Meet The Seniors

This year’s BsID Seniors are beginning to plan their Capstone Projects for the spring semester and are exploring a possible career paths in the process. At this point in our students’ preparations we welcome the involvement of our friends and our alumni. The development of a meaningful design brief is critically important to each Capstone Project’s eventual outcome. We invite you to contact students who discuss subject matter that aligns with your experiences and preferences:



Carter Agvent
Being a part of the creative world has always been extremely important to me. I developed a background in fine art after attending Lehigh Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, and I’ve been able to carry that experience over into my time as a student at Philadelphia University. This background experience has given me certain skills in industrial design that set me apart from others, such as my ability to quickly and accurately sketch and render ideas onto paper.

My goal as an industrial designer is to make an impact in one of the several fields that have always caught my interest, such as sporting goods, fashion, or soft goods. I would love to create my own company, giving me greater influence in the design process. I’m fascinated by the relationship between beauty and function, and I would love to explore that relationship in the world of fashion.




Matthew Cook
I am passionate about soft good design, graphic design communication, and entrepreneurship. In my travels and education I have gained experience and I am well versed in each of these three fields. I have benefitted from an education in interdisciplinary design. I want to work with people who have drive and compliment my traits. To be surrounded by other hardworking people creates the successful workplace that I am looking for.





Lauren Elliott
I believe that at the end of the day, better and more distinct design experiences are key to success. I gravitate towards design research and keen observation to drive my designs. I am open to all areas of design but creating an environment through industrial design particularly intrigues me. My drive and determination as a student-athlete has allowed me to develop strong work ethic and time management. I am a designer, a problem solver, a photographer, an artist, a creative individual.



Evan Fein
I have always had a passion for drawing, and it is the reason I got into design. I use my Industrial design background to improve an object’s function, and I use my illustration background to improve aesthetic. For my capstone I would like to create something innovative for the world of Transportation Design.





Alexi Fineman
Within the field of industrial design, I am attracted to the many ways we interact and see the objects of our everyday environments. For me, design is a way of bringing a community together to strengthen creativity and individual/group lifestyle. I want to direct my design experience towards the fine arts and music, expanding the realms in which my creativity may thrive.



Dennis Hoxter
I’m interested in a vehicle for a currently undefined niche market. My interests are landscaping, camping, trucking, and related utility vehicles. Preparatory research may involve review of upcoming materials, benchmarking existing equipment, soft goods for pack-ability, and ergonomic studies for the vehicle’s interior. The intent is to create a purpose built vehicle instead of a modified version of something on the market.





Galen Kane
Design for me is a way to create connections between people and the world around them. I have a passion for the outdoors and it tends to show in my work. Sustainability is a design consideration that aligns with my love for the outdoors. Quality and craft are important to the way I view design. When something is well made it especially resonates with me. It shows a deep amount of thought and understanding of what is being created. Care is something that I believe needs to be obvious in a design. As a designer I care as much about the object as I do about the end user.

In my Capstone project I would like to design for water collection, purification, and storage. Biomimicry will play a role as a design strategy. A trip to Costa Rica’s National Parks will allow me to observe and research organisms that deal with water management for their survival. I want to discover innovative ways of dealing with water preservation and use, while not harming our ecosystem.




Steve Kronenberger
As long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the construction of cinematic experiences. I would like to study how props and set design are created. For my thesis project, I am interested in researching and developing the physical side of the entertainment experience.





Neil Kwiatkowski

I fell in love with industrial design for the opportunity it provides us as designers to learn with each project. I thrive entering an area I’ve never explored before and learning about something new. I work best providing insight from a new viewpoint to brew creativity. I live for the beauty in minimal, functional design. My thesis will focus on the connection between outdoor sports and the elements of nature. I look to build a stronger, more emotional connection between the athlete and their environment through the creation of a brand.





Mike Leonard
To me design is a limitless conversation in which everyone can participate, bringing manyperspectives to the creation of new and exciting experiences. My current interest in design concerns user experiences. Creating a distinct feeling and invoking a unique emotion in those who experience my design would be a satisfying accomplishment for me. The area of exhibit design in trade shows and design for live performance are of prime interest to me for designing experiences.



Chris Mbakwe
My name is Christopher Mbakwe. I am a senior Industrial Design student interested in creating objects that teach and inspire. My passions are art and mathematics; languages of design that I believe can be incorporated in today’s products to solve many problems. I want to work in a design environment that sponsors educating young people about how design can provide elegant solutions to real world problems.





Danny Meservey
I want to design products that work; products that solve real problems without falling into past trends. As my design skills matured my interests have expanded into soft goods and apparel, which is a field I would like to explore for my Capstone Project. I am also minoring in Textile Material Technologies to better inform my project.




Nick Nawa
Design thinking has become a tangible process, rather than an abstract thing attributed to artists and creative types, who were born with the ability to think this way. Design thinking is something that can be taught. I hope to understand how creative thinking and the design process can impact the education of middle school and high school students. Whether it’s a system of modular educational tools, or a system of lesson plans, I believe an understanding of a process- based approach to creative thinking can positively impact the lives and education of students otherwise exposed predominantly to a technical curriculum.






