Zach, a mechanical engineer I shadowed just switched jobs. Zach is currently working on a project for the Gates Foundation through the University of Toronto. The project is reinventing the toilet and is a hot topic since 40% of the world’s population doesn’t have access to flushing toilets. The new toilets must be cheap (can’t cost more than $0.05 a day) and must be easy to install. The mechanical engineer I shadowed is responsible for making sure all the parts inside the toilet work cohesively and effectively as well as the separating of urine and feces (I won’t say more of the specifics because they are pretty gross).

Being an engineer and working on this project is fascinating. Everyday Zach is trying to innovate, experimenting, designing, and working with professors and other engineers (chemical for example) to reach the Gate’s expectations. Although I wouldn’t want to be dealing with this subject matter I really liked his job since Zach is trying to help over a billion people and reinvent a 200 year old machine.

Check out this cool video to see more about the project:

A Typical Day

Zach spends everyday designing machines, perfecting designs, and working with other engineers to achieve their goal.

Top 3 Perks

1) Seeing your design actually work

2) Learning new things

3) Working in a team of other engineers and professors

Job Culture

Indoors, working with equipment, using computers, working long hours, meeting with other engineers and professors, building machines


1) Complete a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering 

2) Register as a Professional Engineer 

- The engineer I shadowed has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering as well

Skills Needed

Problem solving, creativity, communication, math skills, attention to detail, analytical skills

The Field

- Computers have let engineers complete tasks better and way quicker

- Engineers in robotics and computer technology have a bright future