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U of M College of Design students to design and prototype their own toy concepts

Class taught by the co-creator of the Nerf Atom Blaster, Barry Kudrowitz

January 25, 2011

This semester, a course in the University of Minnesota College of Design will provide undergraduate and graduate students the unique opportunity to design and prototype their own toy concepts. The students will work closely with local sponsors, children and experienced mentors.

The course, “Toy Product Design,” is taught by assistant professor Barry Kudrowitz, the college’s first full-time product design faculty member. Kudrowitz recently earned his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the mechanical engineering department, where he studied creativity, humor and idea generation. He completed his master’s degree work at MIT studying projectile toy design with Hasbro, Inc. This partnership with Hasbro resulted in the Nerf Atom Blaster toy.

Kudrowitz says the goal of the course is to introduce students to the product development process. This includes determining customer needs; brainstorming; estimation; sketching; graphic design; industrial design drawing; sketch modeling; concept development; design aesthetics; detailed design; prototyping; and written, visual and oral presentation communication.

On three occasions during the semester, the students will visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum to play test the toy concepts with kids. At the end of the course, students present their toy product prototypes at so-called “PLAYsentations” to toy designers, engineers, kids and the University of Minnesota community.

Product design in the College of Design officially kicked off in late 2010. Culminating years of effort, the college launched a graduate minor in product design and launched the Wearable Product Design Center, which formalizes research connections among apparel design faculty.

For more information about the class, see To learn more about Kudrowitz, visit his website at

Kudrowitz toys 300
The course, “Toy Product Design,” is taught by assistant professor Barry Kudrowitz. Kudrowitz helped invent the Nerf Atom Blaster while working for toymaker Hasbro.

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