October 2012

  • War Games Challenge

    October 25, 2012
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    Student Reflection - October 24, 2012

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    Winning Reflection - Evan Stelmachowicz

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  • Set Goals Like JFK Challenge

    October 11, 2012
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    Student Reflection - October 10, 2012

    Whether it is a new product, a project plan, or simply an idea, presenting is crucial for success. This was the key take-away of today’s innovation challenge. John F. Kennedy had a goal in which the United States would successfully send a man to the moon and return him safely. His short and to the point speech provided the motivation, intensity, and confidence needed to make a nation believe in this same goal. This is why presentation is so important, not only for a powerful position such as President of the United States, but for everyone, especially those in industry. There are new innovative ways to do everything and these ways are thought of people of all socioeconomic classes. If these ideas are never heard, how will they be discovered? A well delivered speech is how ideas become actions. An industrial environment is filled with project engineers, electrical engineers, managers, and other front office employees who typically work with other front office managers, engineers, etc. Having interned in a factory setting and working on projects with both front office and front line employees, I have heard some ideas from those front line employees that could have a huge impact on how the factory runs but these ideas are never actually presented. It is times such as these that the lesson learned from today’s innovation challenge can be applied. Had this employee found the courage and the time to present his idea to a manger in a short and to the point speech, this idea could have become an action that could have significantly changed the factory. I will always keep in mind that moment at the internship and lesson learned today so that one day at my work place I will find the courage to express my projects, goals, and ideas in attempt to create better ways of approaching problems and finding solutions.

    Winning Reflection - Michael Gilbreth

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  • Smart Packaging Challenge

    October 4, 2012
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    Student Reflection - October 3, 2012

    Most people judge a product by its packaging and that’s why I thought that the Smart Packaging challenge was fun and creative.  It forced us take a step back from just designing the product and think about it as a whole.  At first glance, the challenge seemed simple enough; we just had to design the packaging for an iPhone app for senior citizens.  As my group discussed the possible ideas for different apps, we realized that it would be a lot easier to come up with an idea if we talked to our customers and tried to cater to their needs.  After talking with the judges, we were able to come up with an idea fairly quickly, but then our biggest challenge was to convey our idea through the packaging.  It was difficult to come up with a marketing strategy and then develop that into a presentable prototype in such short amount of time.  We wanted to make the package simple and easy to understand so that the objective of the app was conveyed clearly at first glance.  One of the things that I found helpful was that we had “customers” to talk to so that we could understand what they wanted as well as get some feedback on our product.  What I got out of this challenge was that as engineers we need to train ourselves to not only think about the product we are creating but also how we can market it to the general public.  For the most part, a product is only as good as its packaging and how well the desired customers are able to connect with it.  This challenge made me realize that communication and understanding the consumer is key; so, as engineers, when we are designing our products we should always keep that in the back of our mind.  I enjoyed this week’s challenge and am looking forward to next week’s because it not only gives me chance to challenge myself and be creative but it also gives me an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people and see ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.

    Winning Reflection - Gauri Nijsure

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  • Helping Hands Challenge

    October 1, 2012
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    Student Reflection - September 26, 2012

    The Helping Hands challenge was extremely fun and engaging. Given the prompt and objective of the challenge, I and many other competitors thought it was going to be an easy task to build such a contraption device at first. However, we soon found out that the real-world experience is nothing like imagination as we started the building process. The problem comes in with the limited given materials and resources versus the objects of various properties, including golf-ball size spheres, cylinder tube, heavy thin flash lights, small water bottles, and oval-shape glue bottles, that device has to be able to pick up. At first, many of us were deluded by the simplicity of the “simple” contraption. It had soon come to our realization that it was not so easy when given the constraints and needs that the end product will have to provide.

    After carefully reviewing the problem objective and examining the objects the contraption had to pick up, our team spent the first ten minutes brainstorming ideas. The most common idea about the contraption that comes to mind is a tong or a pair of sticks since it could universally be used to pick up various things; hence that is what most other teams did. However, after our team had made the two parallel sticks, we realized that such solution would not be able to sustain the weight of some of the objects due to the requirement that there has to be a certain length from the handle to the grabbing point as well as the flexible wooden beams we were given. Based on the constraints and diversified aspects of the problem, we determined that using a shovel to lift the objects will perform better in this case. Due to the various properties and shapes of the objects, we also had to come up with something to hold the object in place while transferring it on the shovel platform. We had come up with the support handle for that purpose. Each of us worked cooperatively to build the different parts. We focused on our assigned task to create each part at best as well as helping each other as needed. After the building process had been completed, we tested our device to ensure proper operational. Since each object transferred to the target area earned a point and that there were some easier objects than others, we had come up with a strategy for performance in order to obtain as much points as possible in the given time limit. In the end, we successfully transferred all the objects to the targeted area with 20 seconds remaining in the time limit, thus defeating all other teams and won first place.

    Through this challenge, it proves to me that, in engineering, there are differences in concept thinking and real-world manufacturing. While in school at Parks, I was taught to take that into account when designing and gathering thoughts to solve any problem. I have also experienced that the world is limited of resources and we as engineers, as well as other intellectual disciplines, have to work with what we have to solve problems in the most efficient and effective way. The concept of the challenge has also taught me to think creatively other than the common consensus. I have also experienced that examining and brainstorming the problem carefully was also an important aspect in solving any problem. The challenge has also given me the opportunity to work in a diversified environment where each of us was able to give and take ideas from each other and ultimately combined into a creative yet effective solution. I strongly believe that this is a very effective way to promote innovation ideas. I really enjoyed the weekly innovation challenge and looking forward to the upcoming weeks.

    Winning Reflection - Aaron Phu

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