A Bright Idea: Capstone Class Challenges Students to Create Light Fixture Startups

Written by May 17, 2022
Oliver Kensinger inspects a work in progress.

Oliver Kensinger inspects a work in progress, which will become a stylish indoor light.

For Oliver Kensinger’s capstone startup, Legos proved to be both fun and practical.

“The original prototype was made out of Legos,” said Kensinger, who served as co-operations manager for his 10-member team.

Students in John Paulick’s course, Applied Business and Production Management, had to create a startup involving decorative light fixtures. The 10-week project incorporated design, prototyping, processing, quality control, resource management, cost control, marketing and more. Two teams were formed, one creating an indoor light, the other an outdoor one.

After creating surveys with Google Forms, Kensinger’s team decided to create an indoor light.

“We wanted something aesthetic, modern, simple and geometric,” said the industrial technology & packaging major.

While Kensinger’s team decided on a design that encompasses stylishly connected squares (or diamonds, depending on how you hang it), the other team had another bright idea: “We got a lot of inspiration from what’s called a savonius turbine,” said Boston Williams, the operations manager and an agricultural business and management major.

Savonius wind turbines are a type of vertical-axis wind turbine used for converting the force of the wind into torque on a rotating shaft.

Boston Williams works on an indoor light.

Boston Williams works on an indoor light modeled after savonius wind turbines

But they can probably explain it better.

“We have blueprints for everything,” Williams said. “We have an operating manual for how it can be assembled.”

The students said all their previous courses helped prepare them for this project.

“Everything we’ve learned, from 3D modeling, to market research, sales and manufacturing, we put that all together to come up with a product,” Williams said.

The project began with role assignments, each member specializing in a task.

“It was extremely collaborative,” said Lauren Hughes, who served as co-operations manager with Kensinger.

Her marketing efforts included a pitch (obviously successful) to the Orfalea College of Business communications team.

“Industrial Technology & Packaging is a great program that not a lot of applicants or even attending business students know a lot about,” wrote Hughes, an ITP student. “Even though we’re a small major, we have turned out lots of successful graduates, and I believe that if more people knew about it, they’d want to be involved.”

The other team, meanwhile, landed a piece in the San Luis Obispo New Times, which quoted project lead Holden Kooiker, who shed some valuable light on the real value of the course: “We’re not as worried about the grade in this class as we are about making a really good product and getting it out to people.”

Applied Business and Production Management working on a prototype.Applied Business and Production Management working on a prototypeApplied Business and Production Management working on a prototype

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