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MacChangers

Our vision is to offer experiential learning opportunities to students and to propose collaborative solutions to the most complex and pressing problems confronting society in the 21st century as identified in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Think Global) and Our Future Hamilton (Act Local) long-term community vision.

Applications are now closed for the 2020-21 academic year.

About MacChangers

Our 2020-21 Program Syllabus is live! MacChangers is a co-curricular program (students do not receive course credit) at McMaster University that pairs multidisciplinary teams with community members to propose innovative solutions to local challenges facing the Hamilton community, as well as the global community. 

Over the school year, MacChangers teams will develop their professional and transferable skills through workshops on a variety of topics, such as human-centred design, financial viability of solutions, prototyping, communication, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving. Students will utilize these new skills to develop unique and robust proposals to solve local challenges.    

In March, teams present their proposed solutions in front of an audience consisting of students, staff, and faculty members from McMaster University, as well as stakeholders from the Hamilton community.

The MacChangers program welcomes students from all faculties to share their expertise and has no cost to enroll. 

This program is supported by the Faculty of Engineering and the Office of Community Engagement.

Why join MacChangers?

Develop many of the professional and transferable skills that employers look for such as communication, teamwork,  project management, entrepreneurship, leadership, and problem-solving. 

Build valuable connections with subject matter experts from the McMaster and Hamilton communities and work closely with mentors and like-minded people as you build your professional network.

Propose innovative solutions to community stakeholders that could result in positive change in our community.

ENGINEER 3CX3

Consider ENGINEER 3CX3 to have your MacChangers Project count as course credit.

Email us for more information!

ENGINEER 3CX3

How to Join

Step 1: Information

Step 1: Information

(Click above to see more information)

Step 2: Application

Step 2: Application

(Click above to see more information)

Step 3: Admission

Step 3: Admission

(Click above to see more information)

Step 4: Orientation

Step 4: Orientation

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Commitments

MacChangers must commit to:

  • Up to 3 hours of work per week.
  • Attending regular workshops.
  • Consulting with the program lead(s) at least once a month (and as many times as needed!)
  • Completing program deliverables in order to further their projects.
  • Managing their own team’s work schedule that includes research, project management, information sharing and presentation development.
  • Communicating with their team.

Our Program Foundation

The MacChangers Program is based on research methodology and inquiry through the principles of Design Thinking, The Lean Startup, The Design SprintProject Management, and Systems Thinking.

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.

Challenge Areas

Review the list of Challenge Areas listed below, and choose one that you and your team feel most passionate about. The Challenge Areas listed are in alignment with the Our Future Hamilton - Community Vision - the City's 25-year community vision that helps us to envision how our city will move forward over the next 25 years. It is a result of the culmination of a community visioning process that engaged nearly 55,000 Hamilton residents. 

2020-2021 Challenge Areas

Clean and Green

Clean and Green

Climate change poses serious challenges to public health. Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) emissions negatively affect people around the world as a result of unsustainable design, production, and disposal of our everyday resources. Teams within this area of study will explore ways to meet these challenges by proposing sustainable alternatives.  

Sub-themes:

  • Environmental Impact
  • Natural features
Economic Prosperity and Growth

Economic Prosperity and Growth

Our economy depends on a healthy ecosystem of buyers and sellers. Teams in this area of study will explore how to best support existing businesses, new business opportunities and local economic development. 

Sub-themes:

  • Strong Local Economy
  • Farming and Agriculture
Infrastructure and Built Environment

Infrastructure and Built Environment

Our thinking about transportation is often times limited to automobiles. However, transportation systems are required to accommodate a variety of transportation methods that include biking and walking. Teams within this area of study will explore ways of designing our infrastructure to better accommodate these different methods of travel. into question. The city would like ways to minimize/prevent erosion damage and keep people safe in their transportation.

Sub-themes:

  • Transportation Network
  • Public Spaces
Healthy and Safe Cities

Healthy and Safe Cities

Many of today's diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, have been associated with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. As well, gasoline-based vehicles are one of the main contributors to severe respiratory issues. Teams in this area of study will focus on creative solutions that will improve the public health and safety of our citzens. 

