Would you be interested in a shower you could program to flow just the way you want it? That’s the project sponsors of the Innovation Design Clinic capstone design course suggested to students. The course covers two semesters and students must address real-world problems of a multidisciplinary nature.
“While universities excel at providing theoretical understanding to undergraduates, they are weak at providing real-world design experience and especially in a multidisciplinary setting,” Electrical and Computer Science Department Lecturer Rich Compeau said. “The Innovative Design Clinic brings together students from diverse disciplines to focus as a team on a design element, which could range from defining the infrastructure of an emerging community to a new product – and beyond. Graduates of the clinic are better prepared for employment where multidisciplinary teams are the norm.”
Ten students worked on the shower control project. In previous years, Compeau guided students in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department though the Senior Design Course. Students receive some guidance, but must solve the problems their project involves by themselves. This year, students from the Anderson School of Management, Department of Economics and Department of Psychology joined the project. They were divided into business development, hardware and software teams to effect engineering solutions, perform marketing research and enter Anderson’s Business Plan Competition, in which they took third place.
Two Albuquerque companies, RH Systems and Simply Design partnered to sponsor one of the teams. Rh Systems is an engineering services company that designs and sells custom temperature and humidity solutions. Simply Design is a website design and marketing company. The owners of both companies are UNM alumni.
Team Leader Alexandria Haddad explains the project:
This year’s project recognized that it takes many different skills to design, build and market a project. In fact, the team did a video, produced by team member John-Mark Collins, that explained the student appeal for this Interdisciplinary Design Course.
The senior engineering design course is a longstanding part of UNM’s engineering curriculum, but the new elements added this year take it to a new level. The new level of practical experience which includes working in teams that do everything from product design to a marketing plan is just what UNM’s Innovation Academy hopes to bring to an increasing number of students.