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List of Design Projects

This is a (slowly growing) list of design projects that may be suitable for semester-long undergraduate or graduate level engineering design projects.

Landing System for Reusable Rockets

Consider the Falcon landing system and its failures (e.g., Reconceptualize the roles of the rocket and the landing platform in this kind of situation. Design a new way to allow a reusable rocket to “land” on a platform, considering what the platform can/should do. Consider as a possible analogy the arrestor hook on aircraft carriers: the vehicle (aircraft) does 99% of the job controlling speed and position; it just needs that last 1% to be done by the platform (aircraft carrier landing deck). “Balancing a stick on its end in the open ocean is a tall order even when it's not full of explosives.” –Nathan Eng, Ryerson Alumnus (Class of 2004), 2015.

Compact, Portable Workshop

Develop a design for a compact, portable, aesthetically pleasing workshop. For instance, consider combining the Paulk wood worktable and the shopsmith.

Reconceptualized Agricultural Vehicle

Agricultural vehicles (tractors for farms and related equipment) haven't really changed in decades, even though automotive engineering has advanced tremendously in that time. Reconceptualize the notion of the agricultural vehicle from “first principles” to bring it into the 21st century.

The Bioinspired House

The “natural behaviours” of typical houses are not conducive to safe, comfortable living. They protect insufficiently against cold and heat, they have too much of an environmental footprint, their size promotes consumerism, they are not responsive to changing needs of its occupants…. We must “force” the house to respond with a huge variety of sensors and actuators. On the other hand, organisms are very much adaptive to their environment based simply on physics and chemistry; that is, the organism cannot help but act in a way that guarantees certain behaviours (within limits). Reconceptualize the residential home (or some major subsystem of it) as such a bioinspired structure.

Reconceptualized Bathroom

According to Toto design, the bathroom is the most underdesigned room in a house, particularly with respect to inclusiveness and universal design. Reconceptualize the notion of the bathroom from “first principles” to bring the bathroom into the 21st Century. Use systems thinking and design to develop an integrated yet modular space for personal cleaning.

Anti/de-icing Interventions for the Grid

Cold and rainy winters provide the perfect conditions for the formation and buildup of ice layers in power distribution networks. Once these layers achieve a considerable weight, a cascade of problems arise with interventions are required in order to repair or replace parts of the grid. Design a way to prevent ice formation or remove existing ice from grid equipment susceptible to ice damage.

Exercising in Space

NASA seeks bio-inspired approaches for compact and efficient Advanced Exercise Concepts (AECs)1). These concepts are needed to counteract muscular atrophy and improve the overall wellness of astronauts living in zero-gravity during a 21-day mission. Design a way for astronauts to combat muscular atrophy under the given conditions.

Portable Roof Damage Detection

It can be very difficult to detect structural defects on roofs, such as hail damage. Design a way to detect visible and invisible defects. The solution must be usable through its entire operational phase by a single worker. The primary application area is for domestic asphalt shingle roofs.

Maritime Escape/Life-Support System

A “life-boat” has many problems: they capsize, the can become waterlogged, they cannot move away from sinking ships or burning oil rigs quickly, its occupants remain exposed to the elements, and they often lack supplies or means of communicating distress to rescue agencies, to name a few. Large and complex solutions already exist. Design a small, collapsible, easily deployed system to help at most six people per unit escape from the most common maritime accidents and disasters safely and quickly, such that they can survive until they are rescued.


Making beds can be a very “dangerous” activity. There are many opportunities for injuries of the back and arms, and it is a very boring task. Seniors may seriously injure themselves making their own beds, but so can younger people. Hotel housekeeping staff and hospital orderlies who regularly have to make many, many beds are also very susceptible to injury. Design a way to make beds that is effective, efficient, and reduces risk of injury.

Mixing Cement/Concrete in Developing Areas

Many parts of the developing world suffer a “bootstrapping” problem: they cannot get the technology to automate tedious, risky work for lack of infrastructure and trained workers, and they cannot develop the infrastructure without the technology and trained workers. To help bootstrap these situations, design a way to mix cement and/or concrete built entirely from materials that are readily available in the regions where the cement/concrete is to be mixed.

