You are the chosen design team, taken from the earth, to help build an entire colony with its main energy source coming from a nuclear reactor. In this challenge, each team will design a component of the nuclear site using software and design solutions that are literally out of this world.
Each team will be responsible for designing a specific component and these will be assigned to a team on the day of the event.

Nuclear Containment – design a structure that will house the nuclear reactor and protect your colony from radioactive materials (alpha, beta, gamma radiation) and thermal heat and protect the reactor from the Martian environment.
Nuclear Security – design a solution to secure the nuclear site. Your solution will need to protect and detect responses to theft, sabotage, unauthorized access (e.g. by unknown lifeforms on Mars), and other potential threats.
Back-up Power – design a solution that will allow the reactor to keep operating in the event of loss of power (e.g Martian Sandstorm).
Waste Storage – design a solution for the safe storage of radioactive waste generated from the reactor given the slow decay of isotopes and constraints of the Martian environment.
Excess Energy Uses – design a solution to redirect and utilize excess power from the nuclear reactor – beyond powering the colony grid (e.g. powering electric Mars Rovers).

Your design must take into account the weather elements on Mars: dust storms, harsh winters and snowfall, tornadoes, and even the possibility of an earthquake.
The design must utilize current known technologies (sorry no anti-gravity devices or teleportation solutions).
The design must account for the atmosphere of Mars (mostly carbon dioxide) - how will this affect the materials you chose to work with and will they last for the life of the reactor.
The design must account for the small workforce (you are a small team and will not have others to help you build the solution).

Designs will be judged on:
Originality- Have you gone where no one else has gone before?
Challenge- How well does the proposed solution address the challenge statement?
Technical feasibility- Is the proposed design based on logical and sound engineering analysis and judgment? Has the team addressed the major technical challenges and constraints?
Presentation- How well does the team describe and pitch their concept to the judges?
The final product for the presentation must be visual: Powerpoint, conceptual model, or demonstration. We can’t wait to see your creations! Final presentations are to be 3 minutes, with 2 minutes for questions from the judges.

Please send an email to with the following information if you are interested in participating in this Design Challenge.
Required Info:
Your name
Your email address
Name of your high school teacher who will help with this event
Name of your Highschool
Address of your Highschool

You can visit the following link for more details about this event: