Case Study Research Using Senior Design Projects An Example Application

We believe it is vitally important for our students to be able to take the theories and methods that they learn in class and apply them to real-world challenges. In addition to the two-semester Senior Design course, ECE students participate in a variety of enrichment programs that give them the opportunity to conduct hands-on research, experience team dynamics, employ critical thinking, and create working prototypes. In some cases, these student projects turn into viable products and services that can be commercialized.

Below are some examples of undergraduate student research projects.


CPR+ is an interactive CPR mask that allows an untrained bystander to perform CPR by collecting vitals and dynamically walking the user through each step of the process. You hear the instructions from the device and it can also tell you if you are performing CPR incorrectly.

Inventors: Samuel Clarke, a mechanical engineering and computer science major from Indianapolis; David Ehrlich, a computer engineering major from Portland, Oregon; and Ryan Williams, a computer engineering major from Las Vegas.

Lightning from the Edge of Space

The Lightning from the Edge of Space project is part of the The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program, which unites undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context. The Lightning from the Edge of Space team launches balloons loaded with electronics, cameras, communications equipment, and sensors, to the edge of space (100,000 ft) to not only capture incredible views, but to gather valuable scientific data about thunderstorms (electric field, x-rays, optical measurements).


FireHUD is a real time monitoring system and Head Up Display (HUD) that displays biometric and environmental data to firefighters and outside officials. A heads-up-display attaches to a firefighter's mask and measures heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, body temperature, external temperature and other vital signs. This information will help firefighters determine whether they are overexerting themselves and are at risk for cardiac arrest. Invented by Zachary Braun, a computer engineering major, and Tyler Sisk, an electrical engineering major, the device was fine-tuned in the CREATE-XIdea to Prototype class. The invention won first place in the Georgia Tech InVenture Prize, which rewards students with cash prizes and free patent filings for inventions that aim to solve societal problems.

Raising the Steaks

The "Raising the Steaks" Senior Design team created a long-range Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) system for use in the cattle industry. Sponsored by CattleTime, a cattle recordkeeping software company, the team was tasked with improving the read range and capabilities of the RFID technology in order to reduce the day to day labor of counting cattle in various herds. 

Senior Lecturer
Digital and Special Classes Coordinator

General Engineering
106A Holtzendorff Hall, Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634

Phone: (864) 656-2542


  • Ph.D., Clemson University, 2005, Mechanical Engineering
  • M.S., Clemson University, 2000, Mechanical Engineering
  • B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 1999, Mechanical Engineering

Certifications & Licenses

  • Certified Solidworks Associate
  • FCC Radiotelephone (Broadcast) Permit
  • SC General Contractor, class 4

Courses Taught

  • ENGR 1050/1060 - (regular and Honors) - Introduction to engineering, problem solving, analysis using Excel
  • ENGR 1070/1080/1090 - Engineering problem solving using Matlab
  • ENGR 1410/1411 - (regular and Honors) - Engineering problem solving using Matlab
  • ENGR 1900/2900 - Creative Inquiry research
  • ENGR 2080 - Engineering graphics using Solidworks
  • ENGR 2210 / HON 2060 - History of design and technology

Professional Activities

  • Faculty advisor for "Lose the Shoes" - a student group that organizes a barefoot soccer tournament to raise money for needy children in Africa
  • Member, ASME - American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Member, PDMA - Product Development Management Association
  • Member, Sigma Xi - Scientific Research Society
  • Member, Pi Tau Sigma - Mechanical Engineering Honor Society
  • Frequent reviewer for journals and conferences including Design Studies, Research in Engineering Design, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, ASME Design Engineering and Technical Conferences (DETC), International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED)

Research interests

  • Design Theory and Methodology
  • Affordance Based Design
  • Product Family Design
  • Requirements Modeling
  • Product Innovation
  • Architectural Theory



