Senior Project

Hey all,

I am in my first semester of senior year and on Co-op. I’ve got two more semesters to go…

Before the end of last semester the professor for senior studio gathered the class all together and told us to start thinking about our senior project. The first day of next semester we declare what we want to do and then the research starts. I am supposed to have 3 ideas with a little research done already, I can’t really think of what makes a good senior project…

I have a few questions to throw out there for you, to help get me thinking what makes a good topic.

What are some of the more successful senior projects that you have seen, and why were they successful?

What are some of the more interesting ones that you have seen? Were they successful or not? How come?

What was your senior thesis project?

You gotta give to get.

What are you interested in? What are the more interesting project you have seen (look at any coroflot portfolio and i’m sure you’ll find some.

I am supposed to have 3 ideas with a little research done already

…and what have you found?


I suppose I could have given a little more:

My main Interest is design, and the next runner up would be photography…

I have seen quite a few and been tearing through coroflot like a mad man trying to find something that makes me really think, “WOW”… But I can’t find it. Ive seen projects done in:

Transportation - Urban, green, single/ multiple persons
Green Design- (how can anything be designed w/o this in consideration?)
Furniture- Some really interesting entire room systems/ modularity
Cell Phones/Electronics- Most of the new ones I have been seeing are just iphones all over again.
Footwear- Anyone can design a shoe!! (Ok I’m just kidding here… My last co-op was a New Balance. I know that there is a ton that goes into footwear) Is it what I want to do my senior thesis on??
Appliances- One of the more recent ones that I have seen was a student from my school re-thought Ironing shirts… It was a very interesting project.
Workspaces- an all encapsulating work station so you never have to get up off of your chair?
Soft Goods- some interesting bag designs functional and style versions of projects
New Technologies- are always coming out, and I am keeping my eye out there to do a little research and figure out what I can do with them.
Inventions- some people straight up INVENT something for their thesis… looking at a system and say what is missing, what would make this easier?

I guess what I am struggling with is the decision in which way I really want to go. To me it seems that the students who are more passionate about what their project is, end up going further and taking it to that NEXT level…

It really is the first time that I have had the chance to decide what it is that I am going to design. Its always been the professors handing out project brief with what it was that we were going to be designing.

The more that I mull through coroflot, the more I see projects that are new and innovative. Which makes me not want to do some of those things just because they have been done already…

You’re answering your own question.

The best projects are what people are passionate about. You can turn virtually any object into a great portfolio piece with the right thinking and attention to detail.

You have to figure out what you’re passionate about. You’re not going to get it from us on the boards.

Start looking at your life and figure out what turns you on. Make a list of 10 things in your life you enjoy doing, seeing, interacting with and go from there.

O…and scare yourself a bit. Do something that excites you and makes you nervous that you can’t pull it off.

good advice!


You’re answering your own question.

As I was typing that up I was thinking to myself that exact thing… I felt like I was coming full circle on that one.

Its the freedom… I’m having a hard time handling all this FREEDOM!

It certainly is a tough decision… regardless though… What have some of you done for your senior thesis project?

i did this-

(keep in mind it was more than 7 years ago).

our projects were relatively open in terms of scope, and i proposed a product that enabled emotional communication over distance.

“Why talk if you can touch?”

Exploring the future of interpersonal communication across distance. Touch contains emotional content. In interpersonal relationships, well defined but abstract expressions of emotion are best communicated through touch…in conventional communication devices, much of this emotional content is lost.

connecTOUCH, uses technology to address the human need for emotional communication. Facilitating emotional communication and the associated human psychological and emotional benefits, connecTOUCH provides a means to continue interpersonal emotional contact within relationships across distance.

