A Doggone Good Idea: UW-Stout Grad's Invention Places in National Design Competition
puppy paw wax applicator makes it easier to protect dog paws from snow, ice, salt, and other elements
Claire Dronen, a recent UW-Stout industrial design graduate, loves walking, running, and being outdoors with her mixed-breed dog, Benji. To protect Benji’s paws, Dronen tried doggie boots, which Benji disliked and pulled off quickly. She then started to use wax to protect Benji’s paws from snow, ice, salt, and other elements as well as to provide better traction on slippery floors.
“It’s really messy,” Dronen said of applying the wax. “You had to use your fingers and it took a long time to get the wax applied.”
Then Dronen came up with the paw-fect idea to create an applicator for paw wax.
For her Industrial Design 5 class in fall 2020, Dronen designed the PupRub Speedy Paw Protector, an application device for the paw wax.
“It is really neat,” Dronen said. “This applicator solves multiple problems for both humans and canines. Color, materials, and finish were important considerations, and its portable size makes it easy to bring when you are on the go.”
PupRub garnered Dronen, who graduated in May, third place in the International Housewares Association Inspired Home Show’s annual Student Design Competition. She garnered a $1,000 award.
Dronen is elated with placing in the contest. “There were 146 applicants,” she said. “There were entries from last year and this year so there was a larger pool.”
Design Professor Jennifer Astwood taught the class in which Dronen developed PupRub. “She was headed in a specific direction during the midterm part of the project, but she trusted her instincts and she followed her design research,” Astwood said. “Claire chose to pivot her final direction to an area that made more sense. She continued to develop her design work and do additional prototyping to develop a more successful design.”
Dronen works full time as an associate industrial designer at Avient Design in St. Louis, a product manufacturing, design, and testing company. She was an intern at the company from September to December 2020 as part of the Cooperative Education and Internship Program at Career Services.
After working at Avient Design, Dronen said she would have incorporated a broader knowledge of injection molding to her PupRub design, which she does not plan to market at this time.
“I love the problem-solving of industrial design,” she said. “It has really practical applications. I do feel some responsibility as an industrial designer to consider sustainability and all its facets and make quality items.”
Dronen also hopes more women will enter the industrial design field. In the U.S. just 19% of industrial designers are women, and in the United Kingdom that figure is 5%.
“That isn’t enough representation,” she said. “We need more women in design.”