Student product shown on reality TV

Daren Otten
Daren Otten

Tired of crumbly ramen all over your stove? Wish their was a no-hassle, square-shaped dish perfect for your ramen? Well now there is!

Daren Otten, a sustainable manufacturing professor, helped create the Rapid Ramen Cooker with three Chico State students. The cooker is a quick-fix to the long wait for eating microwaved noodles. It was featured on “Shark Tank,” a reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a panel of investors.

Chico State students Cody Leuck, Louk Hendricks and Rick Esmay all worked on the product with Otten for about a year and a half, and were paid for their time designing it.

The cooker has been available online and in select stores for about a year now, Otten said. Appearing on the show helped give the product exposure.

The Orion: How did you get involved with the project?

Otten: I have been involved in product development for some time and, when I became a professor, I continued. This was a great way to get students involved in the process with real-world opportunities. Chris Johnson, the man who was on the show, approached me with an idea and a sketch drawn out on a napkin and he wanted help designing it.


The Orion: What does it do and how did you go about making it?

Otten: It is a square-looking bowl designed to microwave your ramen without crumbling the edges. It starts with getting students involved. We measured every pack of ramen we could find, going to the store and buying all of the ramen there. We have a spreadsheet of all of the companies that produce ramen. We wanted it to be quick, simple and easy to use while keeping the stovetop taste. If you look at the packages, ramen isn’t designed for the microwave, there are no instructions for it.


The Orion: How many students were involved?

Otten: Three. All of them from the sustainable manufacturing department. Two of them have graduated and have jobs in the Santa Rosa area, and one is still a student here. I really wanted to give the students an opportunity to connect what they are doing in class to real-world experiences that they would have in their field. That real-world experience is critical for their futures. But it is not just about the students, I give a lot of credit to Chris Johnson, who went out and sold this thing door-to-door and to all the companies. He got told no but kept going. If there is one takeaway for the students it is that people are going to say no and that is just part of the process.

Otten is looking into future projects with Johnson and is absolutely going to incorporate more students, he said.

“It really complements their education,” Otten said. “Connecting our students to the projects is a win-win for everybody. The designers win. The retailers win. Everybody wins and we get some neat projects.”

Everybody wins and we get some neat projects.”


Aubrey Crosby can be reached at [email protected] or @aubreycrosby on Twitter.