Student Profile

Senior project spotlight: Rainy Michelsen

Rainy Michelsen

Engineering Design Projects (ES 100), the capstone course at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, challenges seniors to engineer a creative solution to a real-world problem.

Minimizing the Impact of Child Bike Seats

Rainy Michelsen, S.B. ’20, mechanical engineering

Many families rely on child bike seats to transport children between 1 and 4 years old, but current U.S. product safety standards for bike seats do not include regulations to protect the child in the event of overturn accidents. Michelsen set out to develop a safer and more accessible child bike seat that also has a smaller environmental impact that many commercially available models. To meet her goals, Michelsen had to create new safety, environmental, and user experience requirements for the product through characterization testing and expanded system analysis. She designed a child bike seat that could be mounted on a rear cargo rack without requiring any modifications to the bike frame. In addition, her design incorporates a headrest and roll bar specifically designed for impact protection, head support, and adaptability. Michelsen also added a roll cage to improve safety, and produced the bike seat with adjustable components so an individual could continue to use the product as a child grows, reducing waste.

“Beyond these objectives, this project worked to provide a proof of concept to demonstrate design principles and philosophies to support more environmentally responsible product development, user repair empowerment, and preventative engineering,” she said.

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