BLACKSBURG, Va., April 22, 2008 – Jeremy Connell, a third-year industrial design student in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ School of Architecture + Design, has won first place in the Create the Future design contest’s machinery/equipment category for his cargo management system.
The Create the Future design contest is sponsored by SolidWorks, the leading 3-D computer-aided design solution worldwide, in conjunction with NASA Tech Briefs, HP Invest, Comsol, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The contest rewards the best ideas for new products, and celebrates breakthrough thinking about problems of all kind, large and small.
Connell’s design fulfills a need in the pick-up truck market. The familiar form of truck beds have not changed since their conception. The space is well equipped for bulky materials, but standard truck beds lack the ability to secure loose items easily. Only recently has the automotive industry begun to address this need in their newest models.
Unfortunately, a stand-alone, aftermarket product for most any truck has not yet been offered to consumers. Connell’s solution requires a simple and convenient system that offers utility and practicality. The design allows for customized securing and organizational solutions.
The design employs a platform with a maximum height of two inches, allowing for an ultra-low profile while the rails are not in use. Four lateral adjustments mate with the sidewalls of the truck bed. This feature allows for application in trucks with differentiating bed sizes. The rail gutters are slightly raised off of the platform surface to mimic the standard truck bed and simultaneously limit lateral motions of items placed within the rails.
To reduce rubbing between the unprotected truck bed and the platform, six wheels are placed on the bottom of the platform and serve two purposes. The main function is to limit the points of contact between the truck surface and the platform and the second is to ease in the placing and removing of the platform into the truck bed. Many truck owners choose not to place liners in the bed for the sole reason that it deteriorates the surface of the bed. This platform significantly reduces the points of contact and minimizes daily wear and tear on the bed.
The storage container rolls along the two outermost rails with the implementation of two wheels on both sides and four locking pins. The grips located on both sides of the container house the mechanism, which operates the locking pins. As for the container itself, it is split in a 60/40 configuration, with the smaller of the two potentially being insulated.
The voids in the bottom of the container allow for the interior platform rails to be used in conjunction with the box. This feature allows the option to divide the contents within the containers. The rails and container can be used together in order to secure items against either the cab or the tailgate. The box can be removed completely for use of the entire width of the truck bed. The rails are engaged by the grips towards the front of the platform, and rise with a pivot-arm motion. The grips on the rails create a non-slip surface when objects are placed on top of the arms, and also work when the rails are up. Tie-down cleats are integrated into the rails for using bungee cords with the system.
The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of three schools and the Department of Art and Art History, part of the multi-college School of the Arts. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design, interior design, and landscape architecture. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The Myers-Lawson School of Construction, a joint school of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering, includes programs in building construction and construction management. The college enrolls nearly 2,000 students offering 24 degrees taught by 153 faculty members.