September 2013

  • Post It Challenge

    September 26, 2013
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    Student Reflection - September 25, 2013

    Today’s challenge was about creating a 3D object made of Post-its that could be used as an advertisement for the product. It was certainly a creative-idea intense challenge. Each team was given two stacks of Post-its for a total of 200 pieces; coloring pencil and scissors were also available if necessary. The building time given was around 40 minutes and each team was given 1-2 minutes to pitch their design at the end. The judging criteria were based on creativity, innovation, and how it answers the goal of the challenge. My team consisted of three members, who I am acquainted and have worked with before, so we were able to collaborate very well.

    We started the challenge by understanding the spirit of Post-its. We brainstormed ideas of how and where the product is being used the most. We had come up with common uses of the product as well as identifying the user group of the product. Some of the common uses we identified were: notes, memos, reminders, signs, displays, and scratch papers. Some of the user groups we had identified were instructors for the low extreme, secretaries and administrative assistants for core users, and note takers and student workers on the high extreme side. We then listed all those ideas on paper and started to mediate about each one for about five minutes. Each one of us communicated our idea for an object to build for another five minutes.

    Then we narrowed down our ideas into a single one, which we all agreed that it was the best and easiest to make with the time and material given. Our chosen idea was to make a storyline out of Post-Its via a flip book method. Little to our knowledge, the judge did not consider a flip book a proper “3D object”; it was rather shocking when we were told about the decision more than half way into the building process. To us, an object with length, width, and height satisfies the 3D object specifications. However, the judge is the one who makes the call, so we had to change our project. However, at this time, we only had 15 minutes left to come up with a new object. We had decided to build a secretary office with a computer from Post-its since we had identified they are the core users.

    Even though we did not win the challenge, we were able to gain a different perspective from the winning design, which was essentially a box with notes around it. Hence, the idea is simplicity, however, still be able to show the core uses of the product. I was also able to gain the unique experience of studying the uses of Post-its and performed a quick ethnographic study of the product. Finally, I appreciated working with my teammates and our collaborations that sparked many creative ideas for such a simple product. To summarize it into one sentence, it was an interactive challenge that takes a simple product to allow the participants to come up with countless ideas, but more importantly, it was fun!

    Winning Reflection - Aaron Phu

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  • Brand Identity Challenge

    September 18, 2013
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    Student Reflection - September 18, 2013

    Today our challenge was to identify the main characteristics that make a brand what it is and to design a product that is unrelated to what the company usually produces. We were to use the main characteristics of the company’s other products to make a plausible design that the average consumer would be able to associate with that company. While we did not win the challenge, I did take away some important knowledge about what characteristics really describe a company.

    When we were brainstorming the fundamental design it was easy to look at all the company’s regular products and try to mimic our design in their image. We followed the idea that the new product should look like one of the company’s typical products even though the two products’ functions are completely unrelated. So, our BBQ grill was designed to look like a Nike shoe. While literally speaking we made the grill look like a Nike product, we did not actually take the characteristics of what make a Nike product a Nike product and apply it to the grill which was the goal of the challenge. We simply took the aesthetic appearance of a Nike shoe and changed its function but we did not look at any other Nike products.

    However, the winning group made me realize that the challenge was not about making a grill look like a Nike product but taking the values of typical Nike products and applying them to this grill. That is what the winning group did by designing a simple, sleek and out-of-this-world barbeque. It looked nothing like a shoe, another product nor a regular grill. They identified the characteristics that make up the Nike brand which include: simplicity and spacey, and they designed a grill that looked unique and simple. Through this challenge I have come to realize that all brands have one or two basic, fundamental characteristics; when identified, they can help create an entirely new line of products that a consumer can still associate with the company.

