Skip to main content Skip to main content

News and Announcements

IND department in the News


Change maker - Industrial Design alumna Dara Dotz is named a Champion of Change by the White House

June 29, 2016


After the fireworks are over on the Fourth of July, the International Space Station will begin its arc across the sky, barely viewable in the Rocky Mountain region. If you happen to glance at the southeast horizon at 5:11 a.m. on July 5, you’ll see the ISS traveling more than 17,000 miles per second. On board is a zero gravity 3D printer that MSU Denver alumna Dara Dotz helped make possible.

“Imagine if Apollo 13 had a 3D printer when they needed to fit a square part into a round hole?” asked Dotz, who received her bachelor of science in industrial and product design in 2009. That question led Dotz to work with the team at Made in Space, which created the first zero gravity 3D printer to print in space.

“It’s expensive, slow, and dangerous to get supplies to space,” she said. “Imagine how much more simple it is to create supplies there, as needed, and if you can imagine it working in space, you can likely understand the similarities it has to disaster zones.”

Dotz is the co-founder and lead designer at Field Ready, a humanitarian non-profit that serves and trains disaster survivors how to produce and make their own solutions using digital fabrication, such as 3D printing to create needed products (just like the space station) in extreme conditions.

The Field Ready team has traveled to Haiti, Nepal, Turkey and a host of other countries to bring 3D printing technology to disaster survivors and people living in remote regions. They not only bring the technology, but they train locals in how to design and print their own supplies. Typically Field Ready stays on site for anywhere between two weeks to two months (depending on crisis, sometimes longer) and when they leave, all the equipment stays with the local population to continue to make much needed products such as replacement parts for baby incubators, generators, and basic medical disposables such as, umbilical cord clamps. They have even developed ways to augment ham radio antennas in Nepal.

Recently Dotz received a Champions of Change for Making award from the White House. It is an honor she credits to both her team and the opportunities she’s realized since receiving her degree in Industrial Design at MSU Denver.

“There’s a certain magic when you work with a successful, supportive team,” she said. “Everyone on my team compliments each other, we respect and encourage each other. It’s a lot like the teams I had at MSU Denver in the industrial design program.”

She found her passion and a second chance at college when she happened upon Dave Klein at the MSU Denver table at a college recruitment fair. “When I discovered industrial design, I was like 'What? I can make things for a career?'” said Dotz. “My favorite classes were the ones where I could be hands on and move around a lot. MSU Denver was a perfect fit for me.”

Dotz came to MSU Denver as a transfer student and all of her credits transferred but her grades did not. “In essence I was able to remake myself and start over,” she said. As a first generation college student and Native American, Dotz received scholarships through MSU Denver and TRiO Services.

“My professors, Ken PhillipsTed Shin and John Wanberg, were incredibly patient with me and how I learned,” she said. “They never gave up on me and as a result, I didn’t give up on myself.”

Since she helped put a 3D printer in space and teach Haitians how to make their own replacement parts, Dotz has been asked to speak at TEDx Kansas City in 2015 and most recently at the GES 2016 conference at Stanford. Her passion is helping others so she travels most of the time to areas with the greatest need – with an occasional stop over in San Francisco to pick up her mail.

In Washington, D.C., last week Dotz received a behind the scene tour of the West Wing, met the White House senior advisor on science and technology and rubbed elbows with other makers from around the country. Despite it all, Dotz feels the most alive when she’s helping other people. In between international layovers, she’s judging 3D printing space competitions for the likes of NASA in the the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition and for Autodesk’s design for Space challenge, and has volunteered with child refugees in Texas. And she’s always learning.

“I recently took a remote medical EMT course so I can design better medical tools for the field and support others with basic lifesaving skills when I travel to remote areas,” she said. “I’m eager to go back to Haiti and Turkey to collaborate with locals on new products, new supply chain hacks and to share new skills – skills they can use to help themselves for when the next disaster strikes.”

What’s next for this change maker? Whether it is another project, another country, or the next big idea, she’s in charge of her of making her future. 


May 24, 2016


MSU Denver Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building from MSU Denver on Vimeo.


April 5, 2016


Senior Adam Fiala works on an original backpack design, one of several products he presented at the Industrial Designers Society of America 2016 West District Design Conference on April 2. PHOTO: Sara HertwigSenior Adam Fiala works on an original backpack design, one of several products he presented at the Industrial Designers Society of America 2016 West District Design Conference on April 2. PHOTO: Sara Hertwig

Adam Fiala’s moment has arrived. He stands at the front of a packed auditorium in MSU Denver’s Science Building. Every eye in the place is focused on him.

He is there to present his work to nearly 100 industrial design students, faculty and industry members from across the western United States as part of the Industrial Designers Society of America 2016 West District Design Conference.

He’s been preparing for this moment for the last two weeks, since he was declared MSU Denver’s Student Merit Award winner and learned he would represent the University at the regional conference. But in a way, he’s been preparing for this moment since he decided to become an industrial designer in high school.

Today, he gets to share the culmination of his work so far. And not only that, he gets to be measured against the work of his peers, the best and brightest from the district’s universities. By the end of the day, one of 14 students will be named district champion.

Fiala hopes it will be him.

He takes a deep breath and launches into his presentation.

The road to here

Like many of us, Fiala discovered his vocation when he wasn’t really looking.

In his senior year of high school, Fiala confesses, he was trying to avoid the “serious subjects” by signing up for classes in wood shop, drawing and ceramics. But then something unexpected happened.

