The Cookout Caddy is a grill-side table with features made to assist anyone who enjoys using their barbecue to cook up a meal. While the prototype is now complete, the process behind this product took many different turns before finding success.

When the Cookout Caddy team of 13 industrial technology and packaging students came together, the group didn’t know what product they wanted to create.

“That was probably the biggest challenge that we first faced because it was the initial set up for this whole project,” industrial technology and packaging senior Piet Shafer said.

YouTube video

Developing the Cookout Caddy 

When the team enrolled in Applied Business Operations (ITP 467) spring quarter, they were each required to bring about twenty different ideas for a product that could be made and sold within the quarter with the resources in Cal Poly’s Industrial Technology metals lab.

Senior Alicia Comer said the group originally discussed ideas such as a shelving unit for wine and coffee, and a bed stand. They stuck with the shelving unit for a while, but when it came to making the final prototype design, the group left that idea behind and started over.

Shafer said the thought process that led to the Cookout Caddy began with searching for an idea with utility, and then an idea related to outdoor activities.

“We could create something for the outdoors and for something we all like doing, that we would have fun building, and then we arrived at the Cookout Caddy,” she said.

They also took into account the timing of their design’s production.

“We liked the idea of having something marketed to Father’s Day because that’s coming up at the end of this quarter,” Comer said. “And that would be something we’d be able to sell.”

Once the team officially agreed to pursue producing the Cookout Caddy, Comer said they’ve had “flying colors.”

While the class has two hours of lecture and six hours of lab each week, junior Jesse Morrison said the team spends around 40 hours a week in the lab and he guesses that they’ll be spending closer to 60 hours in the lab by week eight.

In the beginning of the production process, the team spent time in the library’s computer lab, researching similar products and designing their own. Now they typically arrive at the lab around nine in the morning to complete the day’s tasks. Each day consists of activities such as gluing cutting boards, testing out bolts or running the horizontal band saw. Some days they stay in the lab for 13 hours at a time.

“It’s a four unit class, but really it’s a full time job,” Morrison said.

The product

As for the product itself, the Cookout Caddy has various features that the group of students designed to make it stand out.

“Really what it’s meant for is to make your grilling experience more enjoyable and efficient,” industrial technology senior Charlie Curtis said.

From a foldable, extendable table and a detachable cutting board, to a paper towel holder and extra storage space, the Cookout Caddy is designed to accommodate multiple different needs one may have when using a grill.

“There are some cookout cart or caddy-esque products that don’t serve the same utility that we’re founded on,” Shafer said. “Which is having extra counter space to prepare food and also our biggest technology separation from other products is this idea of our movable cutting board.”

The team has recently created a physical prototype and even filmed their infovideo with it. Shafer said the prototype worked just how they hoped it would, although they still plan to make some minor changes and improvements.

Looking back, Comer appreciates the experience the Cookout Caddy team gave her in her senior year of college.

“The first week the professor said that these people will become your best friends throughout the quarter,” she said. “That is the case. We spend so much time together. It’s so much fun to be with academic colleagues.”

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