Textile Design Case Studies in Manufacturing—A Panel Discussion

Uriinternshipcredituri (1)

With a strong design and manufacturing sector and a deep educational institution base, Rhode Island’s textile sector is a leader in innovation. Hear textile designers and manufacturers discuss how they’ve brought new textile technologies and products through the manufacturing process and into the market.

Hosted by Polaris MEP, a statewide non-profit organization that provides competitive manufacturing business improvement programs to grow RI’s manufacturing industry, and the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network, an affiliation of textile manufacturers focused forming worthwhile partnerships between our members, designers, academia, and government.

These events are being recorded and photographed. By attending, you give your consent to be photographed, filmed, taped, and/or recorded.


Karl Aspelund

Associate Professor, Department of Textiles, Fashion, Merchandising and Design, University of Rhode Island

Karl’s research interests are directed toward the role apparel and design plays in the creation of personal, ethnic and national identity. Environmental concerns, especially in how the design community needs to contribute to environmental sustainability are also an increasing area of interest and focus. Since 2010, Karl has also been involved in a cross-disciplinary research project with scholars at the University of Iceland on nationalistic culture-creation in 19th century Iceland. In 2012, however, he began to also investigate the design and cultural needs and constraints of clothing in long-duration space exploration and was awarded a grant from URI’s Council for Research toward this purpose in June of 2013. Since then, Karl has been a member of the 100 Year Starship Research Team that is aiming to enable human spaceflight beyond our solar system within a century. (See more about this in a recent SO Rhode Island magazine article).

John Caito

Desmark Industries

John Caito lll has been designing and manufacturing protective products for military, medical and industrial customers for over 35 years. He has focused his mission on developing products that demand innovative solutions and superior craftsmanship. He layers combinations of materials including advanced textiles, foams and gels to meet the challenges and threats of any specific environment. Since 2009 he as focused on developing personal protective products for the military, providing multiple branches best-in-class combat training gear and more currently advanced Riot Gear. From concept to use in the field every detail is considered along the way to deliver some of the best products in the world. Amerisewn is the stitched product division of John’s company, Desmark Industries, based in Cranston, Rhode Island.

Brooks Hagan

Co-founder of Computational Textiles Inc.

Brooks Hagan is a textile designer, artist and researcher. He works with firms such as Pallas Textiles and Mulberry Silk and technology leaders such as Apple, Inc. A current project with computer scientists at Cornell University and Stanford University investigates advanced visualization for the design of constructed textiles and is funded by a $1.2M grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2015 Hagan cofounded the textile technology company Computational Textiles Inc, which was awarded NSF SBIR support to catalyze private sector commercialization of the most promising technological innovations. Computational Textiles launched it’s first software product, Weft, in 2017.

Hagan’s research with the Virtual Textile Research Group investigates historical industrial textile processes and 3D weaving for rapid prototyping. Hagan collaborates with many fine artists and works with the Dieu Donne Papermill in New York to explore paper materials and textiles. He is an Associate Professor at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and has served as Graduate Program Director and Acting Head of RISD’s Textile Department.

Chris Hart

Senior Research Engineer and Director of Inflatable Technologies Navatek, Ltd., Wakefield, RI

Chris has over 38 years of experience as a naval architect/engineer in the design, analysis and testing of advanced marine vehicles, in both private industry and government. Chris has worked at Navatek for the past 16yrs performing a variety of duties including directing full scale sea trials, model tests and hydrodynamic performance analyses of many of Navatek’s unique high performance vessel designs and military prototypes. His work at Navatek on a military inflatable boat design led him into the world of textiles and to bringing “drop stitch” fabric production to the United States. He now manages Navatek’s drop stitch fabric manufacturing and works on development of materials, hardware and computer tools for use in various inflatable design applications, of particular interest to the DOD. He holds a BSME from U. of MD, and an MS in Ocean and Marine Engineering from George Washington University and lives and works in South Kingstown, RI.

Clare King

Founder of Propel

Clare King started her career working in economic modeling, only to shift gears and start Cherry Tree, one of the first technical outdoor clothing companies for children. From there she followed her passion for technical textiles, working for companies both large and small, including GE, before founding Propel in 2006. Using a wealth of experience in textile materials and processes she is able to think about a problem and its solution from conceptualization through full scale manufacturing, with attention to both design and business detail.

Michael Woody

CEO of Trans-Tex LLC

Michael McKeldon Woody is CEO of Trans-Tex LLC, a textile company based in Cranston, RI. He is currently chair of the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN), president of the Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI), a division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), and a member of the governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Council. In 2017, his book American Dragon: Winning the Global Manufacturing War Using the Universal Principles of Fewer, Faster, and Finer was named a finalist for Business and Economics Book of the Year by Foreword Indies. ​

Stephen Siener

Cooley Group

Stephen Siener has more than a 35-year history with Cooley Group and intimate knowledge of the operations, products, innovations, sales, and executions of the Company. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he joined Cooley while still in college and successively worked his way up from the factory floor to roofing crew, on to customer service and sales, and is now responsible for managing Cooley’s strategic relationship with DuPont. Steve also led the foray of selling commercial roofing products into England, Turkey, and China.