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Academy Engineering Students Design Cardboard Chairs

The Manufacturing and Design Process Holds Unexpected Lessons


students holding their cardboard chair


To learn about the manufacturing and design process, three Engineering students at the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, Gary D. Bixhorn Technical Center campus, recently created cardboard chairs. Students worked as a team, divided responsibilities, produced mini prototypes, and gave a presentation. This exercise taught them about leadership, overcoming design roadblocks, and the trials and errors of generating a finished product. The Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology is the Career and Technical Education Program of Eastern Suffolk BOCES and has locations in Oakdale, Bellport, and Riverhead.


three 3D printed chair prototypes


Students chose to manufacture a corrugated cardboard chair as a way to produce inexpensive furniture from a material after it had been recovered for recycling. They each designed a miniature prototype and programmed the 3D printer to produce it. Classmates then selected the chair for the group of three to develop. Even though they split up the job responsibilities, team members gravitated toward natural roles over time. Said Justin Rosado, Connetquot CSD, “We worked evenly at first and these roles fell into place once we realized what strengths we had. For example, Joe (DiBiasi) knew the most about design and developed the crosshatch concept, which we used to support the structural integrity of the chair and reduce the amount of required cardboard.”


the crosshatch design inside the chair


To cut down the need for material even further for the assignment, the group scaled down the chair proportion to one quarter of its size, which meant that they had to proportionally scale down their strength test. Additional revisions were also made, which provided lessons on flexibility, esthetics, and trimming manufacturing time. Said Hunter Fleming, Shoreham-Wading River CSD, group project manager, “This project provided the three of us with a ground-level perspective in manufacturing and design that we never could have gotten anywhere else.”