Student’s new game provides portable play for families
Pennsylvania College of Technology student Trey L. White practices the tools of innovation even in his down time.
That’s how the Jersey Shore area resident came up with the Chillin’ Chair Challenge, a product that he dreamed up in February and 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 8 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 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,” he said.
White then applied for a provisional patent and by Memorial Day, he was selling the Chillin’ Chair Challenge online at www.tlwoutdoorsllc.com just three months after he came up with the idea, despite working full time (he’s 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 smiled.
The games are manufactured in Williamsport by Equinox LTD.
While well-versed in product development and manufacturing, White is now learning the ropes of marketing. He’s also 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.
He is already planning his next innovation for TLW Outdoors.
To learn more about Penn College’s innovation leadership competency credential, call 570-327-4505 or visit www.pct.edu/innovation.