RIT’s Studio 930 design consultancy connects students with community partners to create life-changing assistive products. The Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, together with the College of Art and Design, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, College of Engineering Technology and Saunders College of Business, gives students the opportunity to work together on projects.
Held every summer, the multidisciplinary studio experience involves groups of students producing access and health technologies products. The program was started in 2015 by Stan Rickel, associate professor of Industrial Design and graduate director of the MS in Integrative Design. Successful project outcomes typically gain further opportunities to be developed and expanded into potential new businesses.
Partners have included the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Rochester Regional Health, CP Rochester, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Mary Cariola Center.
A transfer lift for adaptive ski programs developed during Studio 930 and the bi-annual IdeaLab workshop is an example of how an idea evolved into the design and development of technology to solve a real-world problem.
David Villarreal ’18 MFA (Industrial Design) and Ana Sorensen ’19 (Industrial Design) were part of the student team. The group brainstormed ideas of creating a transfer lift for adaptive ski programs after identifying issues with the current methods available for skiers with impaired leg movement looking to go from a wheelchair to a sit ski, and vice versa. Following the development of a concept during an IdeaLab weekend, Villarreal and Sorensen obtained funding from the Simone Center to continue developing ideas. Their transfer lift concept was presented at an Effective Access Technology Conference at RIT.
The life device is now used as a tool to increase safety for both participants and volunteers of the Shared Ski Adventures adaptive learn-to-ski program, hosted by Swain Resort.