A student shows off her project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017

Changing the World with Industrial Design

By Joseph Mathieu
Photos by Chris Roussakis

Each unique fourth-year project showcased at the 2017 annual Industrial Design (ID) Graduation Exhibition kept the tradition of making the world a better place.

The 39th annual exhibition in the Carleton University Centre’s Galleria displayed the thesis projects of 27 graduating ID students from April 21 to 24. Products and services aiming for nothing less than a fully inclusive world all stemmed from passion projects.

Most of the projects revolved around the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations. Global objectives to end poverty and eliminate hunger were tackled alongside more responsible consumption practices, ways to create affordable and clean energy, and the dissemination of gender equality, decent working conditions and sustainable economic growth.

“Under the 17 sustainability goals were about 20 sub-goals,” said student Caroline Smeenk. “We chose targets that were important, impactful for us.”

The fact that more than one million Canadians have to drive two hours to access obstetrics and gynecology services moved Smeenk to devise a maternal home care system. By monitoring the health of pregnant women at home, her system allows for more cost-effective and accessible health care for rural Canadians.

“The system helps track physical symptoms,” she said. “It measures blood pressure and protein levels in a comfortable, intuitive way.”

Life-Long Learning

Hannah Goss took on the goal of quality and inclusive education that would ensure life-long learning. With children aged five to 12 in mind, she designed a balancing game called wobble that would encourage kids to play and learn balancing skills. Three sizes of a pebble-shaped balance board inflate and deflate to adjust the difficulty, and motion sensors with a small processor monitored progress and allowed for kids to compare their scores with friends.

A few projects were born from partnerships. Several concepts that focused on Arctic living—like Thomas Wagner’s Arctic growing chamber, a portable greenhouse within a shipping container—were done in collaboration with other students from business school HEC Montréal and engineering institute Polytechnique Montréal.

Another series of projects based on a partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) brought students to a wildfire fighting unit in Thunder Bay, Ont. Given the choice to improve designs or address an issue with existing fire-fighting equipment, Nick Grossi worked on a water intake filter for a pump that simply drops into the closest lake or river.

“I liked the idea of being in consultation with OMNR,” he said, “instead of in exploration like others in the class.” His new intake filter reduces the risk of lake sediments wearing out the pieces and has a ball-check valve that would keep air from entering and turning off the pump. And it led to a summer job offer with the ministry.

Inventing Your Way to a Dream Job

Another Industrial Design student hoped his invention would bring him closer to a dream job at Volvo. To say Alireza Saeedi is passionate about transportation design is an understatement. The very traditional repair and maintenance of North American road infrastructure drove him to design, work and re-work the Infinitium, an asphalt recycling unit.

“Because it doesn’t exist I designed it from scratch,” he said, leafing through a thick binder that documented his every step, from research to ergonomics.

His futuristic machine with an infrared heater to break up asphalt and a spray injection pothole filler would service sidewalks, bicycle tracks and driveways. Given the green light, Saeedi’s user-friendly design would keep construction workers safer and reduce a global dependency on non-renewable resources.

The vertical billboards and prototypes of each project described how each idea could change the world for the better. But it was in their eagerness to explain how that the students made their sustainable future seem closer.-

A student shows off her project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017A student shows off his project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017A student shows off her project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017A student shows off his project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017A student shows off her project in the Galleria during the Industrial Design Graduation Exhibition in April 2017