By Annabelle Gardam and Jakie Laflamme
“If Mickey Mouse can have his own waffle, so can we.” Such were the thoughts of Patrick Genest, Director of Food Services, but little did he think that by partnering with engineering graduate student Chris Falconi and Professor Hanan Anis, NSERC chair in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design, his dream would come true.
But wait—let’s back up a bit.
Our story starts in August 2016 when Genest first saw a Mickey Mouse waffle in Anaheim, California. Eager to replicate the feat and create a Gee-Gee waffle, Genest contacted Faculty of Engineering Vice-Dean Marcel Turcotte. Within a week of their initial meeting, Professor Anis and Chris Falconi had built the first Gee-Gees logo prototype, using the 3D printer at the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace.
“The Richard L'Abbé Makerspace is becoming a place where students and recent graduates can design prototypes for real customers. This is a win-win for everyone. Food Services approached us to design a custom waffle maker, and we were excited to take on this unique and fun project,” said Professor Anis.
Once the first prototype was reviewed and approved, Chris Falconi designed a life-sized 3D waffle iron model.
How did they test it? With Play-Doh, of course!
Testing the prototype with Play-Doh helped the team iron out the changes required, such as making the mold slightly deeper to better define the Gee-Gees logo. Falconi explained that getting the definition just right, like the team wanted it, was definitely the most challenging aspect of the project.
Once Falconi had made the adjustments needed and finalized the dimensions, the team built a third prototype, this time out of aluminum. (We’re getting closer!)
Once this prototype was approved, it was replicated to create five waffle presses, which were then shipped out to be coated with a food-safe coating.
And voila! After a five-month collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and Food Services, uOttawa became the first university in Canada to have its very own custom waffles.
As of March 13, Gee-Gees waffles will be available every day in “My Pantry” in the Dining Hall, as well as every Friday breakfast at the made-to-order station! To top them off, we recommend a dollop of whipped cream, some fruit and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, or stick to the classics: maple syrup.
Remember #GeeGeeNation, you are what you eat!