The Human Centered Design Studio (HCDS) connects Capstone Design teams with projects to design, prototype and deliver adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. Founded by ME professor Joel Bach in 2015, HCDS has seen substantial growth, including the addition of a co-director, Dr. Chelsea Salinas from the Engineering Design & Society program.

Projects vary in length and complexity and often span multiple semesters or even years as successive Capstone Design teams iterate on solutions with clients. The structure of HCDS projects gives students invaluable real-world experience not only in product design and development but also in project management, leadership skills and client interaction. Unique aspects of the HCDS experience include:

  • Continuity through overlapping cohorts. Each semester some students complete their Capstone Design work with HCDS while others begin. This ensures continuity for individual projects.
  • Flexible and fluid teams. Students work on multiple simultaneous projects over two semesters, moving fluidly among teams.
  • Modular approach to project roles. Students must complete eight modules as they work on their HCDS projects. Each module promotes experience in different team roles like writing letters of intent, designing prototypes, delivering final products to clients, etc. Each student must also serve as a lead on one project.
  • Clients who aren’t engineers. Students learn how to understand design needs from the user’s perspective. They also experience measures of humility and humanity by interacting with people who are facing significant challenges.

Most HCDS projects are focused on adaptive equipment for sports and recreation, though some deal with adaptive tools for daily living. Visit the Capstone Design Showcase page to view Capstone project pages. HCDS projects are categorized under “Medical & Adaptive Technology.”

An HCDS student demonstrates the Paraplegic Climbing Rig, which won 3rd place in the Spring 2021 Capstone Design Showcase.