Kiersten Oliver
I am interested in designing furniture; specifically, furniture that acts not only as a functional piece in a room but also as a source of delight to the user. For my senior thesis I would love to create a small collection of furniture that strongly reflects a philosophy and draws from a common point of inspiration.




Michael Otterbein
Triathlons are a big part of my life. It has had a huge impact on my development as both a person and a designer. Competing in this sport places a tremendous strain on the athletes mind and body. In the course of competing I have witnessed athletes exposed to dangerous situations as the race constantly asks athletes to push themselves past their limits. Because of this strain, there is inherent danger in the sport and can sometimes result in fatal accidents. I was first introduced to this danger when a fellow competitor drowned not 20 feet from safety personnel. Through further research, I discovered that there were about 50 deaths between 2003 and 2011 in the US alone, 30 of which were in the swim portion of the race. The sport has been growing in popularity, so this number will only increase. As a competitor and a designer, I have the unique opportunity to make this portion of the race safer for everyone.




Brian Palladino
As a designer I strive for fluidity and efficiency in our interaction with objects and environments. I want to apply this fluidity in design in the world of consumer electronics.



Michael Rostron
My interest in Industrial Design lies in improving sports equipment, apparel, and ideas specifically within the sport of golf. Graphics, color and materials play a major role in designing next level or future equipment. My experience has been that changing a player’s mental status by improving the design of their gear is an important factor for advanced golfers.




Ryan Salisbury
My interests in the field of Industrial Design are not focused on one particular area. I have worked on projects of different varieties. New experiences have always challenged me to grow. I have not had an opportunity to explore the world of design in entertainment and exhibits. An opportunity to develop a capstone project around this theme is my desire.




Luke Scotton
I am inspired by design in all its forms – architecture, graphics, fashion, art – and attempt to utilize this in my own design. Currently, I am interested in soft goods, especially backpacks and camping products, which is the direction I am pursuing in my capstone project.


Amos Shaffer
I am interested in designing objects that inspire the user. I feel that this can be achieved with a balance of beauty, empathy, and function. Objects should reflect a user’s values while also solving a problem. For my Capstone Project I need to develop the subject matter that allows me to explore these connections.




Sandro Surabischwili
Form follows function follows form follows function. Whichever comes first, second, or last, it’s critical that they combine in equal measure. Form can itself be the function, and alternately, there is an inherent beauty in pure function: a brush-stroke, which is solely a shape, a form, contrasts starkly with a 6 liter V12 engine, in which the shapes, crevices, bolts, and chambers are completely subservient to the function. I find that design is a means to amalgamate the quest for beauty with the drive for function.



Andrew Townes
I am interested in design with a modern aesthetic such as Meis Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona chair. Along with my infatuation with modern design I am interested in designing solutions that makes basketball more accessible to a broader demographic.



Thanh Tran
My interest in the field of Industrial Design is very broad. Eventually, I would like to work on a variety of different design projects so that I can gain experience in all the different fields of Industrial Design. For my Capstone project I am interested in pursuing one of two themes: leveraging design to improve society or designing products to prevent sports injuries.




Jacob Wiegmann
My interests in design are largely focused on new materials and process research. I’ve always believed that pushing the limits of new materials or contemporary manufacturing techniques fuels true innovation. It is not simply about finding arbitrary uses for the latest material, but rather discovering in what areas they surpass current materials. I am interested in the way they can further improve sustainability. I want to use my capstone project to create my own start-up business. With resources like Kickstarter, rapid prototyping, and other opportunities, I feel that now is the perfect time to attempt this undertaking.





















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PhilaU Grad Named “Best Nike Footwear Designer Right Now”

Footwear site recently named PhilaU ID alum Nate VanHook the “best Nike footwear designer right now”. Read the article here as well as a recent interview on DesignBoom here.

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New Tools, New Spaces

With the Fall semester just over the horizon, things in the Industrial Design department are heating up. Grad and undergrad programs alike have exciting new things in store for the coming school year. Both programs have added to their 3D printing capabilities with the addition of two new Makerbot Replicators. These state-of-the-art 3D printers will enable students to prototype their designs faster and easier than ever before.

In addition, the undergrad Freshman & Sophomore studio spaces have been reconfigured and now reside in Hayward Hall. The unique benefits gained by all levels of the program working together side-by side has become a hallmark of our studio culture and this improvement ensures that the tradition continues.

We’re looking forward to a great year – see you in August!

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Staying Ahead of the Curve

Ayse Birsel, Tucker Viemeister, and Dr. Stephen Wilcox during their open discussion time the PhilaU ID students.

Ensuring that we stay ahead of developments in the ID profession through continual assessment and improvement is a huge part of what we do. One of the most powerful ways that we accomplish this is through our Advisory Board. Our board is comprised of three of the most accomplished designers in their fields: Ayse Birsel, Tucker Viemeister, and Dr. Stephen Wilcox. The trio also has a vast amount of experience in design education and as such can translate the trends and developments of our profession into practical advice for the PhilaU ID academic culture.

