LONG BEACH - Matthew Schwartz, a 2011 design graduate from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), has been recognized as one of 25 semifinalists for Design Lab 2011, an annual design competition sponsored by Electrolux, for his conception of an Onda Portable Microwave.Founded in 2002, the design contest is open to design students from around the world who submit ideas for future appliances based on a certain theme. This year's theme was "Intelligent Mobility." Electrolux received more than 1,300 entries in 2011 and chose 25 concept appliances as their semifinalists from 14 countries - three each from Australia, New Zealand, and Poland; and two each from Canada, the Czech Republic, France, South Korea and the United States. "I am very excited to have been selected as a semi-finalist and that my idea was so well-received and stood out among the 1,300-plus submissions," said Schwartz, who graduated from CSULB with his industrial design degree in May. "I am proud of my idea and I hope to go even further in the competition." Electrolux will narrow the field from 25 to eight finalists later this month. The eight finalists will present their concept appliances to a jury of expert designers, who'll chose the winners based on the criteria of intuitive design, innovation and consumer insight. First prize is a six-month paid internship at an Electrolux global design center and 5,000 euros (approximately $7,100). Second prize is 3,000 euros (approximately $4,300), and third prize is 2,000 euros (approximately $2,850). Schwartz described the Onda Portable Microwave as small device used in conjunction with pre-packaged meals that transmits microwaves directly into the sealed food package to heat and cook the contained food. The device slides onto the packaging of prepared meals. As the seal of the packaging is broken, the handheld oven creates a circuit connection. Paper batteries produce the energy needed to cook the food. "When the device is attached to the dish, they seal together and the enclosed food container acts as the cooking chamber which contains all of the microwaves safely inside," he said. "Power-paper batteries produce steady and eco-friendly power for efficient cooking and allow it to be used virtually anywhere. It is perfect for use at home, in the office, for outdoor use, and could be easily adapted for military personnel or natural disaster relief as well." Schwartz feels one reason for his recognition was his design's convenience and practicality. "Traditional microwaves limit users to the confines of the kitchen, but the Onda Portable Microwave solves that problem," he said. "It is a smart step in the evolution of a common product, which hasn't seen much change since its creation half a century ago." Competition judges praised Schwartz's design for its lateral thinking and creativity, which he believes refers to the configuration of the product. "Instead of having a big box that permanently sits on the counter top, you have a product or system comprised of two separate pieces, that when joined together create a device that works in a very similar way but on a much smaller and more convenient scale," he noted. "It is essentially taking the components of a traditional microwave and repackaging them in a whole new way." Schwartz thanked the Design Department for its help, including Professor Max Beach and his 23 classmates who critiqued his work during class and offered suggestions as he made progress on the project throughout his last semester. He feels his recognition in this competition is a positive reflection on the CSULB Design Department. "It is evidence that CSULB has an excellent Design Department that teaches its students how to become successful designers, not only by teaching them how to draw and use the necessary tools, but also how to think as a designer and sell our ideas," said Schwartz, who chose CSULB because of it had industrial design as a major. "Industrial design is a great way to have a positive impact on people's lives and the planet through products that are used every day, and CSULB is a great place to begin. My years at CSULB have been full of wonderful experiences and amazing people." While waiting to see if he will move forward in the competition, Schwartz is still making his post-graduate career plans. "I am currently looking for a full-time job in the product design industry," he said, "and I hope to begin my career doing something that I love."
********** Published: August 25, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 19