Computer Cable Management

Consider articles like this one, which highlights the problems of managing cables connecting home computer components. Design a cable management system for home or work workstations. The system must be flexible enough to handle peculiar setups (e.g., gaming PCs). You may consider replacing some or all cables and connectors with new technologies.

Data gathering for bicycles

In a report published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the authors demonstrate that current mechanisms for gathering information about accidents by police lack the capacity to capture information about bicycles. As bicycle usage increases, it will become necessary to capture that information.

Design a way to collect and report this kind of information.


Many infectious diseases have theoretically been eradicated decades ago. Yet polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, diphtheria, and others continue to cause severe global health burdens in many developing countries. The WHO estimates that 1.5 million childhood deaths, or 17 percent of all childhood deaths around the globe, could be averted with simple childhood vaccinations.

Childhood vaccines remains one of the most cost-effective health intervention in the world. Based on 2011 data, there were an estimated 5.2 million deaths of children between 1 and 5 years old, of which 29 percent could be avoided with vaccinations. Nearly-adequate funding exists for widespread vaccination of large numbers of children. For roughly \$20, a child can be immunized against a broad variety of deadly diseases for life. Distribution strategies include routine vaccination and one-time campaigns. Often strategies will combine the two. Routine facility-based strategies cost \$14 per fully immunized child (FIC), and campaigns are \$27 per FIC2). Unfortunately, childhood immunization rates are not yet universal. The WHO has found that up to 50 percent of vaccines produced for sub-Saharan Africa are wasted, and more effective supply chain and inventory management systems have the potential to impact enormous numbers of children.

Design an intervention to simply manage vaccine supplies in central stocks and in primary-through-tertiary health facilities. The system should be piloted with one supply chain, and be highly scalable within two years.

(original source of this project)


A large number (approximately 500) of airborne atmospheric sensors will be released at altitudes of quit 3,000 m from an under-wing container carried by a light aircraft, and must stay aloft for as long as possible, with a descent rate not more than 3 m/s. Each sensor contains a small battery, electronics, and a radio transmitter, and is packaged as a 10x50mm cylinder weighing 10 g. Design a decelerator for the sensors, minimizing weight and packaged size (when in the under-wing container).


When medical personnel carry a person on a conventional stretcher up or down an incline, both the medical personnel and the patient are at risk of (further) injury. Because of the incline, the patient may slide off the stretcher; also, the movements and positions that the medical personnel must perform and assume can lead to various work-related injury. Design a system that reduces the risk of injury to both patient and medical personnel, with respect to a conventional stretcher.


There is interest to divert various forms of paper waste (paper cups, sleeves, serviettes, food wrappings, containers, etc.) from landfill sites. Even when introduced into the recycle stream, much of this waste is still sorted by hand at already overburdened sorting stations. This is a very expensive and cumbersome process. Even so, much paper waste still ends up in landfills. The goal of the project is to develop a new way to not only reduce paper waste going to landfill but also to generate revenue. This vision is characterized by the development of safe, user friendly, alternatively-powered “cleantech” system that easily sorts and reduces solid waste, generate revenues, and is suitable for indoor business environments.


A flywheel is a mechanical system that can be used to store energy. Design a way to use flywheels to store locally generated “green energy” for use in a commercial building. Capacity, capital costs, operating costs, safety, and energy savings must all be considered.


According to the US government, over 60% of energy available in gasoline is lost within the internal combustion engine. Design a way to address the specific causes of this inefficiency. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Many toys are made from unsustainable materials (e.g. plastic) in “sweat shop” environments, and then shipped over vast distances to retailers. The goal of this project is to develop a series of children's toys that are made directly from items available in garbage. It is not enough to design the toys. The design must include specific processes for ensuring cleanliness (sterility) and safety of the final toy, and a reasonable plan for how the toys can be manufactured in quantity without incurring a significant environmental impact.


It is difficult to measure the blood pressure of a person with certain infirmities - e.g. a broken left arm. Design a safe, economical way to measure blood pressure in people with infirmities that prevent the use of conventional means.

