SF State students collaborate internationally on product development challenge

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
SF State and Italy team at Sugar Network kickoff

SF State team and Italy team at the Sugar Network Kickoff in Hefei, China

This academic year, 10 SF State students, including two seniors in the Nutrition and Dietetics major of the Family Interiors Nutrition & Apparel Department, are participating in a product development and innovation challenge funded by the Sugar Network and the company Barilla.

The Sugar Network is a global innovation network of academic institutions collaborating with companies to solve challenging, real-world problems using the Design-Thinking methodology initially created through Stanford University’s ME310 program. The students will travel to China, Italy and Sweden to present their work and collaborate with their international student counterparts at the University of Bologna, Italy.

Four SF State faculty members are mentoring the students: Assistant Professor Gretchen George (Nutrition and Dietetics, Family Interiors Nutrition & Apparel Department), Assistant Professor Sybil Yang (Hospitality and Tourism Management, College of Business), Associate Professor Minu Kumar (Marketing, College of Business) and Professor Leigh Jin (Information Systems, College of Business).

two students building cardboard bikeTo prepare the students for the product development challenge, they were initially tasked with creating a bicycle out of cardboard. This first challenge was presented at the global kickoff event at the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, China, October 22-31.

Using the Design-Thinking methodology, students will master cutting-edge methods in market research, product design and development, prototyping, testing, and entrepreneurship and apply this to a challenge provided by the brand Wasa, a subsidiary of Barilla. Though the challenge is confidential, the SF State students will engage in improving and/or creating a new product for Wasa that will potentially go to market. In addition to preparing for the kickoff challenge, SF Students have been conducting benchmark research related to the Wasa cracker challenge. This has included concept mapping, product testing and market research.

The student led solution/product will be collaboratively worked on with the student team from the University of Bologna. Our students will meet with them in Italy as well as tour the Barilla site in Sweden for a more in-depth understanding of product needs assessment. The final solution to the challenge will be presented at the Sugar Network final event in California, June 2019.

Pictured: Natalie Brandenburg, the bike rider, and Ian Frazier, our bicycle pusher, test out weight support and logistics in the maker space at SF State.