Most people think “baby” when it comes to strollers. For five Humber College students, also thinking “manoeuvrability,” “compactability” and “comfort” earned them three awards last month at the DX/Safety 1st Stroller Design Competition.

Sponsored by the Design Exchange and Safety 1st Inc., a developer of childcare products, the competition challenged industrial design students across Canada to create a stylish and relevant stroller for today’s parents. In total, 30 entries came in from five schools.

Katie Weber of the Design Exchange says the panel of judges — which included the editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine and professional industrial designers — was extremely impressed by the high calibre of entries.

“They were really looking for thinking outside the box, not just copying what already exists in terms of stroller design,” she says. “And we definitely got those results!”

Humber incorporated the stroller design competition into its fourth-year product design studio class. Students began working on the assignment five weeks before the competition deadline, with eight teams eventually opting to enter their designs.

One of them was first-place winner Kevin Idzerda, 22. His stroller, which he called the “Spur,” was lauded by the judges for being “aesthetically pleasing” and “realistic in its approach to design and the target market.”

Idzerda, 22, says he wanted his stroller to be “simple to use but also visually uncomplicated,” with insects being one inspiration for its appearance.

“I tried to make it look less mechanical and more organic,” he says.

Mike Vecchiarelli and Andrew Houston placed third for their “Eclipse” stroller. “The thing that I love most about industrial design is the opportunity to create and use my imagination,” says Vecchiarelli, 23.

Unique features in his team’s design included a cocoon-like shell, “disappearing” canopy, removable seat for easy washing, and hub-less wheels. Incorporating the last feature forced Vecchiarelli and Houston to seek cheaper materials for the stroller’s other parts in order to heed the mid-point price of approximately $250 as stipulated by the competition guidelines.

“It’s one of those things that visually makes a big difference,” he says of the unusual wheels. “It gives it a sense of extending into the future.”

Humber students Mike Lee and Melanie Cunanan also received an honourable mention in the competition.

The event is just one example of the various company-sponsored competitions undertaken every year by Humber’s industrial design students. Glenn Moffatt, who teaches the fourth-year product design studio class with Dennis Kappen, says the rewards go beyond the cash prizes students win.

“The students also benefit from the important exposure and learning experience of being involved in a real-life project,” he says.