On Monday Dec. 12, students in 2.009, Product Engineering Processes, presented their final projects to an overflowing Kresge Auditorium. Students worked in assigned teams of 11 to 13 people throughout the semester to develop ideas, design products, and build prototypes related to the “on the go” theme. Each had a $6,500 budget and help from professors and shop instructors as they refined their projects. Eight teams presented during the event, which included live music and audience involvement. Eight-minute presentations were followed by five minutes of audience questions.
Each of the color-coded teams demonstrated a working prototype. The Orange Team’s prototype of a faucet attachment used sonar to fill industrial sinks to desired levels.
“When the class starts, you have no idea what to expect. For the first month or so it is all brainstorming,” said team member Jared M. Darby ’12.
Two sections within each team tried out three ideas each before choosing one concept to pursue as a whole team. “When something goes wrong, you have to keep pushing, ask for help, and you’ll usually make it through,” said Darby.
Several prototypes were targeted for people with medical conditions that limited their mobility. Brendan R. Rios ’12 was a member of the Green Team, which designed a walker that could fold into a cane. He said that ideas for products for the handicapped and elderly stemmed from asking the question, “What could use more mobility?”
Similar products include the Red Team’s heating and cooling unit for paraplegics, the Yellow Team’s system for operating a mechanical wheelchair without touching the rims, and the Purple Team’s electric power boost for mechanical wheelchairs.
Other projects included the Silver Team’s design for a vacuum-compressing suitcase and the Pink Team’s helmet dispenser to accompany bike-sharing facilities.
Michael W. Bickers ’12 was a member of the Blue Team. His team considered a coffee alarm, automated sandwich maker, and pill dispenser before settling on the final concept of a keyless bike lock. “The hardest thing about presenting was hoping our product would work,” he said.
“The most valuable part was learning how to work with a whole team dynamic,” added his teammate, Stephen A. Hendel ’12.
All teams included a business plan in their presentation and some past 2.009 projects have been made profitable. Still, Hendel said, “from this point onward, finding external funding is a major concern, which is an obstacle to starting a business.”