Design, Engineering and Business Student Team Develops Winning Federal-Mogul Competition Prototype ‘Reflexo Coil’

Forty undergraduate students majoring in design, engineering and commerce disciplines competed this spring in the first Federal-Mogul Innovation Competition, which fully incorporates the interdisciplinary approach of the curricular structure of the new College of Design, Engineering and Commerce.

For the competition, students were split into teams of eight and were presented with a real-world Federal-Mogul product challenge of component protection in the automotive market. The teams were given specific customer requirements and were asked to develop a viable product solution that is both innovative and commercially viable.

The winning team – who was awarded a cash prize by Federal-Mogul to be shared equally – was composed of business students Mario Bermeo ’11, an international business major; Christiana Murphy ’11, a marketing major; Vanessa Stella ’11, a marketing major; and Joel Williams ’11, an accounting major; mechanical engineering students Collin Ray ’11 and Ryan Lee ’12; and industrial design students Alyssa Wiesner ’12 and Brian Widin ’12.

The team’s concept, Reflexo Coil, is a self-locating component protector for automotive cables, wires, and tubes. The product is thermally resistant, abrasion resistant, resistant to automotive fluids and dampens vibrations. Of the student submissions, the winning team most effectively addressed the design and commercial plans required including a product prototype. They will present the prototype to a targeted Federal-Mogul customer for direct customer feedback.

Industry leader Federal-Mogul Corporation recognizes the importance of fostering product innovation in a commercial context with the industrial leaders of tomorrow. With deep experience of the market, Federal-Mogul was able to provide specific feedback and helpful advice to students working on the project. The teams were judged on projected product performance, design aesthetics, novelty, commercial viability and final presentation materials and delivery.

“Having the chance to work with a global corporation like Federal Mogul was truly an amazing opportunity. I had the chance to visit their facilities, learn about their company and processes, and speak with their executives about the value they place on collaboration to stay ahead of their competition and produce leading products,” said Stella. “This was extremely beneficial for me because I now have a better understanding of how things work in the corporate world and just how important it is to have the skills and ability to work across disciplines.”

Janice Maiden ’81, vice president and business director of the Federal-Mogul Systems Protection, initiated the competition and spoke at the awards ceremony on April 21. “This is an incredible, intangible opportunity for open innovation,” she said. “The students exceeded my expectations.”

The major objective behind the competition, she described, was to foster valuable collaboration, which is a hallmark of the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce curriculum. Maiden said that the competition gave students a taste of what it takes to design, engineer and execute an idea and innovate.

The Federal-Mogul Innovation Competition is an example of active and collaborative learning that is connected to the real world and infused with the liberal arts. It is the nexus of those four components of the Philadelphia University signature approach to teaching and learning that provides students with a real competitive advantage.

“Working with a business partner was beneficial because it gave us more business sense,” said Julianne Hewitt ’11, an accounting major who participated in the competition. “We weren’t just doing calculations or applying theory. We were actually looking at something from a real-world perspective.”

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