This week’s rendition of the Weekly Innovation Challenge was a build project, the engineering majors’ dream, or so you would think. Students were asked to create any type of floating “boat” that could travel, unassisted, the length of rectangular tub filled with water that spanned about three feet long. The boat had to be built only using materials provided by the challenge personnel, which included masking tape in increments of a yard, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and 6”x6” poster board pieces. This week’s twist was that there was a theoretical cost to all the materials, and the judging criterion was cost effectiveness and design elements. So like the real world, you had to not only create a working boat, but you also had to actually budget your build wisely and be efficient as possible with your materials.
I worked with my usual partner, a public health major, and we felt confident going into this project as I am not only a mechanical engineering major, but also decently knowledgeable in watercraft design. I was very excited to see that the rules and judging criteria were very minimal for this challenge, which allows for a broader spectrum of opportunities to tackle the challenge. I quickly realized as I began to doodle possible designs that though there may be few rules on paper, many more rules of energy, design dynamics, and fluids strongly affected this build. The also very limited building resources contributed greatly to the restraints of the challenge as well, but together the laws of physics and lack of materials opened up a great opportunity for innovation.
We decided to build a boat that would try to minimize materials, weight, and drag as well as maximize propulsion, steering, and design elements. We ended up making a very feasible design that, like most other challenges, with more time could have worked a lot better. Our boat featured a rotating, four-bladed paddle that was propelled by the potential energy of a fastened rubber band pre-twisted about the paddle. The paddle sat in the cutout middle of the thin boat walls. The edges of the boat were to a point in the front and tapered to a small edge in the back. On the edge in the back, we installed two fastened, parallel rudders about an inch apart for directional control. The design in mind was practical and attainable, but with limited time and lack of quality tools and materials it was hard to put the slightly complicated ideas into reality. When finally tested, our boat sputtered forward with great hope and quickly lost propulsion as the paddle hit against the sides of the cutout. Our design had not incorporated a way to keep the rotating paddle from hitting the sides of the boat frame as the rubber band unraveled. The ultimate achilles heel’s of our design was that we relied too heavily on tape, a material not suited for wet environments, and the lack of stabilizing features for the paddle.
The winning design was of a similar concept to use a rotating four-bladed paddle that was much more suited for the wet environment. The boat frame, much more wide than ours, allowed for the rubber band to be stretched more taught and create more potential energy to be converted to kinetic energy for the propulsion of the boat. Their four way blades also featured notched popsicle sticks and no tape, compared to our poster board-popsicle-tape combo. While the winning boat had less aesthetic design elements than ours, it was much more functional and actually almost crossed the length of the tub. The winning design was simple and definitely used fewer materials to create and therefore was very cost-effective. The winning boat of this challenge was certainly the most innovative build produced this week.
While I didn’t win the grand prize, I certainly learned some valuable lessons. I learned that for these competitions you can create the most revolutionary idea, but if you can’t build it in the time and with the materials allotted, then it’s worthless for the competition. In real life this correlates to the restrictions of modern technology and resources and how you have to truly innovate and push the boundaries in a new way if you want to succeed. I also learned when building a product or service, you need to think about the environment the product will be in and the market the service will benefit. These end goal details have to be thought about and accounted for in the design when undertaking such a project. Another lesson I took away from this challenge was an opportunity to see first hand how the lessons I have learned in physics apply directly to the success or failure of a product. It gave me a real world glimpse of how all the physics classes will definitely pay off in the long run. All that being said, this week’s challenge definitely required true innovation to not only win, but also to compete.
Winning Reflection - Elliot Boerding
This time at the Weekly Innovation Challenge, we were tasked with innovating a solution to a problem surrounding the accessibility of a resource, and pitch that idea in 90 seconds. Whether it be corporate competition, geographic barriers, or issues of quantity, this is one of the most common challenges that companies and individuals face. Companies pour millions of dollars into supply chain management strategies and resource security. Without raw goods, their product cannot work to effectively meet a need. This field of work is rife with the evolution of successful innovations. Seemingly, the solution to this challenge would only require a knowledge of how to apply some of the innovations already used by companies to access resources. However, this challenge was about a resource whose accessibility issues have proven to be significant and unwieldy. This resource is found in mass quantities all around the world, yet it is rare to come by in its useful form. This week was all about organs.
