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For the One-Armed Cook Who Has Everything

12/22/2006 --

Business and design solutions plus teamwork a recipe for success.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— It looked like an in-home kitchen gadget show gone wild on November 29 at Tishman Hall in the University of Michigan Computer Science and Engineering Building, as people sliced and diced their way through vast amounts of vegetables and cheese—all using only one arm.

2006 Integrated Product Development (IPD) Trade Show

The on-campus trade show was the second leg of the 2006 Integrated Product Development (IPD) course's "One-Handed Kitchen" competition featuring students from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, College of Engineering and School of Art & Design. The course, sponsored by the Tauber Manufacturing Institute, is taught by William Lovejoy, the Raymond T. Perring Family Professor of Business Administration and chair of Operations and Management Science at the Ross School, and Shaun Jackson, associate professor at the School of Art & Design and the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning.

The assignment for the eight multi-discipline student teams: Design, build and present self-contained food preparation systems to allow people to prepare a complete meal with the use of just one arm.

At the on-campus trade show, voters munched on crudités while receiving tutorials—and tasty examples—of the unique design features and functions of each kitchen system by their enthusiastic creators.

"Our design looks so simple, but it went through many incarnations before we arrived at our final product," said Charles Covey-Brandt, a junior in the School of Art & Design and member of the Hip Grip team. "I loved working with students from the other disciplines. I've never been part of a team that has worked so hard."

William Chen, an engineering student and member of the Enjoy team, explained the functionality, beauty and sustainability of the bamboo used in his team's preparation cart. "There is more than meets the eye at work here. We've taken the upstream and downstream processes into consideration," he said.

Left to right, TMI student Alexander Lee and Professors Shaun Jackson and William Lovejoy watch TMI teammate William Chen demonstrate the Enjoy team's product.

Behind the Scenes

In addition to researching the market needs and designing a functional product, the competition required each team create a Web page to market its system. Before launch, the teams designed a manufacturing process and estimated the fixed and variable costs of production. These calculations influenced the prices they were to declare prior to competition. During product reviews leading up to the contest, designers and engineers from industry critiqued the students' designs and offered advice on improvement.

Just like real life, the market determines the winners. Following an intense 14-week course, the products were put on display for online voters and guests at the trade show to review. All eight fully functional products were ranked by both features and price, and the top three prototypes were selected. Market results from the online and actual trade shows determined students' grades.

And the Winner Is…

The Hip Grip team received the most votes in the online and trade show competitions. The winning teammates are

  • Justina Chiang, Master of Industrial and Operations Engineering
  • Charles Covey-Brandt, Bachelor of Fine Art with a concentration in product design
  • Vince Giovannetti, MBA
  • Steve Kren, Master of Industrial and Operations Engineering.

Lovejoy Overjoyed with IPD 2006

"The problem students faced was more difficult and complex than in years past," said Lovejoy, who created the course 16 years ago while at Stanford University. He is impressed with the results of the 2006 competition and hopes the top teams will take their products to the next level. "In fact, we are trying to create a follow-up class through the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies that will focus on the entrepreneurial side of product development," he said.

For more information about the IPD course and to view the "One-Handed Kitchen" competition entries, visit

Written by Nancy Davis

For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank
Phone: 734-647-4626