Through interaction with a shared physical object, remote emotional communication can be realized, allowing users to better express their feelings and stay connected. Designed for daily use between couples connecTOUCH enables constant physical and emotional contact. With each user in control of a tactile ‘Interaction Disc’, housed inside a soft hip bag, collaborative emotional communication is possible. Controlling the speed, and direction of rotation of the disc, as well as applied pressure, users create a shared interaction experience; the speed, resistance and shape of the Disc a result of the applied input of both devices.

in recent years there have been quite a few similar concepts, but at the time the project strayed pretty far from the course and standard ID fare at least in the school (Carleton ID). The project was almost rejected at the proposal stage and I had a good time fighting the faculty for acceptance, and digging up research from MIT and other academic institutions to prove the viability and founding principles of the concept.

some of the final use cycle visuals-


Check this out! I wasn’t expecting visuals, but hey that is pretty cool.

Now my next question would be…

I hope you don’t mind me asking. Why did you choose to do connecTOUCH?

Was there a certain “Amy” that you were a distance from? Or was it just the result of a random brainstorm?

PS. Thank You very much for sharing your project

the project came after a summer of thinking about objects and how they connect to people. I wanted to explore areas that are not often (at least at the time and in my school) given enough thought by designers - emotion. Originally I was planning to do an object that was designed with the sole purpose of making an emotional connection to the user. This value is often designed as a secondary “feature”, apart from another functional purpose. One of my main inspirations at the time was the emotional impact that the New Beetle and original iMac had on people. I wanted to see how this emotional connection could be designed into a product as a primary feature.

At the time, I did a lot of research: MIT media lab had some interesting explorations on design and emotion as did several other high end universities and design experiments.

I got a huge amount of push back from the most of the profs at the time I proposed the idea, which made me even more excited about it. Most of the objections were along the lines are that people can’t have an emotional connection to objects, and if so, it can’t be designed in. My general thinking was “why not design a Teddy Bear”, of sorts for adults. A Teddy Bear (or even a dog) has a primary purpose of providing some sort of emotional support. No other features/functions need to exist (well I suppose a dog can fetch your slippers…). At the time, this was pretty far out. Now, with Sony Aibo, Tamogotchies, etc. it’s not so hard to believe. Plus, in the years since, I’ve seen tons of similar concepts, that people interact with to hug, touch, etc. that do similar things…

Somewhere along the way in my initial research, I came across the idea of making an object that would not primarily provide an emotional connection, but rather enable an emotional connection between people. It didn’t come from any personal thing, but more the idea that we can text, phone, or send a pic, but how do you communicate through touch, the most intimate and personal connection people can share.

It was a good project for me for a number of reasons.

  1. Working hard to “prove” my point in crits against the profs, kept me on track, and pushing to always do more. The potential for failure was a great motivator.

  2. I enjoyed the more conceptual aspect of the project, balanced with the practical (I also did lots of exploration into the physical product, types of batteries, piezo electric sensors, heart monitors, etc.)

  3. The project had a good story, and was different from the usual sr. project stuff, to be a good portfolio piece.


point of order “pull it off” means doing a pretty picture and using magic fairy dust or actualy undersanding the guts of the thing and the reality of making it work?

the answer is: yes.


  1. Working hard to “prove” my point in crits against the profs, kept me on track, and pushing to always do more. The potential for failure was a great motivator.

That is a great way to really think about it. Thinking about all of the aspects that the naysayers will point out during a crit, but getting there before them. It pushes you to try harder and think about every conceivable aspect of the entire concept.

Thank you for a look towards the inside. It is giving me a second wind in even this beginning stage of trying to figure out what it is that I might do for my senior project.

I appreciate your time in telling me this story, and a little background info… It sounds like you had gotten pretty passionate about this project.

As for anyone else, I would like to hear about your senior project if you could spare a second of your time.

zippyflounder wrote:

ip_wirelessly wrote:
O…and scare yourself a bit. Do something that excites you and makes you nervous that you can’t pull it off.

point of order “pull it off” means doing a pretty picture and using magic fairy dust or actualy undersanding the guts of the thing and the reality of making it work?

the answer is: yes.

Too funny…

Indeed. I even used to prepare “hidden” slides in my presentation, so that when they asked a question at the end of the crit, I could jump to the slide with the answer and research already there, that i had put together in anticipation of their question. that got a lot of surprised looks!