  1. Maier, J.R.A. Affordance Based Design: Theoretical Foundations and Practical Applications, VDM Verlag, 2011.
  2. Co-editor with Drs. Lindeman, Fadel and Mr. Kreimeyer of the Proceedings of the 11th International DSM Conference, Greenville, October 2009.
  3. Chapter 6 “Understanding the Complexity of Design” in Complex Engineered Systems: Science meets Technology, Drs. Dan Braha, Ali Minai, Yaneer Bar-Yam Eds, pp 122-140, 2005

Refereed Journal Publications

  1. Maier, J.R.A. (2015) "On the Computability of Affordances as Relations", Artificial Intelligence in Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing, 29(3).
  2. Maier, J.R.A., Mears, L.M., Summers, J.D. (2013) "Design of an Apparatus to Detect Small Changes in the Mass of Rotational Machine Components", International Journal of Modern Engineering, 13(2):5-16. DOI: 2157-8052
  3. Maier, J.R.A., Troy, T., Johnston, J., Bobba, V., Summers, J.D. (2010) “Case Study Research Using Senior Design Projects: An Example Application”, Journal of Mechanical Design, 132(11). DOI 10.1114/1.4002291
  4. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., (2009) “Affordance Based Design Methods for Innovative Design, Redesign and Reverse Engineering”, Research in Engineering Design, 30(4): 393-414
  5. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., Battisto, D. (2009) “An Affordance Based Approach To Architectural Theory, Design And Practice” Design Studies. Vol. 30, pp 393-414
  6. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., (2008) “Affordance Based Design: A Relational Theory for Design”, Research in Engineering Design,  DOI 10.1007/s00163-008-0060-3
  7. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., (2007) “A Taxonomy And Decision Support For The Design And Manufacture Of Types Of Product Families”, Special issue on product family design, Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Vol. 18, No. 1 pp 31-45
  8. Simpson, T.W., Maier, J.R.A., Mistree F. (2001). "Product Platform Design: Method and Application," Research in Engineering Design, 13(1): 2-22.

Conference Proceedings (reviewed)

