In keeping with the new X-Trained Engineering Initiative, Tobias Rossmann, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is leading a multi-disciplinary effort focused on product design for the country's aging population.
Along with Jamila Bookwala, professor and head of psychology and chair of the Aging Studies program, the team in determining areas in which to explore product solutions for seniors. So far, a gait-analysis boot, which could help seniors with mobility and balance, is in the early design stages. The project is open to students of all majors.
The cross-functional team is working to develop a product that represents a solution to an open-ended design problem. Students are developing design criteria and formulating realistic constraints that consider topics such as economic, environmental, sustainability, manufacturability, ethical, health and safety, and social implications of their engineered solutions. Analysis, prototyping, and re-design skills will be applied and iterated to obtain an optimal design solution while considering the broad constraints of the project.
While previous product design courses focused on market segments similar to the student groups, this effort focuses on engineering a solution for aging-related opportunities, so the target market is much different than the students undertaking the project. During the course, students need to develop a more finely tuned sense of empathy to understand the needs of aging populations and synthesize them into useful product ideas.