Crowdsourcing brings students’ design ideas to life

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Senior Emily Litten designed a hummingbird feeder that frames each bird’s beauty for her Kickstarter project.


Emily Litten often has to explain her major to family and friends.

“I still don’t think my parents know what industrial design is,” said Litten, a senior in the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts.

She tells people to think of architects and the buildings they design. “Then look at everything else around you,” Litten said. “We design it.”

The projects Litten and 11 other students created for their Entrepreneurial Product Development course, taught by instructor Craighton Berman, are their own examples of industrial design. The class, which meets once a week for about six hours, requires each student to conceptualize and market a product. Projects were launched Feb. 5 on the crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter. Most of the class Kickstarter projects have already exceeded their goals before the fundraising period ends Friday.

Litten’s project, “Hum,” is a hummingbird feeder that frames the beauty of each visiting bird. She was inspired to create a product that her family would enjoy — and understand. “I wanted to choose something that was more personal, and a big interest of my younger brother and dad is birds,” Litten said.


Industrial design student Sergio Villasenor created the game King Cup

Industrial design student Sergio Villasenor created King Cup, a social board game based on Beer Pong.

Sergio Villasenor focused on social life for his product, specifically a party icon — the beer pong table. “The beer pong table has such emotion to it,” said Villasenor, a senior. “You see faces of concentration, anger, happiness.”

But he noticed a lack of social interaction between the players and the audience. “There’s such a big disparity between the emotions going on, and that’s what I wanted to fix,” he said.

So he created “King Cup,” a social game that unites players and audience through “creative and fun tossing challenges,” said his Kickstarter page. The main objective of the game is to eliminate the opponents’ cups and in the process, remove blocks from their tower. “It was a problem-solving approach on how to include the audience,” Villasenor said.

Other class projects include the “Cave Picnic Tray,” a serving platter for cheese; “Posy,” a pin that attaches flowers and other items to clothing; and “The Bindle Stick,” a simple mechanism that evenly redistributes weight from heavy bags.

After the funding period ends Friday, students will work on manufacturing the products for their backers — those that have donated — and seek feedback. The projects all represent “the merging of art, engineering and business,” which is how Villasenor explains industrial design to friends and family.


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