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The Toy Stories of Lehigh engineering

When she first came to Lehigh, Lisa Glover ’13, ’14G envisioned a career in sustainable architecture, one that involved renovating old spaces and bringing them back to life. That all changed with a “Making It” homework assignment for Lehigh’s Technical Entrepreneurship master’s program.

Tasked with exploring the manufacturing process and demonstrating it uniquely, Glover drew on the origami skills she first learned as a child and created a 15-foot cardboard velociraptor. When she wore it as a costume to a Halloween party, she was a hit. People constantly asked, “How can I get one?”

Scaling it back in size to a more marketable product, Glover created KitRex—cardboard puzzle crafts that fold into colorful 3-D dinosaurs. Two successful crowdfunding campaigns followed; a third one is planned for March.

“This has been an unexpected but amazing journey for me,” said Glover, 25, who was encouraged by Lehigh professors and others to run with her idea. “This whole project has been one that I did on a whim. Other people believed in it and thought it was cool.”

Glover is among a new crop of toy inventors who developed their ideas—by accident or design as part of class assignments—while at Lehigh. All were winners in the EUREKA! Ventures Competition, a series of student entrepreneurship competitions run by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Innovation. As they look to market their toys, they hope to have an impact on play, and perhaps inspire creativity or foster learning.

Glover and Briana Gardell ’14, ’15G exhibited their inventions in mid-February at the venerable North American International Toy Fair in New York, which draws buyers, manufacturers and others from around the world. Last year, they attended the show, along with Shannon Varcoe ’15 and Lauren Villaverde ’14, ’15G, with the support of alumna Alita Friedman ’87, CEO of Alita’s Brand Bar and former chief brand officer of the UglyDoll brand, for which she won the Women in Toys award and Toy of the Year.

The Lehigh Bulletin talked with the inventors about their toys — and what’s next.

Read the full story in the Winter 2016 Edition of the Lehigh Bulletin.

-Mary Ellen Alu is an assistant editor in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

March 22, 2016

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