New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
This paper will detail the challenges two groups of students, at two varying universities working on two separate senior design projects, experienced when designing for target users they lack empathy for. The projects presented in this paper support handicapped and/or disabled individuals. User empathy and the physical, physiological, and psychological aspects of the target user must be considered to deliver a successful design. As many engineers will gain employment in a healthcare related field, it is important that they are able to empathize with the target user – often handicapped and/or elderly individuals. This is further exacerbated by the increase in the number of handicapped and elderly individuals in the United States as medical care improves and life expectancy continues to increase. Students are not formally educated on the disparity between products/users they design and products/users they are familiar with. If not addressed, this could lead to engineers designing inappropriate and unsuccessful products. The major contribution of this paper is beyond that of the design and build of assistive technology, rather it is the experience students gained by designing a system for users that they lack empathy for (though they possess sympathy for). This is of particular importance here because senior design, an experience meant to prepare students for “real world” engineering, must integrate many engineering and societal elements beyond that of building a technical system. Specifically, students were anticipated to integrate the physical, physiological, and psychological components of the end user into their design – soft content not formally taught to students. This paper will detail the unanticipated, yet beneficial experiences students gained beyond engineering design through this project, as well as the challenge involved in incorporating the physical, physiological, and psychological aspects of the end user, and how students were able to overcome this challenge and deliver a successful design. Further, this paper will provide recommendations for how to formally integrate educational elements that help students learn these critical skills to prepare them for industry – where often time the engineer/designer is not empathetic of the end user.
Schmitt, E., & Kames, E., & Morkos, B., & Conway, T. A. (2016, June), The Importance of Incorporating Designer Empathy in Senior Capstone Design Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26191
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