This week, we checked in with the finalists of our DE Cubicle Toy Design Contest to learn more about who they are. They are presented here in no particular order (so no, you may not conclude who the judges favor more or less based on the order in which they appear in this post).
Jason Cox, who submitted the idea for a remote-controlled PC mouse, started out studying electronics engineering in the Navy. “I really enjoy laying out circuitry on paper, understanding the schematics of the circuit board — basically the conceptual phase of electronics,” he revealed.
Working on projects with tight budgets, he would have to come up with “MacGyver-esque solutions to mechanical problems,” as he calls them — “a lot of salvaging parts from obsolete devices.”
He readily admids he’s not really an engineer or designer by trade; technically he belongs in IT. But that didn’t stop him from coming up with a mobile networking station, which serves as a central hub for electrical wires in a horseshoe-shaped conference room. Nicknamed “The Solution,” Cox’s contraption saved his colleagues from tripping over crisscrossing wires routed to and from multiple wall outlets.
Cox is a self-described “pencil and paper kind of guy.” For Phase II, he is delving into Google SketchUp to create a 3D representation of his design. He tried using Autodesk 123D, a consumer-friendly direct modeler, but his current system was not powerful enough to meet the requirements of the software, it seems.
He believes he has solved the problem of hiding the RC components inside the fake mouse’ shell. His current challenge is to hide the wheels required to make the mouse mobile. “I don’t want [the mouse] to be clunkily hovering over a desk,” he said.
Mark Norwood, who submitted the design for a water-spraying Sherman tank, started his own business Norwood Designs in 1992. He used to build physical prototypes by hand. Now, he uses SolidWorks for most of his work. He currently works on a machine purchased in 2004, long overdue for an upgrade. The latest CAD software he runs demands all the horsepower in his aging machine — and more.
“I have been known to do something on the machine, then gone off to eat dinner,” he said, “then come back, hoping it was finished.”
Lately, he found himself so captivated by the tank design that he worked on it well into the evening hours, and his wife had begun to complain about becoming a “computer widow,” he said. (Sorry, Mrs. Norwood!)
He is currently concentrating on perfecting the routing of tubes inside his Sherman tank — essential in the water-spraying operations it must perform.
Ray Kelley, who entered the bottle-cap blaster, wants to give credit where it’s due: “There have been some great people who really helped and supported me to hone my engineering skills (attention to detail, research, priorities, etc.), especially early on,” he said. “My first two full-time engineering employers were/are very supportive in training (through Tata Technologies and Fisher/Unitech) and development, including any CAD needs I have. And right now, my current bosses are excited I may win this contest, too.”
Kelly began using SolidWorks in a summer internship, designing food service-related equipment for the Natick Soldier Center. He added, “After graduation, I designed door and liftgate/tailgate hardware for GECOM Corp. as an automotive engineer using CATIA V4 and V5, until my R&D office closed. Now I design valve systems (valves, actuators, and their connecting linkages) for Metso Automation using SolidWorks.”
About the origin of his design, he said, “I’ve been collecting almost every used bottle cap I generate for desk- and drawer-filling attacks. I only have one full plastic grocery bag so far, but it should be enough, depending on my plan. Seeing that bag while I was thinking about a potential design for the challenge, it seemed perfect to launch them via catapult, and the design mostly developed in my head from there.” [Editor's Note: Kelley provided additional info via email, which is not part of the recorded podcast below.]
For other designs submitted to the challenge, visit DE Facebook fan page here.
Next week, Jason, Mark, and Ray’s final designs will be posted to DE Facebook fan page so readers and fans can help select the winner by voting on their favorites. Stay tuned!
For more, listen to the podcast with each finalist below:
Interview with Jason Cox:
Interview with Mark Norwood:
Interview with Ray Kelley: