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An Iterative Approach to Implementing Sponsored Design and Build Projects

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Making in Design

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.202.1 - 26.202.14



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Paper Authors


Wendy S. Reffeor PhD Grand Valley State University

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Wendy Reffeor is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University. She earned her Bachelors from GMI Engineering & Management Institute, Masters from Purdue University and Doctorate from Michigan State University. Her industrial experience includes designing quality systems for Allison Engine Company in Indianapolis. Since joining GVSU, she has focused on introducing design and build projects in traditionally analytical courses in the Engineering Mechanics sequence.

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John Paul Farris Grand Valley State University

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John Farris joined the faculty at Grand Valley State University after a successful tenure as the chief product designer for a medical device manufacturer. His other significant industrial experience includes designing engine components for Caterpillar Inc. and consulting on the design of stationary fuel cell power generation units. His current research interests are design methods and medical technology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island and his Bachelors and masters degrees from Lehigh University.

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An Iterative Approach to Implementing Sponsored Design and Build ProjectsProducing usable prototypes in a single iteration in a semester-long course is extremelychallenging. A research project was undertaken to determine if iterating designs in subsequentcourses would improve the results and usability of sponsored design and build projects in lowerdivision courses.Assistive technology devices (devices to help people with disabilities) were used in threeseparate classes to teach students design strategies and reinforce course content. Five separatedesign challenges were undertaken and iterated at least one time. Each device was designed andbuilt in a single course with iterations performed in following courses.When iterating a design, documentation of previous iterations is essential to avoid repeatingmistakes and pursuing already rejected concepts. When the iteration occurs with differentengineering students in different classes, it is crucial that this documentation be gathered,collected, and transmitted to the next team in an effective manner. A web-based tool wasdeveloped to allow easy transfer of design documentation from one course to the next.In some iterations, the web tool was used and in others it was not. The incremental improvementbetween iterations was enhanced by the use of the web tool. Additionally, students had less of atendency to “reinvent the wheel” when the previous group’s documentation was available as wellas their prototype. This saved time and allowed substantial progress to be made in successiveiterations.End users and/or their caregivers were asked to rate each iteration via a survey to determine usersatisfaction with different aspects of the prototype. User satisfaction with successive iterationswas compared. In all cases, user qualitative feedback on both the design, prior to build, and afteruse of the prototype was also collected. It was found that successive iterations improvedcustomer satisfaction.

Reffeor, W. S., & Farris, J. P. (2015, June), An Iterative Approach to Implementing Sponsored Design and Build Projects Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23541

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