“I found I really enjoyed working with my hands,” he recalled. “And at the same time, a close friend of our family was studying industrial design at MSU Denver. He showed me some of the products he was making. Before that, I didn’t even know people could do this for a living.”

Following in the footsteps of that family friend, Fiala enrolled in the Department of Industrial Design at MSU Denver. He took a marketing minor to complement his degree and never looked back.

Fiala describes himself as a “late bloomer as far as becoming a good designer.”

“I’m not the most naturally gifted artist or designer, but I’ve worked really hard at it and surrounded myself with smart people and the right tools. I’ve put in the time to get better.”

The hard work paid off this semester, his last before graduation in May, when he submitted his portfolio to the department for the IDSA Student Merit Award. He was selected as one of three finalists and got to present his work to a panel of industry professionals, as well as his peers and faculty.  

When he won the award, becoming MSU Denver’s representative at the regional conference, Fiala celebrated briefly that evening, before getting back to work the next morning. He began to refine his products and presentation based on feedback from the panel.

“I’m motivated even more now because I’m representing more than just myself,” he said. “I’m representing all the other students who put in so much work and so many hours. I want to show the other schools what MSU Denver is all about and the kind of quality work that’s happening here.”  

Nailed it

Fiala is a natural at the podium. His demeanor is confident, his delivery smooth. He is in full command of his presentation, and his passion can’t help but come through in each word.

For a young man who grew up in Monument, Colorado, Fiala’s products have a “do-what-you-know” vibe, reflecting the state’s active lifestyle and culture. He first pitches a shoe designed for snow skating then shares a kit he has created with urban commuters in mind, which includes a bike and handlebars, plus a slick, but not showy backpack.

As Fiala moves from slide to slide, the judges, scattered throughout the crowd, watch intently. They quietly scribble notes, nodding occasionally. One of the most exciting things about this opportunity, according to Fiala, is that he will receive feedback on his work, both from peers and industry professionals. He can use that feedback to fine tune his process, and become a better designer, which is his ultimate goal.

Of course, there is also a possibility that the right person takes an interest in his work. And that could open unforeseen doors. But if Fiala feels any pressure at all about any of that, you wouldn’t know it. He seems to be in his element.

The presentation culminates less than 10 minutes later with Fiala sharing the physical prototype of his bike with the audience. His work is met with warm applause plus a few hoots and whistles mixed in.

Afterwards, Fiala slips back into the throng, content to let someone else take the stage. He’ll have to wait several hours to see how he fared, but in the meantime, he’ll get to know the work of his peers, network and hear talks from several well-known professionals.

Among the speakers at the April 1-2 conference are Michael Paterson, senior industrial designer with GoPro; Mike Neustedter, executive director of Paradox Sports; and Lisa Abendroth, professor of communication design at MSU Denver, all of whom will speak to the conference’s unique theme – empathy-driven solutions.

The road ahead

The wait is finally over. At 5 p.m., an IDSA representative takes to the podium to announce the name of the Student Merit Award district champion.

It’s not the name Fiala hoped to hear. But as he commented later by text, he felt the quality of his work was validated at the conference.

“Everyone’s work was so good,” he said, “and I felt right up there with them.”  

Next up? Fiala will do what he always does – get back to work.

He has goals after all. Big goals.

“I want to work for a company that is really solving problems,” he said. “That is what design is all about. Not just making cool stuff, but solving problems that help improve people’s lives and experiences.”


February 7, 2016

Upcoming Industrial Design Market Feasibility Shark Tank Competition

Senior industrial design students from IND 3800: Design for Marketability and Manufacturing (taught by Assistant Professor Michael Caston) will be pitching their market feasible designs to a panel of industry experts made up of high profile CEO's, Presidents, entrepreneurs, industrial designers, engineers, marketing professionals, and academicians from the community.  The competition will occur on March 28th and March 30th from 8-11 am in the CAVEA, a multi-million dollar presentation facility on Auraria campus.  Click on the video link below for more information.

On the News: Market Feasibility - Upcoming Shark Tank Competition


January 29, 2016

Industrial Design student, Rob Borgen, develops two products for Market

While a student at MSU Denver, recent graduate Rob Borgen, developed two products that are currently being manufactured and offered for sale in the marketplace.  In his senior year, Rob Borgen completed a project for an industrial design studio course titled "Design for Marketability and Manufacturing".  The course, taught by Assistant Professor Michael Caston, focuses on designing products for market success with an emphasis on materials and manufacturing methods.  In the class, Mr. Borgen developed a roll top backpack in conjunction with project sponsor Green Guru.  His design won second place in the project competition and is currently being manufactured and sold by Green Guru (click here to view).  

The second product that Rob Borgen developed for the marketplace was designed during his summer internship with Tchoup Industries, a company owned by designer Patti Dunn and based in New Orleans.  The company specializes in design and manufacture of bags and backpacks using responsible and locally sourced materials.  While interning with Tchoup Industries, Rob Borgen developed their first series of wallets, which entered production and is now being offered for sale (click here to view).  Below are some additional images of Rob's work.

Transcend 49L Roll Top Backpack

Image of Leather Card Wallet


 November 18, 2015

Ken Phillips


Former Chair and Associate Professor  of Industrial Design; Alumnus, 1983 

Longtime professor Ken Phillips is helping transform advanced manufacturing education


Ken Phillips, former chair and associate professor of industrial design, is helping build the curriculum for MSU Denver’s new degree in advanced manufacturing sciences. The degree will integrate mechanical, electrical and civil engineering technology, aerospace science, computer science, computer information systems, operations management and industrial design. It will be the cornerstone of the University’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, which will be housed in the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building that is set to open in 2017.

