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Multidisciplinary College-Industry Collaboration on Biometric-Controlled Electrical-Assist Bicycles

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Aaron Carpenter Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Professor Carpenter is an Assistant Professor at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. In 2012, he completed his PhD at the University of Rochester, and now focuses his efforts to further the areas of computer architecture, digital systems, cybersecurity, and computer engineering education.

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James R McCusker PhD Wentworth Institute of Technology

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James R. McCusker is an Associate Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Since joining Wentworth in 2010, he has been heavily involved with an array of interdisciplinary design courses that range from introductory to capstone courses.

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Durga Suresh Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Durga Suresh is an associate professor in the department of computer science and networking and has been teaching at WIT for over fifteen years, including courses in software engineering, databases, architecture, and capstone projects.
She has been involved in service-learning projects in urban Boston and has developed CS-outreach-oriented seminar classes in which college juniors and seniors develop and deploy CS curricula to middle school students. She has extensive experience with designing and teaching project based, multidisciplinary courses with collaboration and input from industry partners.

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Collaboration between industry partners and collegiate faculty/students is often a complicated undertaking. In projects that cross departments and include numerous independent groups, the complexity of the overall undertaken tasks can grow significantly. Students and faculty may be involved for various portions of the project that span across multiple courses and semesters. Throughout, independent student roles may vary from small parts on up to central roles in the overall project development. This presents numerous challenges from both academic and logistical standpoints.

For this study, the project goal was to take an existing, commercially available electric-assist bicycle and adapt it to include physiological feedback from biometric sensors, in order to prevent injury to the rider. If the identified sensors detect the user may be at risk of injury, through an array of predetermined medical constraints, the bike's motor would automatically take over to limit the physical exertion of the user. Because of the interdisciplinary facets of the project, student groups from different backgrounds were recruited and assigned to specific tasks. In the completion of the prescribed tasks, many obstacles and issues arose.

Over three academic semesters beginning in May of 2016, overlapping cohorts of students (17 students total) and faculty (12 faculty members) at Wentworth Institute of Technology entered into a partnership with RRT eBikes. The work presented here describes their roles in a large industrial/collegiate collaboration and provides insights into what worked, what didn't, and the reasons for each. In particular, setting student and faculty roles and maintaining direction with a large cross-disciplinary team proved to have unique challenges. After the initial semester, the team worked to improve the process based on feedback gathered during the intercession. This work describes the iterative process and provides insight into what worked and what didn’t in this large-scale interdisciplinary project. It provides tips and tricks for people pursuing similar large scale projects for undergraduate programs, interdisciplinary teams, and/or industry partnerships.

Carpenter, A., & McCusker, J. R., & Suresh, D. (2017, June), Multidisciplinary College-Industry Collaboration on Biometric-Controlled Electrical-Assist Bicycles Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28693

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