  1. Braha, D., Brown, D.C., Chakrabarti, A., Dong, A., Gadel, G.M., Maier, J.R.A., Seering, W., Ullman, D.G., and Wood, K. (2013) “DTM at 25: Essays on Themes and Future Directions” ASME IDETC/DTM, Paper No. DETC2013-12280.
  2. McLellan, J.M., Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., Mocko, G.M. (2009) “A Method For Identifying Requirements Critical To Mass Reduction Using DSMs And DMMs”, 11th DSM Conference, Greenville, SC.
  3. McLellan, J.M., Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., Mocko, G.M. (2009) “Generating Design Structure Matrices And Domain Mapping Matrices Using SYSML”, 11th DSM Conference, Greenville, SC.
  4. Thomas, J.T., Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., Mocko, G.M. (2009) “Using DMMs To Relate Design For Assembly Rules To Human Interaction Guidelines” 11th DSM Conference, Greenville, SC.
  5. Maier, J.R.A., Sachs, R., Fadel, G.M. (2009) “A Comparative Study Of Quantitative Scales To Populate Affordance Structure Matrices” ASME IDETC/DTM, Paper No. DETC2009-86524.
  6. Maier, J.R.A., McLellan, J.M., Mocko, G., Fadel, G.M. (2009) “Lightweight Engineering Of Military Vehicles Through Requirements Analysis And Function Integration” ASME-IDETC, Paper No. DETC2009-86562.
  7. Maier, J.R.A., Mocko, G., Fadel, G.M. (2009) “Hierarchical Affordance Modeling” ICED ‘09, Paper No. 314.
  8. Maier, J.R.A., Sandel, J., Fadel, G.M. (2009) “Experiments Comparing Function Structures To Affordance Structures” ICED ‘09, Paper No. 321.
  9. Maier, J.R.A., Sandel, J., Fadel, G.M. (2008) “Extending The Affordance Structure Matrix – Mapping Design Structure And Requirements To Behavior”, 10th DSM Conference, Stockholm, Sweden.
  10. Mocko, G., Fadel, G.M., Summers, J.D., Maier, J.R.A., Ezhilan, T. (2007) “A Systematic Method For Modeling And Analyzing Conceptual Design Information” 9th DSM Conference, Munich, Germany.
  11. Maier, J.R.A., Ezhilan, T., Fadel, G.M. (2007) “The Affordance Structure Matrix – A Concept Exploration And Attention Directing Tool For Affordance Based Design” ASME IDETC/DTM, DETC2007-34526, Las Vegas, NV.
  12. Mocko, G., Summers, J., Fadel, G.M., Teegavarapu, S., Maier, J.R.A., Ezhilan, T. (2007) “A Modelling Scheme For Capturing And Analyzing Multi-Domain Design Information: A Hair Dryer Design Example” ICED’07, Paris, France.
  13. Maier, J.R.A., Ezhilan, T., Fadel, G.M., Summers, J.D., Mocko, G. (2007) “A Hierarchical Requirements Modeling Scheme To Support Engineering Innovation” ICED’07, Paris, France.
  14. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2007) “Identifying Affordances” ICED’07, Paris, France.
  15. Maier, J.R.A., Anandan, S., Bapat, V., Summers, J.D., Bettig B. (2007) "A Computational Framework for Semantically Rich Design Problems Based on the Theory of Affordance and Exemplar Technology" ICED'07, Paris France. Paper no. 510.
  16. Gaffney, E.S., Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2007) “Roles Of Function And Affordance In The Evolution Of Artifacts” ICED ’07, Paris, France.
  17. Motyka, M., Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M., “Representing The Complexity Of Engineering Systems: A Multidisciplinary Perceptual Approach”, International Conference on Complex Systems, Boston, MA.
  18. Maier, J.R.A., Troy, T., Johnston, J., Bobba, V., Summers, J.D. (2006) "A Case Study Documenting Specific Configurations and Information Exchanges in Designer-Artifact-User Complex Systems" International Conference on Complex Systems, Boston, MA.
  19. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2005) “A Case Study Contrasting German Systematic Engineering Design With Affordance Based Design” ASME DETC/DTM, Long Beach, CA. Paper No. DETC2005-84954.
  20. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2004) “Understanding The Complexity Of Design” International Conference On Complex Systems, Boston, MA.
  21. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2003) “On The Complexity Of The Design-Artifact-User System” Proceedings Of ICED 03, Stockholm, Sweden. Paper No. 1366.
  22. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2003) “Affordance-Based Methods For Design” ASME DETC/DTM, Chicago. Paper No. DETC2003/DTM48673
  23. Maier, J. R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2002) “Comparing Function And Affordance As Bases For Design” ASME DETC/DTM, Montreal, Canada, Paper No. DETC2002/DTM-34129.
  24. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2001) “Strategic Decisions In The Early Stages Of Product Family Design” ASME DETC, Pittsburgh, PA, Paper No. DETC01/DFM-21200.
  25. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2001) “Affordance, The Fundamental Concept In Engineering Design” ASME DETC, Pittsburgh, PA, Paper No. DETC01/DTM-21700.
  26. Simpson, T.W., Maier, J.R.A., Mistree, F. (1999) "A Product Platform Concept Exploration Method For Product Family Design" ASME DETC/DTM, Las Vegas, NV, Paper No. DETC99/DTM-8761.

Magazine Articles

  1. Maier, J.R.A. "Rethinking Design Theory," Mechanical Engineering, 130(9):34-37. September, 2008, ASME.
  2. Maier, J.R.A. “How Structure Influences Behavior,” General Systems Bulletin, Volume 35. 2006, ISSS.

Conference Proceedings (unreviewed)

  1. Maier, J.R.A. (2006). "Design and Evolution: Morphogenesis and Metamorphosis", Proceedings of the Design History Society Conference 2006, 31 August - 2 September 2006, TU Delft.
  2. Maier, J.R.A., Fadel, G.M. (2006) "Affordance Based Design: Status and Promise". Proceedings of IDRS'06, Seoul, South Korea.
  3. Maier, J.R.A. (2000). "Systems Intelligence: Theory and Application," International Society for the Systems Sciences 44th annual meeting, Toronto, Canada.

Fun Facts

  • Amateur Photographer
  • Animal Rescue Volunteer


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