Talking about people’s organs in such a removed and business-like manner, like I did above, seems devoid of respect. Certainly, people who donate organs, and the organs themselves should be treated with more dignity and respect; there are people’s lives at stake. Here in lies one of the biggest challenges of today’s task. How can innovation be balanced with ethical considerations. The organ donation system in the United States is struggling. Each day, 21 people die while waiting for an organ. The solution to this lack of resources is right in front of us. One organ donor can save the lives of 8 people and enhance the lives of dozens of others. Increasing participation is not as easy as saying, “donate them, you won’t be using them you’re you are dead.” Discussing organ donation brings underlying perceptions, fears and religious beliefs about death and dying into the conversation. These are topics many people would rather avoid. They are also topics that people may not be fully educated about. Death and organ harvesting are processes that are both unknown; how are we to know what we would want in a situation that we cannot even imagine. The organ donation system has been around for many years, yet problem of participation still exists. It is all too possible that innovators are looking at this process from the same distant perspective of resources and accessibility. However, this is a people problem. The organs of the living and the dead cannot be removed from the people who make the decision of whether to donate or not. So, progress in this task must take a different approach. A change in thinking; innovation. This innovation comes through the guidance of practical solutions by personal and ethical considerations.
One example of the necessity of applying innovation that has been guided by ethics involves the proposition given by the winning team this week. The team proposed a solution where prison inmates could receive sentence reductions in return for donating organs. Conceptually, this is a very good idea. There is an ample population of people, with that resource, who would all assumedly want to exchange that resource for a good, in this case, freedom. This would undoubtedly raise the number of organ donations. There are even on site medical facilities to help with the logistics of organ transplantations. Better yet, this system could help the people of rural communities that they are often part of because of their proximity. At face value, this innovative idea
checks all the marks. However, the boundary between ethics and innovation has been crossed.
In health care ethics, there is a term to describe groups of people who deserve special attention to ensure that they are treated in an ethical manner. These groups are called “at-risk populations.” Some of these groups are the young, the old, and those who cannot communicate their desires. These people are more at-risk for being taken advantage of by others. Prisoners also fall under this classification. There have been several recent historical cases where the medical profession in the United States has taken advantage of the prison population for research purposes. Prisoners were exposed to a wide array of deadly or debilitating drugs, toxins and environments. This fault lies with the researchers who took advantage of a population who trusted in them, and partook in any effort that may lead to their freedom. Freedom is a value our country has fought for, and died for since its inception. It is not unreasonable to assume that prisoners would put everything on the line in order to regain freedom themselves. Incentivizing organ donation through reduced prison systems changes the decision to donate organs from life giving, to an action that is required if a person wants to regain their own life. Even calling it a decision on the behalf of the prisoner is questionable, as the option is so slanted: have one procedure, so that you can return to a life outside prison. This incentive will not truly innovate a solution to the problem. The problem is that people are afraid, uneducated about the process, or do not have enough opportunities to sign up. This solution does not address these fears or other issues. It merely incentivizes behavior in spite of personal qualms. There are many other problems to think about as well. What are the demographics of our prison system, is it not disproportionately poor, minority populations? A system that sources organs from poor minorities to benefit the lives of people not in prison begs further examination. Also, this solution does not target the problem in a comprehensive manner. One organ donor can save the lives of 8 and improve the lives of dozens of others, if that organ donor has died and many of their organs can be utilized. Prisoners would only be able to offer a limited number of specific organs. This would certainly help some, but not target the needs of organs which are more difficult to come by. Another issue arises if there is only a few organs needed, but many prison donors. Which prisoner gets the chance to donate; the chance at freedom? Good behavior is something every inmate can offer to reduce their time. But not everyone can donate an organ.
Are others punished more because of their inability to donate? Nowadays, a five-year sentence can be reduced to three years in prison and two years on probation. This is essentially the idea of this solution. But, how long until judges save time and say your sentence is three years and an organ or five years in jail? Organ donation appears to be a cruel or unusual punishment at this point in the timeline, and that thought should not change once someone is already in jail. The ethical considerations do not stop there, but they steer innovation in a different direction, one that considers the people behind the resources.
Our group, this time a finance major, a mechanical engineer major, and myself, a public health major, combated the issue of organ donation through a plan we called Organ-ize for Life: a social campaign to change the conversation from Death and Dying to Life and Living. Recognizing that education, stigma, and access to decision making comprised of the significant barriers to organ donation, we focused our project on targeted education, social awareness and governmental policy. Our education programs are intended for teenagers and young adults, who are likely to be making the decision to be an organ donor or not. Our campaign targets this population through billboards, television advertising, Facebook posts, and Buzzfeed articles. The topic of these marketing efforts is to raise awareness of the life giving decision organ donation can be. Marketing material would include testimonials from people who received organs and how that has influenced their life. This brings light to lives that can be improved through organ donation. Government policy would address three issues. Creating legally binding documents that allow individuals to create personal organ donation plans would help give people a sense of control over a topic of which they have no control over. Secondly, government policy could provide an estate sales tax break for families of those who pass away and donate organs. This would incentivize the action in a way that reduces the odds of someone making the decision for reasons that affect their own life. Finally, the government could offer organ donation sign-ups on voter ballots. This would increase the opportunity to sign up, as well as the prevalence that people would consider signing up. Our solution focused on creating an environment that promotes everyone to participate in organ donation through focusing on the barriers to education and opportunities to sign up as well as confronting the stigma associated with death and organ donation by changing the conversation from death and dying to life and living through real people’s story. In this way, we are using people, not systems, to solve this people problem. This week’s challenge turned out to be the most thought provoking challenge I have been to yet. An hour partaking in this impromptu challenge turned into hours of discussion with my peers and involved topics that require an intersectionality of professions. This challenge drove discussions of morality, social justice and current events. As Barack Obama aims to change both the federal healthcare system and federal prison system, this topic is especially relevant. Admittedly, I was not expecting the Weekly Innovation Challenge to serve as a platform to discuss and reflect upon issues of this depth. However, after this week, I think I have been approaching the challenges in the wrong way. While this may have been the first challenge that I have recognized the importance of the human and therefore ethical component of innovation, these factors certainly have existed in all challenges of innovation. There is always human capital behind all resources, behind all processes, and behind all ideas, and in front of all implementations of innovation. It is important to always keep this in mind so that people do not become the opponent of innovation, but the guider of innovation.
Winning Reflection - Ted Stewart-Hester
This afternoon, I felt very nostalgic as Rebus puzzles were the subject of this week’s Weekly Innovation Challenge hosted by Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology. Rebus puzzles use words, shapes, numbers and symbols to form a pictograph, which reveals a word or phrase when solved. When I was younger, Rebus puzzles would even compete with the comics section of newspapers for my attention. However, it was a love-hate relationship, as feeling of frustration would rival feelings of satisfaction when trying to solve the clever, often difficult puzzles. This week, our challenge was to solve the most puzzles. The challenge was broken into six regular rounds, with two bonus rounds for extra points. For each regular round, teams had 3 minutes to solve a series of six Rebus puzzles, for one point each. This week, there were half a dozen teams with about three members each; which meant plenty of competition.
In usual fashion, each of our team members had to be pursuing a degree in different major topics. This week I teamed up with students majoring in biology and biochemistry. Having taken many science courses myself as a public health major, our team would have benefitted had the challenge been related to the physical sciences. However, this challenge required us to utilize a more abstract and spatial understanding. We originally thought to split up the six puzzles between the three of us. After the first round, we realized that we had plenty of time to work through them all. So, first, we each looked for ones we knew right off the bat. After consulting each other, we then moved on to ones that we had trouble with. Often, just the act of vocalizing our different thoughts led us to the answer.
On a surface level, this challenge was enjoyable and reminded me of my childhood, but upon reflection, it revealed itself to hold lessons about innovation. During the challenge, our team commented to each other that we thought this challenge would be significantly harder if we were not so familiar with the English language and its phrases. Our knowledge provided a baseline context for us to then think spatially and creatively while solving the puzzles. However, language has such a structured form in our everyday life that it can be difficult to think and interpret creative forms of language. This experience is not limited to puzzles, however. Within each person’s profession, there is also a unique language and jargon. There are terms, abbreviations, frameworks and methods that are unique to the field and become structured into our everyday lives through repetition and familiarity. They provide us a way to easily communicate about challenges with our colleagues based on a common knowledge; just like how our team’s knowledge of English helped us solve the puzzle. While this is positive, we also need to be aware of the limitations of this shared language. Sometimes this language can work to funnel our thoughts into structured concepts, instead of looking at them in new and abstract ways. One way to counter this problem is to include members of other disciplines in problem solving teams. This principle, which is supported by the Weekly Innovation Challenge, allows for ideas to be examined in new ways, in conjunction with members of those fields. When we talk and think exclusively in the ways that we were trained by our field, we can also end up isolating people from other professions when they feel left out or feel too uninformed to participate. So, this challenge taught me the importance of balancing problem solving processes we have already formed with problem solving with incorporating new modes of thought to truly innovate. Being half-way through my fourth year at SLU, the Weekly Innovation Challenge provides an unrivaled out of the classroom learning experience that serves to both motivate and enhance my educational experience. I will certainly be back for the next Weekly Innovation Challenge.
Winning Reflection - Ted Stewart-Hester
This week’s challenge was thematic to this weekend’s Halloween festivities. Thechallenge was to build a two and a half feet tall freestanding structure that could support a pumpkin, which weighed about four pounds, for 20 seconds. If multiple teams were able to complete this initial objective, than the winner would be chosen based on how scary the structure’s decorations were. To make the structure, teams were limited to using wooden dowels and tape. The structure could then be decorated with markers, paper or candy corn. Teams were given 45 minutes to work before their creations were put to the test.
Last week, my teammate was a fellow student who I just met at the innovation challenge. I had learned that he was a mechanical engineering major, so as a public health major, I was happy to work with him again this week. We began this project by drawing several designs of possible structures. We initially thought of building a squared structure upon which we could set the pumpkin. However, this week, we had severely limited resources. At our disposable was a limited number of relatively thin wooden dowels. We also had to build the structure to be two and half feet tall. This made creating support structures very difficult. Facing this problem, we decided to create a triangular structure. This would save on materials, while still providing enough strength to support a pumpkin. We worked together to cut down and tape the dowels together. After creating three long pillars, we fit a triangular hold for the pumpkin which we attached to the top. At this point, our structure was quite flimsy. We then attached smaller wooden pieces around the joints to act as braces. Secondly, we added braces connecting the three pillars of the structure. This process actually took a significant amount of time, and looking around the room, we noticed that other teams were also struggling with creating a viable structure. Soon, we were faced with a serious time crunch as we were trying to level out our structure, while also trying to decorate it. During the 10 minutes of our time, I had been thinking about potential decorations. I thought of taping two markers together at an angle to mimic spider legs. I wanted to attach several pairs of these legs to the structure so that when the pumpkin sat on top it would become the body of a spider; which I learned was a phobia that I shared with my teammate. This plan did not come to fruition as upon discussion, my teammate urged me to continue working on solidifying our structure, given that supporting the pumpkin was the first objective. We discussed this and I ended up agreeing and dedicated my time to the build. It was difficult to balance design with the task at hand, but have a preset list of priorities helped us make the decision to work on the structure first. During that time, we could hear one of the other teams nearby bickering with each other. This did not surprise me as one of the challenge requirements is that team members must be studying different majors. Studying a certain topic area can stream line the thought process and lead to conflict. I think our team worked well together because we had worked together once before and had the opportunity to see and trust in the contributions that we each offered. In the end, we managed to create a structure that we thought would have a fighting chance at supporting the pumpkin.
