Stout Students Invent Award-Winning Trousers

Heidi Kraemer |

    If you’re in danger of falling off a building or have a toilet in need of some TLC, check these clever inventions by Stout students. Winning first place honors in the 2009 Safety Products Student Design Challenge, five students studying apparel design and development (Amy Alderete, Deanna Badman, Stephanie Fitzgerald, Sarah Lafata, and Laura Schannach) came out on top for their “suspension pants.” The idea was formed after brainstorming areas of safety concern, and landed on construction. They saw products on the market to help conscious fall victims, but none to aid suspension trauma for the unconscious. Thus, their idea of suspension pants transpired. Suspension pants have an inflatable diaphragm so when a worker falls, the diaphragm inflates and suspends the harness straps off the Femoral Artery, promoting blood flow. It works by a rip cord attached to an anchor such as a platform upon which a worker could be standing. When the worker falls, the rip cord will be pulled and the diaphragm inflated. Does it really work? After hanging around, literally, on the Stout climbing wall in their suspension pants, the group of students believe their invention is well on its way to fame, and they are already receiving offers to present their product for businesses. Another UW Stout student, Oriana Zens, recently won first place in a simple solutions design contest for her toilet brush. “I knew cleaning a toilet needed all the help it could get,” joked Oriana, reflecting with disgust and annoyance on the dirty chore. Her toilet brush features stiffer and longer bristles to clean further into the toilet, plus a brush holder that boasts a no-drip scoop and flat bottom. The holder stands alone when in use, and hangs off the top of the tank for convenient storage. Oriana says the project has taught her that “simple problems have simple solutions.”