Notre Dame senior women's golfer Julie Kim has found her niche as a designer, and recently was selected as a finalist for a national design competition after devising this unique and creative way to store eyeglasses in a soda can-style container that fits neatly in an automobile cup holder.

Designs For Success

Feb. 10, 2010

by Dan Colleran
Sports Information Assistant

Competitiveness is a driving force in collegiate golf. It is an essential attribute for the student-athletes who put in the time and effort to go through rigorous practice and lesson schedules growing up and then carry that determination over into the collegiate setting.

Though her collegiate golf career has been slowed by injuries, current Fighting Irish senior women’s golfer Julie Kim has brought her competitive drive from the golf course to the industrial design studio in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and she has been receiving rave reviews for her recent work.

“Design is an extremely competitive field and you always want to be better than the people around you and golf is the same way in its competitive aspects,” said Kim. “I think one of the things my first design professor liked about me was that I was extremely competitive and always wanted to get better and practice more just like I learned to do with golf.”

Kim, a 2007 All-BIG EAST honoree in her only truly healthy semester with the Irish, was recently selected as a finalist for the 2010 Planning and Visual Education Partnership (PAVE) the Way 3D Design Challenge, which is sponsored by B&N Industries. Kim is one of 12 finalists for the award, which allows college students to see their designs come to life and gain exposure at a major industry trade show. She entered the contest to fulfill a competitive requirement in her Product Research course in the 2009 fall semester.

“I didn’t think much of it [entering the competition at the time] aside from it seemed like fun to design a sunglass display case,” remarked Kim. “Then when I told my professor that they were going to make a prototype for my design and he was surprised and impressed so I started to realize that even though I thought this happened all the time, it is pretty rare.”

This year’s PAVE challenge, the first of what is planned to be an annual competition, was to design a countertop fixture to sell sunglasses and make a mock-up or a 3D rendering for judging. Kim’s design includes a soda-can-style package that promotes reuse and long-term protection of stored eyeglasses in an automobile cup-holder. Her innovative concept also features a transparent racking system, presenting the shopper with convenient access and mirrored panel for trying on sample pairs of new sunglasses.

Kim emerged as a finalist from a pool of 57 applicants from 11 different schools and her design is being converted to a prototype by B&N to be displayed along with the 11 other finalists in the B&N booth at the GlobalShop trade show in Las Vegas on March 10-12, 2010. The winner will then be announced during A.R.E.’s Design Awards program on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 from 5:30 to 7:30.

Kim missed her first semester of golf with the Irish due to injury but battled back to play a pivotal role in the spring semester, appearing in all five events and having 11 of her 14 rounds count towards team scores. She then placed eighth at the BIG EAST Championship to earn All-Conference honors on the strength of her best college tournament 228 (+12/72-78-78). Her showing at the event helped the Irish to a first-place tie with Louisville, but Notre Dame fell to the Cardinals on the first playoff hole.

Since the second semester of her freshman season, however, Kim has struggled through more injuries and has been limited in her appearances with the Irish. As a junior, Kim made it back into the Irish lineup for Notre Dame’s appearance in the 2009 NCAA Central Regional at Ohio State. In the fall semester of her senior year, she was able to play in the University of Kentucky’s rain-shortened Bettie Lou Evans Invitational.

“She’s certainly tried to make full recoveries and we get a few rounds under her belt but the fatigue and swelling just keep catching up … from that standpoint it’s been disappointing not only for her but for us,” said women’s golf head coach Susan Holt. “But the outcome is that she is getting a degree from Notre Dame and she is going to do some really great things with it. Being a student-athlete at Notre Dame and all of the commitments and practicing that go along with that prepare you for the professional world.”

With her golf career slowing down due to her injuries, Kim set off on a journey of discovery in the classroom.

“I was undecided on a major when I came to Notre Dame,” said Kim. “I never really had any prior art training, I never drew or anything like that in high school, but I was talking to my advisor here and it was suggested I try out some different classes.”

And so Kim took a Drawing I class and decided to become an Art Studio major. But after taking various studio classes, she still did not find the right fit. That problem was solved when she took Visual Dialogue, which is an introductory course for industrial designers.

“Visual Dialogue is the course that showed me how to understand products and how they are formed and how to interpret what’s in your imagination to putting it on paper. I really liked that and started design at the end of my sophomore year.”

As Kim found her calling as an industrial designer, Holt was quick to notice.

“When she decided academically to go in the direction of design, her grades immediately improved and I think that is just from the sheer fact that she is challenged but really enjoys it,” remarked Holt.

Part of what has made her successes in the studio more worthwhile is her ability to share some of her accomplishments with her team. She has kept her coaches informed of her progress in the PAVE competition and sometimes even brings projects over to the Rolfs Practice Facility.

“She once had to build a car using a mousetrap and she came in here and showed it to us and she used DVDs as wheels and there was a little contraption on it that when you hooked it back it shot across the floor! It was really cool,” recalls Holt.

Another factor that energizes Kim while in the studio is bringing recognition to the industrial design program at Notre Dame. Over the last three or four years, Notre Dame’s industrial designers have begun receiving more and more rewards and Kim is happy to be a part of that team as well.

“We have won some competitions over the last few years and people are starting to realize we have a great design program,” said Kim. “Normally you would think of F.I.T. in New York, RISD in Providence or Pratt but we are moving up in the design world … I love our program and the opportunity it presents to work closely with professors.”

— ND —