DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Barnhart, Betsy Rebecca; Clifford, Ryan David
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Kansas, United States of America
Section: Ethical, social and/or environmental issues in design and engineering, and their education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.105
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


The Amperstand Studio is an undergraduate multidisciplinary social design studio focused on working with outside partners and stakeholders to solve large scale and complex social problems. This case study presents a one semester project with undergraduate students from graphic design and industrial design. Students worked with medical experts, aeronautical engineers, and human computer interaction experts in three countries to understand and design a strategy in reducing the death and amputation rate from venomous snake bites in Western Africa, specifically Sierra Leone and Guinnea. In this region over 24,000 snake bites annually cause over 3,600 deaths, 4,600 amputations, primarily affecting children and farmers. The road conditions and intense rainfall in this region often lead to intensely long travel times. What in a developed country would be a 30 minute to 2 hour drive, could easily be an 8-48 hour trip over washed out roads. Due to this, snake bitten passengers are transported on the back of a motorcycle. The design problem is if the snake bite victim does receive anti-venom, which costs $6,000 per vial, within one hour the patient will likely lose a limb, and after 6 hours the victim will likely die. In this paper we discuss how students defined and found approaches the partners had not considered. A rapid design process which could be efficiently implemented was absolutely necessary as the stakeholders were looking to save lives as soon as possible. The students employed an in-depth research study including interviews with experts and users, which helped them understand the needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Through this process they provided systematic design options that went well beyond the partners initial focus on a drone delivery system. Instead of jumping to only a complex and highly expensive drone system to help address this issue, students proposed a series of solutions, which included a step, leap, and jump. The step solutions were able to be acted on immediately, with leap solutions addressed within a short period of time, and jump was a solution which would need additional funding, but would offer a wider range of solutions and included the drone delivering the anti-venom. The key contributions of the paper center around how design thinking can lead to a more comprehensive range of solutions in complex and large scale social design problems, providing stakeholders with a variety of options which can be implemented in appropriate stages. This project is currently in use in Western Africa.

Keywords: Social Design, Design Thinking, Design Research, Drones, Anti-Venom


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