 After three decades of teaching for MSU Denver, Phillips, himself a 1983 industrial and technical studies graduate, was asked to put his July 2014 retirement plans on hold so that he could lend his expertise to the complex project of designing a curriculum that addresses the need for non-engineering professionals, an industry priority. The curriculum includes general requirements, core courses, electives and eight different concentrations.

“We have done a lot of vetting with industry representatives to fill a unique educational niche,” Phillips said,

adding that graduates will be immediately qualified to work in Colorado’s aerospace industry, which is ranked second in the nation.

 Challenging his students to step up their game to ultimately find career success always has been Phillips’ mantra. Former student Brian Ward (B.S. industrial design ’2000) can vouch for that.

 “I was doing fine in the program, but it wasn’t until I met Ken that I became inspired to work hard,” said Ward. “MSU Denver and Ken played a huge role in transforming my life.”

 The hard work has paid off: Ward is now senior engineer for Baxter Healthcare, where he works on a team that develops leading-edge medical devices and runs the prototype/machine shop.

 Phillips’ dedication to MSU Denver might very well have started when his father Ken Phillips, Sr. was named the first permanent president of the institution in 1966.

 A teenager at the time, the younger Phillips jokes that, “Frankly, I wasn’t paying that much attention. But I knew my father was passionate about Metro’s mission.”

 It’s a passion Phillips came to share and one that has grown even stronger with the aerospace and advanced manufacturing initiative.

 “This will benefit our students with great learning opportunities and our industry partners by providing a workforce that’s prepared to help them flourish. I’m a firm believer in real-world educational experiences and this program can become a standard-bearer for that!”  


November 2, 2015


Senior industrial design students pitched their products to an industry panel on Oct. 26 and 28. Photo: Sara HertwigSenior industrial design students pitched their products to an industry panel on Oct. 26 and 28. Photo: Sara Hertwig


If you’ve seen the reality television show “Shark Tank,” then you know the drill. Do your research. Pitch your product. And see how the panel reacts.

That’s exactly what seniors from theDepartment of Industrial Designexperienced last week when they pitched early-stage products to a panel of industry professionals in the Center for Advanced Visualization and Experiential Analysis.

The pitch-session – which offered “big ideas for small markets” according to anarticle in the Denver Post – was the culmination of a New Product Development Market Feasibility Project, one component of an upper-level studio course aimed at expanding student versatility. 

“Most designers have no problem generating ideas,” said Michael Caston, assistant professor of industrial design. “But that’s only part of our profession. This project helps students get familiar with the business side of the industry and what it takes to move a product from conception to market.”

Besides generating an idea and designing a prototype, students needed to think like entrepreneurs, conducting intensive market research to determine the feasibility of their products. This included analyzing current market trends, collecting consumer data, calculating production cost versus price point and assessing scalability.

“This project was a good mental exercise in the multidisciplinary thinking required from today's graduates and professionals,” said student Schuyler Livingston, noting that this type of multifaceted design approach was encouraged throughout the program.

Livingston designed a wearable device that translates the motion of American Sign Language into spoken English. Other notable student prototypes included a strider bike for people with limited mobility, a sleeping bag with a built-in pad and a machine that kills weeds using hot water generated by electromagnetic induction.

The panel, which featured local entrepreneurs, business professionals, engineers, marketing professors and one venture capitalist, offered feedback from a variety of angles. Each student’s project was ranked and those who placed first or second received extra credit for the class.

For Momo Hayashi, the feedback was invaluable. Hayashi designed an environmentally friendly full body air dryer with "smart" technology that could eliminate the use of towels.

“The critique was helpful because it validated my thought process of how the project was pursued, the marketability, as well as future steps that would be needed if pursuing the project further,” she said. “The experience has made me more confident as a designer."

Beyond the hands-on learning component of the project, students also got to show their skill, passion and work to people who are well connected in the field, building their professional networks as they prepare to enter the workforce. And who knows, if they happened to impress the right person, you just might see their products in your home in the not-too-distant future.


October 29, 2015

Shark Tank-style student pitch fest yields big ideas for small markets

Metro State University design students pitch new products ranging from fly-fishing gear to three-wheeled scooter for Boomers

Eben Berg describes his design for a combined sleeping bag and ground pad to a panel of judges at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The class is
Eben Berg describes his design for a combined sleeping bag and ground pad to a panel of judges at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The class is design for marketability and manufacturing. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Tasked with building a product that meets an overlooked consumer demand, Metropolitan State University design student Leah Rich thought of her dad. Felled by a stroke eight years ago, her father has recovered enough to walk on his own, but he needs to stop often for brief rests. He is mobile enough that he doesn't need a wheelchair, but he needs more than a cane.

"There's a big gap in that market," said the 30-year old student who designed a three-wheeled scooter aimed at aging baby boomers with limited mobility for her senior design class. She called it "The Strike."

A panel of judges — accomplished designers and professors who ranked the projects based on design and market feasibility — selected Rich's Strike in a "Shark Tank"-type competition on Wednesday. Students pitched their designs and marketing plans and projected consumer interest.

From rooftop fly-fishing rod carriers and a hot water weed killer to customizable sleeping bags and wire-lined gloves that keep hands warmer, students worked to sell designs they had spent months developing.

The project mixed entrepreneurial spirit with design skills, said professor Michael Caston, who assigned the project before the summer so students could have time to identify a need and plan prototypes.

