Montclair State Student Places First in 2012 Auto Safety Design Competition

Sophomore Robert Passaretti wins for “Inertia Re-routing Cabin” design

Robert Passaretti, sophomore Industrial Design major, (center) is flanked by Stevem Oldham (left), manager, Northeast Region Corporate Communication from Nissan, and Denis Feigler, director of the University's Industrial Design program.

Robert Passaretti, a sophomore in the BFA Industrial Design program in the Art and Design Department, won first place in the 2012 Designs for Safety Competition. The winners were announced April 13 during the N.Y. International Auto Show held April 6-15 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. This year’s competition drew more than 50 entrant and the panel of judges included members of the automotive press, chief engineers, safety experts, government policymakers, and professional design artists.
Passaretti received the first-prize award of $5,000 for his “Inertia Re-routing Cabin” design, with $1,000 of that going to his teacher and/or Montclair State. In his design, the cabin is forced upright when the front section of the vehicle presses in after a collision. This action not only gets the cabin, and passengers, out of the way of the collision, but also absorbs the force of the collision, significantly reducing injury to the passengers.

Passaretti said he originally had another design idea in mind but came up with the award-winning idea three weeks before the entry deadline by studying autos and trying to find areas for improvement.

"The one major area that I felt could need some improvement was the car's chassis, an area that has never really been dramatically improved," he explained. "I am the type of person that believes that there is a mechanical solution to every problem and that was my approach to accomplish my goal."

Prof. Denis Feigler, director of the Industrial Design program, said he was confident that Passaretti would do well in the competition.

“Robbie is a very devoted student of the industrial design major,” Feigler said. “He attacks his assignments with passion. He is interested in all aspects of the profession, but he really excels when the project involves the development of kinetics. This competition was tailored to Robbie’s strengths and I had a good feeling about a positive outcome.”

 Passaretti, however, said he was genuinely surprised to win.

"I was really, really, surprised and very excited when Dr. Feigler told me the news that I had won," he said. "I have never really won anything before and receiving the honor of first place was an indescribable feeling."

He credited his classes and professors with helping him win the competition.

"The classes I took at Montclair State University have taught me the skills needed in order to execute my ideas into a clear and presentable winning design, especially my my model making and sketching classes," he said. "I am glad that Dr. Feigler encouraged me to enter the competition.  The Industrial Design department's working environment and sense of community has really helped to drive and motivate me to do my best."

This is the third year in a row that a Montclair State student has placed in the national competition. Last year, Antonio Giannattasio, a sophomore in the Industrial Design program, won third place for his design, titled “Safety Shade,” an orange-colored reflective shade featuring a large X with flashing LED lights that attaches to the underside of an open trunk and can be pulled down like an ordinary shade to warn oncoming motorists of a disabled car or accident. In 2010, Brenda Villegas, then a sophomore Industrial Design student, took fourth place for a design that detects if a car is hydroplaning and corrects the situation by spraying air in front of the tires to displace the water and provide traction.