Student engineering teams at Rice University solve authentic, client-based design challenges during their education. Through the course, Introduction to Engineering Design (ENGI 120), the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen is offering the opportunity for first-year students to design and build solutions to engineering design challenges. These multi-disciplinary team projects allow freshman Rice students to discover the importance and relevance of engineering early in their careers by solving contemporary problems whose solutions benefit clients or society directly. The course instructors, Ann Saterbak and Matthew Wettergreen, are issuing an open call for high-quality client-based or community-driven projects to be solved by first-year engineering students in ENGI 120.

As part of this call we are asking you to submit worthwhile and relevant ideas, problems, or areas for improvement you observe in your career, your company, or daily life. Our faculty will work with you to frame the problem to be tractable for a team of first-year engineering students to complete over the course of one semester. Projects that have been successful typical are solvable without any specific disciplinary engineering knowledge; have multiple parts or pieces, making it easy to be worked on by a team; have the opportunity for prototype design and iteration; and are open-ended (i.e., you can readily visualize several different ways to solve the project). Since the OEDK funds all project materials, there is no financial cost to you as a submitter of ideas or as a project mentor. Typically project mentors spend 15-20 hours working with a student team during the semester.

Since inception of the course in spring 2011, we have worked with the Houston Zoo, Shell Oil, Wilson Elementary School (HISD), Shriners Hospital, and other partners. Our students have already developed products that have been deployed to the community. Designed for pediatric patients in the developing world, students designed and built a device that limits the flow of IV fluid from a 1-L bag ( In collaboration with the Houston Zoo, student teams designed and built a new giraffe hay feeder and a puzzle feeder for the orangutans (

In summary, teams of first-year engineering students at Rice University are eager to solve authentic, real-world problems faced by you or your company. During the course, first-year students gain early experience in the engineering field, appreciate the relevance of engineering problem solving, and work in a team-based professional environment. You have the opportunity to mentor a team of bright and motivated students for a semester as well as benefit from their ideas and prototype design. We encourage you to think carefully about and submit possible project ideas. To submit an idea, schedule a meeting with the course instructor, or discuss a project or a collaboration with your company/organization, please email or

Matthew Wettergreen, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Rice University

Ann Saterbak, Ph.D.
Professor in the Practice, Rice University

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