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Re-Boot for Winter

Four alums have designed winter boots that can expand up to three sizes.

Hover to interact with the image.Image: Illustration by Remie Geoffroi

By Diana Babineau
Fall 2023
2 Responses

A common pet peeve for parents became the subject of four students’ manufacturing and design engineering capstone project.  

Last fall, Joanne Park ’23, Callista Sukohardjo ’23, Ben Miller ’23 and Sarah John ’23 surveyed friends and family about everyday annoyances, gathering ideas for an invention. Park’s aunt lamented having to buy new winter boots every year for her young kids.  

“The shoe industry is very wasteful,” says Sukohardjo. “Parents end up having to throw out perfectly decent winter boots, as their children quickly outgrow them.” 

While some size-adjustable footwear exists, such as sandals and rollerblades, the team noticed a gap in the market for everyday winter footwear. So they designed winter boots that can expand up to three sizes, tentatively called Sno-Gro Boots. The team filed a provisional patent and met with manufacturers this past spring to discuss how to optimize the design and manufacturing process. “If we can increase the lifespan of the boot while keeping it at an affordable price,” Sukohardjo says, “that not only saves consumers money, that saves on materials and allows for sustainability.” 

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Reader Responses

  • This would also be great for people whose feet are two different sizes.

    Lindsey O'Brien Chicago, via Northwestern Magazine

  • This may be a great alternative for kids who use orthotics in their shoes. Occasionally the orthotic is only required for one shoe, or orthotics of two sizes are required for proper fit. A boot with the expansion capability may assist in getting the boots on as well as accommodating size discrepancies between feet or orthotics.
    Great concept for all kids!

    Mary von Ebers Bacci ’78 Highland Park, Ill., via Northwestern Magazine

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