MacChangers, a partnership between the Faculty of Engineering and MacPherson Institute, is an extracurricular activity that provides resources, coaching and support to interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate students as they develop their research projects and propose innovative solutions that will contribute to positive change both locally and globally.

MacChangers Student and Quote

This is your chance to develop skills while you collaborate with fellow Mac students: build professional skills in research, team work, project management and communication that will be useful in any future career.

It is also your opportunity to tackle one of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges- the most complex and pressing problems confronting society – and create positive local change.

“The NAE Committee on Engineering’s Grand Challenges identified 14 grand challenges and opportunities for engineering during the world’s next few generations. It pointed to engineering or scientific research and innovation that look promising for addressing each challenge as well as suggested currently unmet research needs.” –http://engineeringchallenges.org/1.aspx

DAILYNEWS: “Students solve transportation challenges and develop professional skills through MacChangers”

The 2017-18 MacChangers program will focus on the Grand Challenge to Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure with a focus upon improving transportation. This grand challenge is relevant to work currently being done in Hamilton (see Hamilton Spectator article) as well as lending itself well to interdisciplinary collaboration on positive change.  http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/challenges/infrastructure.aspx

2017-2018 MacChangers Topics:

  • Transportation and Big Data
  • Transportation and Social Inequalities
  • Aesthetics and Design of Transportation
  • Transportation and Safety
  • Transportation Alternatives

Your team will work on defining the scope and scale of your topic of choice so that a successful project can be completed and presented by April of 2018.

MacChangers is a partnership between the Faculty of Engineering and MacPherson Institute.

You can contact us at: bethlev@mcmaster.ca


To be a MacChanger:

Step 1: Put together a 4-5 member interdisciplinary team. We can help you to form a team in case you don’t have one.

Step 2: Review the topics and pick one that excites you and your team.

Step 3: Submit the Statement of Interest form, and register for MacChangers Coaching Session #1

Step 4: Develop your project through primary and secondary research with the support of MacChangers staff.

Step 5: Present your project results in front of a panel of McMaster faculty and community stakeholders in April 2018.

Interested in learning more? Attend a MacChangers Info Session:

Thursday, September 21, 2017
2:30-3:30 MDCL 3023
5:30-6:30 MDCL 3023

Monday, September 25, 2017
1:30-2:30 MDCL 3022
5:30-6:30 MDCL 2232


Please make note of the following important MacChangers dates:

Attend a session: learn more about MacChangers.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
2:30-3:30 MDCL 3023
5:30-6:30 MDCL 3023

Monday,  September 25, 2017
1:30-2:30 MDCL 3022
5:30-6:30 MDCL 2232

Submit Letter of Intent and meet with Beth and Ana between Sept. 25-Oct. 18 2017.

Coaching Sessions: designed to help you be a successful MacChanger
ETB 124
Saturday Oct. 21 9:30am – 2:30pm (Lunch Provided)
Register on Eventbrite

Saturday, Nov. 25 9:30am-12:30pm (coffee and bagels)
Saturday, Jan 20 9:30am-12:30pm (coffee and bagels)
Saturday,  March 17 9:30am-12:30pm (coffee and bagels)

Panel Discussions
ETB 124
Thursday, Nov. 2nd 7pm-9pm
Thursday, Feb 22nd 7pm-9pm

Team Check In Meetings: Dec 4-8
March 5-9

Interviews and Focus Groups: Determined by each team. MacChangers staff will assist.

Presentations: April 2018 (Date TBA)
MacChangers projects will be presented in April to community stakeholders and McMaster administration, faculty and staff

students working together outside


MacChangers Program
Topics and Framing Questions

Transportation and Safety

  • Who uses roads and what factors impact how safe those roads are for them?
  • How can we design our streets to enable a diversity of transit modes safely?
  • How can geographical information systems and apps like Waze play a role in improving traffic safety in Hamilton?
  • How can we make safety a part of infrastructure design?
  • What roles can regulators, providers, and users each take to improve transportation safety?
  • What technologies exist and how could they be implemented to deter traffic accidents cost-efficiently?
  • How can we build for safety without obstructing use?
  • Where is the balance between safety, economic impact, and functionality?
  • Compared to more bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, what challenges do North American cities face when redesigning transit infrastructure?

 Transportation and Social Inequalities

  • Who currently has access to transportation (both private and public forms) and how can we increase accessibility with transportation infrastructure design?
  • How can we connect all regions of Hamilton to the transportation system?
  • Do women feel safe on public transportation? Do women use public transportation differently?
  • Who will be impacted by the LRT? Who will be impacted by the construction of the LRT?
  • How can we minimize economic damage to local businesses during the construction phase of the LRT?
  • Socially just transport infrastructure has preliminarily shown results of lower crime rates. Along with implementing fair pricing for lower-income residents affording to rides, how could fair transportation lead to a reduction in negative outcomes?
  • How can transportation connect distinct communities with a diversity of resources?
  • What impact does mobility and transit design have on physical and mental measures of health?
  • What are the social and economic ramifications of heavy congestion? Do long commute times to and from work affect richer or poorer citizens more disproportionately?

Aesthetics and Design of Transportation

  • What role can repurposed parking lots and integrative land-use play in transportation planning?
  • How can we optimize the use of transit nodes during and after LRT construction?
  • Should state sanctioned public art used in public transportation be inherently utilitarian? Just as calming jazz/classical music is used for phone “on-hold” services to calm down irritated customers, should public aesthetic serve a sort of purpose? How do you design for varied tastes of the general public? Is art for art’s sake compatible with limited government funding?
  • How does the visual design of transportation affect its use?
  • How can we design transportation infrastructure with accessibility in mind?
  • How can we engage citizens and the larger community in the process of designing transit infrastructure?
  • What cultural or community spaces can be built into, and around, transit nodes?
  • How can multi-modal transit be integrated into existing transportation infrastructure?
  • Musical swings and stairs have been incorporated into transit nodes in cities Montreal and Stockholm, how can Hamilton incorporate creative spaces into its transit nodes and to what end?
  • With new multimedia technologies in augmented reality, and other digital interactive installations — how could these technologies be appropriately implemented to improve public transportation’s aesthetic?

Transportation and Big Data

  • What role can mobile apps play in transportation?
  • Can Big Data connect people with transportation and essential services or resources?
  • Think about the rise of the new sharing economy, how can principles and algorithms from flexible services such as Uber be applied to public transport?
  • How can emerging technologies be integrated with the Big Data framework to address individual and infrastructural transport needs?
  • How can Hamilton’s transportation system be made “intelligent”?
  • How can we use existing open access data to improve transit? Both in the realm of user experience and infrastructure maintenance?
  • How do we collect data from users across different forms of transportation? What data do we need to collect and how will it be used to improve their experience?
  • How can Big Data and its past successes be made usable for a transportation system?

Transportation Alternatives

  • How do we convince the public to reduce their single-user automobile dependency?
  • What new alternative transport could be introduced and how can old modes be promoted?
  • What alternative modes of transport exist and what obstructs their use?
  • How do we make alternative modes of transport as efficient and effective as single-user automobiles without building over automobile infrastructure?
  • What is the economic impact of using alternative modes of transportation? What about the social and cultural impact?
  • Some South American cities decree that 40% of vehicles can’t travel during peak hours (assigned randomly by last few digits of license plates) while others implement Pedestrian street days. Among these and other solutions, what are the factors that would lead to these working in certain cities? Which cities would benefit from pilots of these programs?

Large group of people with Ideas