Students win Johnson & Johnson innovation competition

  • A group of Master of Innovation Design students participated in a national competition to improve the design of a Johnson & Johnson product.

  • The group worked together to improve the design and product functionality of an acne therapy facemask.

  • The group won the competition after they delivered their final pitch in New Orleans.

A group of six Master of Innovation Design students at Wichita State University participated in an innovation challenge issued by Johnson & Johnson Innovation Co.

The team is made up of group members; James Balman, Jared Goering, Maggie Koops, Resha Parajuli, Kristyn Smith and Spencer Steinert.

The project began in a Design Thinking class offered in fall 2017. The competition carried over into the spring semester and class members were given the opportunity to continue with the challenge outside of class. The group of six students, led by Smith, were eager to volunteer.

The group worked to improve a facemask that uses red and blue light as an acne therapy. The challenge urged the group not only to work on the design, but to also look at the functionality of the product. The group believes their changes to the product make it more useful and customer friendly.

“We made the mask into more than just an acne treatment,” said Koops. “We wanted it to be a way for consumers to reduce stress as well, and now they can use an app on their phone to track their progress.”

As the group worked to improve the facemask, members started to see the value in their various educational backgrounds.

“I think what we are doing is so different than what we would do in the classroom,” said Parajuli. “We still get to play with wild ideas, but in this case we are adding real-world constraints and I think that's really valuable for all of us. I also like that this sort of work permeates everywhere. We need the engineers and we need the designers. It's a good exercise in working together to create a final product that works.”

The group presented their improved facemask in a preliminary round of judging in March and gave their final pitch to Johnson & Johnson Innovation Co. on May 30 in New Orleans.

“At the end of our presentation, one of the J&J executives said we just delivered one of the best product pitches he has seen in the last 25 years,” said Smith.

The group won the competition and were offered internship opportunities in the future with Johnson & Johnson as well as a $10,000 prize.

Learn more about the Master of Innovation Design program