your grad/thesis project

I’m just curious what other people here has done for their grad/thesis project when they were in school (or are currently doing). If anyone would like to share, posts info and picts up (and year)!

I’m half way through mine (year long project). Always been curious what other people/schools have done currently and in the past. Thanks.

I’ve been researching violins and fundamental acoustic principles of musical instruments. Still don’t know what the deliverable will be, but it’s been quite fun!

I did 2, remember this was 12 years ago. Nike rebrand around more independent minded consumers and a 3 pack of shoes to go with the rebrand: a Skate Shoe, and BMX shoe, and a Trail Runner. The second one I did was a family vehicle for generation X as they grew up and started to have a families. It was a dual floor set up with a fuel cell below the seats so the entire length was passenger room, making it shorter than a minivan. Bumpers were colored rubber which I thought was super important at the time for some reason, so you could city park a little more care free.

proposal thesis statement before deliverables. deliverables should be a direct result of the former.

9+ years ago, I did a haptic communication device.

below was the brief and final use cycle presentation.

Abstract >
This project focuses on the ability of a haptic device (connecTOUCH) to enable emotional interpersonal
communication for the support of the psychological and emotional needs of belongingness and love. Designed
for use between two users separated by distance, this device promotes the communication of affect through
control by touch of a shared physical object.

Introduction >
As individuals, much of our psychological and emotional fulfillment comes from external sources. Our needs
of belongingness and love are supported primarily by our interactions with others. Interpersonal relationships
and social interactions thus contribute to the fulfillment of these emotional/psychological basic needs, which in
turn impact ratings of quality of life.

Touch contains emotional content. In interpersonal relationships, well defined but abstract expressions of
emotion are best communicated through touch- e.g. feelings of love, comfort, belongingness, satisfaction,
joy, pleasure and support. In conventional communication devices, much of this emotional content is lost.
connecTOUCH uses technology to address the human need for emotional communication.
By allowing a user to continue existing relationships remotely and furthering the communication of emotion
through the application of haptic force-feedback technology, connecTOUCH has the potential to make users
happier, healthier and more productive, thereby increasing quality of life.
Designed for daily use between couples connecTOUCH enables constant physical and emotional contact.

connecTOUCH consists of a soft material bag containing a plastic assembly within which the ‘interaction disc’
and supporting hardware are contained. The bag is designed to be worn around the waist, resting on the hip or
thigh to enable maximum mobility throughout daily tasks and activities- encouraging a constant connection with
the touch communication device, and by extension the remote partner. Considering issues of wear,
weatherability and cleaning needs, the bag and electronic components are separate- integrated in use while
worn on the body. The user is provided access to the interaction disc and control elements through a single
opening on the surface of the bag.

The interaction disc is the haptic control interface. With each user in control of a tactile ‘Interaction Disc’,
collaborative emotional communication is facilitated. Using the fingertips, a user can manipulate the disc.
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 is a result of the applied input of both

Given these means of control and feedback a user is provided with the potential for a wide variety of
interaction experiences. A user can (1)interact passively by feeling the rotational motion of the disc under
their fingers controlled by the other person’s manipulation, (2)speed up the rotation of both discs with
collaborative effort, or (3)increase the resistance of the remote disc with opposing rotation. In addition,
(4)the surface of the disc can change between convex and concave shapes in response to pressure applied to
the surface. As a system of linked devices the opportunity exists for user to form a unique interpersonal
communication ‘language’ using the variable degrees of control provided.

The connecTOUCH system consists of; an Interaction Disc control element (piezo-electric pressure
sensor/actuator, servo motor), optical position encoder, DSP motor control chip, main controller card, wireless
communication device card, and rechargeable prismatic lithium ion (LiON) batteries all contained in PC
injection molded assembly, overmolded in an appropriate TPE with integral membrane switch. This assembly
is placed into a melton wool, and polyester blend, soft hip bag with nylon strap and fasteners.


i pretty much designed the nintendo Wii…2 years before it came out. albiet, my design had 2 controls (1 per hand) plus a belt, and could work with all 3 consoles…

i called it FIZIO - “videogame exercise for inactive youth”

see it here:

in addition to the ID, i developed the interface (gestural input) and a few concept games (music, art, fun, etc)

it was really great seeing the Wii come out so soon after my project…

Nice SCB, I’m sure the Wii had been in development, it is always great to validate that you are on track with developing ideas!

Likewise, I remember seeing tons of haptic communication projects in similar directions to mine for a few years after graduating (and know they weren’t out while I was doing it as I did extensive research). Sometimes the collective zeitgeist is just inline. Either way, never bad to be in a pool of like-minded people especially if the group is in the forefront of a new development.


I guess I should say something about mine since I started the topic.

Currently doing a modular CNC development system/kit. Users can build a desktop CNC in a weekend instead of months/year+, allows users to make new styles of CNC tools by arranging the axis movement (by making your own frame) and attaching/developing new toolheads (router, 3d printer extrusion, etc), and allows shops to have multiple CNCs by simply building new frames and attaching the modular mechanics to the desired frame. Hobbyist can develop CNCs with sensors so people can interact with it in real time bypassing complex CAM programming (IE: wii controller, cameras, etc)

The best CNC tool is the one that comes out tomorrow. This system allows it to be easily upgraded to match new technology instead of buying new expensive machines every time. Currently have a wooden full working prototype and about to fabricate it in aluminum.

It was 1991. I made sneakers - a mix of kids, mens and womens (the womens sneakers were on wedges). I was obsessed with Keith Haring, so that was my theme.
I wrote my thesis on Acid House and Rave culture (we could write about any subject). A fellow student wrote his thesis on Single Malt and dissappeared to the Highlands to do ‘research’ for about two months! :laughing:

ETA you can see I made a beatbox bag, (on the floor) . I’d like to claim to be the first designer to do that, there have been many imitations!

ETA it’s funny how fashion works on 20 year cycles but it does. Heres some evidence.

Currently working on a medical device, implementing a unique technology that makes it one of a kind in the medical industry.

Medical device for minimally invasive surgury, specifically for gall bladder removal, the #1 type of laparoscopic surgury done.

I observed over 2 dozen gall bladders removed, very interesting stuff. I developed an optimized workflow and designs for the hand tools, the insufflator, camera control unit and light source.

iab, sounds like that was a fantastic project. Pretty ambitious. How did you get the opportunity to observe the surgeries?

Quote for truth…My students are always disappointed if some of their ideas makes it to market (by someonelse). They see it as a failure while it is an confirmation.

BTW here’s some pics/links of my thesis project. Years before the slipstream was shown.

I made a working prototype in LEGO technics. That sure was a blast :wink: Must have some pics of it sitting on my hardrive

Volkswagen slipstream-concept:


It was a great project and I am lucky enough to do medical devices as a career. It is very diverse and in addition to design, I get to take part in the upstream qualitative research, downstream quantitative research, engineering and manufacturing. I am a very happy camper. Ironically, I have never done a surgical device since school.

As for observing the procedures, I had 3 things going for me. 1., It was pre-HIPAA ( Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act passed in 1996, yeah, I’m old) and hospitals were more loose in guarding patient information. HIPAA now makes it more difficult, but you can still observe hospital workflow. 2., I went to NCSU. The UNC and Duke medical schools were basically just down the street. Teaching hospitals like to teach, even a “lowly” design schmuck as myself. 3., Rejection has very bothered me. I just stuck my nose into their business and asked. Most said yes. I actually did several other medical devices outside of surgury and 95% of the time, all departments were very helpful and took the time to answer my questions. Surprisingly, my professors were pretty much useless. They had no contacts at the medical schools at the time.