The Ladies’ Kayak Project

Donations to TLKP are now tax deductible! If you donate to the project you will receive a note from the Paddlesports Industry Foundation indicating your $ is tax deductible. The Shimoda Group gathered $500 from you all, and donated $2250 of its own toward this effort: the remaining $750 is due in September, 2012. At this point, the most important thing is to make use of the concept with discussion, experimentation in your own boat and suggestions to your paddling instructor, retailer, outfitter, or manufacturer's rep to suggest to kayak designers that the concepts might be worth pursuing. We have asked manufacturers and individuals to support an evolution of design suited to women by developing and selling product that suit women specifically, and to donate a portion of their profit to PIF to further this movement.

Donations to the Paddlesports Industry Foundation are 100% tax deductible. Thanks for your consideration.

Donate:The Ladies Kayak Project

US Freestyle Team Registration Fee for 2013 World Championships

 

This is the place for 2013 Freestyle Team members and staff to pay for your ‘accreditation.’

Everyone needs to pay $112 for each competitive place on the team (if you are competing in two events, the total is $224).





Please note that the actual cost is 100 euros per person, of $133.66. the USA Canoe Kayak is sponsoring the freestyle team with the 20% difference. Thank you, USA CanoeKayak!

Here are the students’ solutions …. now what?

This is a belated ‘thank you’ to those who invested in this project, now a project of the Paddlesports Industry Foundation and a summary of the fantastic work completed late last year.

Product Design students at Carnegie Mellon University took on the challenge of addressing what they understood as an ergonomic challenge for women that impacts their ability to learn and, for experienced paddlers, to excel. The CMU students represented a cross section of undergraduate and graduate students majoring in mechanical engineering, industrial design and communications: Xin (Pam) Hu, Brian Manning, Junping (Tammy) Tang, Marcus Townsend, Carlijn Valk, and Joe Vickless.
Proposed Challenge – There may well be factors that diminish women’s interest and motivation that are unrelated to their physique or the equipment they use. However, a person’s belief that success and skill is available to them is critical to their chance to achieve success. This is about improving access to perception of success, as well as making it easier to learn and excel. Read on for the rest of the story…

Ready for the Presentation!

The Carnegie Mellon University Students of Product Design Class 39-605 presented their final design concepts to me on December 12th, since I was not able to attend their presentation to the rest of the class and the sponsors. It was fantastic to see their final concepts in ‘private,’ for we had a chance to discuss the process by which they arrived at their final mock ups; their process constraints; and suggestions for the next phase in development. Gary McCormick, the local paddler who graciously allowed us to reviewe his generous fleet of kayaks earlier in the semester, attended the presentation as well, and joined us for lunch afterwards.

The challenge now is what to do with these great ideas, since I have not yet raised sufficient funds to fulfill the commitment to CMU. This project is now adopted by PIF, so I will seek grants or private funds to complete that piece, then move on so the public can benefit from their inspired work! Stay tuned. If you have any suggestions, email risa@theshimodagroup.com!

The Ladies Kayak Project Rolls on with Paddlesports Industry Support

The Product Design engineering students at Carnegie Mellon have been busy working on a couple of very, very neat concepts for this project and … you are welcome to hear all about them at their presentation this coming Tuesday! Seriously, if you are near Pittsburgh and can make it to Shaip Hall on the Carnegie Mellon University campus, let me know! Their work discussions need to remain in the classroom for now, but suffice it to say that i am very psyched and proud of their thoughtful problem solving thus far.

The Paddlesports Industry Foundation, a non-profit organization, has adopted TLKP. What does this mean? Well, for one, your ‘gift’ to the project is now tax deductible and if you have sent $ via PayPal or a check, you’ll receive a thank you and confirmation by the end of the year from PIF.

