Design and Innovation

Graphic by Nisala Saheed

Design and Innovation: a Real Life Design Challenge

The January Term class Design and Innovation trains NYU Abu Dhabi Engineering majors through context and skill-based projects in the UAE.

Feb 5, 2017

During January Term, engineering majors at NYU Abu Dhabi completed the Design and Innovation course. With limited time and resources, students were required to complete three tasks to pass the course.
The first two tasks were challenges that introduced students to skills they needed to master their final task. The first challenge, the Bike Light Challenge, required students to deconstruct a bike light into its basic components and re-build the light using an Arduino board. The next step was to build their own bike light in their assigned groups over a period of two days.
Lujain Ibrahim, Class of 2020, was left unsatisfied after the first challenge. She was not satisfied with how her team’s product was introduced in class during their demonstration, and learned that in order to have produced a polished product, her team members should have been more engaged and shared more ideas rather than picking a concept that was introduced during their class discussion.
The second challenge involved participating in the inaugural hebacon competition. In groups, students built robots that were controlled using sensors they had built in class. The instructors judged the robots based on the techniques they used to attack their opponents, their design and overall presentation and, most importantly, the functionality of the sensors the group put together.
Sohail Bagheri, Class of 2020, thought that the idea of the hebacon was fantastic. Bagheri noted that they were only allowed to use one type of motor, the 180 Degree Robot Servo, which severely limited the possibilities.
He believed that it would have been a much more beneficial and rewarding experience if they were allowed to use different motors with greater flexibility. Yet Bagheri believes that the limitations they faced was one of many aspects that pushed students to come up with more creative ideas.
Students were also introduced to fieldwork, which is an integral part of a real-life engineering experience. The class visited the Al Mina Fish Market at the Mina Port to grab lunch, before heading to a nearby park to start the next challenge. They were asked to brainstorm on how the fish market and the park could be improved and made more efficient.
For the final challenge, each team was assigned a type of living room furniture that they had to transform into pieces that would connect people, especially family members, over time and distance. Students were given blankets, curtains, lamps, sofas and even poufs to create prototypes to improve furniture pieces in the markets. Overall, Bagheri thought that this course was intense due to the time constraints, but enjoyed the fact that it was a simulation of a real life design challenge.
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