Andrew Valentine

2008 Southern District Student Merit Winner

Andrew Valentine has taken many steps toward becoming a designer, but the most important steps he has taken have been the ones outside his comfort zone. “I constantly challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone,” said Valentine. “It’s the only way I grow both professionally and personally.”

In his third year at Virginia Tech, he not only won the IDSA Undergraduate Scholarship and served as Co-President of IDSA’s Student Chapter, but Valentine also co-developed an equine prosthetic system with fellow student Jonathan Mills. “When a horse sustains a major leg injury, it generally results in euthanization,” Valentine noted. “After extensive market feasibility research, we looked at current prosthetics on the market and found that none of them address the natural movements of a horse’s leg.”

The duo conducted biomechanical studies to determine functionality and amputation points before arriving at a design which utilized custom leg wraps to prevent the horse from looking bionic while simultaneously providing protection for the unit. He added, “We wanted to make the horse comfortable while minimizing the energy demands on the product.”

Valentine’s pursuit for real world application, combined with his desire to expand his design background, led him to take a diverse series of internships working at small businesses as well as corporate and international consultancies

In 2006, he interned at Concept Center International (CCI) in Anderson, SC where he worked on brands including Ridgid, Ryobi, Craftsman and Homelite. During his CCI tenure, Valentine earned a spot on CCI’s Onpoint strategic development team. The five-person interdisciplinary team—made up of a senior designer, a senior engineer, a marketing strategist, a team leader and an intern designer—developed future product ideation and direction for CCI. The team’s final presentation led to a series of industry innovations which are currently in production development and have earned the team several patents.

Valentine’s most recent internship took him to Salzburg, Austria in 2007 for a six month tour with Kiska design. “That was one of the most challenging experiences in my career—working through language barriers and learning new cultural trends,” he noted.

In his free time, Valentine tests snowboard fabrication and develops composite material research. For his labor, he earned the Werner Graeff Memorial Award and a research grant from Virginia Tech to continue working with materials like bamboo, aluminized fiberglass, 3D torsion inlays and recycled polystyrene infilled Nomex. “To date, five boards have been produced and two more experimental composites are in development,” Valentine reported.

After becoming the first-ever student juror for the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) this May, Valentine looks forward to the professional challenges ahead and anticipates working in a consultancy environment after graduation. “I enjoy working with a wide range of products,” he said. “It offers the greatest potential for learning.”

Andrew Valentine can be reached at ajvalent@vt.edu