Electronics Company Works with CCAD Students on Long-Term Project

January 21st, 2013 by Katlin McNally
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Students work on project for InPower through the CCAD MindMarket

Students are tackling a big project with local advanced electronics company InPower through CCAD’s MindMarket.

“InPower reached out to CCAD after learning about some of the program offerings CCAD has for Industrial Design,” said Cynthia Gravino, CCAD MindMarket director.  “We had several meetings and determined a CCAD DesignLab partnership would best serve their needs and would provide a great hands-on opportunity for our students in a client-based project setting.”

Tom Gattis, dean of the School of Design Arts and chair of Industrial Design, stepped in to lead the student class.

“InPower originally came to us hoping to redesign the packaging for an existing product and look for some new market opportunities,” Gattis said. “We attacked it from a different point of view and realized we can do a lot more than just redesign a package.”

For the first semester (fall 2012) students conducted a comprehensive market, product, and competitive landscape analysis.

“We spent nearly the whole semester researching things like who the customers are, what motivated them to purchase, examining how the company was attacking the market and finding alternatives,” Gattis said. “The students did a tremendous amount of work and exceeded the client’s expectations.”

During the spring semester (2013) Gattis is leading the students in the physical redesign of the packaging based on the internal and external factors revealed by their research. They will explore design factors such as mood, color, typography, and texture to create the best branding and packaging for the company.

The partnership with InPower will extend throughout the next academic year, with the company tapping into CCAD talent to help discover new avenues for its products and its brand.

“One of the most interesting aspects of this partnership is that InPower is an engineering-based organization,” Gravino said. “This type of company is outside of the other industries we usually have a chance to work with and provided an opportunity to expand the types of companies we serve.”

The partnership allows students to experience a real-world situation with a client and product that are local and will use their ideas.

“This is as close as we can simulate to the real world; the only difference is we are doing it within the safe confines of the college,” Gattis said. “[Students] have expert guidance from faculty along the way, and they can take a lot of risk without the fear of getting fired or demoted. They are allowed within that context to try a lot of things and really explore concepts that in a corporate setting would be a bit too risky.”

The CCAD MindMarket offers several creative services formats through the DesignLab, from charrettes, which are intense 54-to-72 hour design challenges, to class projects lasting 16 weeks, to partnerships, which can be longer and recruit the broadest variety of CCAD students, faculty, and staff.

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