Hospital Room Patient Movement

A common piece of hospital is a lift used to help patients into and out of bed. These lifts often do not “fit” with other equipment in the room (e.g. privacy curtains). With reference to actual hospital environments, design a way to move patients in hospital rooms that accommodates typical obstructions, is easy to use (the patient himself/herself can use it), is robust, and costs no more than existent solutions.


Semi-private and group hospital rooms often look “scary” or “uninviting” to patients. With reference to actual hospital environments, design a way to provide all the functions of a conventional hospital room but also helping to provide a “pleasant environment” for patients.


It is relatively easy to remove graffiti that's been painted onto surfaces of buildings, bus shelters and other street furniture. It is much harder to prevent or remove graffiti that has been scratched into surfaces made of Perspex or similar materials. Design a way to prevent or remove scratched-in graffiti. One solution is the subject of a recent patent.


For those wishing to practise their Olympic-class ping-pong technique: design a way to launch a standard ping-pong ball any distance between 1 metre and 10 metres, and so as to strike a target with the highest possible accuracy. It must be usable by anyone aged 10 years to 70 years of age, and must have minimal environmental impact throughout its lifecycle. (original source)


From Wood stoves in poor countries are producing twice the heat-absorbing particulates than researchers previously expected, and can contribute to serious health problems including tuberculosis. Design a way to provide the functions of these stoves. Consider the distribution mechanisms to get these products to those who need them most. Do not become fixated on the notion of the stove; consider, for instance, the Kelly Kettle, or the notion of designing a way to make short-lived stoves easily and quickly (rather than designing a stove that lasts a long time).


Select an existent wet/dry vacuum cleaner and redesign it to lessen the noise generated by the device during operation. The new design cannot cost more than the existent model for a comparable production run. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Floor-standing home humidifiers (e.g. can be quite noisy. Select one model of humidifier and redesign it to lessen the noise generated by the device during operation. The two critical factors to consider are noise reduction and overall cost. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Many opponents to “Wind Farms” in open country base their objections on the disruption of windmills on the scenery and the possible environmental intrusion. Cities are, however, potentially just as windy as other locations.

Design a way to generate electricity from the wind and that can be used on a conventional building in Toronto.


Design a RC-controlled “flying saucer” model. Key factors to be considered are: safety, cost, and functionality. Premium is given to simplicity of the structure and its operation.

Accessible Dispensing of Personal Medication

Many medication storage and dispensing systems are available, from simple and cheap to complex and expensive. Automated devices can dispense drugs only to a specific patient, and with patient-specific doses. Such devices, especially if linked with hospital bar coding, can reduce medication errors. Review existing products, identify key problem areas, and design a new way to address those problems.


Inspectors of machinery often need to examine closely parts and assemblies that are situationally inaccessible — that is, no/poor lines of sight to the target, bad lighting, distance to target, small size of target, physical inaccessibly due to height, etc. In an open-response question about most desired type of aiding device, one respondent summarized the need as a way to view inside. Typical sectors where this kind of inspection is needed is in aviation maintenance and amusement park ride inspections.

Other specific features of this problem are:

  • The inspector is looking for worn or broken parts such as nuts, bolts, screws; broken welds and solders.
  • Distances to be covered by the inspector may be large (one mile or more by foot); the inspection equipment must be easily transportable for such cases.
  • Sometimes the item to be examined is located such that the inspector must climb a structure to get close enough or get an appropriate line of sight to the target.
  • The inspector often much crouch or kneel or bend in some way to get a reasonable line of sight.
  • Sometimes, targets are under a large object (e.g. such as inspecting the undercarriage of a vehicle) or “around corners” from where the inspector can reasonably position himself.
  • Inspections occur indoors and outdoors.
  • Inspections may require moving parts aside — such as moving electrical wiring aside to see a target behind it.
  • Design a portable, affordable device able to address this situation by allowing the inspector to safely examine targets.


At amusement parks and carnivals, rides can only operate under certain wind conditions. The maximum allowable windspeed varies from ride to ride. Design a lightweight, affordable device able to be carried conveniently by an inspector, that can measure windspeed (maximum and average during measuring time). The “readout” must be in both metric and imperial units. Reliability and accuracy are important factors.


