Aniko Somogyi, the owner of Austin-based Anikona Coffee, is well-acquainted with the world of coffee connoisseurs, offering air-roasted specialty beans from around the globe. Recently, her collaborations with students from the University of Texas at Dallas have garnered the attention of more than just caffeine enthusiasts.
Somogyi and her team often experienced problems with non-functioning escalators and elevators during their travel expeditions, particularly when they needed to transport samples and other products.
“We travel a lot,” Somogyi said, “and we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could have a suitcase that you can pull upstairs without having to call the clerk or pull down? Because when we travel, there are always stairs.”
To find a solution, Somogyi reached out to the senior students in UTDesign’s Capstone program. The program facilitates a partnership between UT Dallas students and businesses of all sizes, fostering innovative solutions to real-world challenges through the university’s program.
The students conceived and developed a suitcase design that was both innovative and practical. “The suitcase features a mechanical design with wheels that conveniently pop out to navigate stairs,” Somogyi said in a UTD video interview.
The ingenious suitcase design was a result of months of brainstorming and problem-solving by a team of six students she calls “brilliant.”
Somogyi praised the students’ hard work and ability to deliver as promised, adding that the team’s presentations and graphic images vividly brought the product to life.
“The team came up with an amazing design—a design that I think will revolutionize how we travel.”
This marks the second consecutive year for Somogyi to collaborate with UTDesign students.
Last year, Somogyi and the UT Dallas team crafted a different innovation—an automated French press. “They were great listeners,” she said. The team’s professionalism, creativity, punctuality, and seamless teamwork resulted in an exceptional product, she added. “They delivered an incredible automated French press.”
When Somogyi saw the final product prototype in person, she said, “It was beyond our expectations.”
A supporter of the university capstone process, Somogyi says the projects were not just beneficial to her business but provided students with practical experience and the opportunity to make a real impact.
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