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Design at Olin

Design Nature:
Olin requires all first-years to take a first semester design course based on principles of biomimicry. The group project of the semester had us building wall-climbing toys that imitated the motion of some animal. My team designed a chameleon wall-climber:
 


While our chameleon was successful on the ground, a few design flaws (location of center of mass too far from the wall) kept it from ascending vertically.

User-Oriented Collaborative Design:
During my second year, I enrolled in UOCD. The goal of this class was to get to know a user group, and propose solutions to the needs we discover about them as we interview and observe them. My team found that while firefighter spend less than 10% of their time fighting fires, they are extremely concerned about the dangers of fire and losing track of people within building. We ultimately designed a biosensor system, which would employ tracking sensors on the firefighter's clothes to send signals to the ground chief about the status of each firefighter (heart rate, oxygen level of tank, motion). Our process took us through the specifications and modeling stage.


















We recently discovered a popular science article on a system similar to the one we designed: http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/0212-vitals_vest.htm

Human Factors in Interface Design-
For my design depth, I enrolled in a human factors class. My team developed a user interface for academic collaboration. The problem statement:

In the world of academia, research is done collaboratively between people of vastly different backgrounds and training. “Publish or perish” is a common phrase that describes the pressure and importance of producing and publishing academic research of the highest caliber.  Such projects are often distributed across departments and even campuses.  Though this is advantageous to the research process, it can lead to frustration and difficulties.  My team focused on developing a solution that enables collaboration for the academic world.

The focus of this project will be on the collaboration, writing, and editing of academic papers.  There have been many attempts in facilitating paper collaboration, on a large encompassing scale, such as Google Documents.  However, this problem of paper collaboration is quite expansive, and has not been adequately addressed.  These tools do not account for the specific needs of academic paper writing.  The process of paper writing is expansive, ranging from choosing a topic to the submitting a paper.  However, we concentrated on the immediate preparation and composition of a paper.

You can find our high-fidelity prototype here. For more information on the project, click here.

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