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Engineers build things that make a difference

uOttawa students display their ingenuity at first ever Design Day

Trying to get hundreds of kilometres from a single litre of fuel. Saving restaurants thousands with a simple machine. Using autonomous rovers to detect life-threatening hazards

These are only a few the engineering challenges being tackled by University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering students. On March 29, uOttawa hosted its first ever Design Day, to showcase the work of students and their collaborators from the Ottawa community.

Design Day featured 43 exhibits. About a third of the projects and functional prototypes on display were related to courses of study. The rest represented the pure passion, ingenuity and hard work of students pursuing their own interests. Some are looking to start their own company. Others just want to address a societal problem, like aiding people with disabilities, or an aging population with the mobility issues.

“Design Day is a celebration to showcase our students and all their hard work,” said Professor Dr. Hanan Anis, NSERC Chair in Entrepreneurial Engineering Design (CEED). 

Many exhibits were the result of collaborations at uOttawa’s Richard L’abbé Makerspace, featuring 3D-printed components and the kind of sensor technologies that are central to the Internet of Things. The Makerspace is an invent-build-play space run by students, where anyone from the university and the broader community can come and unleash their creativity.

Accessible medical tech for developing countries

A highlight of the day was the Makerspace Challenge Finale. Students were given the task to create affordable and reliable medical technology that could be used in developing nations. They had to create an oximeter – a device that measures oxygen levels in the blood – at a cost of less than $25. This important diagnostic tool typically costs around $1,600.

Dr. Anis introduced the Challenge after learning about the need from an emergency room doctor in London who was building affordable stethoscopes to be used in Gaza – Dr. Tarek Loubani. Dr. Loubani is already on board to receive the first models of the winning oximeter design and test them on patients before putting them to use in Gaza.

“We’ve been working hard to get students to prototype” Dr. Anis said. “It’s not enough to have an idea on paper. Engineers are creative individuals who make things that are useful to someone – we want to showcase, celebrate and encourage this.”

And the winners are ….

Third-year students Justin McLeod and Kristina Ojukic won the Challenge with their 3D-printed design. They received a prize of $1,000, but of course, the greatest reward is the satisfaction that their work could potentially save lives. 

Get involved

To learn how you can get involved with uOttawa’s Richard L’abbé Makerspace, visit or contact Dr. Hanan Anis at