On Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Dr. Tahira Reid visited AME for a seminar presentation. Her seminar presentation was titled, “The Influence of Social and Cultural Considerations on Engineering and Design.”
Abstract: In this talk, Dr. Reid will discuss two projects to illustrate how social and cultural considerations influence design methods. In the Beauty of Mechanical Engineering project, Dr. Reid and her students are conducting experiments to understand how heat moves through curly hair and the mechanisms that cause permanent structural changes in the hair (i.e., heat damage). Currently, trained professionals in the hair industry cannot predict when heat damage will occur and often rely on heuristics and intuition in their hair care approaches. In addition, scientists that have conducted studies with heat and hair have often used Caucasian hair which cannot be generalized to all ethnic groups; they have also conducted experiments that are not ecologically consistent with individuals’ use context. As a result, a number of lay scientists have emerged whose use of contexts are ecologically valid, but are lacking the experimental and quantitative rigor that engineers can provide. With hair care being a multi-billion dollar industry and having meaning for a vast majority of the population, research of this kind is important. In the Socially Conscious Design project, Dr. Reid and her students are exploring ways that compassion can help with problem framing and enhancing design solutions. There are some product interactions, namely in medical environments, in which the design of a product/system elicits fear and anxiety within individuals. The ultimate goal of this research is to use interdisciplinary methods to examine ways in which these emotional needs can be considered during the design process.
Bio: Dr. Tahira N. Reid is an Assistant Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and is the director of the Research in Engineering and Interdisciplinary Design (REID) Laboratory. Her research interests include developing methods that help engineers think critically about non-technical issues and their impact on engineered design solutions. Prior to arriving at Purdue in 2011, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Mechanical Engineering department at Iowa State working in the Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainable (IRIS) Design Laboratory under the mentorship of Erin MacDonald. In 2010, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Design Science, with Mechanical Engineering and Psychology as her focus areas. Dr. Reid received both her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2000 and 2004, respectively. She received national attention for patenting a childhood invention: a Double Dutch jump rope device. In 2000, she exhibited her device at the Smithsonian during the Playful Mind’s exhibit and demonstrated it on NBC’s Today Show. Her story has been featured in numerous news media sources and is featured in two children’s books.