November 2012

  • Opposites Attract Challenge

    November 29, 2012
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    Student Reflection - November 28, 2012

    Innovation and engineering is similar to that of originality and writing. To be a stand-out author, one needs to produce an original piece of writing that separates itself from work done by others. In the same way, to be a stand-out engineer one needs to think outside the box, stray from conventional ideals, and combine what is known in ways no one has thought of.

    This week’s innovation challenge focused on all the above as three individuals had to create a product combined of their separate hobbies. This challenge brought forth the thought process of how to combine what is known into a product that no one would typically think of. This mindset of thinking outside the norm and combining seemingly unrelated ideas is the foundation of how new inventions, theories, laws, etc. are created. There are many out in the world that have made and continue to make lots of money because of thinking the way this week’s challenge was encouraging us to do. But there are still millions of products waiting to be created. Combing one’s knowledge as an engineer and innovation is exactly how we have come so far in in technology and all other fields and it is this combination one should strive for so that they can create the next big thing or so that they can be the one that changes how people perceive the world.

    Another lesson learned from this challenge was entrepreneurship. The ability to express to others why your idea or product is not just a good idea but why it is needed is critical in today’s world where investing time and money is so huge. By presenting the products made, this week’s challenge taught the value of entrepreneurship as the products needed to be sold and the judge needed to be convinced that what he/she was seeing was the most innovative given the constraints of the groups three hobbies. A good idea or product is a huge step, but getting others to believe in that idea or product is just as important.

    This week’s innovation challenge should always be kept in mind as students go on to the workforce or continue their education. The mindset enforced and the importance of entrepreneurship stressed in this week’s challenge is what one needs to truly stand-out in their field and what one needs to make an impact that will change the world.

    Winning Reflection - Michael Gilbreth

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  • The Chindogu Challenge

    November 15, 2012
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    Student Reflection - November 14, 2012

    When I usually think of innovation, I think of creating a new product that is an elegant solution to a problem. In this week’s challenge, however, my understanding of innovation was completely turned around. Each team had to come up with a creative problem solution, but the point was to make the design as ridiculous as possible.  I was not prepared for this twist. Nor was I prepared for how much fun it turned out to be! My team’s original plan was to make some sort of hands-free drinking device. We noticed that many other groups had this idea, too. Because of this, having an original design became a key factor in our brainstorming process.

    Our final design was “The Ultimate Cleaning Outfit”. This included felt knee-pads and gloves for dusting, a duct-tape shirt for rolling on the ground to pick up crumbs, and a tall, nonsensical feather hat for dusting high places. While we were waiting for our turn to present, we got many strange glances and questions like, “What’s with the crazy costume?”. This confirmed that we definitely succeeded in creating a silly product.  One area I feel we could have improved, though, was catering towards our audience. Although our design made cleaning easier, no one likes to clean. The winning team incorporated a transportable movie theater into their design, which met the judges’ want for entertainment as well as innovation. 

    Even though my team did not win, being original with your design and catering the product towards an audience are both great innovation skills that I will use for future challenges!

    Winning Reflection - Emily Hart

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  • Costume Contest Challenge

    November 9, 2012
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    Student Reflection - November 7, 2012

    The Challenge this week was far different than any of the Challenges I have done so far. In the spirit of Halloween, we had to design a costume in order to make someone laugh over Skype. This may have been the most difficult of the challenges because there weren’t too many guidelines. You just had to get creative and bring out a mix of your inner comedian and inner Project Runway star. It took a lot of communication in order to make the costume work, and people stuck with their strengths. Some people used their creativity, and some people used their outgoing personalities to act crazy. Both cases had their strong points. My group had a difficult time trying to come up with an idea and was a little bit slow putting it together. Although this cost us in the competition, it was a great time being able to see the different groups act for Katie (the woman we tried to make laugh over Skype).

    Although this challenge may not sound like it is very difficult or that a lot can be taken from it, it turned out to be very helpful. It taught me that communication is crucial. If people keep to themselves and don’t express what they are thinking, then nothing is going to get accomplished. I learned that some planning is good, but sometimes you just have to run with an idea and make it work out as best as possible. The winning group just put some random things together and got some laughs. One of the most important things I took away was that it is always good to take a step back from engineering and get a good laugh.

    Winning Reflection - Brenden Graczak

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  • The Other 90% Challenge

    November 2, 2012
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    Student Reflection - October 31, 2012

    “The Other 90%” weekly innovation challenge was a very eye-opening event, not only because it gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from others, but also because I was made aware of how I can apply my knowledge and skills as an engineer to a real-world situation. During this innovation challenge, my teammates and I had to determine the biggest problem that a country was facing. Then, we had to propose solutions to this problem.

    As my team read through the facts about our assigned country, we determined that the biggest problem in our country was pollution of natural resources. Then, we began brainstorming solutions. Although we all identified the biggest problem to be pollution, the ways in which of my teammates and I addressed it were very different, as became obvious through our compilation of ideas: Drawing from our experiences in different fields of engineering (biomedical, electrical, and mechanical), each member of my team had different reasons why pollution was such a big issue and how it could be fixed.

    Although it might seem that these different ideas would clash and make it difficult to determine a solution to the problem, the complete opposite was actually true. Having these different perspectives gave my team the opportunity to develop a well-rounded solution to the problem. We were able to address many different aspects of the problem that may not have been addressed had my team not been multidisciplinary. Additionally, collaborating with my teammates allowed me to experience how individuals from different fields can work together in order to develop the best possible solutions.

    Although the solutions in this innovation challenge were just meant to be creative and encourage the interaction between peers of different backgrounds, hopefully what I learned from this challenge can one day be implemented in my life when I enter the real world, have the opportunity to work with others, and attempt to solve real-world problems.

    Winning Reflection - Elizabeth Kreienkamp

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