Ayse, Tucker and Steve recently spent a day and a half on campus visiting our program. The group reviewed the outcomes of the curriculum and met with ID faculty and leadership. Our students also had the opportunity to exchange ideas with the group during a town-hall style open discussion time. The time that the Board spent on campus was most productive and we’re grateful for their insights as we continually seek to make the PhilaU ID experience the best that it can be.

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Grad Student Creates Sound-Sensitive LED Dress

PhilaU MsID student Seth Moczydlowski worked with a team of Fashion Design students to create this color-changing LED dress that responds to sound. The project was recently featured online at Learn all about it here.

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PhilaU ID Students Learn In Hong Kong & China

The Innovation Tower at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Students from both the graduate (MsID) and undergrad (BsID) programs recently had the unique opportunity to travel to Hong Kong and several cities in China as part of an Intercultural Innovation Short Course over Spring Break. This year, the focus of the trip was shifted from larger companies toward design entrepreneurship amd design for emerging markets.

Led by MsID Program Coordinator Tod Corlett, the group toured design firms, luxury retailers, factories, and trade shows where they were able to learn firsthand from innovative design, retail and fashion leaders.

Professor Roger Ball leads a design discussion.

In the new Zaha Hadid-designed Innovation Tower at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, students met with Professors Roger Ball and Ernesto Spicciolato to learn about microbranding for design, then attended a workshop on Asian consumer lifestyles and emerging sustainability priorities.

Learning about the capabilities of the SEEED Agile Manufacturing Center.

In Shenzhen, the group toured SEEED Studio, an open hardware facilitation-fabrication company, then met with the directors of HAXLR8R, an 111-day internet-connected-hardware startup accelerator based in the heart of the Shenzhen electronics marketplaces. Then it was on to Shanghai to tour WILD Design, an international graphics/product consultancy. The next day, the group went to Tongji University to meet Matti Hamalainen of the Aalto University Sino-Finnish Center and discuss an array design issues with the Tongji/Aalto students.

PhilaU students at Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.

The group was also given plenty of unstructured time to hit the streets and explore Asian trends and markets as well as study Hong Kong’s 24-hour culture for themselves. Armed with their new understanding of global products and design, the students will now participate in an interdisciplinary grad/undergrad project that will be displayed at the 2014 PhilaU Design Show.

Exploring Shanghai's Tianzifang art district.

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Seniors On-Site

Greg Goldman (BsID ’05) shows the Senior ID students the capabilities of Amuneal's facility.

The Senior ID students recently embarked on a series of on-site visits to leading design establishments in the Philadelphia area. The group’s first trip was to the studio and fabricating facilities of Amuneal, a leading constructor of custom retail fixtures and installations. PhilaU ID alum and Amuneal designer Greg Goldman (BsID ’05) shared the capabilities and workflow of Amuneal. A visit to the Old City showroom of modern furniture and lighting retailer Minima came next. After a tour by Minima owner Michael Schmick, students had time for in-depth exploration of a range of designs from such leading manufacturers as Kartell, Moooi, De La Espada, Minotti and Artifort. Next on their agenda: a visit to The Center for Art in Wood.

Michael Schmick, owner of Minima, discusses the features of a design with the Seniors.

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MsID Teams Partner With Johnson & Johnson

This semester, PhilaU graduate students in industrial design (MsID) have been working in collaborative teams with business students on new products for Johnson & Johnson. The teams were recently invited to discuss their projects at Johnson & Johnson’s headquarters in Skillman, NJ. The visit gave students the chance to learn about J&J’s design and development process as well as see firsthand the company’s corporate culture of promoting interdisciplinary teams. The groups discussed the opportunities and manufacturing challenges of each individual project with J&J staff, then met with the managers of Operations, Marketing, and New Product Management who spoke about the realities that the students can expect upon graduation. They then related their personal experiences of working at Johnson & Johnson. The visit was a valuable opportunity for the students to advance their projects as well as learn what drives one of the industry leaders in the medical field.
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ID Seniors Featured on










The work of PhilaU ID Seniors Colin Hansel and Morgan Gaumann has been featured on The pair are working together on their Senior Capstone project, entitled Rodeo Bird. The project endeavors to connect specific design factors of surfboards with their counterparts in snowboarding, thereby producing enhanced designs for both venues. For more on their work, click here.

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Natacha Poggio at PhilaU ID

On Wednesday, March 12 at 6:00pm in the DEC Forum Natacha Poggio will be speaking about how designers can solve the global water crisis. Natcha is a social impact design educator and Assistant Professor of Visual Communication Design at The Hartford Art School, University of Hartford. She lectures internationally on the value of design in addressing social challenges. Her award-winning projects foster transdisciplinary partnerships, foster sustainable development and raise awareness of global issues in local and international communities. A 2010 recipient of the Sappi Ideas That Matter grant, Natacha has implemented wellness projects in India and Kenya and collaborates with healthcare organizations in developing countries. In 2008, Natacha founded Design Global Change, a creative collaborative contributing innovative design solutions to a variety of problems that society now faces.

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