On Wednesday, the seniors gathered and pitched their plans. There were the gloves lined with a breathable, water-resistant membrane and nanowire fabric, which retains body heat. One student designed a PVC-lined shin and ankle guard for infield softball players after he was injured by a ball. Another designed a sleeping bag with a built-in pad, while a fellow student built an environmentally friendly sleeping bag shell that allows users to adjust the level of insulation by stuffing it with plastic grocery bags.

Natalie Greenberg built a weed killer that uses hot water heated by electro-magnetic induction. Duke Blend designed a fashionable scarf for a friend with upper respiratory problems heading to a new job in a pollution-choked Chinese city.

Metro State marketing professor and panel judge Darrin Duber-Smith urged Blend to expand his product for other users, like the military, ranchers, Muslims and maybe even the ill who don't want to spread germs.

"Remember the sticky note was an accident," Duber-Smith said. "Keep in mind the element of unintentional design."

The judges ultimately selected Rich's collapsible, lightweight scooter as the top design. Rich said she hopes to build a working prototype made with lightweight aluminum and capable of folding into a car trunk that could sell for around $300.

"There's a huge market out there for this," Rich said. "I'm surprised existing companies haven't come up with something like this already. This could enable people to do all those things they are almost able to do."

Judge Cheryl Caston told the students to think beyond grades and semester-long classes when pondering the future of their designs. With her husband, Michael Caston, she runs a design firm, Camic Designs, that she created nine years ago as a graduate student.

Natalie Greenberg presents her product - a weed killer that uses hot water - to a panel of judges at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Natalie Greenberg presents her product - a weed killer that uses hot water - to a panel of judges at Metropolitan State University of Denver. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

"I wish I had a project like this when I was in school," she said. "I would encourage everyone to think longer term with their projects."


October 23, 2015

The Final Word

Ted Shin, chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design Department, discusses his former life.

Ted Shin is the chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design 

Department. Photo: Michael Richmond

Remember the flip-style cell phone that was wildly popular in the early 2000s? Ever wondered who designed it? Meet Ted Shin, associate professor and chair of MSU Denver’s Industrial Design Department. Before joining the faculty in 2006, Shin was a product designer at Samsung Electronics, where he created groundbreaking products including the first camera phone and the first phone with a full keypad for texting. Samsung chose him (from among 700 top employees) as one of just 12 future design leaders. Since arriving at MSU Denver, he has taught nearly 80 percent of the University’s industrial design courses.

How did working at Samsung make you a better professor?

It helped me understand the true value of education.
What do you like best about working at MSU Denver? MSU Denver is an institution of opportunity and diversity. I like knowing I’m one of many people at MSU Denver who help our students secure their future.

How would you describe your approach to teaching and working with students?

I call myself a guide, not a teacher. I can show students the many different ways I took to solve a problem, but I try not to force students to go in a direction I took. I tell students if they want to be the best, they have to work harder than everyone else.

How are the program and its students contributing to the local and national economies?

Internships are required and many students do those internships at local businesses. Roughly one-third of the internships – and growing – turn into full-time employment. We also have many graduates working on both coasts as professional designers.

Why is industrial design an important field?

We create a direct interaction between technology, product and function with people. Any activity that makes improvement we call design.

Which changes to the Industrial Design program make you proudest?

Creating new courses, streamlining the curriculum and keeping our great faculty. Everyone is working together to improve. My role is to build on the previous chair’s [Ken Phillips] great foundation. I’ve visited many strong design programs, and I know we are just as good and will be among the best. We’re also the only design program in Colorado accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

What does the move to the soon-to-be-built Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building mean for the program and future students?

We’ll be working daily with other disciplines – something few other design programs do.


July 1, 2015

Article: "Denver-Area School Focuses on Aerospace, Manufacturing to Boost Workforce"

MSU Denver's Industrial Design program will be included in the new Aerospace and Engineering Science initiative.  Read more by clicking here 


May 26, 2015

Bench marks

Industrial design student Ian Mueller poses with his 50th-anniversary-themed bench. See more of the benches in Larimer Square this July. PHOTO: Trevor Davis

Industrial design student Ian Mueller poses with his 50th-anniversary-themed bench. See more of the benches in Larimer Square this July. PHOTO: Trevor Davis

It was a unique assignment: Students were asked to design benches to represent each decade of MSU Denver’s history, plus one to embody the future. Each of the six benches would ultimately be considered for display in Denver’s Larimer Square as part of the University’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration.

The assignment recently culminated with each student presenting his or her finished project to a select group of “reviewers” from the MSU Denver community. The “reviewers” asked questions and provided anonymous feedback for each student.

“The project was a lot of fun and helped students push their creative limits,” said Amy Kern, assistant professor in the Department of Industrial Design. Kern facilitated the semesterlong project, working closely with the students as they imagined, designed, developed and finally produced their benches.

The process, as with most creative endeavors, was not without its challenges. Students grappled with how to bring their concepts to life, experimenting with materials and functionality. Most had to compromise at least a little on their original idea, but still managed to create some striking finished products.

“I am so impressed. They have done amazing work,” said Perla Gheiler, director of strategic initiatives and outreach for MSU Denver’s Department of Marketing and Communications. Gheiler was the person who originally approached Kern and department chair Ted Shin about the project and is working with Larimer Square on installation. She also is the point person for the University’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Each of the six benches was as different as the person who created it. Some seemed more like art installations, focused on how the user might interact in a space, rather than simply a traditional seat. Others were more conventional in shape, but innovative in their use of materials.

