Michael Elwell, IDSA
Central District Education Representative
Michael Elwell, IDSA, is a designer, educator and entrepreneur. Elwell holds a BFA in industrial design from the University of Notre Dame. Elwell himself was an IDSA Student Merit Award Winner and scored third place in the International Housewares Association Student Design Competition. His winning concept—a prescription pill container opener and label magnifier, is now licensed to Jokari, Inc. as the “Magnifying Medi-Grip.” The product also was an Honoree in the 2009 Design Defined awards and won Best in Category at the 2010 Housewares Design Awards.
Elwell attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a Petullo Fellowship, earning a master of fine arts degree in 2011. His graduate thesis—a safer infant crib—creatively utilized materials to reduce the chances of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death from accidental suffocation. In 2011, Elwell was honored with the Teaching Excellence Award, as his students won second and third place in the International Housewares Association Student Design Competition, and another became a finalist in IDSA’s International Design Excellence Awards.
Elwell has wide-ranging professional experience, including corporate (at Radio Flyer and Coachmen), consultant (at the design firm Process 4)—and in freelance, entrepreneurial and academic. He is the founder and co-owner of Benefactory, a company that manufactures high-end gifts for the benefactors of charities, universities and non-profits. His academic research focuses on emerging technologies and their influence on the barriers to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs.
He is currently an associate professor and director of the Product Design Program at Western Michigan University and serves as the faculty advisor to its IDSA Student Chapter.