Design lessons from (Settlers of) Catan

Image by static416 via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

First released in Germany in 1995, Settler of Catan[1] (or Die Siedler von Catan) is responsible for launching a board game renaissance in North America. It has sold over 18 million copies world-wide, sparked a number of expansions and spin-offs, and paved the way for a host of other so-called Eurogames. When a product is so successful, it is easy to assume that the design sprang fully formed from the mind of its creator. The truth is much more complicated. Continue reading


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