Real-world designs

By Julie Sammarco

August 2011 - Winners of the ET Foundation’s 2011 International Aluminum Extrusion Student Design Competition design products for the real world.

“One of the primary judging criteria is commercial viability,” said competition judge David Asher in a press release.

The award-winning designs include a garage door that functions like window blinds, a home office docking system inspired by boat docks, fast-food tray tracks, a public seating setup, cooling canister and gardening system. All six student designers were granted cash scholarships.

The ET Foundation awarded a total of $8,500 in scholarships, sponsored by Hydro’s North American extrusion unit, to recognize the winning designs—featuring extruded aluminum components—developed by students studying industrial design.

The designs were judged at ET’s offices in Wauconda, Ill., by professionals in the aluminum extrusion industry, including Craig Werner, president of Werner Extrusion Solutions LLC, Lake Forest, Ill.; David Asher, plant manager for Bon L Manufacturing Co., Kentland, Ind.; and Shane Tredup, vice president of operations for Custom Aluminum, South Elgin, Ill.

“Each year we are impressed with the entries submitted—with the creativeness of the participants and with their exceptional presentation capabilities,” says Werner. “The competition highlights why we, as an industry, need a world of these types of creative professionals helping to drive the use of aluminum extrusions, both through design and high-quality presentation and marketing of the resultant designs.”

First Place - The ET Foundation awarded $3,000 scholarship for the RL Door, a garage door that functions like window blinds. Designer Jimmy Page, a sophomore studying Industrial Design at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., describes his product as “a new and more efficient design than the average garage door.” Using aluminum extrusions provides flexibility in the design, including ventilation and privacy, according to the student. “The individual panels rotate to a 45-degree angle or parallel to the ground. Using aluminum extrusion for this process would reduce costs, weight and increase ceiling [storage] space in the garage,” says Page.

The judges felt this design would provide many opportunities for customization since the design could be retrofitted for any opening, making it a very versatile product. “Not only can it be used as a garage door but also as an enclosure on existing buildings such as shelter houses, which have limited overhead clearance,” says Asher.


Second Place - Ryan Michaelis, a senior studying industrial design at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, received a $2,000 scholarship for a design named Dock. Based on the concept of marina boat docks, the Dock is a home office accessory docking system that allows different elements to slide onto a track mounted on a work surface so the user can customize their space. “Everyone has a different way of working; this concept allows users to customize their desktop to suit their workflow,” says Michaelis.

The judges appreciated that the design could be customized to fit any surface. They also foresee many market opportunities for this product. “The strength, aesthetics and functionality of aluminum extrusions are an ideal fit with this design concept. The modular design of this system could be ideally suited to sales and distribution [through retail outlets] such as IKEA or high-end mail-order retailers,” suggested Werner.

Third Place - Miroslav Florjancic, a senior studying industrial design at Megatrend University, School of Art & Design, in Belgrade, Serbia, received A $1,000 scholarship. His Wall Tray design is a track system for fast food trays to be used in cafeteria settings. The track provides users a hands-free solution to holding trays that incorporates LED lights, offering an attractive, functional lighting option in the design.

The judges thought the interlocking feature on the track provided uses outside of the food industry, including shelving for retail and workshops, making this design adaptable to a variety of applications.


Honorable Mention - An honorable mention award went to Steven Barach, a sophomore studying industrial design at Purdue University, for the Utiles Seating System. The design incorporates extruded aluminum in the wall mount, seat mount and seat frame. Not only would the fold-up seating system provide a comfortable place for students to sit in the hallways, Barach says, “I also included a molded surface on the bottom of the chair so those student who didn't want to sit down could still be able to lean up against something more comfortable than the wall.”

Hydro chose the Vapor Evaporating Cooling Canister, submitted by Zachary Green from Purdue University, and the Hydrorail Hydroponic Gardening System, submitted by Jesse Charles, also from Purdue University, as the co-winners of this year’s Hydro Sustainability award. The winners will each receive an equal share of the $2,500 scholarship award. MM

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