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Pitt County Middle Schoolers Investigate Product Design, Development at ECU

Seventh- and eighth-graders from Pitt County’s Hope Middle School put their ideas to work this summer through a program offered by ECU’s Innovation Design Lab.

The two-week Middle School Innovators Academy paired middle schoolers with faculty and graduate students to develop ideas for real world products.

Teams identified product needs and developed solutions, conducted patent searches and market evaluations, and transformed their ideas into full renderings ready for manufacturing specification. Participants presented their concepts to parents and peers, university leaders and regional economic developers.

Courses for Pitt County students were offered at ECU’s state-of-the-art design lab. Another program was held at a satellite lab at N.C. State University for students from Wake County’s Centennial Campus Middle School.

Wayne Godwin, director of the Innovation Design Lab, and Percy Hooper, director of NCSU’s Industrial Design Graduate Program, developed and taught the program.

The academy drew upon the last summer’s Innovation Design Academy, an eight-week pilot program for ECU faculty, staff and students. Participants in that program used sketching techniques, 2-D and 3-D digital imaging essentials, physical model building strategies and presentation skills while gathering hands-on experience in developing, documenting and marketing their design ideas. 

One product developed at the first academy, the Venom Lock, has advanced to full prototyping and its inventors are pursuing commercialization.

Operated through ECU’s Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development, the Innovation Design Lab applies collaborative, multidisciplinary effort and advanced methods to create solutions to complex product development challenges.

For more information, contact Godwin at

This story appeared originally in the Sept. 24, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at