Sub-themes: 

  • Healthy Lifestyles 
  • Healthcare Services

2018/2019 Past Projects

Students:

Mariam ElSheikh [Mech Eng II]
Jumana AlHaideri [Civil Eng III]
Javaria Asif [Civil Eng and Mgmt III]

Problem:

City cores are structured to accommodate car mobility with significantly less focus on pedestrians and cyclists as seen by the amount of land space that is dedicated solelyto parkinginfrastructure. The parking spaces are often underutilized which results in wasted revenue and land space. This project addresses the issue of land sustainability in parking infrastructure design. The location of the pilot is the Yorkdale parking structure at MacNabSt. and York Blvd.

Process:

Case studies: Alaska The Rooftop, Molson Canadian rooftop ice rink 120 Adelaide St. W, Toronto

Consulted:

  • Jason Thorne (Planning and Economic Development, City of Hamilton (COH)) on the Rebecca parking lot transformation and Yorkdale structure technical specifications
  • Suzi Ozer (Operational Manager Downtown BIA) on budgeting and event planning
  • Ken Coit (Public Arts & Projects, COH) on the Jackson Square rooftop park pitfalls

Brainstormed with Peter Topalovic (Sustainable Mobility, COH) and Emily Walsh (Community Engagement, Downtown BIA) about potential space usage, aesthetics and recreational activities

Site visits: multiple parking lots at different times on weekends and weekdays  

Solution:

We propose a pilot project for a transformation of the Yorkdale parking structure rooftop since it’s an underutilized parking space. The pilot aims to develop a public space that is easily accessible that offers recreational activities (concerts, food, skating) that will revitalize the area and provide a more close-knit community. This project could encourage people to use public transit when travelling to downtown. In addition, this project can serve as a revenue stream for the city to encapsulate the value of property and provide economic and social sustainable means.

Next Steps:

  • Conduct surveys for public opinion
  • Explore future partnerships for project implementation and sponsorships
  • Metrics to evaluate pilot success
  • Legalities (Permits, Safety Procures, etc.)

Students:

KeishaSegne [Earth and Enviro Sci II]
Leisha Fernando [Civil Eng and SctyII]
SarahMoodey [Economics II]
ValentinaVillate [Commerce II]

Problem:

Not having access to Wi-Fi or cellular data means some users have access to bus tracking apps, but not all. This is an equity and accessibility issue. This problem pertains to all transit riders as it is vital to know that HSR is reliable, but obstacles may arise and one can still make necessary arrangements. Lack of knowledge impedes riders from knowing real-time bus schedules, resulting in miscommunication for those riding the bus, which is a factor in discouraging ridership.The proposed project addresses Action 25 and 26 as well as  Chapter 4.2.3 of the Master Transportation Plan. Transit users want to be able to rely on public transportation, but it is understood that there are obstacles that may arise but being able to be proactive and plan according to delays shows riders that their time is valued. Beyond the convenience factor for all users, this allows the demographic of people who do not have access to Wi-Fi based tracking apps, to still have access to real-time bus tracking information.

Process:

  • Consulted subject matter experts such as Project Managers and Transportation Planners were to understand logistics about running a pilot project, cost-analysis breakdown & potential feedback for our proposed solution
  • Researched the reliability of public transit, volume of transit users, cities that have successfully implemented a similar system, and the costs associated with the proposed solution
  • Reviewed the key factors of the City-Wide Transportation Plan and the Smart Cities Challenge
  • Visitedthe Eastgate Square Hub to better understand the station and the best place of the proposed solution
  • Recognizedthat tohave apositiveeffect on users, we just needed to use the existing resources more effectively to benefit all the users

Solution:

  • Pilot a real-time bus schedule using a display at Eastgate Square Bus Terminal which will show clear updated bus times regarding arrival and departure times, as well as delays and detours
  • These displays are the most effective solution to bring real-time data to the HSR riders of Hamilton, as they are quick, reliable, accessible, cost-efficient, and can be integrated within the city’s already proposed plans to revitalize the transit system
  • The proposed solution will not only provide low-income riders with free-real time data, but adds convenience to the overall experience of riding the HSR
  • The proposed system would replicate those that have been adopted in Portland, Seattle, and Oakville

