Product Innovation Lab Showcased at PLAYsentations

May 30, 2023

Students in the Product Innovation Lab course partnered with Minnesota-based company Rockler Woodworking and Hardware to design tools and products that make crafting easier for makers and woodworkers with limited space.

Housed within the Product Design Program, Product Innovation Lab is a spring semester class that focuses on building cross-disciplinary collaboration and real-world problem-solving through design. Students are divided into teams of five or six and spend the semester working on a design challenge given to them by a sponsoring company.

Throughout the semester students receive feedback from industry professionals both at the company and from other professional designers who serve as volunteer lab instructors for the course. The class culminates with PLAYsentations, an event where students pitch their products in theatrical performances to a crowd of friends, family, design professionals, and members of the public.

2023 Teams and Products

  • “Flex Rail” by Blue Team: Joseph Vainikka, Sravanti Vadrevu, Thomas Mahota, Grace Rubas, Sarah Ley, Jonathan Olaleye
  • “Quick Coat” by Yellow Team: Evan Gill, Gabriel Shupe, Adrienne Schroeder, Abigail Bliss, Piper Sondreal
  • “SpeedLeveler” by Cyan Team: Maxwell Gilbertson, Braden Schmelzer, Tse-Hsun Kuo, Mats Hansen
  • “Seat Caddy” by Amber Team: Killian Miller, Yeji Shin, Allie Roberts, Ava Tow, Tristan Lofgren, Karma Lynze
  • “Dolly Clamp” by Orange Team: Elier Meraz Barrera, Nathaniel Simcik, Isidora Mack, Dustin Laufenberg, Sanjana Prabhakar
  • “Rockler Roller” by Magenta Team: Reese Wilson, Alexandra Woods, Jacob Perraud, Ogden Sikel, Ming Hei Chan
  • “Glue Blaster” by Purple Team: Frida Fortier, Tristan Kmoch, Yash Soni, Carly Wilfahrt, William Nisbet, Mo Chen
  • “Flatrack” by Red Team: Owen Brummel, Luke Kauffman, Samuel Larcheid, Erin Briggs, Audrey Bordner, Noah Solomon
  • “Press ‘N Stain” by Green Team: Nandini Satsangi, Landen Fraylick, Fletcher Hubbard, Tage Wrage, Alyssa Felt
  • “Pocket +1” by Chartreuse Team: Matilda Troedson, Nicholas Gleese, Erik Sutton, Grace Hansen, Matthewos Solomon

Three product design projects were awarded grants as part of the MIN-CORPS MVP Challenge! MVP or "Minimum Viable Product" is a tool to show customers and stakeholders how an innovative idea could work, capture feedback, and bring a concept one step closer to reality.

Now in its seventh year at the University of Minnesota, the College of Design’s Toy Product Design class is known for its playful atmosphere and rigorous pace.

If there is one thing students in Toy Product Design know, it’s how to play hard and work even harder. All semester long, they’ve been creating the next big thing in toy design and on May 3rd all of that hard work will pay off when they present their final products at PLAYsentations.