A vision of tools of the future wins design award

Industrial design students' 'tool ecosystem' connects robots, tools and humans

In August, the 2018 class of industrial design seniors have already accomplished something many designers dream of their whole careers: A gold medal in the prestigious International Design Excellence Awards. 

The Senior Studio capstone project had 14 students working with industry partners Milwaukee Tools and Anvil Studios on a blue-sky, no-limits project about the future of tools and the industrial workplace. Their proposed “tool ecosystem,” in which robots and connected tools worked together to support the efforts of their human counterparts, earned them a gold medal in the Student Designs category. 

“For our discipline, this is bigger than a NCAA championship, it's more like winning an Olympic medal,” says Professor of Industrial Design Jason Morris.

The WWU students developed tool systems for four critical areas of major construction: security, safety, movement and communication. Their ideas included wearable tech in smarter hardhats and using drones and autonomous vehicles to deliver tools on the job. 

Other recent recipients of Gold IDEA awards—albeit in different categories—include the original Apple iPhone in 2008 and the Tesla Model S in 2013.