Transforming Ideas

IDSA Student Member Completes Global Program

An IDSA student member at Pennsylvania College of Technology, a Penn State affiliate, is one of only 20 scholars worldwide chosen to take part in an industrial design program in Japan. Dwight Alexander, S/IDSA, who serves as secretary/treasurer of the IDSA Student Chapter at Penn College, completed Kobe University International Innovation Design School's 12 hours a day, four-day workshop, which required participants to design an innovative product and evaluate how the product will enhance society.

“It was an adventure," the senior who is expected to graduate in December 2017 tells Penn State News. "I wanted to go to make more connections, meet new people. I can build off of what I learned there and apply it here, where we learn the techniques and technology to transform ideas into practical designs.”

At Kobe University, participants used the “metaphor method,” considering attributes from existing things, such as an animal, to solve their design problems. Alexander’s four-person group created the Bat Survival Kit, a Swiss Army knife-type device incorporating a water-purifying straw and a camera with propellers connected to a smartphone. "You could throw it in the air and it would give you a 360-degree view of what’s around you while it’s slowly coming down," describes Alexander.

Thomas Ask, PhD, IDSA, professor of industrial design at Penn College and the faculty adivsor to the IDSA Student Chapter, found out about the Kobe University program while attending an International Conference on Design Creativity. “The program is a good fit for our interests, namely it is international, interdisciplinary, creative and technical,” Ask says.

Participants also attended lectures by industry experts on topics such as sketch-based interfaces for 3-D modeling, foresight methodology and cognitive dimension in design. They also toured Mitsubishi Electric Corp. factory in Kobe and the institute that houses Japan’s fastest supercomputer.

Alexander also completed a semester internship with Nexeon MedSystems Inc., a global medical device company headquartered in Dallas, TX, and he's designing a sports coupe for his senior capstone project. He hopes to someday design cars for Tesla.