September 2014 brought special recognition to the Center For Design Research, in the form of two articles profiling the CDR’s relationship with Ford Motor Company.
The Lawrence Business Magazine wrote about Ford’s donation of one of its Transit Connect vans for a CDR project called the WellCar. The vehicle will be equipped with several medical devices and set up to transfer medical data securely through its own Wi-Fi hotspot to a hospital for immediate evaluation. A nurse practitioner can then administer treatment, including prescribed medications, if needed.
Students enrolled in Thomas’s industrial design and engineering studio are creating the specifications for the installation of medical equipment, then integrating the equipment and connectivity into the WellCar Transit Connect. Upfitting based on their designs was recently completed by Kranz Truck Equipment in Kansas City, Mo.
My Ford, a magazine for Ford employees and customers, took a more personal approach. They profiled Thomas, and his admiration for the way that technology has been incorporated into Ford vehicles. That led him to buy a Ford Edge that is “fully loaded.”
Thomas’s relationship with Ford goes back farther. After months of discussions in 2011, Thomas persuaded Ford to participate in its first CDR sponsored-research project. One of Thomas’s classes developed a “smart” child safety seat that allowed parents to monitor their children in the back seats of the car more safely while driving.
This was followed by last year’s project, in which students took on the redesign of the layout of a car’s dashboard and gear shifter. For this project Ford donated the front half of a Ford vehicle for us in testing and mockups. Thomas presented the project to Ford executives in Dearborn, Mich., in the summer of 2013.
In addition to writing about Thomas’s enthusiastic experience as a Ford owner, the article in My Ford also featured a profile of the WellCar project.
Meanwhile, according to the article,“Thomas has found that being part of the Ford family is a nice fit. It seems like Ford is in the paper every day with something new and innovative,” he says. “So why would you want to go to someone else?’”