University Students Introduce New Invention as Part of The Toy Foundation™’s Case Study Competition
February 6, 2024 | Two students have introduced the “Language Learning Toy,” a prototype plush toy developed to support a child’s brain development, bridge cultural gaps, and encourage family bonding through multilingualism. Conceived and presented by the University of Maryland students as part of The Toy Foundation™’s (TTF) fall 2023 semester Collegiate Case Study Competition, their participation served as an in-depth introduction to the toy industry and yielded both students internship offers at In Kidz.
The case study competition is part of TTF’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Pipeline Program, which is focused on creating a candidate pool of talented, diverse students for the industry to place into internship and first-hire roles.
After attending The Toy Association™’s 2023 Toy Fair® and speaking with industry professionals onsite, the two students were inspired to combine what they learned with their personal upbringings in multilingual and multigeneration households to create an accessible product that all children can benefit from. The students workshopped their idea under the mentorship of the case study’s participating industry experts from Crazy Aaron’s, Jazwares, The Dr. Lisa Company, In Kidz, Mattel, and The Walt Disney Company, and transformed it into a unique product design and business plan, complete with a working prototype.
“It’s really awesome to see the progress of the students’ presentation over the last couple of months. From the deck to their professionalism, the detailed thought into this product is very impressive,” said Jay Dotson, director of talent management at Jazwares, a year-round partner of the DEI Pipeline Program.
Watch the students’ “Language Learning Toy” presentation with a live prototype demonstration here.
“Going to Toy Fair and participating in this project has been a once in a lifetime opportunity, where I was able to speak with the head of design at Mattel and so many others,” shared Jityaashri Gurubaskaran, student at University of Maryland and co-creator of the “Language Learning Toy.” “I didn’t know about all the career opportunities; now I can broaden from my original tech mindset, try different internships, and see if I can land somewhere in the toy industry.”
This DEI Pipeline Program offers remote, in-person, and year-round opportunities for companies of all sizes to engage exceptional individuals, like these two students, and help shape the future of the toy industry. Thank you to the program’s 2023 year-round partners, Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America and Jazwares. Reach out to TTF staff for more information and to get involved.