At amusement parks, certain rides must operate only within a certain range of rotational speeds (e.g. merry-go-rounds). The minimum speed is not necessarily zero. Design a lightweight, reliable, and accurate device to measure the rotational speed of amusement park rides. The device must be portable for use by the inspector and not installed on the ride itself.


Users of ladders often suffer muscle strain and risk falling from the ladder because of the positions they must assume to work on the ladder.

Design a way for handymen and construction workers working on small projects (e.g. home renovation) to reach heights. The solution must be safe for all users, regardless of age or training, and should be appropriate for typical mechanical and electrical jobs. The solution must minimise risk of occupational injury as well as accidents. (SAMPLE — NOT FOR USE AS ACTUAL PROJECT)


It has been revealed that “Kryptonite” bicycle locks can be picked by nothing more complicated that a BIC pen. Design a simple, safe, and affordable way to secure a bicycle that cannot be subverted so easily. (NOT FOR MEC723)

Leaf Management System

Every fall in the GTA, thousands of people collect leaves that have fallen from trees onto their properties, and “dispose” of them in some way. Some people “bag” the leaves for collection by the city; others compost the leaves; still others find other uses for them. However, many other people cannot do this activity (which can be enjoyable, meditative, and a healthy activity). Design a way to assist a single person to collect leaves such that they can then be dealt with in diverse ways. The system should occupy little space when stored (if storage is even necessary). The system should be usable by a wide range of users, including both young and old, and with different levels of physical ability.


Design an ergonomic, modular way to carry notebook computers. Modules will be marketed separately and users will purchase whichever components they require for their specific purposes. The solution, in one configuration or another, should appeal to any possible user of such a notebook computer.


Merry-go-rounds are enjoyable for children, but typically not for adults. Design a new kind of merry-go-round that will appeal to people over 18 years of age and that exposes them to a variety of different kinds of motions and forces.


In Canadian winters, many homeless people are endangered. Design a way to shelter one individual that is economical, safe, durable, and able to protect the occupant against Canadian winters for use in urban centres. Consider also maintaining the dignity of the shelter's users. One may even consider extending its use as emergency shelter for people affected by war or natural disasters.


Water is driven through a piping loop at 400 litres per second by a 150 hp pump. The temperature of the water in the loop must be maintained at 20 C. A small tank in the piping loop may be equipped with some form of internal or external cooling system to maintain the loop water temperature. No water may be added to or removed from the piping loop to accomplish the cooling. The cooling system must not add more than 3m of additional head loss to the piping loop. Any cooling liquid used in the system must be water (no antifreeze or other 'special' liquids). Design a cooling system for the tank in the piping loop. The system should be optimized for performance as well as cost. Assume that the loop dissipates negligable heat on its own (all cooling must come from the cooling system). Internal and/or external systems may be used, with the head loss of any internal system limited to 3m. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Design a small steam engine that can be used in University and College laboratories for educational purposes, to demonstrate as many principles of engineering as possible (do not restrict yourself to only heat transfer and thermodynamics). Design the appartus to be modular, so different schools can use it in different ways. The entire apparatus must be transportable by no more than two people, yet be large enough to be useful as a demonstration for groups as large as 20. (NOT FOR MEC325)

Computer & Audio-Visual Centre

Design a way to move, store, and use computer and audio-visual equipment. The system must be small enough to fit into most classrooms and meeting rooms. It must require only one person to move and use. It must be able to contain at least an internet-enabled computer, a VCR, a television, a video projector, an overhead projector, and all reasonable peripherals and related equipment (cables, etc.). Provide the means to secure the equipment. Because the system may be used by companies, it is important that aesthetics be addressed as well as safety, cost, size, and durability.


When riders exit a streetcar from the centre or rear doors, it is possible that passing cars could hit them. This may be due to negligence on the part of the cars' drivers, but it may also be due to drivers simply not noticing that the streetcar's doors are open and people are exiting. Design a system that alerts car drivers and that prevents cars from passing the doors when they are open. The system must be safe for both streetcar riders and car drivers.


