Cool Idea! Award: Meet the judges

Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award kicked off its fourth year with two major additions to the program. First, we’ve assembled an eclectic mix of industry experts from the design, engineering and manufacturing worlds that will join the judge panel, which, to date, has consisted solely of Larry Lukis, Proto Labs’ founder and Chairman of the Board. The additional judges will bring diverse expertise from their particular area of experience. Second, Proto Labs will host its inaugural Cool Idea! Award Gallery Event in New York City on Thursday, Jan. 30. The event honors a selection of the products that have received the support of the award.

So, before the gallery doors open in New York, let us introduce you to our esteemed panel of judges.


Brooks AtwoodBrooks Atwood and his company POD Design were listed as one of six emerging U.S. Design Practices by the Museum of Arts & Design. Brooks was also listed in “Brooklyn’s 20” and Eyes In Magazine as one of the world’s innovative creators. He’s gained media attention from publications such as The New York Times and Wired, been featured on TV shows like “Today” and “Design Star,” and given lectures at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and at many other institutes.


Ray HuRay Hu is the managing editor of Core77, a comprehensive site for designers that provides articles, discussion forums, events, portfolios, job listings, and a database of design firms, schools, vendors and services. Aside from design, his interests include art, music, cycling, urbanism, food, patterns, maps, coffee and em-dashes — seriously, he includes at least one in every post he writes.


David LangDavid Lang is a co-founder of OpenROV, a community of citizen ocean explorers and creators of low-cost underwater robots. He is a writer for MAKE: Magazine and the author of “Zero to Maker,” where he chronicles his journey from under-skilled beginner to manufacturing entrepreneur and ocean explorer. David was a 2013 TED Fellow and lives on a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay.


Larry LukisLarry Lukis is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Proto Labs. He previously co-founded a successful $100 million company that wanted to design a better printer, and was floored by the time and money it took to get injection-molded parts. Larry began writing software that would automate the process of producing injection-molded parts, and in 1999, he founded what is now Proto Labs. Since that time, the company had introduced its Firstcut CNC Machining Service, opened up global manufacturing facilities and become public on the New York Stock Exchange.


Scott N. MillerScott N. Miller is the CEO of Dragon Innovation, a company whose mission is to help hardware entrepreneurs succeed in every phase, from crowdfunding to manufacturing at scale. Prior to founding Dragon, Scott spent 10 years at iRobot and was responsible for setting up and leading the team that manufactured Roomba, Scooba, Looj and ConnectR. He is also a general partner at Bolt, and has served as an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Olin College. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth and a master’s from MIT.


Joe RizkJoe Rizk is a venture and business designer at IDEO, working with early-stage businesses as well as helping bring new corporate innovations to scale. Prior to IDEO, he worked as an investor with Lerer Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm and in the business development group at GroupMe, a mobile messaging company (sold to Skype/Microsoft). Joe holds an MBA from Columbia University where he was an InSITE Fellow and a B.S. in New Business Management & Finance from Georgetown University.


You don’t necessarily have to be in New York City to experience the event. As we move closer to the show, we’ll be launching a virtual tour of the gallery space that will give you the feel of the night. And if you have a product you think is a Cool Idea!, apply now. Applications are accepted throughout the year, but the deadline for the first review session of 2014 is Friday, Feb. 28.


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