Ian Mueller, who was assigned the decade of 1965-75, found inspiration in an era of discovery. His project, titled “Discovery, Flight and Reflection,” brought him to a plane reclamation yard. There he found a 14-foot wing, which he was able to cut down to be the centerpiece for his finished design.

“I had a blast working on this project,” Mueller said. “I feel grateful for the opportunity."

See some of the benches this July in Larimer Square, where they are set to make their public debut.


May 16, 2015

Congratulations Graduates!  

(Industrial Design Spring 2015)

IND Graduates - Spring 2015


April 11, 2015 

New Program Exchange with South Korea

Dr. Haynes, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, Dr. Thobhani, Director of International Studies, and Professor Ted Shin, Chair of Industrial Design, visited Dong-A University in South Korea to sign a program exchange agreement last month.

As part of the agreement, the two institutions agreed to exchange students, faculty members, and staff members and will participate in more active collaborative works between the two. Afterwards, the president of Dong-A University met with MSU Denver’s delegates and promised strong support from the university level to help support this exchange program.

‌During this same trip, Dr. Haynes, Dr. Thobhani, and Prof. Shin also visited SADI (Samsung Art and Design Institute) to discuss a future faculty workshop exchange program between the two schools.  In addition, the group visited Yeoungnam University in Daegu to discuss a possible program partnership with their College of Design and Art and a faculty and student exchange program with their School of Material Science and Engineering.


April 10, 2015

Senior ID Students Design New Travel Bag System

Senior Industrial Design students, Kit Hendrickson and Bryan Beard, have partnered with Green Guru of Boulder to bring  the "Stand-by" travel system bag to the market.  This product started off in IND 3800 and has continued into the students' final semester at MSU Denver.  If successfully funded through Kickstarter, you can expect this product to hit the market by the end of 2015.






 View Kickstarter HERE





A padded laptop case stacked with pockets for all your little goodies, pens, hard drives, power converters and chargers. Easily removed or added to wither bag, The "Organizer" keeps things right where the belong.


Functions independently, makes for a great day trip companion, that may be hiking, riding a bike around town or exploring a new city.


Easily attaches for more initial packing room or left empty and added on further in the trip to accommodate items such as clothes. Also, great for toiletries, socks or any other "stuff" you may need.


Ideal for desired inflight items. The "Brief" can be close by the travelers feet. The "Brief" can be kept in a standard shoulder strap style or in a cross strap messenger.



BACK THE PROJECT: Check out the rewards you can receive

SHARE TO YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY: Copy and paste the link below and share with friends and family that would love this idea!





April 8, 2015

Designs on a better world

Industrial design major Momo Hayashi was awarded a scholarship for her humanitarian spirit and commitment to service. PHOTO: Courtesy of Momo Hayashi

Industrial design major Momo Hayashi was awarded a scholarship for her humanitarian spirit and commitment to service. PHOTO: Courtesy of Momo Hayashi

Momo Hayashi, a junior industrial design major, sees the transformative power in everyday objects. She believes that smartly shaped furniture can be a source of human comfort and that well-designed garbage containers can improve the likelihood of recycling, and thus, improve the health of our planet.

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) recently recognized Hayashi’s humanitarian spirit and commitment to service when it awarded her a Design Leadership Scholarship. The award will enable her to attend the West Design District Conference in San Jose, California, this month.

Of the four scholarships awarded by the society, two went to MSU Denver students. Hayashi’s classmate Ethan Miller also received one.

“The conference is a great way to see what students at other schools are working on,” Hayashi said. “It’s also helpful to meet professionals in the field and make connections.”

Hayashi is most excited about the student competition portion of the program. MSU Denver will have a student compete in that contest, an honor reserved for a senior. All told, the University will send seven students and one faculty member to the weekend event.

The scholarship that guaranteed Hayashi’s attendance is given to a student who demonstrates leadership in using industrial design to serve the community. As president of MSU Denver’s IDSA student chapter, Hayashi has done just that. She and Miller, who serves as vice president, have made giving back a major priority.

The two have worked with several nonprofits in the Denver metro area, running design workshops for students and giving tours of the Industrial Design Department. This fall, they will partner with Denver Children’s Home, a nonprofit serving vulnerable children and families. The details are still being ironed out, but Hayashi hopes to incorporate a design challenge for the children. The winning product will be 3D printed and then auctioned, with proceeds benefiting the organization.

Hayashi graduates in May 2017. She has loved her time at MSU Denver, particularly working with versatile and talented faculty members and in state-of-the-art facilities. She believes her experience here will help her land a job with an innovative design firm, where she can do what she loves most.

“I want to design products that help people,” she said, “not things that are just pretty, but things that have function and improve lives."


March 30, 2015

Walter Castro - The Trunkster Project - funded for $1.4 million on Kickstarter

As part of his senior internship, Walter Castro, a recent graduate of the Industrial Design program at MSU Denver, worked with Studio West to design a travel luggage system that netted $1.4 MILLION through kickstarter.

Upon graduating, Walter Castro received a job offer from Samson Design and is currently working there.

Please read the linked pdf letter from Walter.  It is directed to you, the ID student.  

Walter Castro - Trunkster internship


March 27, 2015

Hitting the Shelves

MSU Denver Industrial Design student's work is being manufactured for Sports Authority.

While attending MSU Denver and through his internship with Redfern Ventures LLC, recent Industrial Design graduate, Justin Foster (, produced designs that are currently being manufactured for the Sports Authority golf brand, Tommy Armour.

