After the completion of the 2011 RESNA Student Design Competition, we surveyed the students who participated. These are their responses.
1) What was the most positive aspect of the RESNA SDC for you?
- The most positive aspect of the RESNA SDC was the chance to make a significant impact on the lives of those using assistive and rehabilitation technologies. Classroom exercises in design generally go no further than the final design presentation and with other design competitions it’s easy to forget the original purpose of the design in the push to present a winning design. However, with the RESNA SDC you never forget that the design is ultimately being conducted to help people.
- The best part of the RESNA SDC was getting the opportunity to show my work to people with a diversity of professional backgrounds, exposing the project immediately to a multiplicity of perspectives. Also, seeing the best projects from other schools.
- I felt like I was a big fish in a small pond at my school and RESNA allowed me to enter into a larger pond.
- Getting to travel to a conference and be a respected member of it.
- Being able to interact with people during the developer’s forum. People gave some interesting suggestions and ideas on developing my project further.
- Meeting other healthcare professions during the lunch after our presentation. I think the inter-mingling of students with other RESNA members is a great idea.
- SDC definitely provides us with good opportunities to show our project. It is also a good motivation for students to complete and improve the projects
- Being able to access the RESNA body of companies that are associated with manufacturing and development of living aid products. From development companies that are at the forefront of the new technologies to the companies that distribute living aids, access to the RESNA body of companies puts a large quantity of companies and entities under one roof to contact and consult.
2) What was the most challenging aspect of the RESNA SDC?
- The most challenging aspect of the RESNA SDC is the need to work across many disciplines. Projects rarely fall into the neat categories that define majors in a university curriculum. Putting together a project that not only works but does well in the competition requires effective communication, organization, and leadership in addition to quality engineering and design.
- The most challenging aspect was getting the actual project to work. Everything after that is almost busywork.
- The greatest challenge of the RESNA SDC was balancing time between preparing and giving my presentations and exploring the rest of the conference…and Toronto.
- The most challenging thing for our team was the time. We had only 1 week left when we learned about this program, but we really appreciated this opportunity, so we tried our best to show what we had done.
- To create device’s that are beneficial to individuals in need, while continuing to undergo academia. The requirement to challenge one’s self to keep up with school, work as well as designing and producing a SDC product teaches students various skills in time management, essay writing, research as well as productivity and teamwork.
3) What was the most important thing you learned from your participation in the RESNA SDC?
- We learned to translate between the languages of the various disciplines required to implement a design. From Physical therapists to rehabilitation engineers to marketing specialists, professionals come from very different backgrounds and have different perspectives on design. As students consulting with specialists, we learned how to effectively work with and make connections between the very different fields.
- I learned how to present my work through multiple formats.
- Be flexible and patient
- There are a lot of ideas out there, and yours usually aren’t the best. Listen up.
- Teamwork. We have a very good team and we cooperate very well. From designing, sketching, drawing, building the model to getting feedback from potential users, to writing the paper and building the webpage, everyone did good job.
- The most important thing I learned from participating in the RESNA SDC was the full size and scope of RESNA. RESNA is a strong organization that is connected to hundreds (perhaps thousands) of other companies and organizations. They interact with manufacturers, distributors, providers, institutions, as well as the regulating bodies that oversee all aspects of technical equipment, such as wheelchairs and their safety systems.
4) What advice do you have for someone who is considering participating in the RESNA SDC?
- Manage your time well and put a lot of effort towards organization. Projects that require different specializations invariably grow large, and with more people on the team in interdependent roles, it’s critical to keep everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal.
For our team, it was helpful to use free online schedulers like Whenisgood to find meeting times, and free website hosts like Google Sites to keep everyone on the same page, and free file sharing programs like Dropbox to maintain the latest document updates and software revisions.
- SDC definitely provides us with good opportunities to show our project. It is also a good motivation for students to complete and improve the projects.
Focus on innovation and designing something new that people have not seen before, as well as something that can be turned into a business.
- Make a video to illustrate your work. Focus on your project and you’ll get in-that’s the most important thing.
- Go for it, but be fluently conversational about your project. Be prepared to address any question…
- I think a good idea is most important for student design. We students always have many many new ideas, but what can be a good idea? Our team believes that the design should really benefit some population, and it should be easy to build or make, so that people are willing to buy such a product.
- The advice that I would have for interested students would be to:
1) Give it your all, a solid idea can be made or broken, but the experience and knowledge gained from participating can be priceless. Who knows, perhaps a RESNA associated company will want to hire you due to the what you learned in the project.
2) Produce a valid model; invest the time to manufacture a valid working prototype. Only by constructing a valid model will you understand all the capacities of the device and often you will discover a device holds more potential than anticipated. Also additional skills will be developed from the production process.
3) Research the requirements thoroughly. The competition is rife with talented teams producing new and developing technologies. Think long and hard about your device and be critical of what you are about to invest your time into. If you can produce object X or object Y, but object Y is more difficult yet it has more beneficial attributes to the product and the individuals it is aiding, invest the time into producing object Y. As long as something is learned, the project is not a failure; the project can always be refined and submitted the following year.