First-year product design challenge: Creative design development for the Disabled

Wallace Martindell Catanach, Mary Lynn Brannon, Christopher Stephen Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


There 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. When discussing business over dinner, there typically will not have a pad of paper at available. What could be used to convey concepts? A paper napkin and a pencil of course! A product design challenge is incorporated into a first year engineering design program at a large research university where students are asked to work on a potential situational creativity problem. The problem is a combination of real world experiences, drawing on a napkin, and creatively developing concepts to solve an engineering problem. The uniqueness of the challenge is the subject matter. Each student is asked to individually design a rake for a disabled person who has unilateral loss of function of the arm and hand. The disabled person in question is a stroke victim who lost functionality of the right limb and is willing to critique the individual designs and work with a student or a team to develop a working prototype rake. The subject is unable to put downward pressure on the rake and can only drag the rake horizontally across the leaves thus raking only the leaves on top. Downward pressure is needed to get the rake between grass, dirt, and other leaves. The rake must be designed so that the user will be able to exert downward force despite his or her disability. Assessment strategies to collect data to determine the students' perceptions of the learning experience in the Product Challenge Project include a post-survey and a focus group with a sample of students enrolled in the class. The process of developing a product is drawn from the first author's personal experiences working in industry. This paper will describe the instructional design process, the learning objectives and student perceptions of learning in this design challenge project in a first year design course. This paper will be of interest for those who teach first year engineering students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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