Tenth Annual SPRINT Challenge Inspires Market-Ready Industrial Designs

The 10th annual Industrial Design SPRINT Challenge at Philadelphia University ended on Jan. 24 following a week of developing and design innovative product concepts.  This year’s contest was the best yet, according to many of the students involved.

“We have been doing ceilings for many years, and we saw new, different breakout designs today,” said Joann Brayman, vice president of commercial marketing at Armstrong World Industries, the 2012 SPRINT Challenge sponsor. “You did an outstanding job,” she told the students. “We look forward to showing you real, commercialized products from your concepts.”

An expert panel of judges was impressed with the quality of work displayed on the contest’s final day on Jan. 24. About one of the winning designs, Lissa Casanova, an associate marketing manager at Armstrong, said, “We could commercialize this tomorrow, and it would sell.”

PhilaU students – from all years in the program – working in teams of four or five competed in four categories of products: vertical installations and blades, modular geometrics, discontinuous ceilings and low-relief, 3D ceilings. Each category presented a specific design challenge to the teams, which had one week to create a prototype and presentation materials to show to the contest’s judges from Armstrong.

(Left to right) Christopher Gradel, Jesse Ferrineo, Anthony Land, Nicholas Wawa and Matthew Sheehan received first place in the vertical installations category at SPRINT. (Pictured here with Armstrong Marketing Manager Paula Dombek, far right).

Joann Brayman; Peter Oleske, manager new knowledge acquisitions and protection; Paula Dombek, marketing manager product line; and Nick Taraborelli, product manager, all from Armstrong, agreed to judge the contest. Armstrong’s Casanova; Frankie Testa ‘09, associate designer; and Todd Bergman ‘02, staff designer, also provided feedback to the students.

The winning design for the vertical installations and blades category went to SPRINT Challenge Team 7, made up of freshman Christopher Gradel, freshman Nicholas Nawa, sophomore Jesse Ferrino, sophomore Matthew Sheehan, and junior and team manager Anthony Land. Team 7’s design,

(Left to right) Joanne Brayman, Armstrong VP, congratulates modular geometrics winners Cassie Caminiti, Alexis Grant, Kristopher Pepper, Tracy McCarthy and Tara Ridgeway with Todd Bergman, Armstrong staff designer.

“The Skywave,” utilized Armstrong’s existing cable hanging kits to install an interlocking, curved ceiling installation visually inspired by sound waves.

Team 1—freshman Cassie Caminiti, sophomore Alexis Grant, junior and team manager Tara Ridgeway, senior Kristopher Pepper and graduate student Tracy McCarthy—won the modular geometry category for their design, “GeoLift.” The design proposed a simple, but elegant way to enhance ceiling aesthetics and acoustics using flat panels that can be rearranged to give the ceiling a distinctive shape and structure.

Team 3 (left to right), Christopher Mbakwe, Brian Palladino, Alexander Rentschler, Steven Metzner and Matthew Hedden, won the low-relief, 3D ceilings category.

Winners of the low-relief, 3D ceilings category included members of Team 3—freshman Christopher Mbakwe, freshman Brian Palladino, sophomore Alexander Rentschler, junior and team manager Steven Metzner, and senior Matthew Hedden. Their design, “The Weave” consisted of a series of curved panels that snapped into Armstrong’s existing ceiling grid, creating a basket weave look.

The winner of the discontinuous ceilings category was Team 25, including freshman Stephen Hamilton, sophomore Morgan Gaumann, junior and team manager Sean Haney, and senior Matthew Cracco. The judges were impressed with Team 25’s “Floating Planes” design, which suspended slats of wood in intermittent intervals from the ceiling to create an intricate lighting pattern on the floor below.

Team 25 (left to right), Sean Haney, Matthew Cracco, Stephen Hamilton and Morgan Gaumann won the discontinuous ceilings category.

The SPRINT Challenge is an annual week-long industrial design contest that asks students to create real-world product designs for a sponsoring company using strict cost restraints and limited resources. “The SPRINT Challenge is an excellent way for the students to learn what it’s like to work collaboratively as a team and focus more closely on an industry environment, all while enhancing products currently on the market,” said Mike Leonard, associate professor of industrial design and interim academic dean of the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, who coordinates the annual competition with Tod Corlett, associate professor of industrial design. Leonard said he was extremely pleased with the effort each of the students exhibited throughout the contest.

Armstrong World Industries started in 1860 as a cork company. Today, it is the leading innovator of flooring, cabinets and ceilings. With 31 plants in seven countries, Armstrong dominates the building scene with clients such as Gensler, Perkins + Will, AECOM and HGA.

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