Masters of Design (Research), RMIT University

Supervisor Meeting Time: Wednesday 8.30-11.30 in B.45

Simon Curlis is a lecturer in Industrial Design with an abiding interest in Mobility as a sustainable practice with intelligent vehicles and assistive technology focus. Simon’s research considers design innovations for mobility service provision, reinventing systems of mobility, addressing wicked problems and speculating on emerging technology with future scenarios.

Simon is interested in supervising projects that address new vehicle typologies and aesthetics (beyond cars) and propose alternative uses and applications for mobility/transportation products and emerging production and service-systems approaches to transportation futures.

Current Research Activities

Simon is undertaking a Phd that addresses Intelligent Assistive Technologies in Mobility. This is a project that has  user focus and universal design applications. Simon is a CAD geek that works with digital sketching, sculpting and fabrication and is working with code generated forms and treatments of products.

Honours Interests

Simon has two areas of interest for 2020:

  1. Design of assistive technologies such as wheelchairs
  2. Design for the 2021 World Solar Challenge.

Two graduate design projects form RMIT have received good design awards in the last 5 years, Ryan Tilley’s Geko Trax (2018) and Dean Lopriore’s Spin Free Childrens’ adaptive chair (2014). These projects explored ways of making the product more capable and enriching the lives of people who use wheelchairs. These are prototyped products that can be tried and tested, developed through the Honours year.

During 2017 – 2019 Industrial design students have been instrumental in bringing the Priscilla car to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, the Car and vehicle interior design have been completed by RMIT graduates, Matthew Millar (2017, now RMIT Masters by research Student) and Richie Hongaladromp (2018, now UniSa Masters by coursework student). In both cases these project derived from their honours experiences.

In 2021 RMIT and ATN intend to represent the Priscilla car in a P2 version.  For now we require design vision and boldness to create P2, I am offering supervision in the following project briefs:

Project briefs

Assistive Technologies

Products and Product Service Systems (PSS) that improve the lives and wellbeing of people with reduced physical capacity. This project is about finding empathy with particular conditions and re-imagining and redefining products to provide improved ways of living.

The projects are to be reviewed by and inclusive of stakeholder groups.

These projects include ergonomics, CAD modelling and simulations, prototyping and documentation for manufacture and IP.

Mobility: Solar Vehicle Interior Design, colour and trim.

Mobility: Vehicle Interior Design including: vehicle packaging, driver interface and controls, driver simulation and training, VR and digital visualisation of interiors for stakeholders and experience design of mobility,

The current body will be reused in 2019 and needs to be redefined by its usability, practicality and a vision of the future, this project includes the lighting and trim of the exterior and a great deal of refined products ready for fabrication and inclusion in the P2 vehicle.

Vehicle to Grid 

Mobility: User Centred Design in Vehicle Energy Management including Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Connectivity and integration.

The chief difficulty in managing an integration to EVs is the general public perception of electric connectivity and difficulties with infrastructure and systems. A V2G system that demonstrates how future transport users will collect store and use their power in an integrated power grid/economy. This project includes UCD, Solar Decathlon, interface design for users to understand the system and how it works.

Intelligent vehicles

The future vehicle for driving needs small footprint high tech options and facilities for the driver and passenger to enjoy maximum benefit at minimal energy and environmental costs. This project investigates and prototypes systems for environmental and entertainment control with driver augmentations and interfaces everything possible for an advanced prototype in the 2021 P2 vehicle. The project require speculative design and articulation into plausible futures for low footprint Intelligent Mobility.

Design for the Solar Car Team Ecosystem

Mobility: BWSC Event Support Vehicle design and pre event toolkits for vehicle preparation.

During 2019 we discovered that a more sophisticated system for retrofitting support vehicles for specific tasks were necessary, this included the Vehicle transport trailer (a similar project was completed by Hugh Wallis in 2019) and the support vehicles which are effectively mobile office workstations for agile management of the event as it progresses. Effective storage and deployments products for catering, accommodation and maintenance of the vehicles. This is a PSS type project.

Website, communications networks and Team uniforms and utility devices connectivity may also be considered within this project.

(Science) Exhibition Design

STEM communication for exhibition design of BSWS Priscilla to school children in a science works type display. The difficulty with solar car is explaining the simplicity of the ideas and complexity of the products and services to achieve them. This project will champion solar technology in mobility and decode it for school children at primary and secondary school such that a mobile exhibition can educate a general audience as how solar cars may work and become a future part of our transportation mix.  

A selection of former 4th-year projects I have supervised include:

  • 2018 Ryan Tilley | Gecko Traxx Beach Accessible wheelchair tyre |
  • 2015 Dean Lopriore | Spin Free Wheelchair |
  • 2017 Mathew Millar | Priscilla Solar Car |
    2010 Dean Benstead | O2 Pursuit Air Powered Motorcycle,
  • 2010 Michael Gray | HSV 2 person EV sports car | 
  • 2008 Jethro Pugh | The Infinity-Class is a driverless transport system |  class
  • 2008 Zheng Chin | Timber Bicycle |