Inaugural 1819 Innovation Hub Awards honor DAAP grads

DAAPworks highlights creative capstones

The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) annually showcases its graduating class’s capstone projects, judging concepts on creative output, design and collaboration. This year, the 1819 Innovation Hub made its debut at DAAPworks, resulting in the recognition of five enterprising students.

Recipients of the inaugural 1819 Innovation DAAPworks Award demonstrated the Hub’s commitment to fostering diverse innovation. They designed various creative projects spanning from mobile health care units to career-matching apps. One commonality among the winners: great appreciation for the 1819 Innovation Hub and its Makerspace.

“UC students consistently lead the nation in creativity, inventiveness and depth of knowledge,” said Nicola Ziady, UC’s chief marketing officer and judge for the 1819 Innovation DAAPworks Award. “To see their ingenuity mix with the wealth of resources available at the 1819 Innovation Hub validates the fact that ‘next’ does indeed live here at UC. We evaluated each capstone project on originality, creativity, impact, feasibility, sustainability, collaboration, adaptability and presentation.”

Innovation requires design brilliance, forward-thinking ideas and enough resources to turn a concept into reality. The 1819 Innovation Hub plays a role in catalyzing innovation on UC's campus. Students from DAAP, the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) and other programs across UC have full access to the building and its resources, bringing their innovative ideas to life.  

Introducing DAAPworks award winners

DAAP graduates from diverse backgrounds and creative interests were honored during 1819’s inaugural award ceremony. Below is a look at the UC students whose capstone projects stood out to judges.

Joe Curtsinger: Minnow water care solution

Joe Curtsinger headshot

Joe Curtsinger. Photo/DAAP

Pools provide a welcome respite from the summer heat, but maintaining them can become a headache. From testing pH and sanitizer levels to setting chemicals to find the right balance, pool maintenance isn’t for everyone.

Minnow may change that. According to Joe Curtsinger, “Minnow is a device that monitors water chemistry and optimizes chemical usage for residential pool owners.” Considering the complexity of determining correct chemical compositions, Minnow could be a game-changer for pool owners.

Curtsinger regularly used the UC Makerspace to develop 3D models for Minnow’s design. He particularly appreciated how the “prototyping capabilities in the Makerspace can facilitate rapid development and connect you with people who can help you excel.”

A hand holding a phone is shown in front of a pool.

Curtsinger capstone project: Minnow. Photo/DAAP

Sarah Durbala: SpareParts additive product repairs

Sarah Durbala headshot

Sarah Durbala. Photo/DAAP

When products break down, our natural tendency is often to throw them away and buy new models. Sarah Durbala set out to break that cycle and promote sustainability by designing 3D-printed replacement parts in the UC Makerspace.

In Durbala’s words, SpareParts “uses additive manufacturing for repairing parts, leading to a decrease in waste and extending the life of products.” She thought of creating sustainable replacement parts for common items because friends and family kept asking her to 3D print fixes.

Durbala credits the UC Makerspace in the 1819 Innovation Hub for enabling her to build and perfect a design for SpareParts. “I learned a lot of my skills through being there,” Durbala said, “and by helping others work through their ideas.”

The 1819 Innovation Hub ecosystem, in Durbala’s view, creates a natural place for the next big ideas to bubble up. “Innovation is a group effort, not an individual assignment,” she said. DAAP’s partnership with 1819, according to Durbala, gave her a chance to have “great conversations with designers and makers about the future” of SpareParts.

Tools from SpareParts are laid out.

Durbala capstone project: SpareParts. Photo/DAAP

Sarah Stevens: Careerdium career-finding app

Sarah Stevens headshot

Sarah Stevens. Photo/DAAP

Every year, high school seniors grapple with setting their next career steps. Enter Careerdium, a job-finding app that Sarah Stevens developed to let young adults swipe on potential careers, take quizzes and learn about job paths.

Stevens said, “Careerdium is an interactive app for teenagers to use to understand their career personalities and explore different career options for their futures.” The app was inspired by Stevens’ own challenges with choosing the right job path during her time in high school.

As with many student innovators at UC, Stevens noticed a problem and dreamt up a forward-thinking solution. “By mixing the familiar quiz with the new swiping function,” Stevens said, “Careerdium intends to innovate by creating a friendlier experience for all users.”

Stevens has one piece of advice for future student innovators at UC: “Don’t wait to begin utilizing the 1819 Innovation Hub.” She views it as a transformational space where students can “work on personal projects, enhance skills for future employers and complete schoolwork” — all on top of conceptualizing and crafting innovative ideas such as Careerdium.

A poster board showing Careerdium's pitch.

Stevens capstone project: Careerdium. Photo DAAP

Jimmy Tran: AIVO Care Cruiser telehealth unit

Jimmy Tran headshot

Jimmy Tran. Photo/DAAP

Many people find urgent care time-consuming, expensive and a hassle overall. Jimmy Tran developed the AIVO Care Cruiser to change that belief through AI technology and an innovative approach to telehealth.

Tran describes the AIVO Care Cruiser as “an autonomous medical screening vehicle, which will revolutionize health care accessibility by bringing screenings and consultations straight to users’ homes.” The AIVO Care Cruiser was inspired by Tran spending time in an overcrowded emergency room and noticing that many patients had nonemergency conditions that could have been treated elsewhere.

In Tran’s view, the DAAPworks event at the 1819 Innovation Hub provides a chance for transformative projects to get off the ground. He enjoyed having the “opportunity to make connections with a large number of great designers, graduates and friends” while at the 1819 Innovation Hub.

A computer-generated image of a man in a medical room.

Tran capstone project: AIVO. Photo/DAAP

Car Zhang: RAY emergency mobile medical unit


Car Zhang. Photo/DAAP

The first hour after a disaster strikes, or the “golden hour,” is the most critical period for emergency medical care. It can be difficult for first responders to get to the scene fast enough, though, especially if there are safety risks or limited resources. That’s where Car Zhang, designer of the RAY emergency rescue unit, believes his invention can change lives.

Zhang describes RAY as a “fully equipped, container-based mobile medical unit capable of providing hospital-level emergency care for severe injuries in remote areas.” He envisions RAY as “an opportunity to develop an improved solution for emergency medical responses” after disaster strikes.

According to Zhang, the 1819 Innovation Hub is “a place that can help you achieve your dreams,” and he was guided through integrating advanced fields such as medical rescue, autonomous driving and logistics. He also gained valuable insights from fellow innovators and used the UC Makerspace to 3D print RAY models.

Ray Animation Rendering.bip.60

Zhang capstone project: RAY. Photo/DAAP

Empowering students to develop what's next

DAAP consistently ranks among the top design schools in the world, and its students’ capstone projects show why. Using the UC Makerspace at the 1819 Innovation Hub, DAAP students can turn their forward-thinking ideas into realistic designs.

Benjamin Jones, the Makerspace director at 1819, said “innovation is at the confluence of novel and actionable … this is an exceedingly hard target to hit.” Because of that, Jones believes it’s well worth celebrating the innovators who come close to reaching this goal at DAAPworks.

As these five DAAP graduates begin post-college roles, they’ll be equipped with UC’s design prowess and innovative practices. Driven by the idea that Next Lives Here, DAAP and UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub are empowering students to kick-start forward-thinking change in Cincinnati and beyond.

Featured image at top: DAAPworks display. Photo/DAAP

Headshot of Stephen Kenney

Stephen Kenney

Innovation Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is leading public urban universities into a new era of innovation and impact. Our faculty, staff and students are saving lives, changing outcomes and bending the future in our city's direction. Next Lives Here.

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