This is the time of year where we solicit project for our first-year engineering design course. Please see below and email me ( or comment below if you have a project idea for us to tackle. We LOVE solving community partners problems and I am looking to schedule phone calls and in-person meetings with people to select our projects by mid-August.

Many engineers at Rice University solve an authentic, client-based design challenge during their freshman year.  Through the course, Introduction to Engineering Design (ENGI 120), students work in multi-disciplinary teams to design and build solutions to these challenges. These projects allow Rice students to discover the importance and relevance of engineering by solving contemporary problems whose solutions benefit clients or society directly.  The course is housed in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK,  The course instructors are issuing an open call for high-quality client-based or community-driven projects to be solved by first-year Rice University engineering students.

As part of this call we are asking you to submit worthwhile and relevant ideas, problems, or areas of improvement you observe in your career, your company, or daily life. We will work with you to frame the problem to include underlying engineering principles and be tractable for a team of first-year engineering students to complete over the course of one semester.  Characteristics of successful projects include:

  • solvable without any specific disciplinary engineering knowledge,
  • multiple parts or pieces, making it easy to be worked on by a team,
  • the opportunity for prototype design and iteration, and
  • open-ended (i.e., you can readily visualize several different ways to solve the project).

Projects in ENGI 120 are funded by Rice University. There is no financial cost as a submitter of ideas or as a project mentor.  Project mentors typically spend 10-20 hours working with a student team during the semester.

Since inception of the course in spring 2011, we have worked with the Houston Zoo, several museums, Shell Oil, Wilson Elementary School (HISD), Shriners Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospital, and others.  Our students have developed products that have been deployed to the community.  For example:

In summary, teams of first-year engineering students at Rice University are eager to solve authentic, real-world problem 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 and then submit possible project ideas.  To submit an idea, schedule a meeting, or discuss a project, please contact us!

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