Winter Quarter 2016

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Tuesdays & Thursdays at 4:30pm - 5:50pm
Classroom 110 in Thornton Center

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Mid-term Team Assignment


This is the mid-term assignment for students working on team projects for three credits.

For this assignment you are asked to form a team, select a project, contact the individual who suggested the project and interview an individual with a disability or an older adult who would benefit from the project to better understand the problem, gather information on existing commercial products and research, determine the magnitude of the need, brainstorm and evaluate potential solutions, select the top three design concepts, present your progress, and submit a report of your team's progress.



For this assignment you are asked to pursue and report on the following tasks.

  1. Participate fully in the class including attending lectures as required, listening actively, posing questions to the guest speakers and the course instructor, engaging in class discussions, verbalizing thoughts and analyses, reading and responding to emails from the course instructor, and communicating team project progress.

  2. Read the 2016 Candidate Team Project offerings before Project Pitch Day - Thursday, January 7th. During the project pitches, fill out the Project Preferences for Students Working on Team Projects, indicating your interest in each project. At the end of all presentations, select your top five project preferences, optionally providing its ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th) ranking. Hand in this form at the end of the class session. Information from all the forms will be posted online so that students can identify and contact others with similar project interests.

    Forming a team and selecting a project may not happen in the orderly manner described in the next two items.

  3. Form a project team of no more than three members. Select a suitable and appropriate name for your team.

  4. Agree upon a team project from the list of project suggestions. Email your team's name, project selection, and list of members to the instructor by 5pm Friday, January 16th.

  5. Contact the individual(s) listed who suggested the project and get information including details about the problem / need, the disability group(s) targeted, the current solution employed (if any) and its shortcomings or limitations, the potential benefits of an improved solution, and the design features / specifications from his/her point of view.

  6. Identify and interview at least one individual who is affected by this problem and determine specifically how it affects him / her, the benefits of an improved solution, and the design features / specifications from his / her point of view.

  7. Gather information on other solution alternatives including commercially available products, research projects, and previous student projects. Consider why those products, research, and project have not been more successful. Here are some companies that sell assistive technology products or have an online database of devices:

  8. Determine the magnitude of the problem and identify all the populations who may benefit from an improved solution.

  9. Brainstorm possible project solutions and select at least three promising design alternatives. (See Example Spreadsheet for Comparing Design Concepts)

  10. Provide a concise and convincing statement of how your project might address the problem. Outline general design concepts and new technology that might be brought to bear on it.

  11. Begin prototyping solutions starting with sketches, CAD models, and low resolution 3D physical models. Meet regularly with the user to discuss the merits of your developing design - what looks promising and what requires further thought. Refine your prototypes as needed.

  12. Present your team's progress (5 minutes, with PowerPoint slides) in class on Thursday, February 11th as described below.

  13. Submit a mid-term report as described below.

For next time:
In the next assignment your team will asked to choose a specific design concept and fabricate / test a functional prototype. Teams will present their design in class and submit a Final Report and Individual Reflection.


Mid-term Presentation

Your team will have just five minutes for your in-class mid-term presentation covering your project progress on Thursday, February 11th, including answering questions.

Your team is encouraged to use PowerPoint slides in your presentation. Please email your slideshow to Dave by noon on the date of the presentation so it can be loaded onto his laptop. (Please upload any videos to YouTube and link to them in your slides.)

Each team member should participate in the presentation.

A suggested presentation outline is:

  • Introduction of team and its members
  • Brief abstract
  • Statement of problem
  • Magnitude of problem addressed by this project
  • Discussion of interviews with those who suggested the project and potential users
  • Statement of specific need
  • Identification of existing solutions and discussion of their limitations
  • Description of brainstormed design concepts
  • Analysis of considered design alternatives
  • Description of top selected design concepts, including their technical feasibility, engineering difficulty, estimated cost, user acceptance, safety considerations, etc
  • Design visualizations: photographs, videos, sketches, drawings, models, and prototypes
  • Future work and challenges for continuing the project toward fabrication and testing with users

Be prepared to discuss:

  • Project status - what has been done, what remains
  • Problems encountered, resolved, and pending
  • Expenses expected if the project is to be continued into the Spring Quarter
  • Plans for the remainder of the quarter

Your team will be judged on the overall quality of the presentation, the effectiveness of your design process, and your progress toward a design solution using the following metrics:

  • Delivery: (How the team presented) - professionalism, enthusiasm, conviction, confidence, energy, volume
  • Process: (How the team addressed the problem) - problem information, background research, design concepts brainstormed & prototyped, testing & evaluation
  • Presentation: Presentation: (What the team presented) - clarity, organization, and completeness of the information presented
  • Design: (What the team produced) - creativity, originality, functionality of the design concept and the likelihood it will meet the user's needs
  • Coolness: (Overall score) - combined impression of presentation and project

Most important - practice your presentation to maximize the quality of its content, clarity, conciseness, completeness, understanding of your design decisions, creativity, pacing, and timing.


Mid-term Report

Your team's report should be submitted by email, be at least 5 pages, and is due on Tuesday, February 16th by 5pm. The suggested format is:

  • Cover page - include course name & year, project title, team name, team member's names, and team members' photos

  • Abstract - one paragraph summary of objectives, approach taken, and results of the project so far

  • Introduction - problem / need to be addressed, problem / need background

  • Objectives - project goals and rationale

  • Design criteria - background research, interviews with project suggestors and potential users, design specifications, brainstormed design alternatives (at least 3)

  • Methods - what did your team do and why - include any sketching, prototyping, model building, preliminary testing, analyses of design alternatives

  • Results - discuss specifics of your design alternatives such as features, benefits, aesthetics, cost, safety, reliability, usability, test results, feedback from users, etc.

  • Discussion - include engineering challenges and suggestions to further develop and fabricate a chosen design

  • Timetable - provide a timetable of tasks for the remainder of the quarter

  • References - bibliographic citations and websites visited

  • Acknowledgements - mention all individuals and facilities who helped you

  • Appendices - detailed sketches, calculations, testing notes, relevant vendor information, etc. that are referenced in the main body of the report


Mid-term Presentation and Report Check List

Team Name:
Team Members:

  1. Get information from project suggestor:
    1. problem need
    2. disability groups targeted
    3. current solutions
    4. shortcomings of current solutions
    5. potential benefits of an improved solution
    6. solution specifications
  2. Get information from person with disability:
    1. how problem affects him/her
    2. benefits of improved solution
    3. solution specifications
  3. Get information from other sources:
    1. commercially available products
    2. research projects
    3. student projects
  4. Get information about problem:
    1. magnitude
    2. populations who may benefit
  5. Provide information about student project:
    1. how need/problem is to be addressed
    2. outline design concepts
    3. use of new technology
  6. Overall quality of design process employed
  7. Overall quality of presentation
  8. Other comments
  9. Score xx/25
  10. Suggested grade



Mid-term Report and Presentation
Final Report
Final Presentation
Individual Reflection
Participation *
* Participation includes actively listening, posing questions to the guest speakers and the course instructor, engaging in class discussions, verbalizing thoughts and analyses, and submitting Weekly Individual Reports or meeting individually or as a team with the course instructor.

Updated 01/29/2016

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