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Students present their project to a panel of Federal Mogul representatives. Students present their project to a panel of Federal Mogul representatives.

Jefferson Students Create New Products for Industry

A transdisciplinary team’s Summit Sleeve GoPro battery protection pouch won best new business opportunity in the ninth annual partnership between Jefferson and industry partner Federal-Mogul.

Throughout the spring semester, 11 groups of design, engineering and business students teamed up to take on this year’s challenge of creating new, profitable products from some of Federal-Mogul’s proprietary materials: QS 3008, an acoustic non-woven; FlexFit EBS, a flexible braided substrate; and Protexx-Shield 3007, an insulative non-woven substrate.

Federal-Mogul is a leading global supplier of products, services and safety technologies to worldwide manufacturers and servicers of vehicles and equipment in the automotive, light, medium and heavy-duty commercial, marine, rail, aerospace, power generation and industrial markets.

Only a few days after meeting, teams pitched their first round of ideas to Federal-Mogul representatives—including company leadership and Jefferson alumni—and received early-stage feedback and coaching on how to approach a task as monumental as creating a new product for a global company.

“From the first group, I was blown away,” says Wendy Gao ’11, product development engineer at Federal-Mogul and MS in textile engineering alumna. “Then, I realized each group was going to be that good.”

Federal-Mogul sees this transdisciplinary project as an opportunity to recruit students and looks forward to participating each year, says Phil Marks, director of business development. “The energy of the students is contagious.”

Students had strong product ideas from the start and learned how to perfect their ideas throughout the semester. Along with creating a physical prototype, teams had to justify their product concepts through a market analysis, reports on technical and manufacturing feasibility, a go-to-market plan and financial summary.

“I was especially surprised by the products where the distinction between engineering, design and business were blurred,” says Les Sztandera, professor of new product development, one of the classes involved with the project. “I believe this work across traditional disciplinary boundaries can bring new products and services to market faster and better.”

A panel of Federal-Mogul judges selected Summit Sleeve as the most feasible product concept. The compact, insulated pouch preserves battery life and offers increased shock protection for GoPro cameras in harsh environments. Cool temperatures can quickly deteriorate battery life, limiting the ability to use these point-of-view cameras for cold weather sports and recreation. The Summit Sleeve case fits into the direct-from-manufacturer Skeleton Case and enables GoPro camera users to extend their use in a range of cold environments. In addition to cool-weather battery life extension, the product offers additional shock and impact, heat and chemical protection.

The team comprised of innovation MBA students Mu Yao M’20 and Peng Zhou M’20; fashion merchandising and management students Natalie Stein ’20 and Jacqueline Webb ’20; mechanical engineering students Lexi Patania ’21, Brandon Smith ’20 and Robert Thompson ’20; and industrial design students Evan Page ’20 and Yuhan Zhang ’20. They worked in Jefferson’s Design Factory, testing the product’s characteristics and designing multiple prototypes through a semester-long iterative process.

“Our team invested a lot of time to this project,” Thompson says. “Every one of us sat for hours, focusing on part of the product. It feels like our hard work paid off.”

This article was written by Veronica Montefusco, a student in Jefferson’s iMBA program and employee at the University. As part of her new product development course, Montefusco followed her peers’ process in creating new products with project sponsor Federal-Mogul. A project-based, team-oriented course, new product development provides a methodology for discovering and executing new business opportunities. Students explore innovation games and charrette exercises, following a product design and development roadmap to create a prototyped concept and business plan.