Step Inside My Lab: Product Design

October 17, 2017

Charlotte Collins

ISE students are just as equipped to become entrepreneurs as business majors. Lots of that equipment is provided in the Product Design Lab, where students can reverse-engineer products and restart with the nuts and bolts. 

Joey Lund, head lab assistant, says the lab is a workspace for a range of interests.

Lund says students who are designing for manufacturing  focus on “how we design best so it would be manufacturable for cheap- or mass-scale, and that can get really interesting,” says Lund. 

3D printed figures in the product design lab.
3D printed figures in the product design lab.

Other students are more focused on human-centered design, which he says includes “focusing on the user, doing research on the user, talking with the user,” among other factors. 

The lab hosts several classes, including SE101, which is an engineering graphics course. One of the projects that the students work on requires them to reverse-engineer common consumer products, like sifters, hairdryers or flashlights. After fully disassembling it, students get a deeper understanding of how all of the mechanisms work in sync to perform the final product’s overall task. Lund says the purpose of this is to provide needed insight for design.

“The user interacts with [the final product], but you don’t necessarily know what the design intent was, and you might just really not even know how it works, so it’s kind of fun,” says Lund. “As you take something apart, you kind of learn how it works and why certain things are what they are and there’s surprises.”

A student in SE101 has her face scanned.
A student in SE101 has her face scanned.

After dissection day, students remodel the parts and recreate the product throughout the course of the semester. Autodesk software in the lab allows them to model each one of the parts of the product and assemble a digitized version of the product.

Lab users could include anyone from students taking courses in the lab, a group developing products for a startup, and even students who just want to use the technology. Lund recalls one student who was a violinist and used the scanner and 3D printer to design a more comfortable chin rest. The lab, and its staff’s advice, are open to the campus community.

“All of the technology that we use in those classes are open to any students really, or research group or professor—essentially anyone who is interested in working with 3d printers or scanners,” says Lund. “We try and support groups like that, or anyone interested.”

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