TorchIllustratorBag2Glove 1Glove 4


January 22, 2015

Made at MSU Denver

Mourer took his first real woodshop class at MSU Denver, awakening a passion for woodworking. PHOTO: Trevor Davis

Mourer took his first real woodshop class at MSU Denver, awakening a passion for woodworking. PHOTO: Trevor Davis

The wood shop is quiet. The long, high-ceilinged room, packed with dormant equipment and covered in a fine, ever-present layer of sawdust, has been powered down for semester break. But there is still one person around.

Scott Mourer, affiliate faculty in the Industrial Design Department, leans his refurbished, 1936 Schwinn bicycle against one of the tall tables, and gazes over the shop. He seems perfectly comfortable in the silent space. He seems like a man who has come home.

For Mourer, a teacher at MSU Denver for six years, the woodshop is a second home, as is the University itself. He got his start here, after all, when he enrolled as a student in 2000.

“Coming here changed the course of my life,” said Mourer, explaining how he was seemingly predestined to be a bricklayer. His grandfather and father were. His last name even means “bricklayer” in German. But he always felt drawn to something more, a career that would get him out of rural Arkansas and away from building to other people’s designs. He dreamed of a life in which he could imagine something in his mind and make it with his hands.

He found that life at MSU Denver.

Mourer was 30 when he took his first real woodshop class here. It awakened a passion for woodworking, one that would lead to graduate studies in furniture design and ultimately back to MSU Denver, where he nurtures that same passion in today’s students.

“To use your intellect to design and then have the skill to fabricate something from raw materials: there is magic in that. Students recognize it. They want to create things. And I get to push them further than they thought they could go.”

Mourer’s teaching style is best described as responsive. Drawing on his own learning experiences, he creates a safe environment while also letting students participate early and often. His classes are responsive to industry trends as well. His textile and bicycle design courses were created to prepare students specifically for Colorado’s market. He often touches base with graduates working for companies like REI or The North Face so that he can fine-tune his lessons to address industry needs.

Those classes will commence again soon. The shop will hum back to life, the space filled with the sounds of students getting to work. Mourer can’t wait.

“I honestly can’t imagine being or teaching anywhere else,” he said. “MSU Denver is in my blood."


January 6, 2015 


I received an email the other day with the subject line “Dog Dish Table” and, of course, my imagination kicked into overdrive. “Is it a tiny dog-sized dining table? Is it something you add to your existing (human) table? What does it all MEAN?!” I had to open it before getting too carried away and inside I discovered this concrete and plywood raised feeder from Denver-based industrial design student Ethan A. Mason.

Dog Dish Table by Ethan A. Mason in dining

The concept for the Dog Dish Table, he explains, came from a desire to “no longer step in or around Jayce’s bowls as they start floating around the dining room floor”. Dude. Been there. Let’s say there were a few stubbed toes and near-twisted ankles.

The Dog Dish Table can be easily assembled and requires no tools. While designed for a medium to large sized dog, smaller sizes are also available. Made of a gray precast concrete and CNC-machined MDF board, the table and legs are perfectly secured with aluminum channels. And, bonus, it can be used indoors or out!


January 5, 2015

Real-world experience leads to dream job for industrial design grad

Christian Krause graduated from MSU Denver in December. PHOTO: Courtesy of Christian Krause

Christian Krause graduated from MSU Denver in December. PHOTO: Courtesy of Christian Krause

For some high school graduates, the path through college to a career is straight and short. Not so for Christian Krause, who enrolled at the University of Utah and earned a degree in communications.

After bouncing around between positions in fields as diverse as advertising, sales and real estate, Krause realized his work wasn’t in sync with his passions. His thoughts returned to his high school days and the industrial arts work that garnered him multiple awards, and his mission became clear: to return to college to study industrial design.

A nationwide search led him to the industrial design program at MSU Denver, with hopes of replicating the successes of faculty members who boast experience developing products for companies that are household names around the world.

“The faculty are phenomenal. They have real-world design experience working for major companies like Samsung and Pottery Barn, as well as smaller start-up companies,” Krause said.

Students benefit from those industry connections both in and out of the classroom. Many of the University’s industrial design courses include direct experience working with companies on design and manufacturing challenges.

In spring 2014, Krause’s advanced modeling class worked with Smartco International, which develops innovative small kitchen electrics. The students’ task: to design a coffee filter that would revolutionize home brewing, while improving the manufacturing process and reducing costs.

The success of that class project landed Krause a summer internship with Smartco, which included a tour of the company’s manufacturing operations in China and in-person meetings with company engineers and financial partners. A job offer followed shortly thereafter.

That hands-on experience — and the career opportunities it leads to — are what MSU Denver faculty members strive to offer every student. “We’ve made a concentrated effort to involve industry in as many industrial design classes as possible,” said Michael Caston, assistant professor of industrial design. “Any way we can connect our students with real-world experiences is only going to enhance their academic experience and professional capabilities.”

Now a product and brand manger within the Brewesta coffee products division of Smartco, Krause makes time to help other MSU Denver students gain the experience that helped him finally connect his passions with a career. Most recently, he advised students designing a new high-end home coffee maker for Brewesta. Krause will also accompany top-performing students to the upcoming International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago, a major industry event and prime networking opportunity.

MSU Denver’s Industrial Design program will provide expanded opportunities for real-world experience within advanced manufacturing, with an emphasis on the aerospace sector, when the program is included in the University’s Aerospace and Engineering Sciences (AES) program beginning in 2017. To learn more, visit the Industrial Design and AES websites.


MSU Denver students turn learning into profits

Avid cyclists Jacob Harbron and Chancellor Brown are turning a school project into professional success.

