5 winning projects we saw at PhilaU's design showcase - Technical.ly Philly


May 28, 2015 8:27 am

5 winning projects we saw at PhilaU’s design showcase

The event featured projects from graduating students — five of which were chosen to go through further development at the school’s Blackstone LaunchPad program.
Michael Otterbein and his Breach triathlon safety suit.

Michael Otterbein and his Breach triathlon safety suit.

(Photo by Albert Hong)

It was easy to get a bit lost while walking through the maze of student projects, designs and prototypes at Philadelphia University’s 2015 Showcase. But every wrong turn just led to example after example of innovative work, which is a key focus for PhilaU students.

“We’re industry driven,” said D.R. Widder, the university’s VP of innovation. “The industry said they wanted innovation, so we built our program around innovation.”

This annual event, held at the end of each academic year, highlights a selection of the most impressive work that comes out of the required capstone projects from graduating seniors, as well as those completing the second year of their graduate studies.

Over 250 students had their work displayed in the Gallagher Athletic and Recreation Center from many diverse concentrations including but not limited to architecture, fashion design, graphic design, industrial design and interior design.

A private showing was held on May 14 with a reception and awards ceremony the next day, where five projects were awarded the opportunity to go through further development with the Blackstone LaunchPad at the university’s Entrepreneurship Center.

The winners (in their respective categories) were:

  • Andrew Cook (Architecture)
  • Matt Cook (Industrial Design, BS)
  • Drew Jordan (Industrial Design, MS)
  • Galen Kane (Industrial Design, BS)
  • Michael Otterbein (Industrial Design, BS)

Here were some of our favorites:

Michael Otterbein, an industrial design senior, was one of the few students present on Thursday, practicing his presentation for a triathlon safety suit called Breach (see photo above).

A triathlete himself, Otterbein noticed the many life-threatening risks involved in competing, especially during swimming. So he looked into how the body sinks and where the suit would work best on the body to bring up the wearer and on swimmers’ backs. He’s started the patenting process for his prototype.


“I really wanted to focus in on how to make it unrestrictive for its users,” Otterbein said.

SkyActive, which filters varying amounts of indoor light. (Photo by Albert Hong)

Another industrial design senior, Galen Kane, was inspired by nature in his developing of Bryo, a new water filtration system for hikers. On a trip to Costa Rica, Kane noticed the forests were covered in mosses called bryophytes which have the ability to pull water through their leaves.

“In being a kind of outdoorsy person, I said, ‘What if we could give this ability to backpackers?’” Kane said.

With a self-developed microfiber cloth working in conjunction with syringe-like bottle and hollow fiber filter, which he has yet to finalize, the device enables people to pull safe, drinkable water from sources like mud, in a relatively quick manner.

“It’s in the early stages of becoming something, so it’s kind of exciting,” Kane said.

Galen Kane and his Bryo water filtration system. (Photo by Albert Hong)

These projects were just two out of many that received funding from the Eileen Martinson ‘86 Fund, meant to help provide “prototyping resources” so that students’ designs could turn into something more than just drawings, said PhilaU’s Widder.

“It’s been invaluable to these students,” Zoe McKinley, the director for PhilaU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, said of the Martinson Fund. “It’s amazing to see the difference it makes — a small amount of money can make such a huge difference for a student working on a project.”

Encouraging students with tools and support for the future is all part of the university’s Nexus Learning approach that stresses real world-learning as a part of its curriculum, along with active learning, infusion with the liberal arts and collaboration.

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