There were a wide range of structures created by various teams. Some were triangular, some rectangular, and even some inverted. As several teams faced off against the pumpkin and failed, my partner and I grew excited that we may have a chance at winning. However, ours too fell to the seemingly Great Pumpkin. In fact, at the end, everyone’s creations were reduced to a Frankenstein-esque form of their original selves. Judges then picked the winner based on the decorations. Even though this second criteria was subjective, there clearly was one winner. One structure was donned with a mask of an exam-monster, which threatened ruined GPAs. With midterms past, but finals approaching, who wouldn’t have a fright at this sight? Even though no one was successful with the pumpkin challenge this time, innovation is about taking defeat in stride and being inspired by the events around us.
Winning Reflection - Ted Stewart-Hester
For this week’s challenge, we had the opportunity to apply our efforts to support one of the organizations here on SLU’s campus. Representatives from the Center for Sustainability asked us to create and pitch an idea on how to help them in their efforts to reduce the energy consumption of SLU by 20% by the year 2020. They asked us to create an innovation that would involve the everyday behavior of students. They also asked for the innovation to address economic, environmental and social considerations. This topic is important and timely for two reasons. One, sustainability aligns with the Jesuit mission of the university and the call to action regarding the environment in Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical. Secondly, it is “Campus Sustainability Month” on SLU’s campus. This week, I worked on the challenge with a student I had not met before. He was a freshman mechanical engineer student, while I am a senior in the public health program. Together, we had a broad perspective of experiences to approach the challenge.
For this challenge, we had 45 minutes to prepare a 90 second pitch. We began the challenge by going over the instructions again to ensure that we would create a solution that was pertinent to the task at hand. The main factors we wanted to address were the everyday life of the student and the issues of economic, environmental and social considerations. Then, we brainstormed on what interactions students have with energy on any given day. We thought about issues relating to residence halls; like the energy associated with AC, lights, TV’s and mini-fridges. Then we thought about the dining halls, classrooms, library and the student center. This brainstorming yielded many ideas like regulating lights and AC units, or minimizing power usage in classrooms. However, when we referred back to the goals of the challenge, it was evident that these types of innovations and changes take place as policy on an institutional level, and it isolates students from making everyday decisions to be more sustainable. Regulation of AC, new lights, or new equipment to generate power simply does not involve behavior. When the representatives from the Center for Sustainability first addressed us, they asked, “What is something special going on this month?” Someone, jokingly, said Halloween. No one knew that it was actually campus sustainability month. Seemingly, students should know about a major PR event such as an entire month dedicated to sustainability, especially three weeks into that month. Me and my teammate, picked up on this severe disconnect between policy and student behavior. This reinforced our notion that our solution would not involve another terminal idea like bikes, or recycling. Instead, we wanted to capitalize on the existing policies and structures that the Center for Sustainability has already created.To summarize, there is a disconnect between the actions of the Center and the actions of the students during their everyday life.
To address this, we modified a public health theory of how to change behavior in relation to sustainability. This theory posits that there is a timeline of behavior which starts at a phase were people are not even aware of the issue at hand. Then, people become aware of the issue. They may not act upon that information, but they contemplate how that information may impact them. Then actions are influenced. Eventually, habits will form and the positive behavior will be maintained over time. It is clear that many students at SLU are still in a stage of unawareness about the problem and the solutions the Center has developed, as evidenced by the lack of knowledge about campus sustainability month. To move along the student population from unawareness to action and eventually long term change, we wanted to implement education programs. One of our specific ideas was to create a SLU101 seminar so that new students entering SLU would be introduced to the energy consumption at SLU and about the resources they have to be better stewards of their environment. A second idea was to create Buzzfeed-like articles to publish in Newslink. An example could be, “20 ways to stay warmer this winter season at SLU,” and it could highlight energy efficient behaviors. These educational resources would help inform students on ways they can actively participate in sustainability efforts. It will also create a culture of awareness around sustainability. I liken what the actions our framework suggests to the recent campaigns surround sexual assault on campuses nationwide. Many of these interventions target educating students about sexual assault prevalence, confronting societal norms and providing resources for students if they encounter or work to prevent sexual assault. Again, these are aimed at creating a mindset and addressing behavior, which our team thinks is necessary if the Center wants to achieve its goal of reducing energy consumption.
