CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Jan. 17, 2006) – With assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), Guardian Marketing LLC, a designer of insulated beverage holders, has created the PocketGuard™, a unique beverage insulator and protector.

SATOP, administered through the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through the expertise of the program’s Alliance Partners, 50 aerospace companies and universities involved in the U.S. Space Program.

Guardian Marketing’s Robert Meza describes the new PocketGuard beverage holder as a unique, effective way to keep beverages cold, clean and safe. “You don’t have to worry about bugs or dirt preventing you from enjoying your favorite drink. The PocketGuard can also make it more difficult for someone to slip something unwanted into your drink,” Meza said. The lid of the PocketGuard safely prevents unwanted substances from falling into a beverage and also serves as a compact storage compartment when not in use. Made of Neoprene with a Nylon outer material, the PocketGuard can be folded into a pocket size for easy mobility and maintenance.

While his product provided safety and insulation, Meza also wanted the PocketGuard to prevent spills. “All beverage holders have a tendency to spill. With the PocketGuard, I achieved a controlled spill that was less compared to other beverage holders. However, I wanted to prevent spills completely,” he said.

After hearing about SATOP from Joe Cisneros, Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce director, Meza filed a Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with SATOP’s Houston office. Meza was paired with David Hermanson Jr, a veteran member of the Industrial & Human Engineering department of United Space Alliance at the NASA Kennedy Space Center. United Space Alliance is the prime shuttle contractor for NASA.
Hermanson studied the anti-spilling methods used by Guardian Marketing and researched options that would have utilized different sealing mechanisms, but were more expensive. Understanding Meza’s need to control costs, Hermanson arrived at an elegantly simple solution. Similar to the plastic caps used for sealing opened food cans, Hermanson found a plastic cap that fits most popular beverages and suggested bonding it to the inside of the PocketGuard. Due to the repeated opening and closing of the PocketGuard’s lid, Hermanson redesigned the product to include a tab, molded as a part of the lid. This tab, protruding through the front of the PocketGuard’s neoprene structure, avoids the detachment of the plastic lid from the Neoprene, as well as completely preventing beverage spills while the lid is closed.

With SATOP’s assistance, Guardian Marketing was able to complete the final product design for the PocketGuard. “Our company now has a new product on the market, assuring that our customers receive the best product possible,” Meza said. David Braun, Project Engineer at SATOP’s Houston office, praised the simplicity of Hermanson’s idea as a classic example of the solutions SATOP endeavors to provide to small businesses. “Small businesses can’t afford expensive solutions to their technical challenges,” Braun said. “Our goal is always to offer recommendations that are as simple and cost effective as possible. David Hermanson’s solution epitomizes that objective.”

Hermanson is enthusiastic about his involvement with SATOP. “I am currently working on my ninth RTA and I can’t wait to help another company. The challenge is the part that makes me want to do more,” he said. “It’s incredible when you think about the effort small businesses take, looking everywhere for help with their problem. When they can’t figure it out, they come to us and I get to have a shot at the solution. It’s very rewarding.” Meza praised SATOP’s efforts, saying, “SATOP is doing a great service to small companies like ours and al