Dartmouth college students go from concept to business in one semester

SolidWorks Model Tray Bien 2

Students’ achieve business success with SOLIDWORKS.  This story was written by my colleague Mike Fearon.  I wanted to share with the SolidWorks education community.

Would you believe that classroom assignments can start a business? It’s possible with SOLIDWORKS, (which is great to remember when you’re “helping” with school science projects).

Dartmouth Students Shinri Kamei and Krystyna Miles are proving this with their product Tray Bien. Developed in SOLIDWORKS as an engineering class assignment, Tray Bien is a reimagining of the standard serving tray you see servers struggle with at restaurants and bars everywhere. Tray Bien is an ergonomic tray using six slotted holes on the perimeter to carry wine and pint glasses with room for dishes in the middle.

Tray Bien engineers and founders Shinri Kamei and Krystyna Miles
Tray Bien engineers and founders Shinri Kamei and Krystyna Miles

The Concept

At first glance, most people wouldn’t think that a new type of tray is necessary. These people probably never had a vodka cranberry dumped on a white shirt or had the responsibility of awkwardly carrying a tray of glasses through a crowded bar. However, when you begin to think about the problems standard trays bring, such as added stress to servers, increased product loss and damage, and poor customer experiences, it became clear to Kamei and Miles that a market need existed and their concept was established.

The Design

With concept firmly in hand, the students were ready to bring their idea to life with help from SOLIDWORKS. “We were first introduced to SOLIDWORKS in one of our classes,” said Kamei. “It was astonishing to see how little time the program took to make incredible things quickly.” Feel free to read that quote again. It’s correct. These students created a business based on their FIRST SOLIDWORKS model.

Like any design, tweaks and edits were needed along the development process. For Miles, SOLIDWORKS’ ability to make adjustments in a snap allowed the team to avoid design difficulties. “Being able to quickly and easily change dimensions on the tray and virtually prototype again and again ensured that everything fit as intended.”


For Kamei, testing in SOLIDWORKS was critical to understanding how their idea would translate to the physical world. “We conducted strength and durability modeling to get an idea of how different types of materials behaved. This allowed us to model and identify the weakest elements of the design and move around parts to make sure they were fortified enough so they wouldn’t snap off.”

During the design process, the team was able to directly collaborate with a machine shop and end users who would contribute to the final physical product. Having the ability to connect with these two groups during the design process and easily implement their feedback made the transition from CAD model to physical product a smooth one.

The Business

After winning Dartmouth’s Phillip R. Jackson Engineering Sciences Prize, awarded in recognition of outstanding performance in Introduction to Engineering, the duo decided to take their design to the next level and pursue a patent for Tray Bien. This time, unlike their first design experience, our engineers would need help from legal professionals. If the patent process were only as simple as SOLIDWORKS!

Pine Tray Bien 2

Fortunately, Kamei and Miles do not need to grasp “legalese” to know that design success needs to be more than just a cool product or concept. Understanding where an end user fits into a product is the difference between success and failure. By collaborating with numerous restaurateurs and service professionals on Tray Bien, Kamei and Miles have proven an understanding that products are nothing without people. “Design is not just about the product. It’s about the person creating it and especially the person using it,” Kamei believes.

With a final manufacturing contract in the works and orders piling in, Kamei and Miles have a busy summer ahead of them beyond a standard reading list. They will launch a Tray Bien Kickstarter campaign in the coming months and will certainly be an inspiration to students, particularly aspiring female engineers, for years to come.

“I hope this project encourages students and women to not be intimidated by engineering,” Miles stated. “Engineering is fun and challenging, but there are a lot of rewards when you can hold a product you’ve designed in your hand. That feeling is never repetitive.”


Marie Planchard

Marie Planchard

Senior Director, Early Engagement, 3DEXPERIENCE Works at Dassault Systemes
Marie Planchard is an education and engineering advocate. As Senior Director of Education & Early Engagement, SOLIDWORKS, she is responsible for global development of content and social outreach for the 3DEXPERIENCE Works products across all levels of learning including educational institutions, Fab Labs, and entrepreneurship.
Marie Planchard