BYU alumnus Cory McArthur is still seeing benefits from the project he completed as a junior in 2015. One of his ideas has been mass-marketed and is now available for sale at a major retailer.
Students in the BYU industrial design program participate in a sponsored project during their junior year that puts them on the front line of marketing and product development. Companies partner with the university and it is up to students to meet the needs of their sponsors.
“This program is essentially a way for students to use artistic methods to solve practical problems,” said industrial design professor Richard Fry. “Sponsors come in with a general question, and students generate ideas on how best to respond.”
Lifetime Products is one such sponsor. The company asked McArthur and his fellow students to brainstorm new product ideas for its home and garden department back in 2015. Following a back-and-forth process of research, interviews and presentations, McArthur realized the market was missing an important product.
“I really tried to focus on taking the inside of a home outside,” McArthur said. “People set up these outdoor living rooms and I noticed that no one had ever considered an outdoor mud room. Instead of leaving things in the garage or tracking mud and dirt into the house, I wanted to create a product that lets you take care of all of that in your backyard.”
McArthur pitched his idea to Lifetime Products and said the company really gravitated towards a cubby system that would allow users to clean and hose down dirty clothes and gear in the backyard. He immediately began making a prototype.
“I started by making a rough model out of foam in our shop,” McArthur said. “From there I created a model of the lockers and then scaled things down and printed out a miniature model using a 3D printer.”
McArthur submitted his model and renderings when the class came to an end. Even though Lifetime Products was interested in manufacturing his designs, he figured that would be the end of things. However, Lifetime Products quickly reached out to potential buyers and set out to manufacture McArthur’s storage locker.
“We always want to work alongside schools and their students,” said Lifetime Products Industrial Design Manager Frank Clegg. “It doesn’t matter who is generating ideas. Good designs and products reach people and sell.”
It took nearly two years, but McArthur’s original storage locker idea is now available for sale.
“I got an email from Frank in March, and he told me that the locker was available for sale and that they had an extra one for me to keep,” McArthur said. “I was completely ecstatic. I had a friend loan me his membership card and went over to Sam’s Club to see things for myself. My wife thought it was hilarious because I was grinning ear to ear. It was a really special day.”
The BYU industrial design program is available through the Ira R. Fulton College of Engineering. Students have the ability to work on a sponsored project during their junior year of instruction.