Batteries and other sources of electricity can be hazardous for children, and damage the environment when they are disposed of. Design a remote-controlled toy car that is driven by compressed air. Batteries may be used to drive the remote control and turning of the wheels of the car, but the car's forward movement must be provided by compressed air. The toy must be 'rechargable'. There must be no requirement for parents to purchase new cannisters of air; the recharger may be human-powered or driven by electricity from a household supply. (NOT FOR MEC723)


Splitting logs can be a strenuous and dangerous task for a human; yet, many owners of homes and cottages enjoy having a “real” fire in their fireplaces and wood stoves. Design an automated log splitter that is able to handle logs of a size typical in cottage and home environments.


Riding lawn mowers can become extremely dangerous if they start moving with no operator (or the wrong operator – like a child) on it. Design a retrofit system for riding lawn mowers that prevent the mower from turning on unless an appropriate operator is on the mower.


Forklift operators can suffer occupational injuries from having to turn their heads and torsos in uncomfortable ways to see around them, especially when the fork lift is moving in reverse. Design a swivelling “cockpit” for a forklift that allows the operator to face whatever direction the forklift is moving and provides improved vision in directions other than that of motion.


Design a play structure for children aged 2-12 for installation in a public community park. The structure should accomodate 20 children simultaneously and must be as safe as possible. Consider also adult supervisors who usually accompany the children. A water supply is available.


Design a home office “workstation” centre that accomodates a writing surface, a personal computer and conventional peripherals, telephone and fax machine, storage for files and supplies. The centre should be securable so that children in the house will not damage equipment and will not accidentally get hurt.


On many tall structures, workers (maintenance persons, window cleaners, etc.) who work out the structure's exterior are supposed to attach their safety harnesses to tie-off points provided on the structure. However, due to the effort required to unlatch and relatch their harnesses as they move around the structure, many workers simply do not tie themselves off, leading to increased risk of falling. Design a system whereby a worker latches his/her harness only once, and is still able to move around the structure. The system should be installable on a variety of different structures (e.g. office buildings, rollercoasters, oil rigs, power transmission towers, etc.).


Design a belt drive for a 3-speed bicycle that does not use chains or lubricants. The belt drive is to achieve at least comparable performance to a conventional chain drive. The design must be designed to be retrofitted on existing chain-drive bicycles.


Some disabled children have extreme difficulty communicating basic needs to caregivers. Design a portable, safe, usable, and durable device that allows the child to communicate effectively and quickly. Once the child has learned how to use the device, the child must be able to use it without assistance. The device must support at least 25 words for basic living functions, such as eat, sleep, open, close, drink, help, etc. At least one of the child's hands must be free at all times (i.e. the child must be able to hold the device with one hand at most).


Formed pellets from waste wood are an increasingly popular way of heating both industrial and residential spaces. Design a system that feeds pellets from a hopper into a furnace. Consider the feedback mechanism required to decide how fast to feed the pellets to generate the required heat. Also consider the high temperatures under which portions of the feeder will have to operate.


Design a device that can be used for both cleaning and hastening the drying of paintbrushes. The device should be usable with both water- and oil-based paints and brushes of all sizes.


Design a system that would attach to stationary machining equipment, such as a lathe or drill press, allowing that equipment to be easily moved around a shop floor. The system may be either permanently attached or attachable just for the move. The system should allow a single person to maneuver a piece of equipment up to 350 kg and still provide maximum stability when the equipment is stationary. (NOT FOR MEC723)


Design a storage system for cooking equiupment, including pots, pans, their lids, as well as cooking implements. Consider a full range of sizes and shapes along with accessibility. The system should fit in industry standard cabinets.


Design a device that can efficiently store any gardening tools, including shears, potting equipment, rakes, shovels, etc. Consider accessibility: any person able to use a particular tool must be able to store it easily, and safely, on the rack.


