THE NEXT GENERATION OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS CONFRONTS DESIGNING PROTECTIVE HEADGEAR: Using Advanced Human Factors Assessment Tools
Terri Laurenceau | Georgia Institute of Technology
The project of designing protective headgear became the focal point for a group of junior students in the fall semester of 2001 at Georgia Tech. The opportunity to engage the students in the study of human factors and anthropometrics as it applies to a specific design application was enhanced due to the use of advanced tools to assess human factors and ergonomic issues. The use of a 3D Full Body Scanner and exposure to DHM (Digital Human Modeling) software were introduced in the design process. Help from faculty and staff that have been trained in both traditional and non-traditional anthropometrics methods brought a more meaningful experience to the academic rigor of teaching human factors.
Re-designing protective headgear was not a new concept for a studio project. In fact, it was nearly abandoned by thoughts of a student revolt on the very first day of class. Deeper reflection revealed strength in the goals that such a project would bring. Synthesis of several critical assessments was evaluated for the project 1) the head is one of the most difficult and challenging forms to draw. It was determined that form development was a priority in the program and the introduction of a studio project that would require concentration on curvilinear shapes would be valuable 2) the nature of the project would prompt considerable attention to issues involving human factors, anthropometry and advancements made in the measurement and analysis of the data 3) a sufficient challenge in the materials and processes applications would provide intense hands-on activities.
Some concern regarding the introduction of new procedures to the studio project did exist. The scanning technology, DHM, anthropometry, and reverse engineering could give students a glimpse at usage of advanced technologies, at the same time exploration in traditional physical modeling methods, and manual anthropometry would provide a worthy challenge for students. Students learned simple anthropometrics measurement techniques and analysis of personalized 3D scan data. Experimentation with scanning inanimate objects provided the students an understanding of how reverse engineering is used in the design process.
The overall process of experiential learning through hands-on activities and the primary goal of how to implement a systematic methodology was a great challenge for the students. Many students felt a level of confidence for the first time, which in turn will provide the thrust for taking on bigger and more complex challenges in the future. The applications used for the studio project helped build skills and provided exposure to technology that will increase the students’ abilities to manage the process of innovation competently. This paper demonstrates how state of the art technology coupled with traditional tools and methods collate to create a dynamic learning experience for students. I will evaluate a number of teaching methods used in this project that provided complexity and diversity while bringing about meaningful and innovative solutions, as well as a structure involving the use of advanced technology in design curricula. What could the next generation of industrial designers confront in designing protective headgear?