Product Design Shorts: Mod Pods, Drawing Women into STEM, and More
Written By: Cat McClintock

A collection of fresh product design stories, just for you...

Selling Time with Hyperloop Technology

Dubai continues to look more like a future city each day. With its glassy towers, sleek architecture, and booming population, now the city is defining the future of transportation by launching a study and showing off new concepts with a company called Hyperloop One. (Hyperloop is a tradename and a registered trademark of SpaceX.)

Hyperloop futuristic transportation system using pneumatic-like technology.

Hyperloop One Defines the Future of Transport In Dubai (PRNewsFoto/Hyperloop One)

Hyperloop technology is, in a nutshell, a pneumatic tube transportation system in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors and air compressors. Yes, it’s more complicated than that but it promises to get you to point A to point B quickly.

The Hyperloop One experience (similar to what’s being discussed for Dubai).

“We’re going to create a seamless experience that starts the moment you think about being somewhere – not going somewhere,” said Josh Giegel, President of Engineering, Hyperloop One. “We don't sell cars, boats, trains, or planes. We sell time.”

Creo is helping designers realize the potential of Hyperloop technology, too. Creo user William Steppe submitted a design to our recent product design competition for a hyperloop pod that he plans to also submit to a Hyperloop Competition hosted by SpaceX.

Hyperloop pod design submitted to PTC's Product Design Contest

Creo is helping designers and engineers move Hyperloop technology along. Design by William Steppe.


The Secret to Keeping Women in STEM?

It’s no secret that women don’t flock to mechanical engineering as a profession. “Women are just 13% of mechanical engineering undergraduate students,” writes Carolyn Conner Seepersad, from the University of Texas at Austin. “And women earn only 14.2% of doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering.”

But now she’s got a plan to boost these numbers. The key? Better storytelling. 

 We tend to always hear the same story about engineering, she says. “Engineers solve problems using math and science. That’s our single story.” Seepersad argues that if we expanded the story, we could attract more interest to the field.

 “[Incoming students] want to be creative and collaborative. They want to design systems that make people healthier and safer and preserve the environment and make the world a better place,” she says. “What they don’t hear is that engineers do all of these things. Engineers design everything – absolutely everything – in our built environment. Engineers are much more than a single story.”

 Since Seepersad has started using this wider story to recruit students, the ME department at the University of Texas has increased the women student population from 17 to 22%. “Nearly double the national average – representing an increase of almost 70 women in a large undergraduate program.”


8th grade girls explore STEM

To bring more diverse product designers to mechanical engineering, we should expand the stories we tell about the field. (Image  Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day ENERGY.GOV [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

For Great Design, Start with Your User

How early in the design stage are you collaborating with your team on functionality to ensure your product performs like it’s supposed to? According to Mechanical Engineer Ryan Chessar in Electronics Weekly, early collaboration is paramount in the success of your design.

 “The design team needs to look closely at how the end user will interact with the product and work on a storyboard of that interaction.”

Prefer a bottom-up approach? Expect failure. “In an ill-advised bottom-up approach to design, the designer defines what the device needs to do and adds controls to let the user achieve these function,” says Chessar.

Design for unhappy customers. 

The author also makes a great point about creating experiences for your users and always keeping them front of mind. “The plastic and metal that are used to design products have no value except when they create high-quality user experiences.”

 [Ed. PTC couldn’t agree more. That’s why Creo 4.0 includes tools to help you delight your customers, with better renderings, augmented reality, and smart, connected products.]

The Future of Design

With technology always changing, it can be difficult to know where product development is going next. Download PTC’s “10 Expert Insights: The Future of Product Design in the Age of Smart & Connected Devices.” Learn from industry leaders as they predict how you will be designing products in the near future to help you stay ahead in our rapidly changing industry. 

Download the eBook: Future of Product Design

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices
About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.