Design lessons from cancellous bone

Image of Nestlé Aero bar Bodo via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Image of Nestlé Aero bar by Bodo via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Bone is like an Aero chocolate bar. It is not a perfect simile, of course, if only because my American friends rarely encounter an Aero bar. Nevertheless, comparing images of the two reveals important structural similarities: a dense outer shell, and a porous inner core. Continue reading


Interview with the Laurentian University 2017 OEC Senior Design Team

The Laurentian University Bharti School of Engineering 2017 Senior Design Team (L-R): Matt Bennison, Colin Roos, Stephane Labine, Aidan Simpson.

Over the past three years, Colin Roos, Matthew Bennison, Aidan Simpson, and Stephane Labine have represented Laurentian University’s Bharti School of Engineer as a Junior or Senior Design Team. They have participated in three Ontario Engineer Competitions (OEC), winning twice (2015 & 2016) and coming in second the third time (2017). Each year they qualified for the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC) and won the Canadian Junior Design title in 2015.

In short, they are the most successful OEC/CEC quartet Laurentian has ever produced. I sat down with them to discuss these competitions, what they’ve learned over the years, and what suggestions they might have for future teams. Continue reading


Design lessons from the Mars Climate Orbiter

Artist's rendition of the Mars Climate Orbiter. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Artist’s rendition of the Mars Climate Orbiter. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Alexander Pope famously wrote that “to err is human.” In doing so, he was probably referencing Seneca the Younger who said something similar about seventeen hundred years earlier: errare humanum est. Both quotes suggest that mistakes are a fundamental part of the human experience. If we are honest, all of us would confess to having erred on many occasions. Most of those mistakes were small. Some were large. Thankfully, few of us will ever have to admit to a mistake that cost over $125 million! [1] Continue reading