Our idea was extremely cost effective as it pertained to optimizing the current environment of systems through educating the populous in order to change everyday behavior. This framework also directly involves the social component of perceptions and attitudes towards sustainability. Even though we were not named the winners of this challenge, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of incorporating my experiences in public health, the experiences of my teammate as a new SLU student and the goals of the Center for Sustainability. It is always exciting to see how concepts learned in class can have real world implications, even if they are in different fields of study. I look forward to exploring these intersections in the weeks to come at future Weekly Innovation challenges.
Winning Reflection - Ted Stewart-Hester
This was my first week this year competing in the innovation challenge. I had competed nearly every week starting in November of last year. I had a team that I did all of the challenges with. However this year I could not get ahold of them so I didn’t do any of the challenges even though I really wanted to. Today I was walking out of MDH and thought to myself, why not? So I joined two people, I did not know at all, who needed a third member.
Today’s challenge was a fun one. It wasn’t overly confusing but it was still challenging. With no means of measuring the objects with tools, we were forced to think out of the box to come up with a solution to determine the order of masses. Right away, we threw our heads together and began to brainstorm. For just meeting each other we really got off to a great start. Each one of us contributed to the team equally. We came up with the idea of using the party hat and the wooden dowel as a makeshift scale. The center of the dowel was marked and we began to compare the different objects to determine which was heavier than the other. In order for it to be somewhat accurate, we tried to line up the CG of each object at an equal distance from the center.
For the second task whenever we would get stuck, one of us would know exactly what it was and about how big. No one member was in charge. Instead we collaborated and threw out our ideas and size estimations, using the process of elimination, until we all agreed on one. For each object, at least one of us knew roughly the size of it. We felt very confident in our answers and we all agreed on what was written down.
Overall I am very happy that I walked back and participated in this challenge. It was a fun and challenging one. With our teamwork we came out on top (or bottom in terms of score). I ended up meeting two new friends and from now on we will be a team for future innovation challenges.
Winning Reflection - Ryan Clabots
Today we were given a challenge that hit home…literally. The challenge was to come up with an idea to design, build, or create that would make St. Louis the “Gateway to Innovation”. Being born and raised in St. Louis, I felt as though I had an advantage going in to the challenge. I know a lot of the pros and cons to St. Louis so it would be easy to target certain issues I believe are holding us back. The main issue I believe is that no one wants to come here. I brought the idea to my group and they agreed with me. The best way to make St. Louis more innovative is to bring more people/organizations in to the area. In the early 1900’s when St. Louis was the “Gateway to the West”, there were two main reasons why the city was so successful. Those reasons are the location (near the Mississippi River and center of the U.S.) and the events which brought people into the city (Olympics, World’s Fair, etc.). Even with the advancements in transportation, there is still an advantage to being centrally located. Our team felt as though we should aim to come up with an idea to attract more conferences, expos, etc. to make St. Louis a forerunner in innovative studies and ideas.
We decided to use the highly ranked hospitals and universities as an attracting point for St. Louis as a conference location. One problem is that St. Louis does not have a large designated conference center. The America’s Center is the only one and it depends on use of the Edward Jones Dome for large events. We proposed using the Edward Jones Dome solely for conferences to attract bigger organizations. Plans are already in place to give the Rams football team a new home so it would be possible to make this happen. In addition, cost-saving incentives could be used to lure in more organizations.
