Williamsport, Pa. - Pennsylvania College of Technology student Trey L. White practices the tools of innovation even in his down time.
That it how the Jersey Shore area resident came up with the 'Chillin’ Chair Challenge', a product he dreamed up in Feb., that is already available for purchase.
The Chillin’ Chair Challenge is a compact, lightweight tossing game that attaches to the back of a camping chair – or any other chair.
The game “board” is made of rip stop nylon with seven mesh pockets of different sizes that carry different point values. Attached straps clip around and over the top of a chair’s back. Players stand about eight feet from the chair and toss foam golf balls into the holes.
The game and balls fold neatly into a carrying pouch, which altogether weighs 8.8 ounces. It’s also small enough to fold up neatly inside a collapsible camping chair.
“The intent is to provide something people can stick in their car or their glove box and always have something to do,” White said.
The idea emerged when he and his wife, Nicole, were looking for games they could play with their three children.
“I’m always mind mapping and different things,” White said. “It’s what I like to do.”
“Mind mapping” is a tool to stimulate ideas and creative thinking, one of several taught in the college’s innovation leadership coursework.
White is pursuing the college’s innovation leadership competency credential – offered in partnership with the renowned Eureka! Ranch – along with a bachelor’s degree in applied technology studies.
He earned an associate degree in computer aided drafting technology (now known as engineering CAD technology) from Penn College in 2008.
With a vision of his new game in mind, he bought material from Walmart and – though not experienced with a sewing machine – made the prototype himself.
“I went through what in innovation is the PDSA cycle,” he explained. PDSA is shorthand for Plan-Do-Study-Act.
The family experimented with what type of throwing object would work best, and through other feedback, he added a second strap to the top of the game to stabilize it while attached to the chair.
“You make a plan, try things out, and this is what we ended up with," White commented.
White applied for a provisional patent, and by Memorial Day, he was selling the Chillin’ Chair Challenge online – just three months after he came up with the idea, despite working full time as a project manager for First Quality, where he is benefiting from the company’s continuing education program) and being an engaged father of three.
“When I get something in my head, I have to get it out, or I won’t sleep,” White said with a smile.
The games are manufactured in Williamsport by Equinox LTD. But while well-versed in product development and manufacturing, White is now learning the ropes of marketing.
According to the college, White is on his way to earning the industry-recognized Innovation Engineering Black Belt, attainable through the 'Eureka! Ranch' after successfully completing all components of the college’s innovation leadership coursework, and creating a real-life project proposal.
White says he is already planning his next innovation for TLW Outdoors.