In June CDR Director Gregory Thomas traveled to Ford Motor Company's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to present projects done by student teams last semester. Their objective was to come up with alternatives to the automatic gearshift for the entire Ford product line, from the F150 Truck to the Fiesta. The existing console between the front seats has been in use in Ford cars for nearly 50 years.
The end three teams developed a total of six proposed shifters as the result of the semester-long project. The teams set up prototypes of their shifter designs in front of a Lawrence grocery store on a Sunday so they could be tested by the public. The public voted for their favorite solution ballots, as the students made still and video captures of the products in use. The summary of the tests was made in the form of the final presentation to a Ford representative who had been part of the project since its beginning launch.
Afterward, the teams had the opportunity to refine their solutions before Thomas brought them to Ford senior administrators, researchers, and engineers.