This week’s presentation will show us their prototyping plans and models developed thus far, with initial conclusions and reactions from their team about the efficacy of the design and some reaction from industry members they have interviewed. Wish I could show you what they are planning, but they’d have to kill me.  :)

Problem Stated, Time to Look at Boats

This is what TLKP Project Team presented to their class:

Issues for Female Paddlers

  • Kayaks have traditionally been designed with male paddlers in mind
  • Because of physiological differences, it is more difficult for women to master kayaking techniques using current ill-fitting designs
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that many women abandon kayaking shortly after taking up the sport

Problem Statement

Design a kayak or kayaking accessory for women that addresses the gender-specific design shortcomings of current products and makes learning kayaking techniques easier, thus encouraging women to stay in the sport.

Next Steps

  • Design and conduct tests on the physics of freestyle kayaks (e.g. buoyancy, center of gravity, tipping point on various axes, etc.)
  • Contact kayak designers to inquire about known research and current industry efforts
  • Recruit local female kayakers for consultation and user testing

This week they aim to interview people who have volunteered to talk about this topic, and unsuspecting :)  designers who we hope will share their views!

Join us in Pittsburgh this week to illustrate how boats fit women, or not… We’ll either gather on campus or at the home of Gary McCormick, super generous paddler, Team River Runner volunteer, Explorer’s Club member and owner of a fleet of boats…4:30 Thursday! Email risa@theshimodagroup.com for the location.

What’s the Problem?

The CMU student team met today to discuss what’s due Tuesday, their ‘problem statement.’ This will help their focus for analysis and interviews of paddlers, instructors or designers. They will also decide which type of kayak to work with: recreational, whitewater or touring. My feeling is that it would be harder to determine success among casual users of rec boats, and improvements that you can make in a rec boat might not be translatable to ww/touring, so hope they choose to focus on one of the latter two. Stay tuned.

Which Student Team Will Pave the Path for TLKP?

I presented TLKP to students enrolled in this semester’s Product Design course in the ICES — The Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, which “fosters multidisciplinary research and relationships between Carnegie Mellon University, industry, and government agencies.”  I presented TLKP and four gentlemen followed with their respective product design challenges, all quite different from one another. The undergraduate and graduate students in the class are assigned to teams, and once they’d seen five project presentations, submitted the list of projects in rank order preference. Professor Hansen will now assign projects to team according to their preference, as best he can. We’ll find out which team is assigned to TLKP and meet with them Thursday at 4:30 pm ET. If you’d like to sit in via Skype or phone, let me know!

Student Intro 9-1

I’m heading to CMU Thursday to spend 15 minutes with the students, hoping one of the groups will find the project as interesting and compelling as we do. I will haul a boat into the classroom. If anyone in the Pittsburgh area wants to join us at 4:30 pm, you’re more than welcome. Call 301-502-6548 or email risa@theshimodagroup.com and I’ll find the room address: I’ll be meeting Professor Hansen at his place and walking over, boat on shoulder. :)

Wish me luck!

Dr. Skinner – Is this a Waste of Time?

Is this gentleman correct? I had to share this email with you.

“Sorry Risa, this is an exercise in wasting time. I’ll credit Keith Backlund for computer reducing a Sanna for children, the epityke 3000, still own one. But the notion of changing proven designs for those who have stereotyped COG is a bit ridiculous, Evan a bit sexist. If anything , a “lower” COG would benefit most designs. Current commercial designs are play oriented and comfort outfitted. I can’t argue with the safety of back braces but they promote poor technique, as in they are used for comfort, not safety, compromising proper technique, i.e. torso rotation. Modern designs require little instruction in proper technique to be nominally effective. I’m thinking dangerous at best. When “torso” is taught, upper body strength, and higher COG is a detriment, giving those of the population a clear disadvantage. If a difference is sought, it should be in effective instruction/suggestion mostly at the club level, for those who are receptive. (a.c.a.) is entry level. Good technique is effective, therefore addictive, and safe. The solution is knowledge, not design. I extend when received. Nice to here of you. Dr. Skinner

David Yost – It’s About ‘Reach’

Veteran canoe and kayak designer Dave Yost today shared his perspective about women paddlingr rec boats – that they often suffer by seeking a ‘stable’ boat and choose a wide one. They then have trouble reaching water, hit elbows, etc. His remedy has been to put them in narrower boats that are less stable but can be handled more readily. These are great observations. They still don’t address the issue.