Harbron and Brown, both industrial design students at MSU Denver, are in the final stages of designing a new type of bike messenger bag. The roll-top bag can be attached to the saddle of any bike, and can also be worn as a shoulder strap style bag. The two are bicycle enthusiasts and got connected in the industrial design program.

The bag, known as the “Hauler,” has caught the interest of Boulder-based bike gear company Green Guru, which features products made of recycled materials.

The project started in a classroom last October, when as part of the industrial design program, the pair were introduced to Davidson Lewis, the owner of Green Guru.

It was then, Brown said, that the bag stopped being a school project and became something that they wanted to see in retail stores across the U.S.

“We saw this as a real opportunity to be our first product,” Brown said. “The owner came in and sat down with us. We pitched him a few ideas, and this was the one he liked the most.”

With the help of Green Guru, Brown and Harbron started a 60-day crowd funding campaign Sept. 7 to fund starting production. Using Kickstarter, a crowd funding website, they set a goal of $5,000.

If they met the goal in 60 days, the project could go ahead; if not then Harbron and Brown would be back to square one.

After a month of checking the page daily, they hit their goal of $5,000 with almost half of their campaign time remaining.

Brown said that although the campaign had been an emotional roller coaster, Kickstarter’s global nature had allowed them to connect with people worldwide. In the coming year, Green Guru plans to ship their new bag to Russia, China, Japan and Egypt.

The Kickstarter campaign, which ends Nov. 6, has garnered just over $8,000. The final product may enter production as early as January 2015. Harbron and Brown say there are still small alterations they want to make to their current design, but that they expect to meet their deadline.

Between the two of them, they have put in almost 1,000 hours on the project, and it may take a few hundred more to complete. How- ever, with the money they got from Kickstarter, they can tweak their design, submit the finished pattern to Green Guru, and begin production for the retail market.

Harbron says it took a lot of work to get the project off the ground, but that he enjoyed working in the cycling gear industry.

With the project nearing completion, Brown says that the key to getting started was having a good product and getting it in front of people.

“Keep both feet on the ground; if you’re going to start a project like this make sure you can follow through,” he says. “You have to go in 100 percent organized before you launch.”


Industrial design major’s innovative bike bag attracts attention worldwide.

MSU Denver Newsroom – 07/23/2014

Ryan Moseman considers his FreeRider bag design "the highlight of his education" at MSU Denver. Photo courtesy of Ryan Moseman.
Ryan Moseman considers his FreeRider bag design "the highlight of his education" at MSU Denver. Photo courtesy of Ryan Moseman.

 Ryan Moseman is playing phone tag with the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The call came after the 29-year-old industrial design major showed off his FreeRider pannier on 9News on Bike to Work Day, June 26.
He and his business partner, Jean-Claude Kabongo, designed the bicycle saddlebag in their Intermediate Design Studio course after Moseman wondered, “Why not design a bag that holds your bags?”

Whether or not he and Ellen connect, FreeRider is becoming a reality.Green Guru, a Boulder, Colo. shop specializing in bicycle gear made from recycled materials, will include it in its 2015 product line for $59.95.

FreeRider is one of three bicycle-related products designed in the studio course that piqued Green Guru’s interest. After CEO Davidson Lewis chose FreeRider to move into prototyping, Moseman raised $10,440 on Kickstarter for production costs and marketing.

“Cyclists from Australia, Europe, even the editor of a Japanese design blog messaged me after seeing FreeRider on Kickstarter,” said Moseman. “It was fun seeing its viability―that there were potential users interested enough to pay for it ahead of time.

“It’s functional, simple and affordable,” he said.

Originally there were rubber and nylon versions. Green Guru will produce the nylon version made from recycled tent and awning material because it garnered the most interest.

“Ryan’s a sharp, young designer. I would absolutely hire him if I had more design positions,” said Lewis, adding that he has had MSU Denver interns he considers “really remarkable and would definitely hire if I could.”

Green Guru is one of several local businesses with which Assistant Professor Michael Caston has developed relationships since coming to MSU Denver in 2012.

“These opportunities provide invaluable industry connections and networking opportunities, internships, research opportunities and jobs for our graduates,” said Caston.

For Moseman, FreeRider means more than success at designing and producing a product: It has given him confidence in his ideas, an invaluable asset for a budding designer. “It’s been the highlight of my education,” he said.

When he graduates in spring 2015, Moseman will hold his second MSU Denver degree, having earned a B.F.A. in ceramics in 2010. If FreeRider is any indication, that problem is solved. He plans to cut his chops at a major corporation, and then move onto a small firm before opening his own shop.


Coffee business taps Metro State University industrial design students for innovative ideas

 (March 2013)


MSU Denver brews up new idea

MSU Denver Industrial Design student, Abel Martinez explains his idea for the next great coffee maker, Feb. 3 2014 in the Boulder Creek Building.

MSU Denver Industrial Design student, Abel Martinez explains his idea for the next great coffee maker, Feb. 3 2014 in the Boulder Creek Building.

A group of MSU Denver industrial design students is teaming up with local high school students for the first time to tackle a coffee brewing development project.

Industrial design professor Michael Caston teaches a studio design class and is all about working on a design team for a real product.

“This is a real world project where we’ve got a real client, and students need to wrap their mind around the industry that they’re designing for,” Caston said.

This semester the design team is working for Smartco International, an international manufacturing and sales organization, on a new way to brew coffee. MSU Denver is working with a group of Adams City High School students.

