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Join MacChangers to propose innovative solutions to real-world problems!

This is your opportunity to develop your professional skills and network, while tackling one of the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges - the most complex and pressing problems confronting society in the century 21st.

The MacChangers program focuses on the NAE's Grand Challenge to "Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure"  with a focus upon improving transportation in Hamilton.

What is MacChangers?

MacChangers is an extracurricular program that provides resources, coaching, and support to interdisciplinary teams of students who propose innovative solutions to issues that impact society both locally and globally.

Over the school year, MacChangers teams develop their projects on their topic of choice through full-group coaching sessions, workshops with guest speakers, panel discussions with subject matter experts and consultations with MacChangers staff.

In April, each team presents the results of their project in front of a panel of McMaster faculty and staff members, students and community stakeholders.

The MacChangers program is free and will fund your project prototypes. We welcome students from all faculties and levels to share their expertise!

This program is supported by the Faculty of Engineering and MacPherson Institute.

Want to learn more?  Attend one of our next Info sessions.


Develop skills. Build connections. Make a difference.

By participating in the MacChangers program, you will develop many of the professional skills that employers look for such as communication, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.

Gain insight into local problems by working closely with mentors and like-minded people as you build your professional network.

Present your innovative proposals for change to community stakeholders.


Benefits for participants

  • Apply your course-work knowledge to tackle real-world problems.
  • Propose innovative solutions that could result in positive change in our community.
  • Build valuable connections with subject matter experts from the McMaster and Hamilton communities.
  • Develop professional skills in research, teamwork, project management, entrepreneurship, and communication.
  • Work in teams of students from different faculties and academic levels.
  • Earn a Certificate of Completion.



Who can join?

Undergraduate and graduate students from all levels and programs who are interested in social change explore different areas related or not to their fields of study The ideal MacChanger is highly motivated to build a better Hamilton and a better world.

MacChangers participants are creative problem-solvers, innovators, self-starters and motivated by curiosity. They work collaboratively across disciplines and manage uncertainty inherent in complex problems.

Time commitment:

  • Full group coaching sessions (please check calendar).
  • Team check-in meetings with MacChangers staff.
  • Teams manage their own work schedule that includes research, project management, information sharing and presentation development.

Calendar 2017-18

  • 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

ETB 124

  • Saturday Oct. 21 9:30am – 2:30pm (Lunch Provided)
  • 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)

ETB 124

  • Thursday, Nov. 2nd, 2017 (7pm - 9pm)
  • Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018 (7pm - 9pm)

MacPherson Institute

  • Dec 4 - 8, 2017
  • March 5 - 9, 2018

MacPherson Institute

April 10th, 2018 (hours will be confirmed)

To join MacChangers follow these 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Select a project topic

Step 1: Select a project topic

Review the project topics and pick one that excites you the most.

(Click on the icon to see more details)

Step 2: Form a team

Step 2: Form a team

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

Step 3: Register

Step 3: Register

Submit your "Registration form" as a team or indivual.

(Click on the icon to go to Registration form)

Step 4: Join our Social Media groups

Step 4: Join our Social Media groups

Be part of our online community in Facebook  and/or Instagram and keep posted about events, community organizations, latest information and great discussion around the project topics.


Our Methodology

You will develop your research project in 2 distinct phases:

During the Fall term, teams work together to identify and define the problem they want to solve and the specific users they want to help. The focus of your work will be choosing the right problem to solve.

During the Winter term, teams work together to develop a potential solution to the problem you identified. The focus of your work will be testing the feasibility of your solution.

The MacChangers methodology is based on Design Thinking, The Lean Startup, The Design Sprint, Project Management, and Systems Thinking.

Project Topics

Over the school year, you and your team will develop a research project on the topic that you feel most passionate about (see list of topics for this year).

Need some inspiration? You can check out the External Resources and Framing Questions we have posted below.

2017 -18 MacChangers Topics

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

MacChangers has been reviewed by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board (MREB) and received a Certificate of Ethics Clearance to involve human participants in research.

We invite you to learn more about this by visiting MREB website:


Framing Questions

  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Our Network

Our Network

Interested in collaborating with our students?

Share your expertise, advice and guidance by mentoring our students or speaking at one of our events. 

MacChangers Staff

Ana Naranjo
Coordinator, MacChangers
Faculty of Engineering
Arlene Fujatrao Dosen
Director, Outreach & Engagement
Faculty of Engineering
Beth Levinson
Community Programs Developer
MacPherson Institute
Onella Narangoda
Student Partner,
BEng, Mechanical Eng.