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Matt Saunders and Dr. Carolyn Seepersad

Matt Saunders and Dr. Carolyn Seepersad


On the first of September, Matt Saunders, Mechanical Engineering Master's student, and Assistant Professor Carolyn Seepersad received the Best Paper Award from ASME's Design Theory and Methodology Conference for their research entitled “The Characteristics of Innovative, Mechanical Products“. The award was presented at a lunchtime ceremony as part of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conference in San Diego, California. Matt and Dr. Seepersad were honored along with their coauthor, Dr. Katja Holtta-Otto, from UMass-Dartmouth.

The research looked at the design and manufacture of various products, examining the novelty of each product and its success. The abstract from their paper follows:


It is not easy to design an innovative product that delights customers. Current engineering design methods provide help in designing a good product, but the designer lacks tools that help him or her create a truly innovative, successful product. In this study, we analyzed 95 innovative, award-winning products against their competition to identify what made those products stand out from the competition. We focused on finding engineering-level characteristics that made the products successful. We developed a set of conditionally repeatable innovation categories that are used in the analysis. We found that the most innovative products were innovative in multiple categories. Overall, a vast majority (greater than 70%) of the award-winning products exhibited enhanced user interactions, with a similar percentage displaying enhanced environmental interactions, compared with approximately one-third of products offering an additional function and approximately half displaying innovative architectures. We conclude that breakthrough or innovative products are becoming increasingly centered on user interactions and that engineers need better methods to design these products.

Brief Bios

Matt is currently pursuing a master's degree in mechanical engineering, and anticipates graduating in May of 2010. He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX in 2008 with a degree in Engineering Science. Dr. Seepersad received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2004 from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research involves the development of methods and computational tools for engineering design. She is currently an assistant professor and advises 10 graduate students. She recently received the International Outstanding Young Researcher in Freeform and Additive Manufacturing Award.

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