The purpose of this paper is to discuss and document the parallel, but different, processes the authors developed in conducting an integrated multi-year iterative and service-oriented capstone project to design and fabricate a low-cost transtibial prosthetic limb.
Capstone projects typically span one to two semesters. In many cases, a single student design group is only able to concentrate on the design aspects of a capstone design project conducted within a single semester. In two-semester projects, the second semester typically provides the same student design group the necessary time to build and test the design they completed during the first semester. Unlike these typical capstone projects, the authors’ prosthetic capstone design project spanned four years and involved multiple student design groups. Students in the first-year group conducted a feasibility study and built a basic prototype of the design. The iterative design process then started with the second-year group since their design constraints were derived from the results from, and client feed-back received by, the first-year group. The refined design from the year-two group, in turn, became the design constraint for the year-three group and the year-three design became the design constraint for year-four group. Additionally, each year, an iterative design process was also performed by that year’s student design group. In this multi-year project, students learned both the short- and long-term iterative processes of product design and development. One of the challenges of doing a multi-year project was to maintain the continuity of the project since a different group of students was involved each year.
In addition to the challenges related to conducting this multi-year design project, there were quite different challenges presented by the project being a service-oriented project. Many capstone projects come from industry where students receive technical feedback on their design from engineers as part of the iterative design process. However, in service-oriented projects such as the authors’ project, students typically receive design feedback from the client. Therefore, one of the many challenges the authors addressed was helping their student design group to convert the ambiguity inherent in that client feedback into technical changes in their design as part of the iterative design process.
In this paper, the authors discuss and document the processes they developed to handle these challenges related to their integration of a multi-year iterative and service-oriented capstone design project.
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