June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.186.1 - 15.186.9
Applying the Design Process to Redesign a Personal Care Product Integration of Technical and Marketing Issues
As part of the curricula in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), there is a requirement of an Interdisciplinary Senior Design Project for the students to complete during their last year in school. The projects typically are proposed by faculty members based on some particular interest or specific need that they might have, or in collaboration with industry or businesses in the area. Other options are projects proposed by students based on their own interests. The preferred option, from the faculty’s and students’ perspective, is to have industry- sponsored projects, where students can get exposure to some industry or business and as well as feel the added responsibility of responding to someone other than the faculty and/or staff that they have already interacted with for at least couple of years. Although, at the start of these Interdisciplinary Projects, students leaned more towards working on some internal project, they have come to realize the benefits of having an external project, where more realistic and practical considerations can be seen. Additionally, the competitive nature of most students moves them to select projects that are not trivial endeavors.
In this particular instance, the interesting aspect of this project is that the project was requested – or offered – by a start-up company, which meant that factors other than purely engineering and technical ones needed to be taken into consideration. The product is an electric nail file. The goal was to come out with a new flexible design, together with a justification to prove that the proposed product will be attractive to commercial as well as individual customers. Based on the objective, a complete typical engineering design cycle was utilized. There are electric nail files in the market nowadays so, a survey was conducted in order to identify problems with existing offerings in the market and, at the same time, identify what would be attractive to different market segments. Background information was obtained in order to be aware of the health and safety issues important to the nail care industry. Brainstorming and conceptualization took place, with design, manufacturing/production and business aspects being considered. Computer-based tools were applied for modeling and concept modifications, and virtual prototypes were created, for aesthetic and ergonomic evaluation. In the end, a set of four designs (from entry-level to professional) were proposed, all with a similar core design but different specifications, features and material. Despite the initial teasing endured by the senior group about the type of product being designed, at the end, the sponsor and the students considered the experience worthwhile of an interdisciplinary capstone design project.
The engineering design process has different meanings to different people, which sometimes makes it difficult to have adequate design projects for Senior Design capstone activities. But when a project has the potential to involve more than the standard technical activities that engineering students usually understand as being what “design” is all about, the project lends itself to be a great opportunity to illustrate the actual meaning of the complete engineering design process.
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