Karim Dahel’s Master Class: the Engineering Probability and Statistics Competition

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

students attending class

Karim Dahel’s student competition pushes participants to put their knowledge to the test

Class winners

Karim with first-place winners Shuo Han and Alexander Dale, Guilherme Silva, who took second place and Thomas Reis, who took third place.

Recent graduate Karim Dahel carries a vivid recollection of the undergrad experience. His time as a volunteer tutor in statistics and probability courses left him with a clear impression of what engineering students find challenging—and what they need to succeed. With this in mind, Karim created the Engineering Probability and Statistics Competition; first held in February 2016 and again last session, this competition offers keen students the opportunity to take what they have learned in their courses and apply it to problems for the chance to win cash prizes, totaling $3050.

This year, the competition consisted of a closed-book exam broken into three rounds. A total of 38 students took part in the hour-long preliminary stage for the chance to move on to the semi-final round. Karim took the time to prepare comprehensive studying materials for the participants and held consultation sessions between each round. From that initial group, only nine students competed in the finals for the top spot. While every finalist was guaranteed a cash prize of $50 at the end of the three-hour exam, only a select few could take home a medal. A ceremony was organized to recognize the winners and present them with their prizes: Shuo Han and Alexander Dale tied for first place, Guilherme Silva took second place and Thomas Reis took third.

Karim has shared what pushed him to organize this competition: “My passion for this subject began over 4 years ago when I first took the course ELG3126. When I hosted a review session for our final exam, I was explaining a particular concept to a few classmates and I decided to create my own questions on the spot to help them practice that concept. During the summer of 2015, I volunteered for the Faculty of Engineering as a tutor for the same course, and I helped students again with this material. I then had the idea to create this competition to reward students who make the effort to learn and to truly understand concepts.”

winning medals

The feedback from students who have participated has been very favourable, with many saying that the preparation for the competition has helped them greatly in furthering their understanding of their courses. These results only push Karim to increase the scope of future competitions. In the coming years, the goal is to increase the available prizes to include semi-finalists and to attract more academically inclined students.

Congratulations to the 2016 participants!

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