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. Cup Up and Away 2020
  2. Squashketball 2019
  3. Catch Mine Drift 2018
  4. Ship off the Old Blocks 2017
  5. Aqua-lug 2016
  6. Battle Royale Coinsort 2015
  7. The Hole-Sheet Bang 2014

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.