Engineering students at the University of Alberta are getting the chance to step out of the classroom and put their skills to the test for not only marks, but for money.

The contest for the students of Mechanical Engineering 260 is to create a miniature vehicle capable of collecting wooden logs, and to deliver them into a small-scale model of river on a simulated test field.

“Every year the challenge is different ... I’m impressed because they don’t have much time,” said Cagri Ayranci, a PhD student in the mechanical engineering department who is teaching the course for the second year.

“We never know what’s going to happen. It’s a great day for them to experience this.”

The winner among the 23 teams and 113 students gets an undisclosed cash prize along with the projects being graded for 30 per cent of their overall mark in the class.

“We’ve just had so much fun doing it,” said Patrick Cloutier, second-year mechanical engineering student and one of the members of Team 11 in the contest.

“It’s been a month and a half ... I really hope our machine does well because we’ve put a lot of work into it.”

The class, Mechanical Engineering 260, introduces students to the basics of design practices and teaches basic machining skills.