Design a one-person recreational submarine to be powered by the occupant. The submarine should reach depths comparable to that of the average recreational diver with scuba equipment. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Design a small robot able to lift up to 1 pound and reach anywhere within a 50 cm distance from its base. The robot is to be used in Universities and Colleges for laboratory demonstrations and experiments in robotic control. The robot should demonstrate as many different features of conventional robots as possible and must be extremely cost-effective. (NOT FOR MEC325)


Room QE137 (the senior thesis room) is to be redesigned to be a design “studio”. There is a requirement for a meeting area for up to 20 students, where presentations and lectures can be delivered, and where open discussions between students and instructors/designers can be held. There is also a requirement for four work areas for teams of five students each to work on team design projects. It should be possible to hold a single session starting with a lecture, followed by a period when the teams will work separately, followed by a open discussion. The room must not require substantial re-configurations to change work modes. Design the arrangement of equipment and furniture in the room. Make sure that all standards are satisfied.


Various medical conditions (e.g. Diabetes) can be controlled through regularly self-administering medication with syringes. The goal of this project is to design a reusable syringe system for such situations. The syringe should permit even otherwise squeamish individuals to self-administer medication under non-clinical conditions (e.g. While on a train or bus). The syringe must adhere to all pertinent health and safety regulations, and be affordable.

Goods Distribution on Trains

Design a way to dispense snacks (chips, chocolate bars, sandwiches, etc.), beverages (canned and bottled pop and juice, coffee and tea) on passenger trains, and reading materials (magazines, newspapers, etc.). You need to minimize the number of times a train steward must return to the storage area for items to dispense, but not at the expense of other factors influencing the suitability of the delivery system overall. The solution must manage the temperature of the items dispensed. You must minimize the possibility of accidents during use. Your solution must be usable by both male and female stewards, and should be suitable for use in first-class train cabins. (NOT FOR MEC723)


You have a summer cottage in Muskoka, Ontario. The cottage does not have a hot water supply, but cold water is available from a private well. Design a system that uses the energy of the sun in summer to heat water for bathing and kitchen use. Due to its intended use in remote areas, it must be possible for an untrained person (e.g. the purchaser of the system) to install and perform routine maintenance without special equipment or knowledge beyond that provided in documentation.


Washing a car by hand with a garden hose and drying it with perhaps a chamois is somewhat tedious and requires certain amount of time, however the method is inexpensive. Alternatively, car owners many time employ commercial establishments to perform the task. This too requires a certain amount of time, sometimes longer if done by hand, and it is costly. Between these two extremes is the fund raising operation that costs little but is generally disorganised and again, takes a certain amount of time.

It has been proposed that a portable system could be for use by fund-raising groups and homeowners. It is further assumed that the actual cost of using the system is comparable to that of hand washing. The objective of this system is to save time without incurring too much additional operating cost, by controlling the complexity of the system, the use of standard and existing parts, and minimising the environmental damage that may result.


Design a stretcher that can be used by paramedics in remote or underdeveloped areas. The stretcher must have attachments for immobilising fractures, immobilising neck or back injuries, and for accommodating IV drips and other equipment typically used by paramedics. It must be able to carry a single person (adult or child) of any reasonable size. The stretcher must not cause undue vibration or lateral motion when being moved by paramedics. It must also be useable over variable terrain. The stretcher must require very little maintenance.


Design a winch system for commercial fishermen's boats that can lower and lift the fishing net. Study the type of small commercial boats and decide on your type of boat, and the type and size of load. Location is British Columbia. The winch system is targeted at boats of up to 50 feet in length. The system must be reliable in all weather conditions, and easy to operate. Safety is of special consideration.


A school for the mentally and physically handicapped has a program for students to earn a small income by stuffing toys into plastic eggs. The eggs are then delivered to the customer, who sells them in vending machines located in grocery stores, cafeterias, and the like. Nine different toys are to be stuffed into eggs, which are then stored in nine different cardboard box containers. The students can stuff approximately 250,000 eggs per week, but packaging the eggs is performed by a workshop supervisor, since each box contains a different distribution of eggs, depending on customer requirements. The eggs are 5 centimetres in diameter and spherical in shape; they come in halves which are press-fit together to close.

