Reimagining an American Icon: Ben Maggraf ’15

 Ben Marggraf poses in front of the world's largest wagon at Radio Flyer

January 26, 2018

Ben Marggraf ‘15 was drawn to engineering at a young age but it wasn’t until he arrived at Syracuse as a bioengineering student that he found his passion.  Armed with the knowledge he gained in his College of Engineering and Computer Science program and a School of Information Studies elective focused on entrepreneurship called Idea to Startup, he set out to become an inventor.

Marggraf and three teammates developed a high-tech glove that allowed users to control a robotic hand using their own hand motions. Their prototype even gave the person wearing the glove the sensation of holding what appeared on a computer screen.

“It was through that experience that I found my passion for product development,” said Marggraf.

After graduation, Marggraf went to Chicago and started working for Radio Flyer. The iconic American company known for making cherry red wagons is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Marggraf says he is still a child at heart and loves the opportunity to help design products for families and young children.

“That is what is great about this role. Working with the history and looking at the future,” said Marggraf. “You have to put yourself in the kid’s shoes and think how they are going to use it.”

Developing and designing children’s toys also presents unique engineering challenges. Radio Flyer does extensive safety testing, well above and beyond industry standards.

“With toys, the ways kids will use them in creative or unintended ways is something you have to try to anticipate,” said Marggraf.

Marggraf works with the advanced concepts team within the product development group at Radio Flyer. Without disclosing details on upcoming projects, Maggraf said families will be excited to see where Radio Flyer is going.

“We really are pushing into new categories for the company,” said Marggraf. “Some of the products coming out will be different and surprising.”

Engineers and designers work together on every step of product development at Radio Flyer and Marggraf is grateful for the interdisciplinary engineering approach he gained at Syracuse.

“It has been a chance to mash up all the skills I learned through my education and put them together,” said Marggraf. “You end up with great synthesis where engineers and designers work together. The end result is beautiful.”

Marggraf encourages current students to make the most of the opportunities available within the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Syracuse University campus.

“If you feel like you are interested in something, make it a point to talk to people in different programs. You are able to form your education into what you want it to be.”