Students solve transportation challenges and develop professional skills through MacChangers 

By Ciara McCann, Faculty of Engineering, September 12, 2017

Gaining real-world experiences before entering the world. This is what attracted Jordan Sullivan to MacChangers.

The aim of MacChangers, a joint venture of the Faculty of Engineering and the MacPherson Institute, is to support interdisciplinary teams of students as they develop research projects and propose innovative solutions to issues that impact society both locally and globally. The extracurricular activity is open to all McMaster undergraduate students.

Sullivan, a Chemical Engineering & Society student, joined MacChangers in 2016 after hearing about it through a friend. His team project focused on creating solutions to social inequalities found in Hamilton’s transportation system.

“I was attracted to MacChangers because it gave me an opportunity to take on a project related to what I wanted to do after graduation,” said Sullivan. “I thought if this is going to be my life one day, why not get involved?”

This year’s program continues to focus on improving transportation, one of 14 grand challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering.

“We chose transportation this year because Hamilton is now in the process of developing a good transportation plan, while keeping issues of social equality and user-friendly aspects in mind,” said Beth Levinson, Community Programs Developer, MacPherson Institute. “Students will be able to reimagine how technology might be used and different ways of moving people.”

The collaborative nature of the program also helps students develop their professional skills.

“MacChangers gives engineering students an appropriate vehicle to interact with students from other disciplines and get a jumpstart on what they are going to do after graduation,” said Ishwar K. Puri, McMaster’s Dean of Engineering. “One day, students will work in partnership with diverse groups from different backgrounds. This program gives students diversity of thought and opinion.”

The freedom to think of innovative solutions outside of the classroom is another aspect of MacChangers that Sullivan enjoys.

“You have this big safety net and support from your peers and supervisors and you can do whatever you want and try to figure out a problem that's way beyond you.” Sullivan said.

Learn more about MacChangers by attending an information session on one of the following dates:

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

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