PhilaU Students Impress Johnson and Johnson Officials with Innovative Products

Officials from Johnson & Johnson, sponsor of PhilaU’s fall sprint challenge, were impressed with the  innovative solutions for wound care that eight interdisciplinary teams of students came up with during the fast-paced, two-week project that ended Monday.

“I’ve been very impressed in the way that they’ve thought about the problem, the way they’ve addressed it and how they’ve come up with solutions,” said Mike Eknoian, senior director of research and development for Johnson & Johnson, who led the PhilaU project for J&J. “It’s a very creative environment.”

Johnson & Johnson representatives and PhilaU faculty chose two outstanding projects as the most innovative and most impactful concepts.  One team’s innovation, designed to both prevent and medicate blisters suffered by high-heel wearing women, was selected as the most impactful product and the one most likely to be developed.

Another team garnered the most innovative concept designation for their single-use medicated packets designed to speed the healing process and mold flexibly to the unique shape of a wound. “This area kind of marries where we were going with the Liquid Band-Aid® but it is actually a little bit more innovative,” Eknoian said.

The students presented their final projects to industry partner Johnson & Johnson in the DEC Center Forum on Oct. 14, capping off a fast-paced, two-week challenge to come up with innovative approaches to wound care at the consumer level. The interdisciplinary teams included undergraduate and graduate students in industrial design, textile engineering, physician assistant studies, business/MBA and professional communication.

The number one consumer health care company in the world, with 2012 worldwide sales of $67.2 billion, Johnson & Johnson products include such iconic brands as Band-Aid®, Listerine®, Tylenol® and Visine®.

Mike Eknoian, senior director of research and development for Johnson & Johnson, talks to students about their products.

The Johnson & Johnson sprint challenge is just one example of how PhilaU students gain the education and skills that give them a competitive advantage in the work place after graduation. Combined with off-campus internships, industry partnerships with sponsors such as Johnson & Johnson provide PhilaU students with valuable real-world experiences working in collaborative environments, similar to what they’ll find in the professional work place.

At Monday’s presentations, Tod Corlett, coordinator of the M.S. in Industrial Design program, said he was impressed by the students’ professionalism. “When they come out of school and they’re ready to enter the working world, they’re not just ready to participate,” Corlett said. “They are ready to lead.”

Eknoian, who provided feedback to the teams midway through the sprint, said he saw a total transformation of ideas from the early stages to the final presentations. “They internalized their feedback, and they really built on it,” he said. Eknoian also said the skills that PhilaU students displayed over the course of the sprint challenge are those that Johnson & Johnson seeks in employees.

Some of the other products developed by the students included bandages designed to heal burns, innovative new on-the-go first-aid kits and a multi-purpose sprain healer designed for athletes–or anyone with an active lifestyle. Eknoian and his colleagues went around the room listening to the presentations, giving feedback and, often, kudos along the way.

Christopher Anderson, a biomedical textile engineering Ph.D. student who was part of the “prevent and medicate blisters” team, said his group did well by relying on their different academic strengths, including marketing, design and, in his case, textile engineering expertise to come up with the best bandage material to ward off friction from the shoe rubbing against the foot.

Industrial design graduate student Maria Shore, member of the winning “medicated packet” team, said it was exciting to work on wound care and take a fresh look at Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Band-Aid product. And, she added, “It’s been great working collaboratively with other students and seeing what they can bring to the table.”

Physician assistant studies student Logan Smith, who worked on the all-in-one sprain care solution, said his group “was trying to combine every step in the one product”—including a bandage and healing mechanism that conforms to all parts of the body. “It was a great experience to see the product design process,” he said.  “If I’m going to recommend it to a patient, it gives me a better idea” of how it works.

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