Carnegie Mellon University

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Student Designs Add to Truckers’ Comfort

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Life on the road is about to become a little easier for truck drivers, thanks in part to some Carnegie Mellon engineering students.

A variety of the students' new tools and concepts were unveiled recently at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus. The designs are geared toward addressing the needs of drivers who are over the age of 50 -- a population that has grown significantly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Through Carnegie Mellon's mechanical engineering capstone senior design class, one student team developed a special rack that would be used to attach a mobile scooter to the truck cab. Team member Basheer Husami, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said drivers could use the scooter as an alternative means of transportation as they wait to have their rigs unloaded at various locations throughout the country.

"The senior design class is great because it gives us an opportunity to work on industry-related issues in diverse teams," said Husami.

Also on the increase is the number of husband-and-wife teams signing on to drive big rigs. Translation: new demands on truck makers to design a rig that feels more like a home on wheels.    

"This is a perfect challenge for my class, as we seek to develop functional solutions to everyday challenges," said Professor Jonathan Cagan, who teaches mechanical engineering and is co-author of "Creating Breakthrough Products: Innovation from Product Planning to Program Approval." The book identifies key factors associated with successful innovation and offers revolutionary approaches for building tomorrow's great products.      

The class projects are being sponsored by International Truck and Engine Corporation's Truck Development and Technology Center in Chicago. The company felt that a more comfortable space would result in happier, better rested, safer and more productive drivers.

"We are pleased to be able to support this engineering class," said Rajiv Prasad, the company's vice president of product creation. "This collaboration gives us the opportunity to provide these bright engineering students with real-world design experience and, at the same time, address a critical need of our customers."

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