The HP Design Team has developed an educational software game to teach middle school students about the connection between humans and nature. The game simulates Adirondack Park in New York state. In the game, the player is the park manager, and has to solve the problems posed in different park simulations. Through the problem-solving process, students learn how people affect the park economically, environmentally, and socially and how these aspects are interdependent. Students also learn the park's history by means of a slide show.
With NCIIA funding, Professors Timothy Stearns and Ed Sobey collaborated to create Invention and Entrepreneurship, a prototype for a permanent course challenging students to create a business to invent and sell toys. In the course, students from the Sid Craig School of Business, the schools of Education and Human Development, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Agriculture and Technology, and Arts and Humanities form E-Teams and learn how to work creatively in those teams, designing, building and testing mock-up toys, while developing a comprehensive business plan. The inventions and plans are presented to business leaders, venture capitalists, inventors, patent attorneys, and course participants.
The toys developed in the course include: Paragear, a launcher with a parachute attachment that fits to the back of an action figure; The Orb, a sphere that balances on a pedestal with pegs placed in the orb; The Ringer, a ring toss game that builds hand-eye coordination; and Stack-O, a marble game.
The Climbing High to Fitness E-Team has created the Wall Climber 2000 (WC2000), an indoor rock climbing simulator for use as a training instrument and low impact exercise machine. The WC2000 consists of a collapsible climbing deck that rotates with a speed and incline chosen by the user. The hand and foot holds, made of rubber to simulate a rocky surface, change as the climbing deck rotates, according to the difficulty level chosen by the user.
At this stage, the Climbing High to Fitness E-Team is creating an advanced prototype of the WC2000. In addition, the team is working to better understand the exercise equipment market, by conducting market research and drafting a business plan. In the fall the E-Team plans to apply for a patent. The Climbing High to Fitness E-Team originated in a team based design course at RPI and is composed of five engineering students.
Student Originated Software (SOS) is a multi-disciplinary, year-long, full-time program offered each year at The Evergreen State College. In SOS, students gain the skills and in-depth practical experience of working in teams on the planning, management, design, implementation, and installation of a major software project by creating software for actual clients. Each E-Team organizes itself, finds its project and "real world" client, prepares a feasibility study, and completes the software development. SOS stresses innovation and creativity, and a multi-disciplinary approach to software development. NCIIA funding strengthens the market research portion of the curriculum, supports E-Team projects, and allows Evergreen to update equipment for the course.
The OmniSport E-Team has designed the SideWinder, an electric wheelchair capable of moving in any direction while the rider faces forward. Using any number of compatible input control devices such as a joystick, mouse, track ball, or voice control the rider controls the wheelchairs motions through a track ball drive system. The increased mobility offered by this design provides the rider with the choice of participating in a wider variety of sports and offers greater accessibility in the office and home.
The OmniSport E-Team is now in the process of researching the market potential of the SideWinder and determining the feasibility of the technology. The team originated in an introductory engineering design course, and consists of three engineering students, and a faculty advisor. The team is recruiting advisors with adaptive equipment expertise.
Design and Management of Biomechanical Products is a popular course among students at Michigan State University. In the course, teams of engineering and marketing students study the technical feasibility and market need for their product ideas. The products the teams create must function mechanically with the body and provide tangible benefits for end users.
Some examples of student projects include: All-in One, an improved baby bottle with a vent to eliminate airlock and air bubbles; and Air-Form, a children's structural toy made from inflatable plastic. Before the class received NCIIA funding, students paid for prototyping and research costs with their own money, thereby limiting the scope of their projects. Funding allowed students to fabricate more sophisticated prototypes of their projects. In addition, funding purchased additional machines for the prototyping shop, to accommodate the increased number of E-Teams.
The Miniature Ice Resurfacer E-Team has developed an innovative ice resurfacing machine called the Ice Chief. The Ice Chief is a lightweight, portable, and relatively inexpensive machine intended to maintain quality ice surfaces on private skating rinks or ponds. The device is towed behind a standard garden tractor and will be priced to make it accessible to small municipalities or individuals with access to a pond or artificial rink. To date, the E-Team has built a working prototype that successfully cleans an ice surface; collects debris; then resurfaces the ice in one pass. The E-Team plans to continue prototype testing and refine the design, while writing a business plan in partnership with the RPI Incubator Program. The team is also conducting a patent search and prepare a patent application.
The Miniature Ice Resurfacer E-Team originated in an RPI engineering design class. The team consists of six engineering majors, several with minors in economics or computer science. They plan to launch a business to market this product in 1998.
This project supports the establishment of a design studio for the first two semesters of the interdisciplinary design curriculum at RPI. The curriculum, designed to support students in independent design work, follows on the Introduction to Engineering Design course already offered. The studio provides ongoing support for E-Teams after IED, and includes shop equipment for modeling, digital cameras, and computers with scanners and printers.
The Department of Technological Studies (DTS) of Wheeling Jesuit College offers a Bachelor of Science in Innovation and Technology. The major is designed to provide students with a broad range of knowledge, skills and experience in processes used to develop successful products for commercial markets. Innovation and Invention is a required class for the Innovation and Technology degree.
In the course, student groups form to design innovative products with commercial potential. Product Development Lab I is an extension of Innovation and Invention, offering students the opportunity to further develop those products. NCIIA funding allowed students to create prototypes of their products, and conduct market research. Student projects included a cold weather breathing mask, an improved automated garage door and opener, and a system for real-time readout of long distance telephone charges for home use.
Current search engine technology on the internet will often provide the user with several thousand entries, leaving it to the user to find the most valuable information. In addition, the user interfaces currently available can be difficult to use. In response to these problems, this E-Team has begun development of the Internet Secretary Tool (InterSecT), a software package which serves as a highly personalized, smart web browser. The InterSecT browser works to continually learn and relearn the likes and dislikes of the user. When prompted to find a specified piece of information, InterSecT accesses an array of internet search engines, chooses the results it judges the user most values (based on what it has learned about the user's habits) and reports back. With each completed search, the selective abilities of the personal browser become more refined and gain accuracy.
InterSecT utilizes several cutting edge technologies, such as neural net programming, to create an innovative, powerful, and user-friendly end product. This product makes the internet easier to use and extends its benefits to those with little or no computing experience, and/or limited hardware resources.
The InterSecT E-Team was founded by Josh Lifton, an honors student at Swarthmore College who is pursuing a double major in physics and mathematics and a minor in computer science, during his semester at Hampshire College as a Lemelson Fellow. When Josh returned to Swarthmore, he applied for an Advanced E-Team grant to continue his advanced project working with another computer science student, faculty from Swarthmore and Hampshire Colleges, and four technical and business advisors. Josh is now in the process of recruiting business students to help him conduct more extensive market research and develop a business plan.