At present, the eggs are being hand-sorted and packed into boxes containing 250 eggs. This requires individual counting of the eggs for packaging. At present, only 80,000 eggs can be packaged per week. A current backlog of 168,000 stuffed but unpackaged eggs exists.

Design a method of automating the packaging process so that:

  • overall production could be increased to 250,000 eggs per week;
  • working on the system should be entertaining and capture the attention of the handicapped students; and
  • the system can be operated safely by severely handicapped students.


Most new homes these days are so-called “open-concept,” having relatively few standard sized doorways and walls separating living areas, favoring instead large “great rooms” with passageways to other areas (such as kitchens) that are much wider than standard doorways.

The typical childproof gate for home use is designed only to fit in standard size doorways, and is intended to prevent children from entering dangerous areas (such as a kitchen) or leaving safe areas (such as their rooms). Therefore, there are many passageways in modern homes that the typical gate cannot be used.

Design a childproof gate that is usable in the very wide passageways found in many modern homes and that meets all required safety regulations.


A manufacturer of hardware equipment wishes to market a new shop bench for home use. Key data from market surveys of users of existing benches and potential new users:

  • “I'm tall, and I hurt my back when I use my bench.”
  • “I don't have enough room in my basement for a bench.”
  • “I use my bench to build electronic motherboards.”
  • “Some of my tools just roll off my bench.”

Design a suitable workbench that addresses these issues.


At the request of a School Board, a metalworking company will manufacture a support for televisions in elementary school classrooms. The school board is responding to complaints from teachers that:

  • dollies do not prevent children from reaching the TV and playing with it, potentially damaging it;
  • dollies that are tall enough to allow all students to see the TV are dangerously top-heavy (especially for 27“ televisions, whereas shorter dollies can be too low to be seen from the back of the classroom;
  • dollies are not adjustable enough to allow televisions to be angled for maximum visibility and minimum glare from light sources;
  • it is difficult and time-consuming to get the dollies from secure storage and set them up in classrooms.

Therefore, the School Board would like a system whereby a television can be suspended from the ceiling of a classroom. Design a suitable yoke. (NOT FOR MEC723)


In certain industrial facilities there is a nearly constant flow of wastewater driven by gravity (i.e. the machinery using this water are elevated and the water runs “down” to a wastewater disposal system). The client proposes to manufacture a small electrical generator that can use the energy of the water to produce extra electricity, and has approached your team to design the device.

Design a system that can handle flows of 100, 200, and 500 gallons per minute. Wastewater is assumed to flow from heights of 10, 20, and 30 metres for any of the flow rates. The wastewater is assumed to be free of corrosive contaminants and particulate matter. The generator system must be able to handle “spikes” of up to 10% of its rated capacity without failure. Cost is an important concern, as the expense of purchasing the system must be easily made up for by energy savings.


Design the components to hold a laser emitting and sensing device, which can be automatically adjusted to sense the volume of fluid in 3 different sizes of bottles travelling on a conveyor to the labelling station. The light emitting side of the device needs to be adjustable in the y and z directions (assuming that the bottles are travelling in the x direction). The movement in the y and z directions is controlled by software and can be achieved by means of electrical, pneumatic or hydraulic power devices. The device will be attached to the sub-structure of the conveyor.


Design a device which will allow people who make their own wine to cork bottles. The device must be capable of corking bottles of varying heights and diameters, but it can be assumed that all corks will be of the same size.


Golf clubs need to be cleaned occasionally. Design a device, to be located near the pro-shop or the club house on a golf course or a driving range, which can be used by the golfer himself/herself to automatically wash the blades of the clubs.


Design a cordless screwdriver for home/handyman use. The intended market is people who need a small, light, but powered and extremely easy to use device. The device is not intended for heavy, industrial use. It should appeal to people as a product that need not be “hidden” in a toolbox. It must be extremely low maintenance, and easily recharged.


Design a robot (including the end-effector) to be used on assembly lines to install windshields and rear windows in sub-compact automobiles.


An automated manufacturing inspection station requires an overhead-mounted camera to inspect products as they pass by on a conveyor belt. The camera is mounted 1 metre above the conveyor belt. It's position is adjustable in the horizontal plane across the breadth of the conveyor belt (approximately 700 mm) in increments of 100 mm. Design such a system.


