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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 on improving transportation in Hamilton.

What is MacChangers?

MacChangers is a co-curricular 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.



Why join MacChangers?

Develop skills: 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.

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

Make a difference: 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.

What students are saying...

How it works

Who can join MacChangers?

Thanks to all who registered for 2018/19! Spots are now FULL.

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.

MacChangers must commit to:

  • Attending full group coaching sessions (please check the Calendar).
  • Managing their own team’s work schedule that includes research, project management, information sharing and presentation development.
  • Communicating with their team.

How to join?

Step 1: Select a project theme

Step 1: Select a project theme

Review the project themes 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

Thanks to all who registered! Spots are now FULL.

Step 4: Follow us

Step 4: Follow us

Follow us on social media and keep posted about events, community organizations, and the latest information about the project themes.


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.

This diagram shows the MacChangers process to develop your research project:



MacChangers has been reviewed by the McMaster University Research Ethics Board (MREB) and it is the first extracurricular program that received a Certificate of Ethics Clearance to involve human participants in its research.

For any comment, question or concern regarding ethics in research, please contact MREB at


Review the list of themes for your project, and choose one that you and your team feel most passionate about.

We invite students from all disciplines of study across the University to being part of an interdisciplinary team, particularly those who share a strong passion for knowledge translation and solution implementation.

Need some inspiration? Take a look at the past projects done by our students and the list of external resources we have provided for you.

Project Themes

Mobility & Transportation and...

Technology is an integral part of our lives. Innovative technologies bring incredible opportunities to improve our lives while, at the same time, introduce many new challenges to security, usability, and accessibility. Teams within this area of study will examine how disruptive technologies help citizens receive better transportation services while considering how to mitigate the associated challenges.

  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Machine Learning
  • Big Data

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 means of transportation. Teams within this area of study will explore ways to meet these challenges by proposing sustainable alternatives.

  • How can we reduce and prevent the production of CO2?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of using electric cars or car sharing systems?
  • What are the benefits and challenges of using biodiesel and other gasoline alternatives?
  • How can we effectively promote and use environment-friendly transportation modes such as biking or walking?
  • How can we design transportation infrastructure with planet-conservation in mind?
  • How can we design, dispose or repurpose cars, buses, trains and any of their components (for example the tires, engines or wagons) in a more sustainable way?

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.

  • How can we connect different neighbourhoods and communities to the city? To each other?
  • How can we connect urban spaces with green areas?
  • How to improve traffic flow and reduce traffic congestion?
  • How can we design efficient and visually attractive transportation systems?
  • How can we effectively integrate different modes of transportation in a sustainable and user-friendly way?
  • How can we integrate pedestrian and bike access into current transit infrastructure?

Many residents in Hamilton continue to struggle against barriers that deny them access to transportation services. As a result, members of Hamilton’s most vulnerable population face significant obstacles to accessing economic opportunities and health. Teams in this area of study will explore creative solutions that make transportation in Hamilton both equitable and inclusive.

  •  How can we make transportation more accessible and inclusive?
  • How can we connect all regions from Hamilton? (ex: Flamborough, Waterdown, Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Grimsby)
  • How do diverse groups of people and minorities use transportation systems differently? (More/less dependent) (age should be a consideration as well)
  • How does transportation cost impact personal finances of citizens?
  • How might we break the cultural stigmas and promote the use of public transportation?
  • How transportation modes and commuting times impact social economic classes differently?

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 citizens.

  •  What role does transportation play in our health and well being?
  • How can transportation infrastructure design promote better physical and mental health?
  • How can we integrate future needs and mobility restrictions of our aging population into our infrastructure design?
  • How can we make transportation safer and healthier for diverse users?
  • In case of an accident or attack, how can we provide easier access to assistance?
  • What role do regulators, providers, and users each play in improving transportation safety?

Transportation plays a vital role in the local economy and economic opportunities are related to the mobility of people, goods/services, and information. Teams in this area of study will explore how efficient transportation systems and strong network connections can best support new business opportunities and local economic development.

  • What impact might the LRT, bike lanes and car sharing have on the Hamilton economy?
  • How can we build and maintain transportation infrastructure in a more resilient and cost-efficient way?
  • What role does transportation play in the creation of employment and career opportunities?
  • What is the impact of transportation on consumer habits?
  • How can innovative transportation systems help develop new businesses and markets?
  • What role does transportation play in getting people to work? What improvements are needed to be more efficient and cost-effective?
  • How can we best move goods?
  • What role do new technologies play in the design of efficient logistic networks?
  • What impact do ride-sharing companies have on Hamilton’s economic development?

Our Network

Nothing would be possible without the support of the institutions and people collaborating with MacChangers:

Interested in collaborating with our students?

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

MacChangers Staff

Arlene Fajutrao Dosen
Director, Outreach & Engagement
Faculty of Engineering
Beth Levinson
Community Programs Developer
MacPherson Institute

Coaching Sessions