Two undergraduate students from Virginia Tech’s industrial design program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ School of Architecture + Design have won top honors in the of Spring 2016 Cradle to Cradle Global Design Challenge. This is the third in a series of six global design challenges running from 2015 through 2017 presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Autodesk, and made possible by Alcoa Foundation.

Four winners were chosen from the 230 design professionals and students from 30 countries who worked as individuals or in teams to submit 79 entries for this third round of the contest, which challenges design students and professionals to apply Cradle to Cradle principles to conceptualize and develop product solutions that can help drive the circular economy. Virginia Tech students won two of the four categories.

Quang Pham, of Haymarket, Virginia, a rising senior majoring in industrial design, won Best Student Project for MODS, a modular shoe, in response to the millions of pairs of shoes that end up in landfills each year, where they can take 30 to 40 years to decompose. MODS shoes can be customized and updated as the shoe deteriorates without using glue. Made with bamboo and wool textiles and recycled PET fiber, MODS consist of five modular units that use the minimal amount of material needed for maximum comfort and security while giving the user full control of the shoe’s aesthetic and functionality.

Virginia Tech industrial design students Quang Pham and Claire Davis won two of the four top honors in the Spring 2016 Global Design Challenge.

A photo of a black and white sneaker.
MODS by Quang Pham

Claire Davis, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, also a rising senior in industrial design, won Best Use of Fusion 360 for her design OLI. OLI is a convenient, elegant and intelligent solution for food waste. Exemplary for its adept use of Fusion 360’s direct modeling functionality, which enables the rapid development of manufacturable product, OLI highlights the value of minimizing biological waste (food), as well as the reduction of material waste through its considered approach to the product system and design for disassembly. With 474 pounds of food waste generated by every household per year on average, OLI offers a practical way to increase the percentage of our landfill waste that is composted and returned to cycle in the biosphere.

Virginia Tech industrial design students Quang Pham and Claire Davis won two of the four top honors in the Spring 2016 Global Design Challenge.

A series of sketches and digital renderings of a white box similar to a cooler with a variety of inserts.
OLI design concept by Claire Davis

Winners were selected by a judging panel of designers, sustainability professionals, and industry leaders, including:

  • Rie Norregaard, managing creative director of SYP Partners
  • Jim Kor, founder and president of 2 KOR EcoLogic, Inc.
  • Paul Sohi, Fusion 360 evangelist of Autodesk
  • Jeremy Faludi, sustainable design strategist and educator
  • Hasso Weiland, technical fellow, Breakthrough Technologies of Alcoa.

“We launched the Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge to help the global design community approach the issue of limited global resources as an opportunity for product innovation,” said Lewis Perkins, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Institute.

“Designers have a pivotal role to play in driving long-term solutions that circumvent the concept of waste in favor of materials that can remain in a perpetual cycle of use and reuse. From retail packaging to human shelter, the Spring 2016 Challenge winners are outstanding examples of the way young designers and design professionals alike are stepping into the crux of this revolution, using Cradle to Cradle principles to pioneer ideas for innovative materials applications and, in turn, the circular economy,” Perkins said.

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