Nanda Homes is the manufacturer of the Clocky and Tocky Alarm Clocks. What began as an assignment for a course has since won many awards and has sold world wide.
Gauri Nanda, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, invented Clocky as an assignment for her industrial design class. Her first attempt, which she took three days to build, was clothed in shag carpet to look as cute as a pet. The current sleeker model has Star Wars overtones and is still described by those who use it as "adorable," if sometimes annoying. Tocky is a newer version with a microphone for recording wake-up messages and music. There's a third model, called Ticky, with a digital analogue face.
So, you see, assignment challenges can really evolve into something that solves problems in people's lives and even can become financial success stories. It's true, Gauri Nanda was a student at MIT and so had a great deal of talent to begin with, but there's no reason other young talented people cannot make serious attempts to create a product that solves a problem.
Do you think Gauri has trouble getting out of bed herself? Or maybe it's a family member whom she got tired of calling in the morning yet again.