Re-imagining Design 

Students' designs give prosthetics a new look.

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"This project really was looking at things from an empathetic standpoint on how can we use design to actually make people's lives better and then executing that design to get something tangible." -Dustin Headley


Industry support for architecture, planning and design faculty is advancing the look and functionality of prosthetics at Kansas State University. Assistant Professor Dustin Headley, who recently earned the Treanor Architects Faculty Award, leads students in unique research projects such as creating custom prosthetic limbs.

Second-year undergraduate students in Headley’s product design studio class worked with six clients to design covers, or “skins,” that can become part of the prosthetics’ outward appearance.

“This project really was looking at things from an empathetic standpoint on how can we use design to actually make people’s lives better and then executing that design to get something tangible,” Headley said.

The students were in charge of interviewing the clients to gain understanding into what each would prefer their “skins” to look like. The visions for the designs were then brought to life by the students using digital design techniques on the computer. Headley acted as engineer of the designs and used 3-D printing to create the personalized skins.

“The experiences and opportunities provided for the students not only prepared them for the rigors of practice, but resulted in exceptional design work, implemented and installed in service to the community,” said Tim de Noble, dean of the College of Architecture, Planning and Design. “We are grateful that Treanor Architects saw fit to invest in faculty-led innovation.”

As a result of the project, students learned important problem-solving skills while also gaining knowledge and practical experience in design.

“Many of our staff are K-State graduates. It is our goal to honor faculty and their commitment to the students who eventually become our employees,” said Daniel R. Rowe, president of Treanor Architects.

Generous gifts from industry partners like Treanor Architects help reward and recognize innovative professors like Headley while also supporting Innovation and Inspiration, the $1 billion campaign to advance K-State toward becoming a top 50 public research university.

Read more about how your gift can support the College of Architecture, Planning and Design and advance the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign.

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