Next Steps:

  • Establish the technology required to run the board including codes, algorithms, power supplies, etc.
  • Determine if this pilot has increased ridership and improved customer experience and would justify an expansion
  • Should expansion occur, businesses in the surrounding area would be contacted to determine if they would like to sponsor the project in exchange for advertisement space
  • Integrate alternate forms of transportation onto the display for those who cannot afford to wait for the next bus. i.edisplaying the location of the nearest Sobistation, posting the number to a cab company, etc.

Students:

WantingSu [Civil Eng III]
Shenwei Zhang [Civil Eng III]
WenbinQuan [Civil Eng III]
LianjiLi [Civil Eng III]
George Lau [Comp Eng and Mgmt III] 
ZizhengGao [B.Tech- Manufacturing Eng Tech]

Problem:

The King William Street opening plan will cause a shortage of parking. This problem will lead to user pains for visitors to the area. This project is to find an alternative active parking solution to utilize the parking resources in the neighbourhood to meet the needs of shareholders.

Process: 

  • Site visits and parking inventory data collection
  • Consulted with CityLAB to find learn about current problems
  • Case study on parking management from other cities to apply to King William Street
  • Speed interview with shareholders and business improvement experts to scope down the project
 
Solution:
  • Create share parking agreement with private parking lot and business owners
  • Transform on-street parking on James street into drop –off area

Next Steps:

  • Find feasible plan for both “Shared Parking” and “Drop off area design”
  • Install additional Sobistations in the area

Students:

Abigail Hudecki [Arts and Sci and Psych, Neuroscience & Behaviour IV]
Amanda Yang [Justice, Political Philosophy and Law IV]
Andrew Rodenburg [Mech EngIV]
Nicholas Nseir [Civil EngIII]

Problem:

Secondhand smoke is harmful to all who are exposed. In fact there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, even in outdoor shared spaces. Exposure to secondhand smoke outdoors poses a significant health risk to the community as it reduces air quality and releases harmful chemicals into the surrounding area. Furthermore, litter from cigarette filters reduce the cleanliness and aesthetics of the environment. Finally, exposure to smoking has been shown to negatively influence children and those who want to quit smoking. Section 5.1.1 from the City of Hamilton Master Transportation Plan states that factors of social and physical environments in addition to healthy child development contribute to the health of individuals and the community. The design of the community significantly impacts our well-being and contributes to a positive and healthy environment for all to enjoy. The scope of this initiative is to promote a smoke-free area along King William Street, in accordance with the boundaries of the street opening proposed by Hamilton’s Mobility Lab.

Process:

  • Researchedcase studies to identify the successes and challenges of outdoor smoke-free zones
  • Collaboratedwith CityLABAmbassadors who assisted with resources and direction of the initiative
  • Conductedsite visit of King William Street to identify locations with high concentrations of cigarette litter
  • ConsultedKing William business owners for insight on the smoke-free initiative
  • Interviewed subject matter experts and City professionals from the Downtown BIA & Clean Air Hamilton

Solution:

  • Developed a smoke-free initiative that will run as a pilot project as proposed by Mobility Lab during the 100in1 Day Hamilton event, alongside the support of community partners
  • Three pillars: an infographic, signage, and a social media campaign
  • Rationale: The goal is to promote a smoke-free environment by sharing knowledge regarding how smoke-free air quality and human health can be improved, and how it increases the enjoyability of space for all users
  • Case Study: A survey in Auckland found that 90% of respondents were equally likely or more likely to visit a smoke-free outdoor dining event, supporting the idea that people prefer a clean public space
  • Prototype: Attached is the infographic that will be shown during the event

Next Steps:

