The Jefferson “X FACTOR”

Federal-Mogul Innovation Competition

During the spring 2011 semester, the Federal-Mogul Corporation brought a real-world industry challenge to interdisciplinary teams of PhilaU design, engineering and business students. The challenge revolved around component protection in the automotive market.

Forty undergraduate students were split into teams of eight, given specific customer requirements and were charged with developing a viable product solution that was both innovative and commercially viable.

Federal Mogul Winners

The winning team - who was awarded a cash prize by Federal-Mogul to be shared equally - was composed of business students Mario Bermeo '11, an international business major; Christiana Murphy '11, a marketing major; Vanessa Stella '11, a marketing major; and Joel Williams '11, an accounting major; mechanical engineering students Collin Ray '11 and Ryan Lee '12; and industrial design students Alyssa Wiesner '12 and Brian Widin '12. The team's concept, Reflexo Coil, is a self-locating component protector for automotive cables, wires, and tubes. The product is thermally resistant, abrasion resistant, resistant to automotive fluids and dampens vibrations. Of the student submissions, the winning team most effectively addressed the design and commercial plans required including a product prototype.

"Having the chance to work with a global corporation like Federal Mogul was truly an amazing opportunity. I had the chance to visit their facilities, learn about their company and processes, and speak with their executives about the value they place on collaboration to stay ahead of their competition and produce leading products," said Vanessa Stella '11. "This was extremely beneficial for me because I now have a better understanding of how things work in the corporate world and just how important it is to have the skills and ability to work across disciplines."

Janice Maiden '81, vice president and business director of the Federal-Mogul Systems Protection, initiated the competition and spoke at the awards ceremony on April 21. "This is an incredible, intangible opportunity for open innovation," she said. "The students exceeded my expectations."

"Working with a business partner was beneficial because it gave us more business sense," said Julianne Hewitt '11, an accounting major who participated in the competition. "We weren't just doing calculations or applying theory. We were actually looking at something from a real-world perspective."

One of the greatest parts of Nexus Learning is that students are able to interact directly with real consumers and offer actually solutions. Although valuable simply as a learning experience, the winning team went on to actually present their concept to a targeted Federal-Mogul customer for direct customer feedback.