CUSTOMER-DRIVEN DESIGN BASIC UTILITY VEHICLE Volkswagen was once hailed as the car of the people. However, this proclamation did and does not take into account that more than half of the world’s population have transportation needs that cannot be met by a car that is designed primarily for daily commutes on paved roads. In 2000, Will Austin, an American mechanical engineer with years of experience in automotive design and manufacturing, founded the Institute for Affordable Transportation. His primary product: an adaptable, affordable, multi-use machine that could be easily assembled or shipped and could handle varied and sometimes rugged terrain. Austin’s Basic Utility Vehicle has since become a success in a number of developing nations, particularly in Tanzania. Each vehicle costs about $5,000, with financing easily available. The Institute for Affordable Transportation maintains active engagement with its customer bases to continuously improve and customize the vehicle for a wide range of needs. Currently the BUV is poised to enter the Zambian market. ILLUMINATING BLOOD VESSELS VEINLITE A man, a frustrating project, and insomnia — these three components came together in a fortuitous way the night Nizar Mullani had his breakthrough idea. A professor at the University of Texas Medical School, with a grant from National Institutes of Health, Mullani had been putting the lion’s share of his energy into developing a device called the Nevoscope, a tool to help doctors detect cancerous skin lesions. The Nevoscope had proved highly viable, except for one problem: its mode of transillumination made blood vessels very visible, obscuring the images of the skin lesions. Mullani pondered during sleepless nights and perhaps because he was at his wit’s end, his tired brain tossed him a novel idea: Nevoscope aside, was there also a need for a device that illuminates blood vessels to a high degree? It turns out there was. Mullani developed Veinlite, a stripped down version of the original Nevoscope. The Veinlite is now used in many medical settings, increasing accuracy in finding and accessing veins by almost 10 percent. It is particularly important in treatment of patients whose veins may be difficult to detect and access, such as the elderly, infants, and the obese. Case studies allow students to put themselves in the middle of an interesting story that calls on them to think about a technical issue in a different way, tease out an opportunity from a set of circumstances, or analyze trends and ambiguous information to make a decision. Often times, case studies are no more than lengthy word problems or focus on engineering failures. The engineering case studies developed by faculty are intentionally different. They are meant to inspire students’ curiosity, and provide context for challenging technical concepts taught in core engineering courses. The case studies are written like magazine profiles, typically three pages long, and include teaching notes. They fall into three different categories: LEAN: discussion-based and sometimes a homework problem (15 minutes of class time) CLASSIC: discussion questions and small group work prompts (50 minutes of class time) ACTIVE: a lab, project, hands-on activity, or other type of student-generated work EXPANSION AND COMPRESSION: 1ST LAW FIRE PISTONS While most cars run on gasoline, diesel engines are more fuel efficient and diesel fuel has more energy than gasoline does. The diesel engine, however, is not the product of a new technology. The fire piston was invented in southeast Asia several thousand years ago. The way a fire piston functions is quite simple and involves two basic parts: a rod and a cylinder. When the rod is inserted into the cylinder and work is used to drive the rod forward, the result is a piston. When tinder is attached to the bottom of the rod, this pressure system can be used to start fires—and was, for a long, long time. In fact, long after the ancient invention of the fire piston, when Rudolf Diesel’s student, Carl Von Linde, visited Pinang to give a lecture in the 1800s, he was gifted a special cigarette lighter that can only be described as a fire piston. When Professor Diesel saw him use the device, he applied the lighter’s principles to his work on internal combustion engines, and to much success. While modern developments have greatly improved our lives, sometimes the answers to contemporary problems lie in the old days. THE RIGHT KINDOF CASE STUDIES (FOR ENGINEERS) AVAILABLE CASES (FOR USE IN YOUR CLASS) Software Engineering and Computer Science • Design impacting business models (Instagram and Kiko) Mechanical Engineering • Customer-driven design (Basic Utility Vehicle) • Expansion and compression/1st law (Fire Pistons) • Slip/tip, centroids (Sun King Brewery) • Customer pain points (Touch N Brush) • Laminar vs. turbulent flow (Reynolds) • Number, casting/machining (TurboTap) Electrical Engineering • Electric sensors (Airbags) • Color image analysis (Google Goggles) Biomedical Engineering • Illuminating blood vessels (Veinlite) • Ethics of donor tissue (HeLa cells) • Skin transplants (Dermagraft) • Polymerization (Discovery of bone cement) Find the full stories: 33 32