  • CityLAB Ambassadors will present the smoke-free initiative as a part of their recommendation with Mobility Labs in April and May
  • Pilot project will be held during the 100in1 Day Hamilton on Saturday June 1, 2019
  • Evaluation of the pilot project by CityLAB, Mobility Lab & CouncillorJason Farr

Students:

CatrinaHuyer [B.TechBiotech IV]
GiangNguyen [Civil Eng III]
ZhiZheng [Civil Eng and SctyIII]
AltugBilge [Engineering I]
Zhengyuan Wang [Mechanical Eng III]

Problem:

Sections 5 and 4.2.1 of the Hamilton Transportation Master Plan highlights the importance of health outcomes like respiratory function and mental health in the evaluation of transportation plan designs, projects and policies as well as Complete, Livable and Better Streets. Residents report poor health outcomes, poor air quality and undesirable streets in the Beasley, Strathcona and Central neighbourhoods due to full time heavy truck routes. This prevents residents from participating in healthy activities such as biking, walking etc. and contributes to the 185 premature deaths per year in Hamilton due to poor air quality.

Process:

  • Consulted with Elise Desjardins (Environment Hamilton - Friendly Streets)
  • Interviewed Kate Whalen, Dr. Bruce Newbold, Laura Ryan, Peter Topalovic, Dr. MoatazMohamed, Trevor Imhoff and Shelley Rogers
  • Visited site at Queen Street North, one of the truck-permit routes in Central Hamilton
  • Studied Quebec “No Truck” Guide and Toronto Heavy Truck Policy

Solution:

Develop criteria to review truck routes for Central Hamilton neighborhoods and community facilities based on the three pillars of sustainability

  • Restrict truck access time on specific routes during school start/end time and rush hours - no truck zones for specific time/routes
  • Build more green infrastructurein the residential areas with truck-permit routes
  • Enforcement -monthly/annual tolls on specific routes, install transponder/cameras on routes; fine for non-compliance
  • Educate truck companies on new policiesthrough emails, and workshops

Next Steps:

  • Improve the criteria while gathering more truck data to access and review the truck routes more efficiently
  • Review and propose sustainable adjustments to the current truck routes regarding the developed criteria and gathered data
  • Develop reasonable enforcements for the new policies
  • Advise truck companies about the new truck routes and policies

Students:

Xiaole Zhong [Elec and Biomed Eng III]
KaihuaYang [Electrical Eng III]
XiaoyuZhai [Elec and Biomed Eng III]
YichenZhou [Chem and Bio Eng III]

Problem:

Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. Our device aims to improve or change the current situation regarding heart attacks in public. There is always a time gap between the moment someone starts struggling with and heart attack and when emergency services actually arrives to the patient. During this time gap, the device will exercise precautions to increase the chance for the patient to survive their cardiac arrest.

Process:

  • Interview many subject matter experts from different fields
  • Interviews aided in outlining our problem statement
  • Extensive research into cardiac arrest
  • Solution was iterated several times upon further research 

Solution:

  • Blanket with ECG electrode and pressure sensor which can provide 3 kinds of feedback
  • Use three-point fix to locate heart and uses feedback to aid bystanders in performing effective CPR
  • Could dramatically decrease death rate produced by improper CPR technique
  • Innovative solution for the problem

Next Steps:

  • Testing and assessing the accuracy of the device àMaking improvements àIntroduce into market
  • It is anticipated that this device can significantly improve the success rate of CPR with low cost
  • Future partners: Go Transit, City of Hamilton, Darts, School bus companies

Students:

Sukhbeer Badwal [Civil Eng II]
NaveenVarathan [Civil Eng II]
Richard Weiss [Civil Eng II]
Adrienne Klein [Arts and Sci II]

Problem:

There is a two-way bike lane on Cannon St. but only a narrow lane on Ferguson St. and no other bike lanes that run North-South within the area. The alleyway we chose to work on (running South off Cannon St. between Mary St. and Elgin St.) is aesthetically displeasing and leads to people littering within it. Cannon St. and Mary St. had the highest rate of cyclist collisions within the city in 2017 (4 collisions), and tied for the highest rate of cyclist collisions over the last 5 years (10 in total). Providing an alternative route will not give people a safer option, but also a more pleasing commute (as there would be reduced traffic noise and air pollution). According to the Cycling Master Plan for Hamilton, section 4.2.1, the cycling network continuity, safety and cost are the 3 main priorities of the city. Revitalizing the alleyway to add to the mobility of the neighbourhood and meet the standards of the cycling master plan.