    Winning Reflection - Krzysztof Bzdyk

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  • GeoGuesser Challenge

    September 12, 2013
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    Student Reflection - September 11, 2013

    This week’s challenge was very engaging and fun. I have participated in many challenges but this one is quite unique. It required very strong analytical skill and attention to details and involved guessing a particular location using Google Maps Street View. The given location could be anywhere throughout the world. A point on the map was given and we could navigate the surroundings on the screen.The challenge consisted of three rounds each with five different locations. The first round permitted us to use the help of web searches and Google Maps Street View to identify the location. In the second round, we were able to use Google Maps but searching online was not allowed. In the final round, we couldn’t use either Google Maps or online searches. The time given was two, five and three minutes, respectively.

    Because we were under a time limit, this challenge was very engaging since we had to think very hard and quick. In order to come up with an educated guess for the location, we had to analyze what we saw on the screen and pay very close attention to every detail. My team worked very closely to identify every matter down to the minor details, from road signs to billboard advertisements to the way people dress. On each scene, we started out by quickly scanning through the surroundings to see if anything would catch our eyes. We then tried to look for clues such as road signs, companies’ business names and logos in the surroundings. I must admit some of the places were very challenging when given in countries that have overlapping cultures (for instance those in Europe such as Russia). My team worked together very closely and collaborated on every detail that we noticed. In the end, we placed among the top three teams with the highest scores. Throughout the challenge, I was able to experience the close collaboration of each team member and listen to everyone’s opinions. Overall, it was a great challenge as it had everyone actively engaged and utilized strong analytical skills.

    Winning Reflection - Aaron Phu

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  • Greatest Hits Challenge 2013

    September 4, 2013
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    Student Reflection - September 4, 2013

    This week’s Innovation Challenge provided hands on learning experience of how to manage multiple projects at one time. The culmination of the different challenges started to make people think back about how they failed to succeed in previous challenges, and what they were going to do this round to redeem themselves.The listening challenge is extremely fun and difficult because it limits everyone to use just one of their five senses. It’s a fairly easy task to tell a grizzly bear from an ape when you see them, but trying to identify the two in a recording is a different story. The next challenge from last semester was the pasta wagon challenge, which I competed in last year. The idea of creating a cart from noodles to carry different sized weights over a specific distance seemed fairly easy, and then you soon remember that your cart is made out of pasta once you hear the small cracks starting to propagate through the cart. The last challenge being the Helping Hands challenge again proved to be more challenging than initially anticipated because the objects that have to be picked up don’t act as you imagine in your idealized world.

    The listening challenge truly forces you to listen carefully and think about the context of each of the items on the list and see if you can identify just one correctly. When limited with just one of our senses we try to compare the recorded sounds that we hear to the sounds that we here in our daily lives. I think the most valuable lesson from this challenge is that it’s important to know the scenario before you proceed with a solution. Like we saw in the challenge unless you are look at a grizzly bear roar, you may think it’s a walrus or an ape over a recording.

    Having competed in this challenge last year, my immediate reaction was to build the winning design from last semester, and see how we fair in the points category for the challenge. We used the spaghetti as the axle, the lifesavers as the wheels, the lasagna noodle as the carrying device, and slowly dragged the weight along while the wheels slowly turned allowing the sled to be counted as a cart. I think the lesson to be learned from this challenge is that in the world of engineering, it’s thinking outside the box that allows you to create innovative solutions to perplexing problems. There is always going to be people saying that can’t be done, but the true innovators are the ones that push boundaries and take risks to try to better society.

    The main issue with the helping hands challenge was that the items didn’t stay still when we were trying to get our device to pick them up. With the same contraption we were trying to pick up golf balls, glue bottles, water bottles, and other objects, and building a design that works well for all the different shapes was hard for our team to wrap our heads around. We started by brainstorming a few ideas for several minutes, and then decided to go with a “cup shovel” that could pick up the round objects but could also pick up the items that were oblong. After doing a few trial runs with the cup, we decided it would be beneficial to design a contraption that would specifically pick up the bottles and other oblong items on the other end of our stick. This challenge highlights the importance of having a solid idea before pursuing the manufacturing part of the endeavor because the items cannot be reused after they have been cut and broken to a specific design. The challenge also highlights the importance of working as a team to create a unique and creative solution to a problem using materials that are readily available.

    Winning Reflection - Keegan Faudree

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