The Nature of the Design Process and Too Much Time Measuring Feet- Anjali Mani

JetSet is hard at work on- well basically everything. We had finished our design proposal and had a design that we were all confident in until we started looking at materials. Erin drafted up a 3D model of our original design that looked something like this:

This is a 3D printed model of JetSet's initial design, made by Erin Simons.
This is a 3D printed model of JetSet’s initial design, made by Erin Simons.

We think it looks great (even though it is an inch long), but as we took a hard look at our design, we started seeing flaws that are really too numerous to list. This is of course, the nature of the design process, to find faults and fix them. It’s never easy to tear your device apart to find every fault, but that’s what we did. Luckily, we all are fairly good at being objective and managed to make some improvements. Annalise and Erin, the Engineering Team, are working hard on a new and improved 3D model.

The Engineering Team: Annalise and Erin hard at work on JetSet's second 3D model.
The Engineering Team: Annalise and Erin hard at work on JetSet’s second 3D model.

Erin wrote an interesting post on her relationship with AutoCAD inventor https://starpathdesign.com/2014/11/14/inventing-with-inventor-erin-simons/.

But we worked through the flaws in our design as a team, which was an interesting experience. Because three of us (Erin, Annalise and I) have engineering experience with design and Isha has detailed knowledge about how the human body would interact with the designs, we were able to go through a large number of possible solutions very quickly, tossing ideas back and forth until we had a coherent solution. I really enjoyed that process, but one problem stuck in my head: the range of motion in flexing one’s ankle.

Isha and I are the Biomedical Team (I am taking a quick sojourn away from my engineering background to even out the workload, and gain some new biomedical knowledge). We are responsible for ordering materials and continuing research about DVT. I became particularly focused on the angle at which people can flex their feet, especially after trying to force Annalise’s foot to bend at a 50 degree angle, which didn’t work at all. In an attempt to conduct very unofficial research, I have spent a good deal of the last two classes crouching on the ground with a clipboard, protractor, and more recently, the fancy yellow device that we found lying around.

I am not sure that I had ever realized how much variation exists in the range of motion in the ankle, or how much it would affect our design. Through a lot of measuring of ankle angles, I determined that our design should allow customers to put their whole foot on the pedal to allow for the largest range of motion. Our previous design had accounted for a large angle (45-50 degrees), and my research found that 25-30 degrees would be the absolute maximum possible for our design to not cause injury to potential clients. This of course, brought up the problem of our limited field of testing. We don’t exactly know a large number of people of varying ages and sizes what would be willing to let a crowd of teenage girls take detailed measurements regarding their feet. I may be wrong.

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