Praxis II is a continuation of semester one’s Praxis I, however the stakes are higher and there is more emphasis on teamwork, stakeholder interaction etc. Similar to Praxis I, Praxis II wants students to reach out further by interacting with stakeholders in a way that develops trust between them. There is a high stress on the verification, validation and testing of ones ideas. During the phase I, teams have to search for a potential community and submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) which outlined the opportunity present in the community with justification as to why it is worth pursuing. In phase II, 7 out of the 55 proposals submitted are chosen and each team has to pick one on which they work for the rest of the semester coming up with a verified and validated solution which they present at the annual Praxis Showcase.
Phase I: Request for Proposal (RFP)
During the first half of Praxis II, my group and I were focused on identifying a community in the GTA. We had to frame an opportunity through thorough research and direct interaction with the stakeholders. In order to better know each community and to serve as evidence I took field notes for all the locations I visited. Eventually, my group decided to pursue an opportunity that addressed a retail fabric store at Dundas Street, Toronto called G&S Dye. It was observed that the manager there had trouble rolling, unrolling, measuring, cutting as well storing and organizing fabric rolls efficiently. The rolls weighed a lot and it was difficult for one person at the store to work in such tough conditions.
My team and I did a lot of framing and diverging and converging in order to write our RFP. From visiting the store multiple times to having around 3 group meetings per week to discuss potential ideas and work on potential solutions.
Doing a lot of research and taking field notes into account, my team and I developed an engineering design requirements model (which may be found in the RFP) and its main goal was to improve the usability for the stakeholder. We divided our RFP into two parts, the RP (Retrieval Process) which included the rolling, unrolling and storage of fabrics and DP (Dispensing Process) which included the measuring and cutting of the fabrics.
The full RFP document may be found here.
This experience taught me the importance of directly engaging with the community around. Usually one does not pay enough attention to the things around them but once one looks at them with a critical eye it is surprising to see how much improvement is possible. Research only provides the background of a situation, which is secondary. It does not provide first hand experience. Interaction with stakeholders is necessary to properly validate and verify ones opportunity. I really came to appreciate the idea of using reference designs to support your argument and to use them to understand the credibility of your design. Moving forward, I would like to spend more time and effort on properly diverging and converging upon solutions by doing more research regarding the opportunity at hand.
Phase II: Designing a solution for IMPROVING THE PROCESS OF PREPARING FABRIC ORDERS at G&S Dye
The second half of Praxis II involved every group choosing one of the 7 RFP’s selected by the teaching team and working on developing a solution that addressed the opportunity.
Fortunately, for my team and I, our RFP got chosen and we continued to work on it. We all realized that it was better to scope down the opportunity as the entire opportunity our group mentioned in the RFP would take too long to accomplish. So we decided to address the problem of storage and rolling/unrolling in the store. We noticed that most of the shelves at G&S Dye were cluttered and disorganized and thus there had to be a better way to store them. Furthermore, rolling and unrolling the fabric was also a very demanding task and we decided to come up with a solution that tackled both problems.
So my team and I started to frame the opportunity even further and came up with numerous design solutions that worked. These solutions, we showcased during our beta presentation. The solutions were designed while keeping in mind that they had to also address rolling and unrolling of fabrics.
My group and I eventually came up with a double ferris wheel rack design that held 46 rolls of fabric and both ferris wheels met at the plane of the table and each ferris wheel could be locked in place. This ensured smooth unrolling of the fabric onto the table. A prototype was built that served as an example of how the original product would look like. The prototype was around 75% in scale however it was fully functional and served the purpose for which it was made.
All in all, this experience proved to be of great benefit to me in my journey to become a student engineer. The project required me to engage myself in using the engineering design process to come up with solutions, as can be seen above. I became used to dealing with deadlines, presentations, working with a team of different personalities, failures and success. Over the course of one year, experiencing the shift of matureness from the design phases in Praxis I to Praxis II, I can see how much I grew over the year.
More technically, I became proficient as to understanding what needs to be done when coming up with a design decision. How much testing, verification and validation are important to prevent setbacks later on in the design process as well as in achieving stakeholder satisfaction. Working on the prototype and getting feedback from the stakeholders from time to time was crucial towards my understanding and it helped me refine my designs and concept.
I can say that as an engineer it is necessary to uphold your values and stay true to yourself and never lose sight of your goal.
- Gulab Abdullah, “Praxis II Field Notes: Improving the Process of Ordering Fabrics at G&S Dye”. Rep. Jan. 2017.
- Detta, A. Gulab, J. Guo, J. Mao. “IMPROVING THE PROCESS OF PREPARING FABRIC ORDERS. REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL”. W9. Rep. Mar. 2017.
- Detta, A. Gulab, J. Guo, J. Mao. “IMPROVING THE PROCESS OF PREPARING FABRIC ORDERS. REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (Commented) ”. W9. Rep. Mar. 2017.