Inspiring Designers

CMU students developing their ideas

Students taking Carnegie Mellon University's Integrated Product Development course spent a semester exploring the future of electric vehicles at Nissan.

The class is a cross-campus collaboration among faculty and researchers in the College of Engineering, School of Design and Tepper School of Business.

"It's a journey into a cutting-edge product development methodology of value to companies," explained CMU's Jonathan Cagan.

Cagan is the Ladd Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He co-teaches the class with Peter Boatwright, associate professor of marketing, and Eric Anderson, associate professor of design.

"Learning this approach to innovation and how it applies across industries gives students an advantage as they move into the work force," Cagan said.

"They also learn teamwork and they have fun as they develop exciting new ideas into realistic product solutions," said Boatwright.

Anderson added, "And the sponsor — in this case, Nissan — gets bright young minds looking at a problem of strategic interest to them and the opportunity to hire some of these students."

Paul Egan (E'11,'14) says working on a team with students outside his primary discipline greatly broadened his perspective of the design process.

"We gained a strong appreciation for all aspects of it," Egan said. "And because electric vehicles are such a huge step forward for a sustainable future, we approached it as something more than a class project."

Some of their ideas:

  • a grocery-shopping support system
  • an automated vehicle cleaning system
  • a suite of ergonomic features to reduce stress
  • a vehicle trash, recycling and organization system

Nissan, a leader in electric-vehicle technology, introduced the LEAF to the United States in December 2010.

The first affordable all-electric vehicle designed for the mass market, it holds five-passengers, runs on pure electricity, uses no gas and creates zero emissions.

With a tested range of 100 miles on a single charge, the Nissan LEAF is designed to meet the daily driving needs of the majority of U.S. drivers.

Pictured: Jason May (A'10), Paul Egan (E'11,'14), Mithun Mahadevaiah (CMU'10)

Related Links: School of Design | College of Engineering | Tepper School of Business

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