Our idea, however, was not the winning idea. The winning design proposed the use of turbines to make St. Louis more technologically advanced and look the part as well. Looking back, I wish we had added some element to our proposal that made St. Louis more aesthetically pleasing. One of the key reasons why the city is so recognizable is because of the Arch. I believe the turbine idea won because they incorporated functionality into something that could be used as a cornerstone landmark for the city as well.
Winning Reflection - Michael Hankins
This challenged proved to be pretty tough. A representative from Tesla came and brought one of the cars with him! He explained how small innovations can make a difference, such as the retractable door handle on the Tesla vehicles which improves the aerodynamics of the car. We were instructed to do something similar and make a pitch for an improvement on an everyday item. We have done pitches in the past, but this one was a little different. Usually we are given specific details (items, situations, etc.) to incorporate into our ideas. This time, however, we were given freedom to do… just about anything! Another stipulation in the challenge is that we had to have realistic goals for our idea that could also be easily implemented. For example, we couldn’t make a flying car to avoid traffic. It would require too much money, time, and resources to create and wouldn’t be simple to use. The new or improved product was judged based on its efficiency, cost, feasibility, and impact on sustainability.
Our group decided to try and brainstorm ideas of everyday items we use first. Then, out of that list of items, we tried to think of possible improvements. Unfortunately a lot of the ideas we had were already in existence. We eventually decided to look for problems to everyday items, rather than improvements. Using this method, we were actually able to come up with idea…with only 5-10 minutes to finish our pitch! Our idea was a method to reduce the saline content in recycled water.
In the end I believe we lost because of two main reasons. The first reason is that our product is used often, but not necessarily every day. We proposed using the recycled water for outdoor uses such as watering the lawn and washing the house or car. Not everyone waters their lawn daily, and if so, it’s only during the warmer seasons. Also, people generally wash their car no more than once a week. If we had more time, we would focus on improving a product that is used more frequently. The second reason I believe we lost is because our product focused on a luxury item rather than a necessary item. The winning product was an improved refrigeration unit that limited the amount of cold air released when retrieving an item. This is an item that is used several times a day by most people so the innovation is more impactful.
Winning Reflection - Michael Hankins
When under the constraints of time, sometimes you reason with yourself that you just need to start building and hope that it works out. For some reason there’s this “just do something” motive in our head, that tells us to just get going already! Well fortunately there is also reason, and if there is anything I learned during this lesson it’s that reason should always trump instincts.
After about 10 or so minutes trying to plan a strategy for how to build the step stool my team and I basically just threw our hands up in the hair and went with the “just do something” method. It was, needless to say, a failure. Innovation challenges are always about how you manage your time and a lot of the time if you’re not physically doing something you feel like you’re wasting that precious time and, as is most appropriately true in this case, time is money. And so we just went with it – no real full proof plan, just started cutting 6x8 squares hoping that it would all work out.
What we should’ve done is spent the majority of our time strategizing rather than building. For as long as a time that it takes building a bridge, it takes just as long of time coming up with appropriate architecture to make sure that it will hold cars, finding the right materials to construct the bridge, making sure it’s a reasonable cost, getting the city or state governments on deal with the project, etc. There’s simply a lot of planning involved in any infrastructure project and ours should have been handled the same way. Even though our brainstorming had left us fruitless after 10 minutes we should have devoted more time – maybe another 10 minutes in fact – to more brainstorming. It’s obvious that the team that won, had done the most planning and the least constructing. I was keeping an eye on the other tables and they didn’t end up building until the last 10 minutes and that’s because they had a full-proof plan that they knew through and through and so it would be easy to implement. Ours was exactly the other way around and we lost because of it.
So in life we should plan before we just start doing something. For class scheduling you need to sit down and plan out years in advance instead of just winging it and picking some random classes that might fill a need or interests you – every credit hour counts towards something and you want to make sure you’re maximizing the ones given to you. And in work when I’m given a task by my boss I can’t just hammer it out on a whim. No I need to formulate a strategy for how I am going to tackle that task, just like my abysmal failure at the innovation challenge taught me.
Winning Reflection - Dan Baran
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Winning Reflection - Daniel Baran
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