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News . Feature Stories . CIA grads' Breakthrough Product commended by Popular Mechanics

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November 11, 2013

CIA grads' Breakthrough Product commended by Popular Mechanics

Electric mower designed for MTD is deemed cutting-edge.

CIA grads' Breakthrough Product commended by Popular Mechanics

By Carolyn Jack

MTD Products has long cut a wide, deep swath through the world of lawnmower design.

Now the company’s impact has become even more noticeable: MTD and its design team – Cleveland Institute of Art graduates all – recently won a spot in Popular Mechanics magazine’s 10 Breakthrough Products of 2013. The Valley City, Ohio, maker of outdoor-maintenance power equipment earned the recognition for its Cub Cadet RZT-S Zero Mower.

This zero-turn electric model, a type of mower that pivots 180 degrees without leaving a circle of untrimmed grass, “combines cutting-edge innovations,” as Popular Mechanics punned about the RZT-S Zero on its website. Though its features have the reassuringly familiar arrangement and user-friendliness of a gas-fueled riding mower, the RZT-S improves on that design with all-electric power that lasts 60 minutes and runs in almost total silence, and steering-wheel control of all four wheels for greater stability and ease of operation.

“It’s very intuitive,” Jeff Kucera ’99, MTD’s design manager, explained over the phone with audible pride.

He and two of his teammates, industrial designers Mark Raber ’04 and Jeremy Powell ’07, noted that their CIA education had given them both the design and collaborative skills they needed to make an imaginative, uniquely functional, and attractive product.

“I think what’s great about CIA is that it’s so well rounded” in what it teaches, Kucera noted – from the education in form and color that comes from fine-art studies, to the functional aesthetics of product-design courses.

But perhaps most of all, they all learned to work with others. “We do work as a team,” Kucera said.

Just like all the parts of their award-winning RZT-S.

Read about all 10 Breakthrough Products here.

Above, the MTD team pictured in November 2012, shortly before Ken Smith’s retirement, comprises, from left: Jeff Kucera '99, Jonathan Prybor '12, Brandon Promersberger '12, Ryan Maibach '09, Dennis Fowler '98, Jeremy Powell '07, Mark Raber '04, Ken Smith ’70, and Joe Tymoszczuk '85. Missing from the photo was Hunter Basenberg '02, an industrial designer at the company’s Arizona facility.

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