Process:

  • Consulted with Elise Desjardins and Beatrice Ekoko; they develop projects to improve shared mobility spaces in neighborhoods longside Cycle Hamilton & Environment Hamilton 
  • Consulted with the Beasley Neighbourhood Association
  • Pedestrian & Cyclist Collisions (2017)
  • Beasley Neighborhood Association Survey (2019)
  • Beasley Neighborhood Community Survey (2019)
Solution:
  • Utilizing artwork and other long lasting aesthetic and functional improvements, this alleyway will be transformed into am inviting, ighly walkable and bike friendly alternative route
  • A more inviting path will attract users as that area gets a lot of foot and bike traffic already
  • Alternative path that has certain benefits over walking on a sidewalk near auto traffic
  • Multiple cities around the world have taken the initiative to improve their under-utilized allies
  • Potential street design schematics

Next Steps:

  • Growing support within Beasley and with neighbouring stakeholders
  • Securing funding for project
  • Engaging local artists and suppliers
  • Expanding design ideas
  • Alleyway opening party
  • Applying learning to other projects in Hamilton

Students:

Yang Chen [Chemical Engineering IV]
LeezaTeshler [Art Sci I]
Serena Balzer [Art Sci I]

Problem:

Poor quality of transportation for pedestrians and bikers between LRT stop at King and Wellington to General Hospital. The pedestrian path along this road has no bike lanes or road verges causing this walkway to feel unsafe. This path is also associated with higher exposures of vehicle exhaust and noise pollution.

Process:

We have pivoted the direction of our project a few times. After doing many on site visits in downtown, speaking with subject matter experts, and meeting with Elise Desjardins and Beatrice Ekokowith Friendly Streets, Beautiful Alleys, and the Barton Village BIA, we landed on the designated area of Wellington Street and surrounding area.

Solution:

  • Promote alleys as an alternative path by creation of a mural
  • Designated path (seen in picture on left)
  • Obstacles to using alleys: negative perception of unsafety, lack of awareness, sustainable maintenance and cleanliness
  • Mural Design: artistic, functional map of the alleys and popular locations

Next Steps:

  • Growing support within Beasley and with neighbouring stakeholders
  • Securing funding for project
  • Engaging local artists and suppliers
  • Expanding design ideas
  • Alleyway opening party
  • Gather data on impact the alleyway has on the community
  • Take what was learned from this project and apply it to other projects in Hamilton

Students:

Hosam Abdel Hafeez [iBioMed HESE II]
Vikash Nanthakumar [iBioMed HESE II]
Taha Parvez [iBioMed HESE II]

Problem:

The current referral system relies on family doctors to choose the specialist to refer a patient to
without being able to consider a specific specialists wait time. Patient files are often lost or referred to the incorrect subspecialist due to outdated records. This results in patients suffering from an inefficient system causing longer wait times, suboptimal specialist locations, and lost files. This is an important issue as there is a strong need to improve the healthcare provided to patients. Our project aims to start with a group of clinicians in one specialization and to eventually expand to become a province-wide referral system which utilizes artificial intelligence.

Process:  

  • Consulted with:
    Dr. Cynthia Lokker (MSc eHealth director)
    Dr. MajdiQutob (Orthopaedic Surgeon)
    Dr. Elizabeth Alvarez (Family Medicine [Canada and USA]
    Dr. Dale Kalina (Infectious disease)
  • Our research questions revolved around the issues with the current system, ways to improve it, and
    how to implement change
  • We consulted literature discussing the Quebec CRDS referral system and change behaviour
  • We started with a different idea but decided to pivot in January as the previous idea would not make a
    significant impact

Solution:

  • An online, pool-based referral system that utilizes a machine learning algorithm to match patients with the appropriate specialist based on set criteria. (Urgency, proximity, patient mobility, etc.)
  • Using an objective system that is self iterative will better reflect population demands
  • Patients will have a more personalized experienced while specialists will be able to treat more appropriate patients within their subspecialties
  • Case study: Quebec uses a pool based system that has been recently implemented and is successful
  • Quebec uses coordinators in their system instead of artificial intelligence
  • Our project addresses article 5.1.3 of the City of Hamilton Master Plan as we are designing a system that will account for the accessibility needs of the patients

Next Steps:

  • We met with Dr. Kalinafrom the infectious disease unit at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS)
  • We plan to work with the office of 15 specialists from HHS
  • We will develop a high fidelity prototype (program) and integrate it with the HHS system
  • Eventually we would like to expand this system throughout HHS’ many units

Students:

Gavin Boyd [Civil Engineering and Society III]
Danielle Liao [Earth and Space Sciences III]
Ryan Kum [Engineering I]

Problem:

It is inequitable to assume we all have access at all times to smartphones with a cellular data plan. And without this device, one can not conveniently access real-time bus information to know their estimated arrival times at a stop, which is especially important for rush hour commutes and transit transfers. ProActiveDesigns solves this problem, addressing the scope of sections, 4.2.3 “Integration of real-time transit data”, 4.2.6 “Providing seamless connections between all travel modes,” 4.2.8 “Emerging Technologies,” and 6.1 “Planning for Economic Prosperity and Growth,” of the Hamilton Transportation Masterplan.

Solution:

  • Consulted with Jay Adams, who referred us to the HSR (re) envision survey
  • The survey mentioned a demand for real-time transit data being available on-board
  • Through research it was found that Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) busses have implemented a pilot program, which two digital screens, Clever Devices, are placed at the front and middle of the bus (Figure 1)
  • ProActiveDesigns acts similarly to the CTA’s pilot by relaying real-time transit data via on-board screens

Display features of ProActive Design’s screen in order of priority to pilot program:

  • Bus route number and name, current time, and if stop requested
  • Order of upcoming stops with estimated arrival time of bus and of other buses for transfer purposes
  • Advertisements and announcements
  • Icons for stops with SoBior Park and Ride, or POIs, such as events or tourist attractions

Next Steps:

  • Conduct survey to receive feedback from the users, and adjust pilot program accordingly
  • Expand pilot to other buses – expand to 15 buses from the initial two, similar to HSR Wi-Fi pilot
  • Redesign interface using the latest technologies to display the arrival time of buses transferable to
  • Validate Clever Devices and possibly implement their other pieces of technology

MacChangers: Change-a-Thon

MacChangers: Change-a-Thon is a shortened version of the core program in which the eight-month experience is condensed into just a few days. Click below to learn more about the June 2020 Change-a-Thon which tackled local challenges related to COVID-19.

Learn more

Video: 

News

Embedded thumbnail for MacChangers launches summer program to help support COVID-19 challenges in Hamilton

May 22, 2020 /  Department News

MacChangers launches summer program to help support COVID-19 challenges in Hamilton

Change-a-Thon will help build a more resilient and sustainable community.

MacChangers project leads to healthcare-focused startup

October 7, 2019 /  Department News

MacChangers project leads to healthcare-focused startup

iBioMed students start company to improve hospital referral system.

McMaster becomes the first Canadian university to offer digital degrees

June 7, 2019 /  Department News

McMaster becomes the first Canadian university to offer digital degrees

At the forefront of innovation: McMaster Engineering students will soon have digital degrees.

Read More

Our Team

Beth Levinson

Beth Levinson

Experiential Learning Education Developer

  bethlev@mcmaster.ca

Kyle Ansilio

Kyle Ansilio

Community Engaged Co-Curricular Learning Administrator

  ansilikf@mcmaster.ca

Jay Carter

Jay Carter

Community Engaged Education Program Manager

  cartej5@mcmaster.ca

Abbie Little

Abbie Little

Community Relations Coordinator

  littleaj@mcmaster.ca

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