Thirteen product design students at Walla Walla University participated in a wooden furniture showcase event to display the results of their hard work in the product design class, Computer Controlled Prototyping. The wooden furniture was on display in the WWU Clyde and Mary Harris Gallery during winter quarter prior to the start of online classes.
Students within the product design curriculum learn in-depth skills about design, software, coding, tools, and materials used to produce an end product that shows their skills. The end product of their work is also available for sale to visual admirers who attended the showcasing event.
Logan Seibold, senior industrial design major, built a wooden chair that he named Leonidas. His chair was cut from a single sheet of half-inch plywood on a computer numerically controlled (CNC) wood carving table.
“I wanted the chair to have a simple, lightweight, and agile feel, so it sits quite upright and encourages good posture. It was finished with matte polyurethane to encourage natural, light plywood tones. Since it shares its minimal, athletic form with the ancient Spartans, I named it Leonidas,” said Seibold.
The goal of this project was to evolve a useful furniture piece created by using the department’s CNC router and provided plywood. After students cut their pieces, they sand them and bind together their individual carvings to form their design.
The initial blueprints for this wooden furniture project are designed in Rhino, a vector-based product design software package. Once students have designed the schematics on the computer, they import and code the file into the CNC woodcarving table. CNC routers have the power to cut an unlimited assortment of 2D and 3D shapes out of wood and other hard materials.
The Computer Controlled Prototyping class is taught by Jefre Humbert, instructor in product design, who has 25 years of experience in product design and has taught at WWU for three years. Humbert centers his curriculum around project-based learning in order to give students hands-on, applicable, lifelong skills.
“We’re really focused on project-based learning. We want students to not only experience the materials in the processes, but the technologies that go with them,” said Humbert.
Estibaliz Vazquez, junior product design major, said, “I have learned a lot from projects like this. You will always run into issues here and there, but you can always fix it. Take a moment to strategize how you can resolve the issue. I really liked this class because Mr. Humbert always pushed us to think outside the box. Sometimes I came up with a very crazy idea, but Mr. Humbert would always say it was possible and that I should go for it. I love product design because there is so much you can do in this field, you can let your creativity run free. If you love to make things with your hands, I would highly encourage you to choose this major.”
Visit wallawalla.edu/design to learn more about the product design program at WWU.