Building Construction/Industrial Design Collaboration Leads to Patent

Another collaborative project by the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s Building Construction and Industrial Design programs has resulted in a patent. Sponsored by the Construction Industry Fund of Alabama through the Center of Construction Innovation and Collaboration in the McWhorter School of Building Science, the Portable Sawhorse Workstation is the third patent for CCIC’s initiatives.

The Portable Sawhorse Workstation was designed in 2008 by then Industrial Design student Jacob Sutton, Industrial Design Professor Tsai Lu Liu (who is now head of the Department of Industrial Design at North Carolina State University), and Building Science Professor Paul Holley. The patent for the Portable Sawhorse Workstation, #8,757,3232 B2, was awarded June 24, 2014. Brian Wright of Auburn’s Office of Technology Transfer helped shepherd the design through the complicated utility patent process.

Working under the direction of Holley and Liu, Sutton designed the portable sawhorse workstation to be reusable and help lower construction costs (sawhorses are often cobbled together on the construction site, experience a lot of wear and tear, and then discarded). Sutton’s design is unique in that the top is a replaceable or “sacrificial” ledger that can be clamped into place and then replaced as needed. The reusable base helps to curb cost of materials.

Sutton described the project as his favorite studio project. “It was a great exercise in the design process,“ says Sutton who graduated from the School of Industrial + Graphic Design in 2009 and now works at Southern Company in Birmingham. “I got the opportunity to do field research, sketching, concept models, full scale prototyping and a final design. Professor Liu and Professor Holley were instrumental in my design’s success, and I owe a lot of thanks to them.”

The Portable Sawhorse Workstation is the third patent resulting from interdisciplinary collaborations of Building Science and Industrial Design faculty and students. Two more are pending. “If you put people together with different perspectives, you get creative and innovative solutions,” says Steve Williams, director of the Center for Construction Innovation and Collaboration. CCIC’s mission is to focus on innovative approaches to construction processes and process while maintaining core values centered on sustainability and impact on built environments.

Related people:
Paul Holley