Newark, New Jersey
April 22, 2022
April 22, 2022
April 23, 2022
A collaborative interdisciplinary teaching methodology has been developed and successfully implemented where students from the Engineering and Graphic Design programs work together to create interrelated projects under authentic industry conditions. This educational experience is replicable and moves beyond traditional pedagogy by establishing a real-time, real-world learning environment for students across disciplines. In the present project the Engineering students were tasked with designing and implementing a rotating-head-support for a 12-year-old New Jersey boy who is wheelchair bound with multiple disabilities. Each Graphic Design student was tasked with developing a unique visual identity, product name, and branding campaign based on the perceived purpose and demographic of the rotating-head-support. The project required the work of several Engineering teams over a period of two years. The project started with input from the child’s parents, Teacher, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist. The key challenge was to enable the child to rotate his head, even a few millimeters, to activate electrical switches placed near his temples, thereby allowing him to interface with special educational software and communicate with his teacher. Since commercial wheelchair head-supports are stationary, the solution developed by the Engineering teams was a novel rotating-head-support. The design was based on two intersecting circles of rotational motion. The center of one of the circles being the mechanical bearings and support components attached to the wheelchair, and the center of the second circle being the vertebrae of the child’s neck. With this unique design, only the slightest effort on the child’s part was required to rotate his head. Furthermore, was the development of cushioning for the head-support so that the child’s head was both comfortable and well supported. A hand-held 3D scanner was used to accurately capture the shape of the child’s head and be the basis of a 3D printed shell to support the child’s head. A custom gel-cushion “honeycomb” structure was implemented in the shell. The compliance of the cushion was tailored by varying the gel-cushion structural element dimensions. The enclosing fabric was chosen to be comfortable in both humid and dry conditions and be easily removed and cleaned. The Graphic Design students met with the Engineering students periodically during the project to discuss ways to make the rotating-head-support more visually appealing to the child, using for example, color schemes, illustrated fabrics, and accessories such as flags with age-specific themes and images. During the final presentation of the visual identities and branding campaigns, the Engineering students participated as judges for the Graphic Design students. This collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to project-based learning ensured that the creative process was experiential - principles and skills were employed first-hand with a primary emphasis on learning by doing, including trial and error. Students learned an array of vital skills while adding a unique cross-disciplinary collaborative experience to their education, making them better equipped for future classroom success and professional opportunities.
Vongrej, D. L., & Galindo-Maza, J. F., & Ingenito, L. P., & Lizano, D. A., & Nugent, J., & Rybak, K., & McManus, D., & Stupak, P. R. (2022, April), Engineering and Graphic Design Interdisciplinary Collaborative Product Development: A Wheelchair-Mounted Rotating-Head-Support for a Disabled Child Paper presented at 2022 Spring ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Conference, Newark, New Jersey. https://peer.asee.org/40049
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2022 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015