“That was something that we’ve been wanting to do,” said Derek Berthold, the Industrial Design Society of America student chapter president.  Berthold is one of the members of MSU Denver’s design team on this project.

To Berthold, the project is a way to open students’ eyes to a career that not many see.

“You’re talking to a 34 year old who didn’t know this (program) existed until three years ago,” Berthold said.

The idea of bringing high school students in to help with a product design was not a new one. Brian Gross, vice president of Smartco, contacted Caston with his idea for a new product, and for high school students to potentially be involved.

“Brian seemed really interested and psyched up about working with our students,” Caston said. “So (the high school students) get some exposure to industrial design that they wouldn’t otherwise get in high school.”

The high school students show a lot of effort when contributing.

“Last week they came in to take part in brainstorm sessions,” Caston said, “This coming Monday we’ll do a sketch review with all (students’) concepts, maybe 50 different concepts. We’ll pin up the designs and then critique them. The high school students will be back again to observe, and I’ve asked them to also come up with some designs.”

Most assignments are left to the college students, who guide the way for the high schoolers.

“This is what we’re trying to do: we want a cold brew system, it needs to do this, this, this and this, and it needs to cost this much,” Burthold said about what Smartco brings to the table.  “So (Gross) kind of outlines all of the information, and it’s our job to create the best possible design within those parameters.”

Production is aimed to start in fall 2014.

“Most of what my students have said was they have really enjoyed the collaboration,” Caston said.


Colorado students get crack at designing new coffee brewer
By Yesenia Robles
The Denver Post
POSTED:   02/03/2014 


Metropolitan State University of Denver students gather around as Andy Sprenger, right, owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lakewood, leans in to smell
Metropolitan State University of Denver students gather around as Andy Sprenger, right, owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lakewood, leans in to smell the coffee beans inside the roaster last week. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)

A Chinese company is partnering with local high school and college students to help Coloradans make a better cup of coffee.

"It's called the fourth wave of coffee," said Brian Gross, vice president of Hong Kong-based Smartco International. "A lot of automatic machines were actually ruining the coffee, but that's what the third wave was. The new process gives you a chance to appreciate the real flavors."

In the new process, the steady hand of a hot pour over ground coffee beans becomes an art form, and the time it takes to brew must be just enough to extract as many good flavors from each bean without releasing the bitter notes.

In Colorado, where water boils at a lower temperature, perfect brewing also requires adjusting the time it takes hot water to brew the coffee.

Students from Adams City High School's manufacturing class and industrial design majors at Metropolitan State University of Denver are tasked with creating several new brewers — for hot and cold brewing — in home and commercial versions.

The college students are taking the lead on the projects but will mentor and teach the high school students through the process.

High school students will help brainstorm and design the inventions.

Although the Metro program requires students to create a real product, it's the first time the college students will take on a high school partner, said Metro assistant professor Michael Caston.

"Part of the educational means of learning is to be able to teach," Caston said. "This project is definitely more exciting, especially the fact that this project will be manufactured in the U.S."

The products that students are designing this semester could be manufactured in Colorado as early as this summer when Smartco moves manufacturing operations to Weld County.

The local manufacturing site would make many kinds of brewing appliances, and company officials expect to hire eight to 10 people in the first year and as many as 20 in 2015. Smartco is still scouting a site to purchase.

LAKEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 27: Andy Sprenger, right, owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, pours just ground coffee beans into a filter for brewing. About 20
LAKEWOOD, CO - JANUARY 27: Andy Sprenger, right, owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, pours just ground coffee beans into a filter for brewing. About 20 students from Metropolitan State University of Denver get a first-hand look at how coffee beans are roasted at the Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lakewood on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post)

Andy Sprenger, owner of Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lakewood and a two-time United States Brewers Cup champ, is a master of the coffee-making process, but Smartco wants to create home and commercial brewers that will allow those who aren't world champs to still enjoy a high-quality brew.

"Aesthetics are a big part of it too," said Erik Simpson, one of the Metro students getting started on the project. "It's a variant on a vessel, but they want to make it so that a coffee shop can display it on their counter."

On Monday, Sprenger demonstrated coffee roasting and brewing for students to jump-start the research they need to start designing.

Metro students fired off questions, asking about the best ratio of water to coffee, whether it should be measured by weight or volume, and if over-extraction is possible when brewing with cold water.

Students will next start sketching designs and then build a small-scale prototype.

"It was just surprising because we're just high school students," said Martha Guerrero, 17. "Just thinking you could design your own stuff and have it be widely sold, that would be exciting."

Learning about the design process before a product reaches manufacturing is allowing the younger students to explore new careers, school officials said.

"Even I didn't know the whole spectrum," said Ryan Thomson, engineering and energy assistant principal of Adams City High School. "I didn't know so much was involved. It's opening their eyes to what's available to them."

When he graduates, 16-year-old Jesse Seale wants to go to college to major in mechanical or automotive engineering.

"I've always liked making things and taking things apart," Seale said. "These classes have given me somewhat of an understanding of what I could do."

Four waves of coffee

First wave: Marked by the start of instant coffee, such as Folgers, when anyone could boil water at home and make coffee.

Second wave: Seen as the start of expensive specialty coffee at shops, and Mr. Coffee machines at home.

Third wave: Coffee started to be treated like wine, and espresso and single-serve machines emerged for home use.

Fourth wave: A new focus on the whole coffee experience beginning at the farming operations through roasting and brewing. A barista's job started becoming an art. There is also a focus on low- or non-pressurized brewing methods to allow for tasting more flavors.

Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, or




Edit this page