Student Name Plate for Steelcase Desks


Room 318 in McMahon Hall at The Catholic University of America is Your Business Professor’s favorite classroom.  It was recently refurbished, funded by a generous, forward thinking donor.

But the new equipment did not solve a common problem. Just who are all those faceless, nameless students in my class?  How can I identify all these comfortable millennials, anonymously dozing in the Back Row?

(Not that my lectures would ever put a student to sleep.  I guess.)

So. We named this challenge The Student Identification Project and applied for Federal Funding and a tax credit. Here’s the simple solution:

Desk Before

Desk Before

Desk After

Desk After










In the Army we would call this a ‘Field Expedient Method’ where a solution is devised on site, with few resources, limited time and budget — all the while avoiding bureaucratic entanglements.

OEM Steelcase Desk Original (pre-modification)

OEM Steelcase Desk Original

#AlertStudent Helena* helped devise a solution.  Currently a Physics major taking summer classes at CUA; she has a passion for astrophysics and Black Holes.

She looked at the desktops and said, “Let’s drill…” (Her grandfather worked for Exxon.)

“That would deface university property,” I cried.

“It would serve the greater good.”

“But I dare not deviate from the manufacturer’s specifications.”

“Is the risk worth the reward?” Helena asks. This is becoming a subject for an ethics case study.

I can feel myself stepping on that slippery slope. This is how those Enron guys got started, I’ll bet.

“Ok, maybe just a pilot project?” I take a small bite of The Apple. Original Sin. Total Depravity.

So there I am in Romans 3:10, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one…”  and I watch Helena solve my problem with earthly power(tools).

Helena at work on Student Identification Project

Helena at work on
The Student Identification Project

Desk with Name Plate Access; post-modification (holes)

Desk with Name Plate Access;

Desk Name Plate Interior view

Desk Name Plate
(interior view)











Steelcase NameTag (sub-assembly)

SteelCase Name Plate

The pilot was a success and mission creeped to all thirty-five desks in the room.

The students will assemble their own Name Plates. Materiel and detailed instructions will be provided.  See syllabus.

It is not known if this violates Labor Standards and Practices or union agreements in Your Nation’s Capital. Exposure is assumed to be minimal.  Off-label product usage is not the same problem Nestle’s infant formula faced.  (The Steelcase, Inc. product is not covered by FDA restrictions.  Not yet, anyway.)

Public recognition of students in the classroom is not prohibited under FERPA.

The Project was completed on time and under budget; less than $50 (US).

The class room with The Student Identification Project modification will be tested this Fall with marketing MKT 345 students.

The effectiveness of the modification will be measured against the previous (dismal) Faculty Evaluation of Your Business Professor.


*Helena Gilbert Yoest (PhD expected year 2027) is a rambunctious middle child with four siblings.  I am the #InSufferableParent.



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