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Designing a biomechanical device

  1. Jan 16, 2014 #1
    First of all, if this post is inappropriate in any way or located in the wrong sub-forum please just let me know and I will correct it (or delete it).

    I am a long time reader of this forum but I have never posted before this. I really appreciate all of the people that contribute to this forum. Reading it has been a tremendous help throughout my years of undergraduate studies.

    Now onto the purpose of this post:

    For one of my senior design classes, I am tasked with designing a biomechanical device to assist people in overcoming some problem in their life. This "problem" can be anything from a minor inconvenience such as taking the trash out to something extremely serious such as difficulty convincing sick children to take medicine or performing rehabilitation exercises while in the hospital.
    I have a passion for creating designs that solve problems. However, I really struggle to think of the many problems that could be solved. I am fortunate enough to have not encountered many serious problems in my life (such as significant illness/injury in the family, substantial financial difficulty, etc.) so I have very significant personal problems that I can think of which could be solved. Because of this, I am trying to find out more information about other people’s unique experiences and struggles. I am seeking your answer to the question: what problems (big or small) do you encounter in your life?

    With that being said, I am NOT looking for the solutions to the problems that you suggest, since that would defeat the purpose of my project. Additionally, I only have approximately three months to develop a prototype to fix the problem and it will be solely funded out of my pockets. Because of this, the types of problems that I will be able to fix will be significantly constrained. I will not be able to develop anything that is overly large or complex (i.e. no software development, limited electro-mechanical interaction, etc.). I am also not looking for any problems that are social related such as “my problem is I hate my boss”, since it is extremely unlikely that I would be able to come up with anything solutions.

    I am very interested in finding out problems involving human health, since I would love to help people who really need it. Examples of this could be some difficulty that senior citizens often experience or difficulties caring for an injured family member (or yourself). However, I would appreciate hearing suggestions for all other types of problems as well.

    A little bit about my experiences (in an attempt to prove that I’m serious about this): I am a fifth-year undergraduate student at a large university in the United States. I have gained extensive design experience (and discovered my passion for it) by participating in the Formula SAE Collegiate Design Competition for all five years of my undergrad education. I have 8 years of CAD modeling experience (Unigraphics NX), 4 years of Finite Element Analysis experience (Ansys and Hypermesh), and 2 years of Computational Fluid Dynamics experience (Star-CCM+). I have designed well over 100 components in my years of working on the Formula SAE team, specifically in the Powertrain and Aerodynamic systems. I also have countless hours of experience using a CNC 3-axis mill, manual mill and lathe, composites (carbon fiber) manufacturing, and numerous other manufacturing methods.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read (and hopefully contribute) to this post.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Nice post, clancy. :smile:

    I may be able to throw out some more ideas after I think about it some, but here are two things to start...

    When brainstorming stuff like this, I like to use Google Images. I just did a Google Images search on biomechanical problems, and got some interesting visual ideas. Maybe give that a try to see if it sparks any ideas for you.

    Second, there was a story in the news over the past couple of days where a mom and her 2 y/o daughter were asked to leave a Panera's restaurant because the girl's shoes were making a noise that annoyed one of the customers. Did you see that news story? Think about the reason that the girl's shoes were making a noise -- does that help you think of other similar situations/devices/needs?
  4. Jan 16, 2014 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I'd like to be able to spread margarine on my two year old's toast with one hand.
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