Project MARCH retrospect

Project MARCH retrospect

“Always keeping a helicopter view to see how a choice affects your total design. So going from iteration to iteration, rather than working in a linear way on one element only to find that it doesn’t fit into the bigger picture.” Spark’s Wichert Put explains the essence of integral design, one of Spark’s main contributions to Project March. This project by students from TU Delft aims to design an exoskeleton that will allow people with total paraplegia to walk independently.

November 14, 2018

“It was great fun to join the project again this year,” says Put, who has been Spark’s connection with Project March for the third consecutive year. “Not only because it is an important project, but also due to the enthusiasm and energy you get from it.” Asked for a concrete example of Spark’s contribution in the last three years, Put focuses on the overall process that led to the improvements. “Of course, we have also been involved with everything at a detailed level, but I wouldn’t want to point to something and say ‘That was our idea’. We helped them to develop ideas from the integral design concept. Exactly as intended.”

Good tips

That’s fitting, because that’s how the students in the project team experienced it too. Evelien: “For me, the contribution was something that I don’t really get from my studies: thinking from an industrial design perspective. So, the best way to go through the  design process in order to find better solutions and to determine whether your solution really does have added value.” Stephan was part of the Frame workgroup. “Spark is specialized in integral design, something we technicians often miss. Spark really helped us a lot with that, with seeing everything as a whole instead of as separate parts.” Marina: “They gave us good tips that allowed us to make progress, or signalled issues that we hadn’t thought about. For example, that we could get Sjaan* to stand in a harness without motorized joints to see whether the fit really is right.”

Put adds, “We always say: make what you have designed so far. Build the current status with 3D prints, foam blocks and chicken wire. Do it now. Because then you can really judge with the pilot and the other teams what stage you’re at. Does everything still fit? Has Team Frame taken sufficient account of Team Elektro’s plans? Or vice versa?”

Following the successful presentation of March III on 14 August, the third-year students concluded their project and passed it on. A new group of 23 students will develop the design into March IV in the coming year. That should be a rewarding task, because Sjaan and the ‘old’ team won three out of four elements of the Düsseldorf Cybathlon with March III in September. Bravo!

 *Sjaan is Sjaan Quirijns, the volunteer who was a (test) pilot and team member for a year. Sjaan has been paraplegic since the age of 24.