Student Project to Store Shelf: Trevis Kurz's Smoke Detector
Trevis Kurz, a junior at Ohio State University was the 2010 winner of the International Home + Housewares Show where participants explained their concepts and models to an audience of 60,000 manufacturers, retailers and media attendees. Trevis developed a smoke detector designed with the user in mind; put away your step-ladders, now there's an easier way to change your smoke detector's batteries!
StudentEvents.com: How did you discover the competition?
Trevis Kurz: The IHA student design competition was done for our junior level industrial design studio. Every student was to submit an entry to the competition at the end of the course.
StudentEvents.com: What were your impressions about the competition?
Trevis: The fact that this competition had been going on for 17 years made it very credible and provided a rich history of winners, who I was able to research. Many of the past winners have gone on to have great design careers and often remarked that winning this competition propelled their success. Knowing that, I was very excited to enter.
StudentEvents.com: Why do you think you won?
Trevis: From the start, my only constraint was the demographic of “babyboomers”. I was able to identify the smoke alarm as a problem for this group, and design a solution suitable for demographic groups beyond “babyboomers”. While observing people interact with their smoke alarms, I witnessed them using a common broomstick in several ways. The final solution was designed around this behavior, allowing the user to channel this broomstick habit in a more effective way.
StudentEvents.com: How has your life changed since the competition?
Trevis: Winning the competition put my design and name in the public eye. I was able to present the design at the International Housewares Show in Chicago, and it showed up on many websites including Gizmodo, a popular blog in the US. At the housewares show, I made valuable business and personal connections, which led to internship opportunities and eventually job offers. As for the project itself, I have been working with a company to patent and license the product over the past year. Many students have great projects in their portfolio that go unnoticed. The housewares show gave me and the other winners a chance to get our student projects out in the media, which can open a lot of doors.
StudentEvents.com: What do you think are the main advantages in participating in a student competition?
Trevis: The main advantage is the ability to get noticed. Attending award ceremonies, conferences, or competitions gives you the chance to meet professional contacts. Meeting people face-to-face gives you an opportunity to explain yourself and your work in a way that cannot be accomplished over the phone or in a portfolio.
StudentEvents.com: Do you have any funny stories from the competition to share?
Trevis: Well I don’t know if it is funny as much as interesting or lucky, but since I could not find the “perfect” solution, I was scrambling past the deadline for the class and close to the deadline of the competition. I had to submit an entry to pass the class, but I was excited about my project and needed time for it to mature. I had to overnight my submission to get it in on time, and I got the lowest grade in the class, but ended up winning!