Spotlight: Product Creation for All

Amy Banzaert teaches students
Professor Amy Banzaert instructs a student
students help one another in the lab
students experiment with bike bells

An introductory engineering lab involves students in every level of product development.

EXTD 111 Product Creation for All

Visiting Lecturer in Engineering Amy Banzaert’s first-year seminar is part How It Works, part hands-on engineering lab, and all-out immersion in the world of invention. The course explores how products are created, including an exploration of ideation and brainstorming, reverse engineering, and the product development process.

Banzaert invites her students to consider the human factors in engineering, and to analyze both successes and failures in the usability of specific products. How do they do that? By taking things apart and putting them together. Students also try their hand at product creations through designing simple product prototypes for local nonprofit organizations serving underserved populations, such as Community Rowing, Inc. Throughout the process, the students document their experiences and ideas through design blogs, which Banzaert reviews.

“Teaching a diverse group of first-year students engineering concepts has been wonderful," says Banzaert. "They bring a tremendous variety of interests and reasons for taking the class (most do not plan to be engineers) that allows for impressive creativity and exploration of concepts. Our final project is focused on developing technology for adaptive rowers at Community Rowing, Inc. in Brighton, and we are all enjoying applying the topics covered in class to develop projects that can benefit our community partners.”

Julia ChaseI was surprised when I found out that we would be working with a community partner to create actual products for them to use, but I think it really helped the class understand the design and refinement process while motivating us with the idea that we could potentially be changing somebody's life.

—Julie Chase '17