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First-Year Product Design Challenge: Creative Design Development for the Disabled

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

FPD 8: Teaching Design in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.612.1 - 24.612.43



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Paper Authors


Wallace Martindell Catanach III Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mechanical engineering: machine design, fatigue, robotics, 3D CAD

M. Emgt., Engineering Management, The George Washington University, 1993
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1980

Positions Held:
The Pennsylvania State University, 2010-Present
Mechanical Engineer, Machine Design, 18 years
Mechanical Engineer, Electronic Packaging Engineer, 5 years
Engineering Manager, 7 years

Growth award, General Electric, 2006
Reliability Practitioner, General Electric, 2006
Six Sigma, Green Belt, 2005

Patent #7341226 Movable point frog switching assembly, 2008
Patent #7152830 Switch machine improvements, 2006
Patent #7147189 Non-powered trailed switch detector, 2006
Patent #7134632 Non-powered trailed switch detector, 2006
Patent #6041910 Baggage pusher device and system, 2000
Patent #D413190 Trolley bumper, 1999

Professional Engineer, PE-035656-E, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs
Professional Engineer, 6201040345 (Inactive), Michigan
FIRST Robotics mentor
Faculty adviser, Pre-Engineering, Shawnee Mission High School

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Mary Lynn Brannon Pennsylvania State University, University Park


Christopher Stephen Smith Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Mr. Smith is an instructor at the Pennsylvania State University in the School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs. He is also a research engineer at the Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University. His education consits of a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and an M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

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First-Year Product Design Challenge: Creative design development for the disabledThere are situations when an engineer will be required to get a concept across to a customer,fellow engineer, or boss without the use of traditional tools. If you are discussing business overdinner, you would not typically have a pad of paper at your disposal. What can you use toconvey your concept? What you need is a paper napkin and a pencil of course!A product design challenge is incorporated into a first year engineering design program at a largemid-Atlantic research university where students are asked to work on a potential situationalcreativity problem. The problem is a combination of real world experiences, drawing on anapkin, and creatively developing concepts to solve an engineering problem. The uniqueness ofthe challenge is the subject matter. Each student is asked to individually design a rake for adisabled person who has unilateral loss of function of the arm and hand. The disabled person inquestion is a stroke victim who lost functionality of the right limb and is willing to critique theindividual designs and work with a student or a team to develop a working prototype rake. Thesubject is unable to put downward pressure on the rake and can only drag the rake horizontallyacross the leaves thus raking only the leaves on top. Downward pressure is needed to get therake between grass, dirt, and other leaves. The rake must be designed so that the user will beable to exert downward force despite his or her disability.The students review the description of the challenge and each student is expected to developcustomer needs from the customer’s statements. The customer needs require specifications,which are put into the Needs/Specification matrix where the specifications are developed. Allcustomer needs should have a least one (1) or more specifications. The specifications can beconsidered a test that will be qualified before the product is released to production. The studentis asked to develop three creative designs and rate them, using a concept screening matrix (seeexhibit A below) and/or concept scoring matrix (see exhibit B below). The matrices are used torate the concepts on how well they meet the customer’s needs. Based on their results of thescreening and/or scoring matrix, students will select one or more designs to be developed further.During the activity the instructor will often observe the students acting out the raking motionsthat lets them test their rake in the air. If a student or a team of students would like to develop a working prototype, they will follow thedesign process that has been previously introduced to the students. The student or students willbe required to research other designs to prevent infringement on existing patents through thepatent office. The students will also benchmark their product against other products that aresimilar and already on the market.Assessment strategies to collect data to determine the students' perceptions of the learningexperience in the Product Challenge Project include a post-survey and a focus group with asample of students enrolled in the class. This focus group will be conducted to collect feedbackon the activity, including thoughts on its effectiveness for teaching design, and suggestions forimproving the activity for future semesters. Data will be collected during the current Fall 2013semester and will be analyzed in time to be included in the paper.The process of developing a product is drawn from the first author’s personal experiencesworking in industry. This paper will be applicable for those who teach first year engineeringstudents. A. Concept Screening Matrix (adopted from Ulrich and Eppinger) ConceptsSelection Criteria Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3 Concept 4 Concept 5 Concept 6 Concept 7Criteria 1 0 0 - 0 0 - -Criteria 2 0 - - 0 0 + 0Criteria 3 0 0 + 0 + 0 +Criteria 4 0 0 0 0 - 0 0Criteria 5 0 0 0 0 0 + 0Criteria 6 + - - 0 0 - 0Criteria 7 + + 0 0 + 0 0Sum +'s 2 1 1 0 2 2 1Sum 0's 5 4 3 7 4 3 5Sum -'s 0 2 3 0 1 2 1Net Score 2 -1 -2 0 1 0 0Rank 1 6 7 3 2 3 3Continue? Yes No No Combine Yes Combine Revise B. Concept Scoring Matrix (adopted from Ulrich and Eppinger) Concepts Concept A Concept B Concept C Concept D Weighted Weighted Weighted WeightedMetric Selection Criteria Weight Rating Score Rating Score Rating Score Rating Score 1 Criteria 1 5% 1 0.050 3 0.150 4 0.200 4 0.200 2 Criteria 2 15% 2 0.300 4 0.600 4 0.600 3 0.450 3 Criteria 3 10% 5 0.500 3 0.300 5 0.500 5 0.500 4 Criteria 4 25% 3 0.750 3 0.750 2 0.500 3 0.750 5 Criteria 5 15% 6 0.900 5 0.750 4 0.600 3 0.450 6 Criteria 6 20% 4 0.800 3 0.600 2 0.400 2 0.400 7 Criteria 7 10% 7 0.700 3 0.300 3 0.300 3 0.300 Total % 100% Total score 4.000 3.450 3.100 3.050 Rank 1 2 3 4 Continue? Yes Yes No No

Catanach, W. M., & Brannon, M. L., & Smith, C. S. (2014, June), First-Year Product Design Challenge: Creative Design Development for the Disabled Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20503

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