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Interdisciplinary Class Combines Skills of Marketing and Engineering Students

A protective plastic shell that keeps your bar of soap clean. Pepper spray that sounds an alarm when you use it. These were just a couple of the ideas considered by students in RMU’s Marketing Research and Product and Tool Design classes.

Led by Priyadarshan A. Manohar, Ph.D., assistant professor of engineering, and Cathleen S. Jones, D.Sc., assistant professor of marketing, the interdisciplinary class had students take a common problem, do surveys to gather information, and then design and build an actual working prototype of a product to address the problem.

The students were then required to reveal their findings and prototypes in a professional presentation in front of their peers. During the first round of presentations, the students also got the chance to present their ideas to Larry E. Nolph, senior financial manager for GlaxoSmithKline.

“In a class like Marketing Research, you can’t really understand the subject unless you conduct a real-world research project,” said Jones. “This course is particularly interesting because students not only conduct actual research, but then they see how their results are used to turn a concept into a working model.”

The EZOpen Trash Can, conceived by Brittany T. Herron, Jillian D. Mcconnaughy, and Jamie R. Vanslander, and built by engineering students Justin R. Laughner, Michael J. Serafin, and Donald J. Swisher, addresses the problem many people have when removing the trash bag from their kitchen container. The prototype features a large storage capacity and a front-side opening, and is stackable and lightweight yet sturdy. The front opening eliminates the need to lift the trash bag out of the can, and rubber wheels allow the can to be transported with ease.

The Erase-All Whiteboard Cleaner, conceived by Rachel E. Cavolo, Stephen B. Colella, Rebecca A. Shoup, and Amanda L. Wells, and built by engineering students Mark Geubtner, Sean McDonough, and Anthony Trunzo, is a multi-purpose, dry-erase/chalkboard cleaning tool with a versatile head and an extendable handle. The students said that they hoped the cleaner would capture what they saw was a new multi-purpose dry erase tool market and replace the out-dated rectangular whiteboard cleaners currently being used.

Other prototypes created by students:

Ice Away– a hand-held, vibrating ice scraper
Marketing students: Emily Bradford, Gregory W. Chapman, Andrew E. Muriel, Matthew J. Rusnic
Engineers: Brian Carnahan, Jason Frederick, and Mike Wood

Comfortcrutch – a more comfortable-to-use crutch
Marketing students: Jordan T. Czolba, Chad J. Betris, Mark R. Hewitt, Edward M. Rowse
Engineers: Bryan Dempsey, Nikki Rodgers, and Cleveland Savage

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