What We Do

The IMPACT Initiative is an interdisciplinary collaboration that engages undergraduate and graduate students from Engineering, Biology/Science, Occupational Therapy and Medicine, McMaster Alumni, Community Healthcare Partners, and volunteer clients. Since 2011, the IMPACT team has provided collaborative teaching and learning opportunities that encourage faculty, students, healthcare partners to apply their knowledge to invent customized accessibility devices


The IMPACT Initiative involves a learning process whereby students from different academic disciplines come together to understand, appreciate, and address challenges experienced by our aging population and people living with disabilities. IMPACT co-leaders Dr. Robert Fleisig (Engineering), Dr. Lovaye Kajiura (Biology/Science), Dr. Brenda Vrkljan (Occupational The​rapy), Dr. Liz Hassan (Engineering), and Shelir Ebrahimi (Engineering) teach students how to improve the lives of our aging population and that of people with disabilities. The IMPACT Initiative drives student creativity, innovation, and community engagement. The interdisciplinary exchange of ideas successfully creates meaningful learning experiences that lead to positive community change.


Student-Student Partners: Engineering students work together in design teams. Science students work together in design review teams.

Student-Interdisciplinary Mentors: Engineering students get feedback from collaborations with interdisciplinary design reviewers and peer mentors from Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation Science and other disciplines.

Student-Teaching Assistants: Engineering students work with teaching assistants to improve their designs during weekly tutorials.

Faculty-Faculty: Our IMPACT Initiative is a collaborative partnership involving professors in Engineering, Science, and Rehabilitation Science.

Educators-Community Partners-Clients: Our clients and community partners reside in our Greater Hamilton community.

Science Course


The IMPACT (Interdisciplinary, Mentorship, Practice, Applied, Community, Transformative) initiative collaboratively engages undergraduate and graduate students from various Faculties, McMaster alumni, healthcare partners, and real clients to understand and address challenges experienced by people living with disabilities (e.g., arthritis, strokes, cerebral palsy, dementia). Students will learn and mobilize their applied and conceptual knowledge of science to collaboratively create customized devices that help real clients with activities critical to their health to improve their quality of life



Enriching Learning Between & Beyond Courses – Science inspiring good thoughts, good words, & good deeds
Lovaye Kajiura, McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Designing Impactful Initiatives
L. Kajiura, R. Fleisig, B. Vrkljan, & L. Hassan – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Facilitating IMPACTFUL Learning Initiatives via online multimedia tools
Lovaye Kajiura, Robert Fleisig, Brenda Vrkljan, Liz Hassan McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Implementing Partnerships that have IMPACT
Lovaye Kajiura, Elizabeth Hassan, Robert Fleisig, Brenda Vrkljan McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Impact Evaluation of a Novel Community-Engaged Interdisciplinary Learning Project
Megan Dodd, Lovaye Kajiura, Robert Fleisig, Brenda Vrkljan – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Lovaye Kajiura , Robert Fleisig , Brenda Vrkljan – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Cultivating Collaborative University-Community Partnerships:
Lovaye Kajiura , Robert Fleisig , Brenda Vrkljan , Megan Dodd – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Promoting Participation in an Aging Society
Brenda Vrkljan, Robert Fleisig, Lovaye Kajiura – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF

Facilitating Transformative Interdisciplinary Collaborative Projects:
Lovaye Kajiura , Robert Fleisig , Brenda Vrkljan – McMaster University

Abstract – PDF


Robert Fleisig

Robert Fleisig, Ph.D., P.Eng

Associate Professor,  W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology

Associate Member, Department of Mechanical Engineering



Lovaye Kajiura, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science


Brenda Vrkljan

Brenda Vrkljan, Ph.D

Associate Professor,  School of Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy, Institute of Applied Health Studies


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Shelir Ebrahimi, Ph.D., P.Eng

Assistant Professor, Engineering 1 and Chemical Engineering
Elizabeth Hassan

Liz Hassan, Ph.D, P.Eng

Assistant Professor, Engineering 1 and Mechanical Engineering


Science Student Leaders & Alumni Leaders


McMaster’s University Biomedical Engineering website feature story regarding the IMPACT Project https://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/msbe/news/connecting-hearts-and-minds

The IMPACT Initiative at McMaster University – video was made by McMaster University students Noah Stancati and Gursharan Mann https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1GOCOwflPo

IMPACT Project – featured story covered by the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC) News Network – The National Dec 28th 2016. 

McMaster University Daily News Article related to the IMPACT Project collaborative project with Engineering, Biology, and Rehabilitation students.




To join our upcoming IMPACT Initiatives:

  • Science undergraduate and graduate students can join our IMPACT Team as collaborative design reviewers and mentors. Please contact Dr. Lovaye Kajiura (kajiura@mcmaster.ca) for more details
  • Students enrolled in Science 2P03 Impactful Initiatives in Health course are automatically involved with the Impact Initiatives
  • Engineering undergraduate students will already be involved with the IMPACT Initiative via their ENG 1P13 class participation
  • Rehabilitation Sciences graduate students can join us as collaborative design reviewers and peer mentors.  Please contact Dr. Brenda Vrkljan (vrkljan@mcmaster.ca)
  • If you are interested in serving as a client for our Impact Initiative, please contact Dr. Robert Fleisig (robert@mcmaster.ca)