An automated assembly workcell in a manufacturing system requires parts to be continuously supplied to ensure there is no unnecessary down-time in the assembly process. These parts are to be fed on an inclineable chute (between 30 degrees and 80 degrees inclination) that can handle an annular part that is either 20mm or 30mm in diameter, and 10mm think. Design such a system.


An automated manufacturing inspection station requires a 3×3 matrix of LED's to be mounted and located at varying heights between 0.5m and 1.5m, depending on the product passing by, in order to confirm part type. Design such a system.


Design an universal child helmet that can be used in many sports (e.g. bicycling, hockey, motorcycling, in line skating, etc). There are standards for helmets in many (though not all) sports and related activities. Develop a universal design that adheres to those standards. (NOT FOR MEC723)


Many children are injured when they accidentally put their hands on a hot stove element or reach for a hot pot or pan on the stove. Design a way to prevent this from happening.


On 22 July 2004, a newly introduced high-speed train de-railed in Mekece, Turkey, killing 36 passengers and injuring another 60. The belief is that the new rail car travelled at speeds that were not suitable for the existing railway system, parts of which dated to the 19th century. Design a way to stop trains from speeding over unsafe track.


In the 24 July, 2004, edition of the National Post, Tom Blackwell reported that recent Health Canada studies indicate dozens of patients who were injuried or died as a result of errors that occured during blood transfusions. Typical errors are: bacterial infection from the transfusion procedure, administration of wrong blood type, allergic reaction, hemolytic reactions, and transfusion-related acute lung disease. Design a systematic approach and/or devices that will help control these incidents.


Patio umbrellas often have hinges that allow the umbrella to be tilted into the sun to provide maximum shade. But manually adjusting the umbrella's tilt as the sun moves across the sky is difficult and bothersome. Design a way of shading an area comparable to that of a typical patio umbrella, that makes manual adjustments easy or unnecessary.


Design an innovative way to automatically control the temperature of water delivered through a showerhead.


Every year, children are kidnapped, sometimes with tragic results. Usually, these kidnappings are crimes of opportunity that occur because parents or caregivers cannot watch over children in their care all the time, and because the children's disappearances are not noted immediately. Design a way to ensure that children cannot be missed.


A single 3.5 HP gas-powered lawn mower can produce as much pollution (as volatile organic compounds) in one hour as a new car driver for 340 miles. There are an estimated 89 million pieces of lawn and garden equipment in the USA with engines rated at 25 HP or less. Design a residential lawn mower that produces no direct pollution (i.e. volatile organic compounds). (NOT FOR MEC222)


In May 2003, Transport Minister Harinder Takhar announced new legislation requiring children between 40 and 80 pounds, standing under 4 feet 10 inches tall, and aged 8 years or less, to be in a “booster seat” when in an automobile. Booster seats are not appreciated by children (they're not “cool”). The purpose of the booster seat is to ensure that typical seat belts do not cut across (a) the child's throat and (b) the child's stomach. In a collision, a seat belt arranged like that can very seriously harm a child. Design an “after market” restraint system that accomplishes the same goals as the booster seat, but without the disadvantages. The restraint must be inconspicuous, but meet all necessary safety regulations.


As of 2006, the standard podiums installed at Ryerson for presentation technologies are very poorly designed. Re-design the podium. It must provide security for the equipment inside it. It must be moveable. It must include a computer; a document viewer; connections for USB and Internet; DVD/VHS equipment. Other equipment may be added.


Review all walking aids - canes, crutches, walkers, etc. Analyze the pros and cons of each type. Map the range of their application. Now look for opportunities for new ways to help people walk, either by integrating existing solutiosn, or by filling voids among existing solutions.

Yes, this was an actual NASA Design Challenge.
Brenzel, Logan; Wolfson, Lara; Fox-Rushby, Julia; Miller, Mark; Halsey, Neal A. Chapter 20: Vaccine Preventable Diseases. Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. Pp. 389.
teaching/list_of_design_projects.txt · Last modified: 2020.07.24 06:28 by Fil Salustri