Students tackle real-world problems at University of Ottawa Design Day

Design Day 2017
Design Day 2017

University of Ottawa engineering students did away with the dioramas and baking soda volcanoes this week as the faculty put on a science fair like no other.

Design Day is a one-day event featuring 560 students working in teams, with groups ranging from two to 15. In total, there were more than 100 engineering solutions displayed from across seven design categories.

The winning team from the accessibility category developed a specialized remote control for an Ottawa man with cerebral palsy. Jorge de Almeida uses his left foot to control not only his wheelchair, but his TV remote as well. To make channel changing less frustrating, the group used a 3D printer to create the textbook-sized remote that consists of six large buttons.

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Design Day 2017

Practical solutions like these are the goal of the second-annual exhibition, says founder Hanan Anis.

“We engage students to work with real customers on solving real problems,” she says.

Anis is the university’s NSERC Chair and the coordinator of entrepreneurship and innovation in the faculty of engineering. She says she first imagined the event as a way to help students apply their education to existing problems in today’s market.

“Design Day was created because there is a very conscious effort in the (engineering) faculty to give students hands-on experience. It’s good for the students, it’s good for the workplace, and (it’s important to) engage them early developing products that the markets wants,” says Anis.

Another team that created a fuel efficient car will be going to Detroit next month for the Shell Eco-marathon. Some of the cars in the competition can travel up to 3,000 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Other projects showcased include a hydroponic system for refugees, all-terrain crutches, waterproof hearing aids and a hands-free cafeteria tray.

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