CSULB students develop graphic styles for new portable hard drives

LONG BEACH - Using their artistic prowess to enable fellow students to express their style while choosing reliable digital storage, Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) industrial design students developed five contemporary graphic styles for the new My Passport Essential Limited Edition portable hard drives.My Passport Essential hard drives were developed by Western Digital Technologies (WD), the world's leader in external storage solutions. Especially geared for students, the five exterior designs the CSULB students developed for the new portable 500-gigabite hard drives are called Boom Box, Black Hole, Cityscape, Fuchsia Leaf and Wave. "The WD professionals were great. The project was presented to us as if we were employees of the company. We were encouraged to represent our personal styles and design language within our graphics. Overall, it was a pleasure to work with the staff at Western Digital," said Long Beach resident Michael Porter, an industrial design student at CSULB whose design was chosen as one of the final five. Along with Porter, the five winning styles were designed by students Tustin resident Josue Gonzalez (Boom Box), Adrian Candela (Fuschia Leaf), Long Beach resident Scott Truong (Black Hole) and Joshua Portinga (Wave). The industrial design program at CSULB has a long history of working with established companies that sponsor student projects. David Teubner, assistant professor and the program's coordinator, led the students in the development of the My Passport designs. He was contacted by WD employee and CSULB alumnus Mark McCann (2005) about the project. McCann suggested to his colleagues at WD that they should consider partnering with CSULB's industrial design program because their target audience for the hard drives is college students. "The greatest challenge with the project was creating designs that would work within the graphic application process chosen by WD. The designs had to address the limitations of the process and the challenge of conforming to the complex surface of the existing My Passport drive," explained Teubner. "Another challenge was keeping the students focused and on track. They wanted to do some pretty crazy things. After all, they are both very creative and very enthusiastic. We had to balance their enthusiasm with the reality of the manufacturing process." Teubner continues, "This is why this kind of project is so valuable to our program. Working with real companies that have real needs provides a big dose of reality. The students were no longer working theoretically, but taking their first steps into a professional career." The four-week design project included the work of 26 students from CSULB's Industrial Design Junior Studio. Once a week, each student had the opportunity to formally present and justify his or her ideas to WD representatives. Teubner asked each to prepare at least 10 ideas for every critique, which totaled 260 designs for the company to evaluate each time. During the process, the students also received three preliminary critiques, which helped them focus on their best ideas, and one formal presentation of their final concepts. At the final presentation, the students each had five minutes to present and justify their best three designs. WD reviewed all 78 final concepts, conducted additional market research with the top 12, and awarded $2,400 in scholarships to the students who developed the original five projects WD choose. After the market research was complete, two other student projects were selected for production to replace two of the original five chosen by WD. In addition, every student who participated received a My Passport hard drive. According to Teubner, the WD representatives were impressed not only with the creativity of the students, but also with the thought behind each project. The students had all learned how to "speak the business of design." The new My Passport Essential portable hard drives also feature a 256-bit hardware-based encryption to protect buyers from unauthorized access. The Mac- and Windows-compatible devices include a USB 2.0 interface that powers the drive directly from the USB port on a user's computer (no separate power supply is needed). To culminate the My Passport project, Teubner and Dorothy Ottolia, associate professor and chair of the CSULB Department of Design, joined WD officials to introduce the new hard drives on July 25 at the Best Buy in Long Beach. "I was ecstatic to know that something that I designed and worked on from the very beginning was going to be sold in a major retailer like Best Buy," said Porter. "It is hard to describe the feeling you get when you know that your hard work has paid off in such a big way." The new My Passport Essential limited edition hard drives sell for a manufacturer suggested retail price of $119.99 and are available exclusively at Best Buy and online at www.wdstore.com.

********** Published: August 12, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 17