An important aspect of engineering education is introducing students to the design cycle, the iterative series of steps that are followed in developing an engineering solution. Design competitions or challenges are a fun way in which students can gain first-hand experience with the design cycle. Some classic examples of design challenges include the Mouse-Trap Car, the Egg Drop, and the Popsicle Stick Bridge.

As part of my first-year engineering courses at Laurentian University, I have developed a series of new design competitions. Past competitions have included:

  1. Catch Mine Drift 2018
  2. Ship off the Old Blocks 2017
  3. Aqua-lug 2016
  4. Battle Royale Coinsort 2015
  5. The Hole-Sheet Bang 2014
  6. Squashsketball
  7. The Stationery Bike

You can click on the above links to learn more about the specifics of each competition. Common elements include the development or a prototype and final design, as well as the simultaneous optimization for both cost and performance.

Feel free to re-use any of these competitions as part of your own courses. If you do, I’d appreciate it if you would send me an email ( to let me know how it went.