Aisle Assist in its deployed state

Aisle Assist in jet bridge ready to go!

Final Aisle Assist product

Major features of Aisle Assist

Project Overview

Over the course of one semester in MIT's course 2.009 Product Engineering Processes, I worked on a team with 17 other students to develop our product, Aisle Assist, from a concept under the given theme of "Hello" to mockup to final product and presentation to a sold-out crowd of 1,200 plus 5,000+ unique IP's on the online livestream.

Aisle Assist is an aisle wheelchair that aids in the transfer process from the aisle to the airplane seat and back while minimizing lifting and close contact between users and attendants. Aisle Assist was designed under tight space restrictions and life safety design requirements to safely transfer 350-pound users with only 10 pounds of force through linear rail and gear wheelchair systems.

Assembly Review

For the assembly review stage of our product development, we completed a full CAD assembly model and product contract to give us a detailed potential path forward for the following technical review. I mostly worked on the product contract, highlighting the most essential needs for our project and the engineering specifications that we would need to reach in order to achieve success in these areas.

After assembly review, we decided to get rid of the turning mechanism. This turning mechanism would have allowed Aisle Assist to transfer guests to either side of the airplane. However, this was found to be out of our scope and not an essential part of our design, so we chose to focus on just transferring to one side of the airplane well.

Full CAD assembly

Aisle Assist CAD and subsystems. I worked on CAD for the sliding seat handle.

My CAD for the sliding seat handle

Assembly Review Presentation


Aisle Assist product contract. I primarily worked on this document for assembly review. I printed out a large version of the main product contract chart and hung it up in our team area so everyone could easily see and access the information for our main objectives. This helped to keep everyone on the same page.

Assembly Review team presentations!

Assembly Review team presentations!

Technical Review

For the technical review stage of our product development process, we worked to address remaining technical issues and prove that we were on track to complete a working product for final presentations.

Since our product already required many different systems working together properly that we had to create from scratch, we did not want to add another potential challenge with the wheelchair base itself. Therefore, we worked to adapt an existing aisle chair to fit our needs and mount our systems on top of this structure. I mostly worked on this process of adapting the aisle chair to fit our needs. I measured critical dimensions of the aisle chair and removed using a saw the pieces that would be in the way of our systems (particularly the armrests). This aisle chair also had the ability to fold up if you brought the two handlebars together. We did not want to risk the chair collapsing or changing width while in use, so I added shaft collars to hold everything in place.

I also addressed issues as they arose during our testing, like manufacturing quick and simple spacers to prevent bending. Finally, I worked on assembly, installing our rail system.

Taking key dimensions of the aisle chair

Taking key dimensions of the aisle chair

I worked on assembling the chair and attaching the rail systems

I manufactured spacers on the mill for between the plates of our chair to prevent bending

Successfully transferring a guest into an adjacent seat

Close-up of our rail system

Final Development and Testing

I worked on the naming for our product, devising a list of potential options. We ultimately chose Aisle Assist for its catchy alliteration and ability to get across the use case of the product.

In final development, we moved our assembly from the red aisle chair base to a more stable black wheelchair base. I worked mostly on this assembly and resolving issues as they arose, including using a Dremel tool to remove any sticking points in our metal, cutting down our plastic coverings where they were getting in the way, etc. I also manufactured on the mill a front fork for the chair that the seat plates would slot into. I did a lot of testing with my team to catch and resolve issues.

Ball and slot interaction system for seat plates

Plan for milling the front fork

Front Fork Milling

Me milling the front fork!

I spent many hours with the team testing the chair and resolving issues as they arose.

Final Product

We presented our final working product to a sold-out crowd of 1,200 plus 5,000+ unique IP's on the online livestream! I acted as a wheelchair attendant onstage and demonstrated the use of our product.

Our final product presentation in front of a live audience of 1,200 and an online audience of 5,000+ unique IPs! I acted as a wheelchair attendant and demonstrated the use of our product


Brochure of major features

Successfully demonstrating our working product in final presentations!

Performing the transfer slide from the aisle into an airplane seat

A perfect transfer!

Celebrating after final presentations!

Other Product Ideas

Before settling on Aisle Assist as our final product idea for the semester, I worked with a smaller team with three other students on development for two other potential products: Hapti-Guide and Locate Lamp.


Hapti-Guide was a wearable head piece and wrist piece which would help the visually impaired to navigate new environments with vibrations that warned of nearby obstacles.

Presenting Hapti-Guide concept on behalf of our team to the class and instructors

Presenting Hapti-Guide concept on behalf of our team to the class and instructors


LocateLamp was a combination headlamp and personal locator beacon (PLB) for hikers. This product would ensure that hikers would always be able to call for help by combining a device that almost all hikers have with them at all times with an emergency SOS system.

Sketch Model/Mock Up

We researched and planned our concept in more detail, creating and presenting a proof of concept prototype.

I performed much of the background research for our idea/benchmarking, analyzing survey responses of our target demographic, interviewing potential users, and performing teardowns of existing technologies to understand how they worked. I also worked on the circuits and soldering for the device. Finally, I presented our working product in a demonstration to instructors.

We performed a research survey of our target demographic and found that Petzl Tikka Headlamp was one of the most popular headlamps.

My teardown of Petzl Tikka Headlamp

We performed a research survey of our target demographic and found that rescueME PLB1 was one of the most popular Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs).

My teardown of rescueME PLB1

Our product contract for LocateLamp featuring all of the critical needs for our product. I worked with my team on developing this product contract

Headlamp with light, battery, and PLB emergency signal transmitter

Receiver that lit up and made noise when an emergency signal was received

My presentation and demonstration of our working device!

My team and I fielding questions from the audience after presenting three of our ideas, including LocateLamp


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