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Senior named top designer in the region

Anna Boarini | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Senior Ryan Geraghty did not become an industrial design major to win awards. He said he picked his major because it focuses on solving problems and communicating new ideas through form and function.

However, Saturday, Geraghty was named the top industrial design student in the Industrial Design Society of America’s Midwest district. Geraghty beat eight other seniors to win the award in Chicago.

Notre Dame students have won top honors five of the past six years. Geraghty said this speaks to both the talent of students, as well as the work of industrial design professor Ann-Marie Conrado.

“This [award] is in large part to Ann-Marie Conrado. She is a driving force and had touch in every one of my projects,” he said.

To continue this line of Notre Dame prestige, Geraghty said he had to earn the right to represent the University at the conference.

“All the seniors present their portfolios to a group of professional designers and the group gets together and decides what senior best represents Notre Dame and who has the best portfolio overall,” he said. “That person wins the merit award and represents Notre Dame at the conference.”

Geraghty’s portfolio was comprised of three projects: patented meal preparation bowls designed his junior year, his work with fair trade artisans in Nepal and his senior thesis, Honed Ultra Sonic Harmonies (HUSH).

At the conference, Geraghty had seven minutes and 30 slides to present his work.

To make sure he used his time wisely, Geraghty said he practiced his speech 50 times the night before presenting.

“I rehearsed to the point of losing my voice, but it was perfectly timed,” he said.

A panel of five district chapter chairs judged the student’s presentations.

“At the conference you are judged on three things: your poster displaying your work, the presentation you give and the visuals of your presentation and the breadth of work you have done,” he said.

Geraghty said each of the projects he presented set him apart from the other students.

“My work showed more of my process,” he said. “For the bowl project, it showed that I started with a problem. I didn’t set out to design bowls, I set out to save space in a kitchen when you are preparing a meal.”

Geraghty said he spent about two months working on a cutting board idea, and then realized it would not work, so he started over and completely changed the idea.

“The judges really liked that, because it shows when I found a problem, I readjusted,” he said. “I didn’t set out to design bowls, I set out to fix a problem.”

What set his work in Nepal apart was what types of products he was designing, Geraghty said.

“As for Nepal, that really spoke to my interest in not just designing cheap consumer goods that are designed to be thrown out in a year … They are things that also help a group of people who are very talented,” he said.

Geraghty said he faced strong competition for the award from other entrants.

“There were actually some very, very impressive senior projects from the other students, one in particular from [senior] Greg Katz [from the] University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,” he said. “He had a very cool thesis involving an x-ray tablet … A doctor could place a tablet over someone, and actually see x-rays over the person.”

Geraghty said HUSH was inspired by the “cone of silence” from the movie “Get Smart,” and works to increase concentration by masking distracting sounds with white noise and directional speakers.

Geraghty said his thesis stood out from Katz’s because he was able to build a working model.

“What kind of separated my stuff was I had a substantiated it a bit more, I had built a working model,” he said. “The technology isn’t there yet for his stuff, so he couldn’t substantiate it.”

Contact Anna Boarini at aboari01@saintmarys.edu